PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

May 31, 2008

Obama’s Holocaust Blunder

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 9:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

You’ll note that this post doesn’t carry an ONYD tag on it. I’ll get to that in a minute.

There have been a number of misstatements and missteps in this primary season, by all the candidates. And the severity of those misstatements and missteps vary based on who a given observer supports. Hillary Clinton’s “hardworking white voters” and Barack Obama’s “clinging to God and guns” were both foot-in-mouth moments. There are, however, more serious misstatements being made by the campaigns as well: John McCain cannot confuse Shia and Sunni if he wants to be elected based on his foreign policy acumen. Ditto Hillary Clinton promoting her own foreign policy experience through the repeated recounting of a life-threatening trip across an airstrip which could be demonstrated on video as not being anywhere near as dangerous as she remembered.

Last Monday, during a Memorial Day speech, Barack Obama made a statement which some would put into the former category and others would lump into the latter. While recounting a family story involving his great-uncle’s experiences in World War II, Senator Obama indicated that his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz.

The commentators went wild. “He doesn’t know history!” they said. “He’s lying to cover up for his own military shortcomings!” Evidently Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians. (Being a bad American, I didn’t realize this off the top of my head either.) But, as Hillary Clinton really did get off a plane in Bosnia, Obama’s uncle really did help liberate a concentration camp. Just not that concentration camp. Charles T. Payne was part of the 89th Infantry, which liberated Buchenwald. When the error was pointed out to him, Obama issued an immediate correction.

In my opinion, this should have been a non-story. Those trying to elevate this to the level of a Bosnia airstrip or a Shiite/Sunni issue are missing a really major distinction. Senators Clinton and McCain have, to varying degrees, tried to distinguish themselves from Senator Obama based on their supposed greater foreign relations cred. But when one is basing a portion of that cred on an event which happened much differently than she claimed, and when the other doesn’t know the difference between two warring factions in the most high-profile hotspot in the world, that foreign policy expertise has to be called into question.

Barack Obama is not running for president based on his knowledge of the Holocaust. And while the historical facts are indisputable, and while it’s hoped that our next president will have more intellectual curiosity than the current one, confusing Auschwitz and Buchenwald do not, in my opinion, invalidate the message of what was being said. It’s like if I were to arguing with my wife (which, of course, never happens), and I said “Your statement that you haven’t had beef in six months is wrong, because you had Prime Rib when we ate out on Tuesday” and she based her reply on the fact that we ate out on Wednesday, and had dinner at home on Tuesday.

And to the commentators who said that Obama was trying to use the Holocaust for political advantage: Get real. Using the Holocaust for political advantage would be speaking to a Jewish group and saying “If you don’t vote for me, the Holocaust will happen again.”

So let’s all be thankful that no American politician would be so craven as try to use fear to get elected.
The 300 Project: 29/104


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