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Rep. Ellison: Clinton Trying To Reap Benefit Of Obama-Muslim Smear

Rep. Keith Ellison, the only Muslim serving in Congress, is speaking out on the “Is Obama a Muslim” garbage that keeps circulating and how he thinks Hillary Clinton is trying to capitalize on the doubt by using qualifiers when Steve Kroft asked her about the Muslim question in an interview on “60 Minutes.”

Rep. Keith Ellison, in an interview with The Huffington Post, said the Clinton camp was “opportunistically trying to reap the benefit” of voter concerns about Obama’s religious beliefs. Ellison, who is a declared supporter of Senator Barack Obama, faced fierce religious attacks in his election to congress two years ago.

“People are going to throw some stuff on the wall and see what sticks and at this point the Clinton camp is trying to do whatever it can to be successful,” said the Minnesota Democrat. “And if that means benefiting from political bigotry, I don’t think they will try to put a stop to it.”

Ellison’s comments came two days after the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes ran a segment last Sunday in which a male voter explained how he was influenced by the fallacious Muslim smear campaign against Obama. Later in the show, Clinton was asked if she believed the rumors.

“Of course not,” said the New York Democrat. “I mean, that’s — you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn’t any reason to doubt that.”

Asked by correspondent Steve Kroft whether she was taking Obama at his word or personally believed he was not a Muslim, Clinton expanded on her answer: “No. No. Why would I? … There is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.”

I’m not going to get into the all kinds of wrong to even ask Clinton about what religion Obama is. I don’t want anyone saying what my beliefs are but me, so this was all a little suspect. But Hillary Clinton’s response after Kroft continued to prod her after she said she didn’t think he was a Muslim, resulting in her equivocating that “as far as I know” Obama’s not a Muslim.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews went into fits after this, but that was more about him than caring about Obama and the stigma being placed on people who are Muslims.

I do think the Clintons are trying to capitalize off the doubts. They’ve never passed up anything that might help Hillary Clinton’s bid for the nomination. But I also see others being complicit in keeping this rumor going, from Republicans to racists to scaremongers to just about anyone who doesn’t want to see Obama elected president. Not to mention the press who I feel are trying to address the issue, but failing at it at the same time by focusing on the more sensational aspects.

I don’t think they know what to do to this ridiculous “Muslim” question. He’s not a Muslim, but there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim. There is no religious test for the office of President.
Yet the drama continues.

When Ellison was sworn into Congress he used a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson, that still didn’t stop detractors from bemoaning the fact that someone took the oath to protect and serve our country with anything other than a Bible. For all America’s accomplishments, bigotry is still sitting here in the form of racial and religious intolerance. This election cycle has a meme that incorporates both.

I think it’s pathetic that we even have this issue at all.

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7 thoughts on “Rep. Ellison: Clinton Trying To Reap Benefit Of Obama-Muslim Smear

  1. sw says:

    I will put this on record. Here is the deal, love it or not: HRC wants to be the nominee and will do anything, I mean anything, to discredit Obama. Either she wins and Obama is her vp, or she is willing to throw the race to republicans. She has been divisive, along gender and racial lines from the beginning. Obama has been conciliatory. I think when it’s all said and done: Either Obama will win! or McCain Will Win. HRC won’t have a chance: people are already saying that they will not turn out to vote if HRC is the nominee. This election is going to split this country in half(as if it isn’t already) . Racism is America’s legacy and will continue to be so and just because someone is a “liberal or democrat” doesn’t mean they don’t have issues with race. And this time: “crying” won’t get it for me.

  2. I think Hillary was just really upset that Obama showed up and ruined her coronation. She already had her game plan mapped out, was mapping in waaaay in advance. Probably sometime after Bill got re-elected in 1996.She hates to lose. She really, really feels that she needs to be president. See? I would have preferred that she just be a really kick ass senator. That would have been fine with me. But no one is doing what I want them to do this election cycle.Because of this (and the fact that accepted both the Clinton for the flawed people they are), Hillary doesn’t really bother me. She’s in it for herself. She always has been. It’s not about us. Sure, she cares about some things (she can’t run on a bitchiness platform), she just cares about herself more than us. So she’ll burn the party down to get the nomination and will make nice with everyone after the inauguration. Or at least that’s the plan.I don’t see it working, but I’ve seen stranger things.As for Obama, I’d suggest that he stay loose, deal with the questions and crises quickly, but don’t give her the satisfaction of thinking she’s got to you. She’s ready for a fight. Don’t fight her. Let her just burn with frustration until she burns out of the picture.It’s call the rope-a-dope. She’ll tire herself out.Then Al Gore, Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi will get out the tranquilizer darts and sedatives so she doesn’t cause too much of a fuss in Denver.

  3. all i can say is what does it say about a country that was founded on religious freedom when a candidate has to PROVE he’s not muslim to be taken seriously? and YES!! to your last paragraphs in the comments. NANCY! come get your girl! please!?

  4. TBS: It’s obscene is what it is. You know how I feel about Islam and all religion for that matter. And I happen to LIKE Arabs quite a bit just going by people I hang out with.It’s why I always get pissed off at Clinton for using that and national security. Hey, I’m white guy which is why I liked Kucinich to start and although I’m not voting but do favor Clinton, the candidates I LIKE are Nader and Cynthia McKinney.My problem with Obama is the opposite: too Hard Christian for me.I don’t like religion getting dragged into campaigns but given how much Obama has made of a brand of Christianity that I don’t like either (he’s nobody’s Episcopalian or Congregationalist!) part of his “story” and this is after all NATIONAL POLTICS, dirty campaigns are to be expected.I can’t get too mad at Clinton for wanting to win and I am amazed that Obama has been able to sell fascism, homophobia, religion and indifference to the poor to college students. That’s a force. I can’t get mad at that either.But isn’t Cynthia McKinney the Green Party candidate for president? When I last checked she was Black. And had been a member of both the CBC and CPC. If Clinton’s dirty tactics bothers Black voters, what’s wrong with giving up on the Democrats and getting into McKinney’s effort?FANTASTICALLY MISUNDERSTOOD ME: The history books and the politicians’ speeches are full of malarkey on this one. America was settled by a bunch of Calvinist nut-jobs who couldn’t abide all the “tolerance” of the Church Of England. Or rather were one step ahead of the bobbies who weren’t real keen on the ultra-Calvinists’ rather corporal style of child rearing. Too many of the children of the would-be Pilgrims were ending up in lime pits because they misread a bible passage or two.THAT IS WHY THE UNITED STATES IS DIFFERENT FROM EVERYWHERE ELSE ON EARTH.Clinton’s bugging you? I understand. Obama’s bugging me. Ford versus Chevy. Give McKinney a look.

  5. If this election has revealed anything, it’s how far we still have to go in this country. Racism, sexism, religious bigotry, homophobia, classism; all of it still exists.Hillary is about power and winning at any cost. That’s plain as day. Nothing she does surprises me. I just watch to see how much lower she is willing to go in order to win.Sen. Obama is a smart man. He’s being cut with a thousand knives right now and we’ll see how he responds. Our laundry is dirty and is being aired publicly and I think it’s a good thing. We can’t hide our crap any longer and this Presidential race has been the catalyst for exposing it all.

  6. TBS: What I would love to see from Obama is for him to campaign super-hard, mazimizing every advantage he has and be unapologetic about it. Mostly, I’d like to see him show the same kind of on-the-spot issues mastery that she has. What he has accomplished so far is amazing, he’s taking one of the best to a close split decision one way or the other or a draw. And he’s given himself a very tough way to do it by running to her right and left at the same time.I’m a huge boxing fan, so I like that you’ve used the Zaire metaphor. I don’t think it fit, though. Ali did some rope-a-dope and let Foreman throw a lot of punches in the first three rounds, but once Ali knew that Foreman’s punches were not as powerful as he had expected and that Foreman was moving horrible and tiring quickly, Ali shifted far away from his style and began brawling. Mayweather did the same sort of thing against Hatton recently. And Pavlik did it in the first fight against Taylor.Obama is hardly analogous with Ali, Mayweather or Pavlik. And she’s hardly as overmatched as the tired and injured Foreman, the lesser Hatton, or the stubborn and poorly-prepared Taylor.This fight is a middleweight bout between CARLOS BALDOMIR (Clinton) and KASSIM OUMA (Obama). How snug a fit is that?Baldomir is a 36 year-old Argentine club-fighter turned top 10 middie, whose assets are precision punches and a granite head. He is slow and has been beaten a lot. But he’s seen it all. He’s also won a lot and doesn’t bleed and will go 12 everytime. Ouma’s 29. Fast, extremely talented. He is, however, without either a punch or a chin. He’s also brittle for his age and injuries have cost him a chance to get to be a fighter like Mayweather (or Celestino Caballero, the super-bantamweight), who’s balance, speed and technical pefection is so overwhelming that the lack of punch or chin never come into question. He can be outlasted or out-brawled. He is on the mend again and peaking.If a Baldomir-Ouma match were to go this fall, I’d make it just where Clinton and Obama are: pick ’em on the talents and styles, question of the judges (superdelegates) which you can’t really know. I’d book it at maybe OUMA-110/BALDOMIR EVEN.Some people LOVE Obama. Some people LOVE Clinton. It’s not at the Ali-Foreman level. That would be Kennedy-Nixon.So, after that brief lesson in the boxing world of yesterday and today, if I were Axelrod, I’d have to give Obama the opposite advice you would. I think she’s not going to run away and I think the supers favor her, so Obama has to get in there and hit hard, with both opposition reseach AND better ideas.He’s got to work for it. The days of the media handing to him are over. The problem for him is look how hamstrung he is. Sure, he can talk Iraq all he wants but have your heard him mention Iran? I think that was a much stupider vote by Clinton. Obama can’t say anthing because unfortunatly that resolution was sponsored by two senators that are supportive of BOTH Obama and McCain: Kyl and Lieberman.And he can’t hit her on all of the other sucky stuff either like her having advocated the end of AFDC during The Big dog’s administration because Obama’s a “bootstraps” guy. He can’t hit her on Defense Of Marriage because Obama’s a religious guy.Gee whiz, TBS, now that I think about it, maybe rope-a-dope is the way to go. Yeesh.McKinney looking velly, velly good to me.

  7. kelso: Obama’s got himself jammed up in a difficult place. He’s sold himself as being above politics. If he because too aggressive a fighter people will accuse him of going back on his promise of a “new kind of politics.” That’s why it’s so easy for Hillary to throw Obama off his game by going negative. He hasn’t figured out how to fairly defend himself without getting exposed for a “you went back on your promise” attack. Hillary wants to have something, anything concrete to point to and shout, “he’s just as dirty, if not dirtier, than me.”So I don’t know how you handle that one. On top of that there’s the whole gender issue and if he goes too hard he could be seen as a jerk. Of course, she hasn’t been afraid of appearing like a bigot, but she’s running on decades of relationships in minority communities to combat that charge.

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