Thursday, September 09, 2004

Updated September 9, 2004 at 9:40 pm, revised 10:10 am
Team Obama, a cagey, manipulative campaign, asserts Lynn Sweet. And, please don’t call them. They’ll call you.

I tried about a month ago to get some information about Barack Obama’s out of state fundraising activities from his communications staff. Although I got some information initially, it was like pulling teeth. And follow-up inquiries were ignored, as if to say, “why are you bothering us, we are Team Obama, the good guys, donchyouknow?”

Indeed, the same attitude has spread over to inquiries about Obama’s positions on public policy issues. “We’ll get back to you,” they said and then they never did with respect to how Barack Obama would have voted on the Federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which passed the U. S. Senate 98-0.

However, they did send over a one line response to Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, who posted it on his blog [] along with Zorn’s extensive discussion and dialogue with the Illinois Leader’s Jill Stanek on the general subject: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama's communication director Robert Gibbs released a statement shortly before 11 a.m. today [Aug. 26, 2004] reading, "Barack Obama would have voted for H.R. 2175, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act [“BAIPA”] that passed the (U.S.) Senate." See, August 26, 2004 blog entry, which includes the above.

And, see the same above-referenced site for Zorn’s criticism of Senate Candidate Alan Keyes, for failing to understand the differences between the Federal and State BAIPA legislative wording and also for inappropriately projecting Obama’s likely position on the federal statute, based on State Senator Obama’s votes on the proposed state legislation.

Back to Team Obama, do those few words on BAIPA sent to Zorn and quoted above exhaust what Barack Obama has to say on BAIPA? Apparently so.
Perhaps you can find a few additional words from Obama on the subject here and there. But, even if so, why not put them in one place and send them over to the guy who asked. The Obama folks seem to be saying-- after all, we are Team Obama—the good guys. One sentence should suffice. Who can question us?

Well, putting aside Eric Zorn, who does a pretty good job of questioning everybody, and Dennis Byrne, who has asked some tough questions of Obama, not the Tribune, that is for sure.

The Tribune, which played a major role in causing the Jack Ryan campaign to implode [a fact the Tribune never seems to discuss when telling its readers how we got to Keyes-Obama], is not about to start challenging Barack Obama now. Although claiming the Public’s Right to know about sealed child custody records, the Tribune’s motivation seemed to be less altruistic. Feeling their oats, the Tribune Masters of the Universe essentially endorsed Barack Obama two days before Alan Keyes accepted the State Central’s Committee’s offer to be its Republican Senate Candidate nominee [As Yogi said, it’s a fact, you can look it up.]

Now that the Tribune has ingratiated itself with the candidate that it thinks will be the next junior U. S. Senator from Illinois, who really thinks the Chicago Tribune would do anything that might damage or even question Barack Obama? The Tribune seems to view liberal Barack Obama as the next best thing to the Tribune’s sought after “pragmatic moderate conservative,” apparently embodied in the Tribune’s eyes by GOP State Chairman Judy Baar Topinka.

Now, of course, in addition to Eric Zorn and Dennis Byrne, there are talented, questioning and sincere journalists at the Chicago Tribune. However, taken as a whole, for whatever reason, the newspaper seems to be engaging in very uncritical coverage of the Obama campaign.

But, wait, there is this other major paper in the Chicago Loop— owned by Hollinger, Int., Black and Radler’s very own piggy bank [which piggy bank was supposed to be under the watchful eye of the Tribune’s other pragmatic moderate conservative, Big Jim Thompson- the GOP Party Elder]. The Chicago Sun-Times, although not quite as imposing as that questionable icon of journalistic standards, i.e., the Tribune, has at least two political writers [Fornek and Sweet] who seem to take their job to question everybody, including Obama, quite seriously. This time it is tough and scrappy Lynn Sweet, a combination columnist/reporter, whose observations imply my Obama dental metaphor, above, may not be wide of the mark.

Sweet comments [and sweet they are], “Obama's campaign does not believe that information about fund-raisers should be volunteered because the event is not, in the eyes of the campaign, a public event. Hold on; I'm not talking about getting a call when Obama goes to the dentist.” [Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times column, September 9, 2004].

Sweet pounds some more, “Obama's campaign is hiding practically all of Obama's out-of-state treks…Obama's manipulative, cagey campaign does not want you to know the whole picture.” [Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times column, September 9, 2004].

For example, Sweet notes,”A few weeks ago, Obama was the keynote speaker at a national conference of an organization called America Coming Together in Cleveland. ACT is one of the newly spawned [Section] 527 [of the tax code] groups, a Democratic outfit working to elect John Kerry to the White House.” [Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times column, September 9, 2004].

But, Sweet tells us she could not squeeze any information about the ACT event, or Obama’s role in same, out of the Obama campaign staff, until she dug up a press release put out by ACT about the event.

I met with similar stonewalling when I sought information about far-left George Soros’ New York fundraiser for Barack Obama. Because of a special provision in the campaign finance laws triggered when a candidate is facing another candidate who self-contributes to his own campaign amounts in excess of one million dollars, the Soroses were able to give a collective $60,000 to Obama during his March, 2004 primary contest. See, June 27, 2004.

Robert Bluey writes, "Obama, however, is different from most Democrats because of his willingness to embrace the controversial Soros. Shortly after Soros equated the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Obama joined him for a New York fund-raiser [on] June 7, 2004." See, June 27, 2004

Meanwhile, Barack Obama seeks to stay above the fray and to stay on message--Health care, education, jobs and tolerance-- That is what all Americans want, he says. And, that may be all you will learn about what is going on with Team Obama, until, of course, Team Obama wants you to know more. And, please, please don’t call them. They’ll call you. They are the good guys, donchyouknow.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at