Showing Ignorance Can Be Bipartisan

Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee member Fred Hobbs, commenting on why superdelegate Lincoln Davis has not endorsed the party’s presidential nominee, worries Obama might have terrorist connections:

“I don’t exactly approve of a lot of the things he stands for and I’m not sure we know enough about him,” Hobbs said when asked why he thought Davis wasn’t endorsing Obama. “He’s got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.”

This got a response from Lincoln Davis’ people:

“No one in their right mind, including me, believes Senator Obama has ties to terrorism. It is truly ridiculous for anyone to try to make hay out of these comments.”

And from the Tennessee Democratic Party:

“Mr. Hobbs is obviously misinformed, and his statement highlights the perpetual efforts of the Republican Party, especially here in Tennessee, to turn internet smears and highly offensive gossip into their party’s message against Senator Barack Obama as we head into the General Election.”

I expect ol’ Fred Hobbs is going to have a “Come to Jesus” moment regarding Obama right quick.

That said, and perhaps to the surprise of many who enjoyed me make sport of Fox News recently, I don’t think this can all be laid at the feet of the GOP, unless one really wants to entertain the notion that Republican operatives have somehow penetrated the very core of the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee. Perhaps they snuck through Mr. Hobbs’ window while he slept and whispered subliminal GOP talking points into his slumbering ear. Hey, it worked on Joe Lieberman.

But I think the simpler explanation is that Mr. Hobbs said something stupid of his own accord in the vicinity of a reporter, and thus hoisted himself via his own proverbial petard. And it is something for the Democrats to worry about. They’ve got a lot to deal with right in their own backyard, it seems, even before they have to contend with the GOP, or Fox News.

40 Comments on “Showing Ignorance Can Be Bipartisan”

  1. True, we shouldn’t rush to blame Fox News.

    And yet…

    Fred Hobbs, the man who said the words against Obama said he got the terrorist tie information watching Fox News.

    Well, if you are a Democrat who’s acted like an ass, that excuse would certainly be (a) preaching to the choir and (b) not entirely incredible.

  2. We had enough guilt by association with Sen. McCarthy, and I don’t think we need any more of it.

  3. Ken:

    Yes, this fellow blaming Fox News after the fact is one of those things I find awfully convenient.

  4. I can’t even tell if Fred Hobbs was elected for office, or just given some sort of appointed position.

    As for racism in the Democratic Party, yeah, it’s there. It’s not policy, but it’s sort of hard to keep it from cropping up in small rural areas where it just flies under the radar. The good thing is, when it’s exposed, someone does something about it. I can’t imagine it’s a GOP plot.

  5. Also – UPDATE #1

    The Tennessee Democratic Party issued the following statement Friday morning in response to this story:

    “The Tennessee Democratic Party is united behind our party’s nominee, Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Hobbs is obviously misinformed, and his statement highlights the perpetual efforts of the Republican Party, especially here in Tennessee, to turn internet smears and highly offensive gossip into their party’s message against Senator Barack Obama as we head into the General Election. Instead of debating the issues, the Tennessee Republican Party continues to rely upon slanderous and salacious tall tales. They are borrowing from the playbook first written by Richard Nixon and employed in the race against Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Tennesseans of every political persuasion are tired of these tactics.”

    Slanderous and salacious tall tales. Nice alliteration.

  6. John, given your ongoing crusade for The Good English, I should point out the expression is actually “hoist *by* your own petard”, a petard being a mediæval grenade. Alright?

  7. There seems to be a lot of this going around.

    I spoke to a staunch republican relative yesterday, and he said essentially the same thing as Hobbes. Only he was far more definitive than Hobbes’ ambivalent “It sounds kind of like he may be,” in this case the relative was absolutely positive that Obama was linked to terrorism. “Citation, please,” says I. “Don’t be stupid,” he responded, “Obama’s middle name is Hussein, for crying out loud, what more proof do you need? And his wife hates America.” I asked what Obama’s wife’s name was, he didn’t know and in fact knew next to nothing about her at all – but he was positive that she hated God, America, and probably apple pie.

    Bad enough that my relative is a fairly good example of republican party brainwashing, but for Clintonites to be spouting this baseless crap just goes to show that even after 8 years of GWB the Democrats remain their own worst enemy.

  8. Ian:

    I know what a petard is, actually. Changed the wording slightly to avoid further confusion. Thanks.

  9. Let’s not forget the Bushes know the Bin Ladens very well, and in fact have indirect financial dealings (the Bin Ladens were investors in the Carlyle Group, which employs Bush Sr.). Thus Dubya is at most two degree of separation from Osama. How’s that for a “terrorist connection”?

  10. Well, I live in Tennessee and many Democrats here are indistinguishable from Republicans elsewhere. The state governance is quite corrupt, Google “Operation Tennessee Waltz” as an example of a recent bipartisan political embarrassment. This is the state that loves Phil Bredesen because he solved the TennCare health crisis by booting people (including children) off coverage instead of raising taxes. Hobbs is a fairly typical southerner and for all the talk of the “New South” the Old South is still in the majority down here.

  11. No need to make up terrorist connections to smear the Bushes. And yes, that connection is really a nonentity. Bin Ladin has a huge family. Many of them wealthy. It’s hard to do major business in the middle east without some connection to them.

  12. What we need now is a warrantless search of every home in America to find all of the hidden petards. Anybody who has a problem with that is clearly a terrorist.

  13. Yeah, and Fox News must have got to Debra Bartoshevich of Wisconsin.

    As an avid supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries, Debra Bartoshevich is not alone in her frustration over Clinton’s defeat.

    She’s not alone in refusing to support Barack Obama.

    And she’s not entirely alone in saying she’ll vote this fall for Republican John McCain instead.

    But what makes her unusual is that she holds these views as an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the convention.

    Not to rush the Summer or anything, but….

  14. I was about to make the point Ian M. already made – a Democrat in a place like Tennessee is often (usually?) not a Democrat anywhere else. The thing is, humans have a tendency to place themselves in groups, if only so they can justify in bashing other groups. When you look at the figures on people who will ONLY vote Republican and who will ONLY vote Democrat, no matter the candidate, or their support on the various issues, you realize that the platforms don’t matter to some people, only what party they were raised as in their family. You thus get people like Bush running as Republicans, who are so far from the traditional Republican ideals (smaller government, less government spending, states’ rights) as you can get, and you get people like Lieberman, Miller and Hobbs.

    A great example of why the party system should be destroyed once and for all. I consider this a much bigger issue than the Electoral system, really.

  15. Well said, # 13. A lot of people can have tenuous connections to bin Laden. My step-brother runs a company that builds and supplies large generators to construction companies, Before 9-11, sixty percent of his business was with the bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia. He took a hit to the company and canceled the deal almost immediately, knowing what the reaction would be.
    As for Davis’ remarks, one can’t help but wonder if a bit of racism was involved. Not that it matters, Either way, his stupidity is showing and one would hope the majority in Tennessee would see it, not electing this putz to the governorship.

  16. Don @ # 14 – the GOP and Christian evangelical churches are not exactly separate entities.

  17. # 18 – It wasn’t Davis who had the objectionable quote, just one of the Democratic party officials, Fred Hobbs. Guy might not even be elected for all I know.

  18. Well said, #17.

    I have to agree that stupidity isn’t the sole domain of Republicans. However, they do seem to attract more than their quota.

    As an aside, if one remembers that IQ falls on a bell-curve life gets less frustrating. Unfortunately it seems ignorance just grows exponentially as I get older and crankier.

  19. When looking at politics in these here United States, and especially the Republicans, I’m often reminded of the Mark Twain bit from Huckleberry Finn, “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

    The non-rich people who vote Republican always amaze me, voting for the group of politicians who do the least for them, and even actively work against them, yet still they keep voting Republican. Human nature is hilarious.

  20. More proof of why I am disgusted by any political label and group of people who actively seek out that label. Present company excepted.

  21. Actually GW’s grandfather was involved in an attempted coup against FDR in the 30’s. This is one of many citations. I choose not to become an expert in this, but I’m all ears for those who are.

    And I stand by the assertion that GW & Co., by under manning the invasion of Iraq (in order to keep the impact of the invasion and thus improve his chances of reelection), is in fact treason. They put their interests ahead of the nation’s in a time of war of their own making. Too put the right number of “boots on the ground” would have required calling up guard units before the election rather than after it. Given how close it was, I see their point. Not that anything ever did or will come of it.

  22. Tumbleweed #24:

    Some poor people desire to become rich. Some poor people tend to vote rural values (God and guns), despite knowing that they will never be rich. Some poor people don’t see any causation between their personal poverty and people who are rich and, accordingly, don’t resent the rich. Some poor people are prideful and don’t think the government should be helping them or anyone else for that matter (‘rugged individualist’ types).

    These groups tend to vote Republican. Which is why Republicans win so many national elections. IMO, the Democratic party makes the mistake of boiling a person’s vote down to economic factors, when there are a host of intangible issues which influence voters, whether rich, poor or middle income.

    And in the interests of full disclosure, I am a libertarian leaning Republican. By Democrat standards I am rich, though by my own I’m merely well off and still upwardly mobile. My family was poor (I still remember my mother paying for groceries with food stamps) but my brothers and I obtained college educations via the military. So I’m not in the slightest surprised that Republicans get support from the “poor”, or at least sections of it.

  23. Rich Republican politicians don’t seem to envince any of the “rural values” you talk about other than as talking points to sucker the poor into voting for them. The GOP voting record shows this pretty clearly.

    It’s certainly a human failing, not a Republican or rural one, to be too lazy to check what politicians DO rather than just listen to what they SAY. I just think that the Republican voters are much more poorly represented by their Republican politicans than the Democratic voters are by their Democratic politicians, though that could just be my perception of the matter. When you look at how poorly the southern Republican-dominated states are doing in so very many metrics, it’s a wonder they haven’t all turned Democrats just to see if anything would change. Louisiana and Mississippi top that list; they’re almost like third-world countries in some respects (or as close as you’ll find in the U.S.). Traveling through there was a real eye opening experience for me.

  24. You guys sure are doing a good job of showing that wingnuttery isn’t limited to the non-internet using set of the party. I can’t understand why he felt welcome to espouse conspiracy theories.

  25. Ya know, if one were the type to pay attention to horror fiction/media of the past one might notice some similiarities between Mr. Obama’s rise to the top and that of a certain bad guy…Omen 3 anyone?

    The man makes a speech a few years back at the DNC that gets him noticed and all of a sudden he’s the frontrunner to the big white building. Was there a crossroads and perhaps a handshake involved? Or is he the harbinger of the apocalypse?

  26. OK, so in every political party there are troglodyte homunculi whose ascent to the (alleged) leadership can only be explained by blackmail, Satanic rites, or copious amounts of drugs and alcohol?

    Colour me surprised…

    And just as a sidebar, I wish Obama would call out the dead-end Clintonistas who are threatening to vote for McCain. (You know, the guy who’s ‘not a real conservative’ in the very special dimension occupied by the Dittoheads and Ann-droids. His voting record in the Senate tells quite a different story, and your mileage may vary on whether that’s a bad thing or not.) As I’ve said on the ‘Baby Mama’ thread, I’ve policy issues with both Obama and McCain. But I’m not seeing the downside of these two inspiring their respective nut-roots to stay home and sulk.

  27. ‘Troglodyte homunculi’. I gotta remember that one; that phrase is simply *lovely*.

    Well done, sir, well done!

  28. I’m interested in the segue in the quote from the Tennessee Democratic party from one of their own being a blockhead to the assertion the the local GOP is behind it all. Now I’m not saying that the local GOP isn’t trying to bring Obama down, I just think the Democrats are giving the GOP a little to much credit for subtlety if they were able to use this tactic to poison one of the local Democrats this way.

    Either way, Troglodyte homunculi is a perfect description of the person in question.
    Bravo, Craig @33. I echo Tumbleweed,

  29. Don @ 23 – no, I don’t. There’s not just an overlap, there’s actual collusion. A lot like FOX news, and it’s ex-military talking heads getting spiffy military contracts based on being yes-men. for example, evangelical churches giving out blatantly illegal “voter guides”.

  30. Tumbleweed #30:

    I agree with you that the elected Republicans officials are, in a general sense, poor messengers for the causes they allegedly espouse. It doesn’t change the fact that the messenge, at least in my view, is a good one.

  31. Smaller government and less government spending = good. State’s rights, for me, anyway, it depends. When a state does something good, like goes above and beyond what the Federal government stipulates (like the more strict environmental regulations of California, say), that’s great. But when a state wants to start RESTRICTING freedom (banning gays from marrying, specifying you have to be a Christian to hold public office, etc.), well then I’ve got a big problem. I’d prefer a setup to where the Federal government sets the minimum as far as personal freedom goes, and the States can feel free to go one better, but not lower said freedoms. Sadly, you’ll find large sections of this country who would love to return to the era of the Antebellum South. No, no, aaaaaaand No.

  32. I am not at all surprised that a Democrat has shown this kind of ignorance. It’s not like Dems receive an automatic +2d Defense Against Racism, and that’s what’s keeping this particular pile of crap fresh and smelly. The perception that Obama is dangerous because his middle name is Arab, his father is Muslim, and most Americans can’t tell their brown ethnicities or non-Christian religions apart; the conscious fear that us black people just spend all their time sitting around mad and thinking up racial epithets for white people*; the possibly-unconscious fear that an Obama victory represents a shift of power from whites to PoC in this country… Hobbs is simply stupid enough to voice aloud what probably a lot of his white Democrats (particularly that 1/4 of Clinton supporters who are planning to go McCain) are thinking. The “Obama has ties to terrorists” BS wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it’s been if it didn’t play on preexisting stereotypes and xenophobia. And I expect there’ll be much, much more of this as the Republican media machine really gets cranked up.

    *But if we did… “Whitey”?? Come on. Don’t you think PoC could come up with a more creative epithet than that? Good grief.

  33. ‘his father is a Muslim’

    Even worse – his father was born Muslim, but became an Atheist! If there’s anything worse to a Christian than a Muslim, it’s an Atheist.

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