Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 3, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

LIFE IMITATES ART....Yesterday's joke (from Chris Hayes)....

Myself, I'm currently working on two stories, one about a crucial little league team defeat John Edwards suffered in 4th grade that taught him hard lessons about resilience and competition and 5,000-word profile of an advertising exec from Duluth who roomed with Mitt Romney at Harvard for a week while his own dorm was under construction.

....Becomes this week's laughable attack from Hillary Clinton's press shop:

In Boston this evening, Senator Obama said: "I'm not running to fulfill some long held plans or because I think it's open to me."....But that's not what Senator Obama's teachers, family, classmates or staff say:

....In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.' His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga "asked her class to write an essay titled 'My dream: What I want to be in the future.' Senator Obama wrote 'I want to be a President,' she said." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]

In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.' "Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said." [AP, 1/25/07 ]

Oh, snap! I'm going to start paying even more attention to Chris now. He's got a scary nose for the ridiculous.

Kevin Drum 2:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Comments

Busted!

Posted by: scarshapedstar on December 3, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this less Chris being prescient as it is the soulcrushing fact of life these days that satire has become obsolete?

I mean, when real life is this freakin' inane and insane, how can you even joke about this stuff? It's so much more sane than the reality that it's no longer funny. :/

Posted by: Kryptik on December 3, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

You know what's even scarier? I found one of Obama's crayon drawings from preschool and it's a picture of him standing outside a house (What's inside the house? A bomb lab? Women in burkas? Impossible to know.) with a cat on the lawn (notice there's no "unclean" dogs?) and a moon over it (aka, the ISLAMIC CRESCENT!).

Posted by: scarshapedstar on December 3, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's campaign is worrying that Hillary is going to start calling him a flip flopper because he told his teacher he wanted to be an astronaut in the 2nd grade.

Seriously, you can almost smell the fear coming out of the Clinton campaign headquarters. >Wolfson seems to be in full panic mode. Obama's response is clever. He has thrown up a website called hillaryattacks documenting and poking fun at the charges coming out of Hillary's campaign.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 3, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Umm, which American kid didn't at some point write an essay in grade school or kindergarten about wanting to be president or what they'd do if they were president? The stupid, it burnsssss.......

Posted by: Stefan on December 3, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Guess we have to start coaching kids in kindergarten on what to write should they decide 40 years later to run for the Presidency!

Why don't the campaigns just leave this kind of stuff to the likes of the Enquirer or Star so curious readers can scan it while getting their groceries checked. Thanks, Hillary, for showing us the high road of campaigning. Geeez...

Posted by: pencarrow on December 3, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't the real scandal here that Obama turned in the same essay in both kindergarten and third grade?

Posted by: Aaron Brrrr on December 3, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

It was a long time ago, but I don't remember writing essays in kindergarten. I was still learning to print letters, much less write sentences.

Posted by: Gene on December 3, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I believe she's mocking Gerth and knocking Obama for pushing that kind of crap.

Posted by: david on December 3, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I am going to have start paying less attention to Kevin Drum now. He used the phrase "Oh, snap."

Posted by: Yancey Ward on December 3, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, she may have overestimated her audience.

Posted by: david on December 3, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think Hillary is running for the presidency of the Associated Students of the Oshkosh School of Animal Husbandry.

Posted by: gregor on December 3, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

This could have been cute if done humorously, but it doesn't look like it. I'm a bit more concerned about why his elementary school stuff was part of the public record to be quoted and rebutted in the first place. Is my first grade homework being preserved in some vault under Philadelphia?

Posted by: ArkPanda on December 3, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Scandal! In the third grade Obama recycled an essay for which he had already received credit in kindergarten.

Posted by: Ross Best on December 3, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm a bit more concerned about why his elementary school stuff was part of the public record to be quoted and rebutted in the first place."

...[The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]

...[AP, 1/25/07 ]

It's all from previously reported interviews, obviously. It's also obviously a whack at Gerth and the whole cult of trivia we call the press corps.
Even Kevin knows:"laughable attack "

PS-Obama relying on Gerth hackery makes me sick.

Posted by: david on December 3, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I once peed my pants in kindergarten. Can't wait for that to torpedo my Presidential nomination.

"We interviewed little Tommy Thompson, who said Anonymous had an 'accident' in Mrs. Sullivan's a.m. K class. More at 11."

Posted by: anonymous on December 3, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Gene: "It was a long time ago, but I don't remember writing essays in kindergarten. I was still learning to print letters, much less write sentences."

When I was in kindergarten, I remember wanting to draw an owl, but my teacher told me to draw a cat instead. When I persisted in my bird-of-prey infatuation, she yelled at me in front of the class to do as she said. It was so traumatic that I began to cry.

That old battle-axe thwarted my artistic ambitions, and thus fed my inherent contempt of authority and turned me into the cynical fuck that I am today.

Sounds like Chris Hayes and I shared the same ruthless, hard-hearted kindergarten teacher.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on December 3, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.'

How DARE he. Doesn't he know that in America, it's the God-given right of every little boy and girl to grow up to NOT be president?

Must be because he's a Muslim.

Posted by: Peter Principle on December 3, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Laughable attack? Uh, I actually did laugh. It may not be great wit but I found it kind of funny.

Posted by: Imelda Blahnik on December 3, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

FDR told his college roomate that he wanted to be president. What a creep.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on December 3, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

anyone checked the kerning on either of the essays?

Posted by: rayc on December 3, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I was a department store Santa Claus back in the early sixties. I remember asking a three year old Obama what he wanted for Christmas. He said, I kid you not, "I want to be President!".

Posted by: Chris on December 3, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

While enning an essay in kindergarden is pretty good, I'm realy impressed he could spell "become."

Posted by: Ben Masel on December 3, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

I want to meet those teachers. The fact that they remember anything as remote as what some kid wrote, did, or said 40 or so years ago is one of the most remarkable things i've heard in I don't know forty years.

Posted by: Gandalf on December 3, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is proof of the liberalocity of our media!
I cannot find a single story on the obvious similarities of Obama's essay to Neil Kinnock's grade-school writings.

Posted by: CapMidnight on December 3, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone ever reported on what George W. Bush wants to be when he grows up?

Posted by: AJ on December 3, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

It's a minor difference but the HRC people seem to have the Obama quote wrong:

"I'm not running to fulfill some long held plans or because I think it's open to me."

Vs:

"I'm not running to fulfill some long held plans," he said. "I'm not running because I feel it's owed to me."

Posted by: antiphone on December 3, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Gene is right. Obama and I are nearly the same age. I never wrote an essay in kindergarten. It wasn't done then. I don't remember when I leard to write, but it wasn't kindergarten

My son, who is in first grade now, did write an essay about what he wants to be when he grows up.

He chose "Sanitation Engineer."

Posted by: Jeff on December 3, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, I still don't know how to write.

Posted by: Jeff on December 3, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Are these the essays he was writing while in the madrassas?

Posted by: Casey Morris on December 3, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

These people are going to have to make up their minds--What is it going to be? Madrassas to destroy America or essays to become President of it.

Please, God, let primary season be over soon.

Posted by: Casey Morris on December 3, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

... destroy America or ... become President of it.

Or in Bush's case...both

Posted by: ckelly on December 3, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Casey Morris wrote: "Please, God, let primary season be over soon."

You think the general election season is going to be any better?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 3, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

Why don't you address the Obama remark which was meant to be a snide character attack. His rmark was based on a untrue story in terms of the Gerth/Natta book. the supposed source for the "long held plan" quote was Taylor Branch, the historian who denied it.

It was known far and wide to be untrue. Obama has a research dept. He's not stupid. They know it's not true...He knows it's not true. BUT HE SAID IT ANYWAY. REPEPAT A LIE TO SMEAR SOMEONE'S CHARACTER BY MAKING FUN OF THEM IS A KARL ROVE TACTIC.

That was the context of the TRUE stories about Obama's ambition to be president.

Ambition to be presidien is good....but Obama implies that Clinton's character is defective. Well is his? Not from wanting to be president but from telling a lie?

Posted by: debcoop on December 3, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

What a flip-flopper Obama is... in high school, he said he wanted to be a pro basketball player! Come on Mark Penn and Wolfie, I can't believe you guys didn't include this in your attack too!

;-)

Posted by: Jen on December 3, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I do wonder if the attack by Hillary's campaign bringing up his grade school activities may not have been meant as a kind of ridicule, and not as a serious, standalone criticism.

I kind of thought it was funny too, brought up as it was at the end of the piece -- and I suspect that was the intended effect.

Posted by: frankly0 on December 3, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, Kevin. You can do it, too. It looks like this-

update: Oh, I get it.

Posted by: david on December 3, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's shows vision on the part of Obama, especially that he wrote those essays in Kindergarten (!) and Third Grade.

Posted by: Neil B. on December 3, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

I heard Rush Limbaugh cover this today. Kevin, I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear, you and Rush had the same reaction. Congratulations.

Posted by: david on December 3, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

"but Obama implies that Clinton's character is defective. Well is his? Not from wanting to be president but from telling a lie"

um, yeah, i think it's a little, uh, shrill to characterize the failure to remember a kindergarten essay as a "lie". i don't like everything obama is doing in the campaign, but he wins and hillary loses on this one. just read the obvious ridicule in comments here and see why.

i'll happily support whichever dem wins the nomination. i'm not advocating for one side or another.

we EXPECT HRC to be a tough and seasoned campaigner. people who might want to support obama want him to be as tough. and i think he's showing that. i think that, more than any Social Security bullshit or trying to run to the right of Hillary, is one reason why he might be gaining.

Posted by: A Non on December 3, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Jen: "What a flip-flopper Obama is... in high school, he said he wanted to be a pro basketball player!"

Well, when "Barry" Obama was in high school in the late '70s, his team at Punahou School was the Hawaii state champion three years in a row. I think I'd excuse him that bit of self-indulgent fantasy.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on December 3, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Isn't the real scandal here that Obama turned in the same essay in both kindergarten and third grade?
--Aaron Brrr

Nice one. I dribbled a little in my shorts on that one.

Until we get Hussein Obama to come clean on his elementary school escapades, this race is not gonna be over!

Posted by: Digger O'Dell on December 3, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

This is all about getting the names of his teachers out there.

km

Posted by: Kerry Moorman on December 3, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

You want flipflops? At least Senator Obama was never a Goldwater Girl.

Posted by: Tirebiter in Sector R on December 3, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is making a huge mistake attacking Obama and especially his character. This probably was a lame attempt at humor, but it doesn't work very well. You can't do humor on the day after you tell a reporter that you are going to be attacking the guy's character.

The whole notion that Hillary is qualified to be president and that she has been running a perfect campaign has been nonsense from the start. It appears that reality is starting to seep in. Hillary is ready to be had and, inexperienced or not, if Obama does not make a serious mistake he appears ready to blow past her. Edwards must be cursing his luck that Obama decided to run.

Posted by: brian on December 3, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Only in America could a presidential candidate draw reproach for wanting to the President in kindergarten, and those, like JFK, who want to keep religion out of politics...

Our leading Republican candidate is now a preacher, who says the word of God is more important then the Law of the Land...and this scares me.

Hillary scares me because she is backed by the same Corporate Interests that Bush was...new face, old game...

Posted by: wagonjak on December 3, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Read the press release. It seems a little less ridiculous in the context of the whole.

Posted by: Bush Lover on December 3, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

wagonjak: Our leading Republican candidate is now a preacher, who says the word of God is more important then the Law of the Land...and this scares me.

It scares me too. Huckabee seems like a nice man, but I don't see him as a President.

I don't think he will be nominated, even if he wins Iowa. However, a Huckabee victory in Iowa would hurt Romney, since he was counting on victories in Iowa and NH to jump-start his campaign.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 3, 2007 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

As we all learned from the Kerry campaign, nothing now disqualifies you more quickly from the job of being President of the United States than actually wanting it. Bush, on the other hand, deserved the gig because he demonstrably didn't give a rat's ass about that, or about anything else.

In the end, it's all about which alcoholic you'd rather not have a beer with!.
Hey, lighten up, people: it's only the future of the free world!

Posted by: Kenji on December 3, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hey!!! I was sitting in front of him in third grade and that was my essay he copied!!! I'm calling O'Reilly and emailing Drudge. We need to get to the bottom of this.

BTW, do you think the WGA folks might be getting a bit nervous when "news" like this keeps popping up?

Posted by: RUKind on December 3, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

My wife has been following this story on line. She is a Hillary supporter. She is reconsidering her support. She can't believe Hillary actually authorized the kindergarden and third grade references. They make her look silly. If Hillary doesn't personally deal with this screw up pronto she is toast.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 3, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Gerth, an old liar, Clinton hater, and Whitewater promoter who knows no shame, is not somebody Obama should give credence to. Low blow.

But what's wrong with wanting to be the next President? Or Kevin Drum?

Posted by: little ole jim on December 3, 2007 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'll worry more about the kid who writes about wanting to grow up and be a crack dealer who has several hos to work for him.

Dang, just when I thought the Bush people had irony and surrealism wrapped-up. Now we've got to deal with Obama, or is it the Clinton team who brought it in.

I don't know about those folks, but I'd just as soon skip all that garbage and just vote for Edwards.

BTW, how is it exactly that Obama thinks he can end the terrible partisanship and constant sniping that the Republicans have perfected? And, how is he going to do this as a Black man when the Republicans have primarily used the racial prejudice of Southern men for several decades to get elected (see Southern Strategy)?

Seems Obama's naivete comes through even in a non-policy situation.

Posted by: MarkH on December 3, 2007 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is so infantile.

Some reject working for the HRC campaign wrote this retarded pile of bush, and we are gonna decide whether or not to support her because of it?
The notion that our next president has to be perfect, and sightcheck every single thing to come out of his/her campaign AND do horserace of photoops and babykissing, is absolute crap. For fucks sake, judge the damn candidates on policy issues and cut the crap. Of course they are gonna attack each other, they do it because we the people demand it. We've already seen that taking the highroad doesnt get you elected. No matter what, attacking like that is as moronic as it gets, but we demand it, so deal with it.
My suggestion would be to pay attention to the policy issues and get your faces out of the smoke n mirrors.

Posted by: Aaron on December 3, 2007 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Aaron:

The problem is that you don't know how this "infantile" press release was created and approved. Of course, particularly with Hillary, we will never know the truth because it has blown up and neither her nor anyone with significant authority in her campaign will ever admit to it. I have no idea whether she knew anything about it, but it is hard to believe that there was not someone with signficant authority who aproved this, since it came a day after Hillary said she was going to attack Obama on character issues. It has the capacity to further damage an already slipping campaign.

Posted by: brian on December 3, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think I was writing essays until the fourth grade and I wasn't recycling them until I reached high school.

Posted by: B on December 3, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Brian, you missed my point. I wasn't trying exculpate OR blame Hillary or whatever senior member of her campaign organization that vetted this travesty. I was pointing the finger at all of us. I don't honestly care if we ever find out who did or didn't authorize this. It's smoke, nothing more. The same mindless mentality that can find Paris Hilton interesting or whip themselves into a frenzy over OJ Simpson's latest insanity is the same mentality that validates this.
The policies, decisions and stances on important issues are what we should be focusing on. Hillary or Obama's super-minor campaign gaffes are nothing compared to the vital issues affecting our nation and the future of our children. Let's try to keep our eye on the ball for the love of God.

Posted by: Aaron on December 3, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Tirebiter in Sector R: "At least Senator Obama was never a Goldwater Girl."

It's just as well. With such an obvious lack of camp sensibility, Obama would be a lousy drag queen.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on December 4, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

brian: "The whole notion that Hillary is qualified to be president and that she has been running a perfect campaign has been nonsense from the start."

Stop wasting your time. Nobody here's going to listen to a concern troll like you.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, & currently in Chicago on December 4, 2007 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Donald, are you saying that every comment posted by brian is "nonsense from the start"?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 4, 2007 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

The charge was ridiculous. The scary thing is the extent to which Hillary will go to dig up, catalog, and use "dirt" in people who oppose or disagree with her. I have no idea what I did in kindergarden, so someone coming up with that information is telliung me to watch out -- they know more about me than I do.

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