Thursday, February 28, 2008

What's In Name?

As you may have heard by now, a talk show host from Cincinnati made some comments the other day that did not sit too well, with the McCain campaign. The remark was made by WLW radio personality Bill Cunningham at a McCain rally and was pretty much what you would expect from him. But the real stir was created by his use of Barack Obama's middle name, which is Hussein.

Now, I personally do not care what anyone's name is or isn't. Names are just names. They identify who a person is on the surface, but they do not totally represent the whole person. Hussein is a name that may cause a sour and bitter taste in one's mouth, because of the late Iraqi dictator. It is a common name in the Arab world that many have shared, long before the butcher of Baghdad made it famous. We must not forget that the previous king of Jordan was also named Hussein, and he was one of the more moderate leaders in the Arab world.

Likewise, there are people here in America named Adolph. And I know two of them. One of them is a department head where I work and another is a psychologist, I used to work with. To meet either of them, you'd never know (by their behavior or their personalities) that they shared a name with an evil German dictator that tried to extinguish Jews. They are men that do their jobs, just like anyone else. The same can be said about other names people with names like Fidel, Castro, Joseph (Josef) and others.

The objects of my criticism in this post are two different groups of people.

The first one is the one that might include Mr. Cunningham. I say might, because I don't know.

People sling the term racist around haphazardly these days, at the drop of a hat. But Mr. Cunningham has stated that he was only using the name like he would any other person that seeks to be president or has served as one. Lyndon Baines Johnson, Ronald Wilson Reagan, William Jefferson Clinton, and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been used my many people over the years, to include Mr. Cunningham. Whether he was using it for the specific purpose of disparaging Sen. Obama or not, I cannot say for sure. But if he was, John McCain was right to repudiate it immediately, and he did.

It is not in the best interests of this nation or campaign to magnify something like a name or something a candidate wore while on a trip to Kenya. What we need to magnify is where a candidate stands on the issues, his/her past conduct as an adult (especially in the course of their previous dealings on the job), and their qualifications. Between these three things, there is enough information to make an intelligently informed decision. There are plenty of things that can be said of Obama in the early stages of this campaign that are fair game, for discussion and debate. His name is not something that matters in the grand scheme of things.

Healthcare, social security, national security, taxes, spending are all issues that are important enough. It's these kinds of things that can (in my view) eliminate Sen. Obama from consideration. Once people understand where he stands on these things, we have enough information to fairly criticize him and ultimately make a thoughtful choice. It is through these issues, whereby Obama can best be defined and rejected. It is through his actions and associations that PYY will attempt to define him, not by his middle name.

So to those that want to exploit this for the purpose of detracting from the real issues of the day, I say, get over it. It will not be hard to beat Obama's worldview and weaknesses in a debate. But, there is no need for nastiness and crass behavior like one can find on display at the Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and others. To do so gives those that want this kind of controversy front and center, more ammunition to hijack the debate. It gives race-baiters validity they do not deserve.

The next group of people that is the target of my criticism are the people that blow issues like this way out of proportion. These are they that make a man an offender for a word. A name is a word and nothing more. I do not condone any kind of disparaging name, in fact I once had a big argument with a family member for using a racial slur in front of my then, young children. But I also think that at some point in time, people must stop wearing their hearts on their sleeves and add a few layers of skin to insulate themselves against jerks that try to hurt others with their words. What ever happened to "sticks and stones make break my bones, but names will never harm me"?

As many that frequent this blog often already know, I do not allow it here. I have a standard that is not found in all areas of the blogosphere. And you the reader can trust that I will maintain it, as long as I have a blog. What other people say on their blogs is their business and I do not give a piper's damn what they say there, about me or anyone else. But it's not going to happen here. There have been some instances where I have been smeared, mocked, disparaged and laughed at on other sites, but I just plain do not care. If they are doing it to me, they are leaving someone else that may not be able to ignore it, alone.

I know who I am. People that know me personally, know who I am. And if those people that do not know me want to think anything other than what is thought by those who do, it is their problem (not mine). By acting in this manner, they show their own ignorance. It's no big deal, because the name-callers cannot make someone into something they are not, simply by calling someone something ugly or making up lies. I have been called every name in the book by some pretty mean and nasty people; and I have to say that if some coward, who sits behind a keyboard in the safety of their own home, takes pleasure in using mean words in an attempt to offend me, so be it. I assure you, very few of them would have the guts to say it to my face.

My point is simple. Ignore the people that cast unjustifiable aspersions, they aren't worth the time and energy.

So to Obama and his camp, I say get over it and stop exaggerating issues like this, for the purpose of detracting from the real issues. Want to silence the jerks? Talk about the things that we need to talk about. Present your worldview and positions, straight up, without using smokescreens and red herrings. Then and only then, the people of this nation can make a decision based on reason and sound judgment. You can keep playing the "I am offended card" if you wish. But when all is said and done, your message will not be heard and it will not resonate.


Greg said...

Oy - another invented controversy (though I know how BHO feels - I hate my middle name too). Remember, people, you can't question that man is warming the earth and causing the seas to boil, and you can't say anything negative about Barack Hussein Obama.

Here's the video of Cunningham. Here's the evidence of the horrible crime perpetrated on the American Moses.

It also contains the apology of McCain.

Bear in mind, McCain didn't apologize for Cunningham using the word "Hussein," nor should he have. He said he repudiated any comments that maligned BHO's character (like the Rezko dealings).

Anyway, since it obviously annoys people, I will now make it a point to use BHO's middle name.

Greg said...

I wish I could get you guys a clip of a roundtable with Campbell Brown on CNN last night. It was, I think, David Brooks and some famous feminist whose name I forget. Brooks didn't think it was a big deal what Cunningham said. Brown comes back with something like, "Oh, c'mon David! Hussein? He kept repeating the name "Hussein"! He said it several times!"

Amazing. I've never seen the media carry a politician's jock like they do BHO's.....

Anonymous said...

I suspect we have become a suspicious lot since 9/11. It isn’t that we are an unkind people, but wary of those who profess the desire to destroy who we are. Mr. Obama presents us with an interesting challenge. He is an African American who attends a Christian Church with an Afro-centric philosophy. This is fine with me. His church also features the work of Louis Farrakhan, who I despise as a human being, and who I believe to be a racist, and even worse, one who hates America and all it stands for. Farrakhan is a man (like some others of his color), who have made a fortune “hating whitey.” So then today, as Louis Farrakhan gives Mr. Obama his overwhelming support, then I immediately begin to wonder about the true Barack Hussein Obama.

In fairness, Representative Joe Wexler, (D, FL) (a Jewish American) also supports Obama (over Clinton) and Obama has publicly rejected Farrakhan’s endorsement. What should we believe? Does Farrakhan support Obama simply because he is black, or is there more to his endorsement? As responsible voters, should we entirely discount the worrisome past of Barack Obama (Muslim father, raised as a Christian, now an Afro-centrist Christian), and focus instead on what he tells us about himself and limit our curiosity to his political rhetoric?

You are correct — what is in a name? Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Hani Hanjour, Ziad Jarrah, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. None of these men selected their own names; it was their beliefs that prompted them to act in a certain way. Are an individual’s beliefs important, or is it really a private matter? Ordinarily, I would argue that what a person believes is a very private matter . . . until they announce their intention to run for public office and one that entitles them to be called, “Commander in Chief.”

As it happens, I do not believe that Barack Obama’s political platform is much beyond the typical liberal rhetoric – I will post on this later on today. I do find it amazing, however, that so many people are lined up on his side of the aisle simply because they are having a nostalgic connection to John Kennedy. I should add that Kennedy was not our best president. And I might infer a similarity to Jimmy Carter – another political wonder-boy. Names are not important, but I have a very uncomfortable feeling about Mr. Obama.

A.C. McCloud said...

I'm going to try to be real careful here.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl one of the world's biggest liberals found it prudent to round up Japanese Americans, none of whom had attacked us, and herd them into camps. The newspapers used the word "Japs" to describe the enemy for years. My mother referred to them as such. Some people don't get over surprise attacks very easily. If in 1944 a man with the middle name "Fujiyama" ran for president, I'm sure Americans would have made an issue of the name. So in that context, some people are naturally afraid of Barack's given Muslim/Arab name, and people like Cunningham are more than happy to exploit it.

But we all know a man is judged on his own character and actions. Say whatever you will about him, McCain has long stood for rational discourse in the political setting. This is just more of the same. Frankly, without Barack's speaking abilities he's a marginal to poor candidate (surprising that the Dems couldn't do better but Hillary and Bill muddied the waters) one which McCain should be able to thump easily when the issues are brought before the American people. He knows he can stay on that level and still win.

Greg said...

Hey, guys, did you see what the NYT did today? Considering all that you are not allowed to say about BHO, this is a complete outrage. The NYT has hit bottom and is now digging.

LASunsett said...


//"Oh, c'mon David! Hussein? He kept repeating the name "Hussein"! He said it several times!"//

In the clip I heard, he only said it twice. Unless Campbell had access to a different clip, she needs to know the difference between twice and several.

LASunsett said...


//I've never seen the media carry a politician's jock like they do BHO's.....//

Careful Greg. You may be tagged as a racist. Never mind it's not true. In the race-baiting world, it is people's perceptions that count more than truth.

LASunsett said...


//I should add that Kennedy was not our best president.//

I do not see how he could be. He didn't have enough time to do anything, except stand up to the USSR in one instance. Now, he may have become the best at some point, but the world will never know.

The other thing that gets me is the comparisons made between Obama and JFK. How can one person have an affinity for both Fidel Castro and JFK. They were so diametrically opposed to each other. Add to that the fact that JFK was a decorated war hero, and then it really begins to make no sense.

LASunsett said...


//If in 1944 a man with the middle name "Fujiyama" ran for president, I'm sure Americans would have made an issue of the name.//

Damned good point. But I can already tell you that this generation would say that we weren't nearly as enlightened back then.

LASunsett said...


//Hey, guys, did you see what the NYT did today?//

I did. As I understand it, the Constitution is not very clear on this. Panama was officially a US territory was it not? Unless I missed something, it say nothing about the need to be born on the mainland.

But you know the NYT. Pathetic would be a step up in class.