Smear Tactic Debunked

I promise not to dig too much into politics, and I want to preface that I’m not decided on any candidate yet, but I simply want to defend accurate journalism and help people not be misled by smear campaigns that build up a case for remarks made out of context. I’m not an Obama supporter (or McCain for that matter, yet, on both counts) but I want to ensure that facts are reported accurately. And so then:

There’s a propagandist website making its way through email forwards lately, that is an attempt to smear Obama’s reputation as a Christian by supposedly showing his true feelings. However, the video actually only uses a few clips out of a larger speech, and furthermore adds a few, “Did you not know..?” remarks toward the end. This is the same strategy of touters of bible contradiction that simply make a list of random verses with a common subject heading of something obscenely out of context, like “God Murders Thousands.” The addition of the “Did you not know..?” remarks implies that Obama did not actually know, but fails to even provide actual evidence that he didn’t. Apparently just asking a question that Obama is not defending in the smearer’s own video counts for legitimate journalism. Yeah right.

Here’s the original smear campaign’s video:

The video states, “On June 28, 2006, Senator Barack Obama gave a speech … where he explains why he finds it so difficult for America to use the bible to help guide our public policy,” then gives only 30 heavily edited seconds of a larger and greater context, and then makes blind accusations in rhetorical questions as if they were something profound.

However, if you were to listen to more of the original speech, Obama makes a pretty good case about how the perceptions of Christians need to be of a keener mindset of communicating the same ideas into a type of understanding that non-believers could grasp and identify with.

A lot more of the original video (still cut, but not quite so heavily or unjournalistically):

Pay attention to the smear version and the less-edited version’s difference of the audience reaction after he remarks about the Defense Department’s implementation. In the smear version, there’s only light murmuring, but in the less-cut version, the audience laughs uproariously — which would make better sense if the statements he’d made were actually of a more light-heared, poking-fun nature, rather than a deep criticism as the smear version makes it out to be.

He uses an Abraham and Isaac example, where, if we were to see the well-known event taking place, we’d call the police and have CPS take Isaac away. To me, it seems like he’s trying to get across to Christians that they/we need to be more open to discussion and deal with public policy in a much more wise technique:

You may recall how Solomon, when confronted by two women arguing over whose child a baby was — ordered a child be cut in two so each could have an equal share. The false mother agreed it should be cut, but the real mother said to give it to the false one so it would not be cut. Solomon did not actually intend to cut the baby, but gave the baby to the true mother.

Obama seems to be, in a sense, making a Judgement of Solomon. He’s taking a stance with one foot in both doors, trying to address the needs of both Christian and secular alike, in an attempt to demonstrate the disparity between actual implementation based on scripture versus secular reasoning. He doesn’t appear to actually be advocating seeing the bible as absurdity, but instead using that idea as a larger illustration about how secular citizens may perceive a scripture-based policy when instead the same goal could be reached by using a different technique of reasoning.

Editor’s Note, January 28, 2013:
The lengthier clip of Obama’s speech (called the “Call To Renewal” speech of June 28, 2006) has been somehow suspended from view, since I first wrote it four years ago. There is a better version, linked below in 5 parts, which shows the entire speech so you can have far better context of his joking nature, rather than being a stern lecture as PHFA tries to cast the remark into. The beginning of the fourth part is relevant to this post —

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:

That fourth part casts even more light on the matter, in that he was operating at the time under a hypothetical situation, and asking under whose version of Christianity we were to operate under within that hypothetical situation. It is perfectly reasonable to make weird claims, particularly when the context is entirely hypothetical.

If I were to ask, “Hypothetically, if our knees were bent the other direction, would that affect how chairs are designed?” and then suggest that “chairs would need to be made in a different design,” and taken out of context, it could be used in a propaganda video that I insisted chairs be made into a different design, rather having been related to knee-bending hypothetical question before it.

The people who are suggesting Obama isn’t Christian based on this segment are doing precisely that — taking comments out of context. He even describes, in the same speech in Part 2 (around the 5-minute mark), his acceptance of Christ at the front of the church one day.

It might be worth noting that I did not end up voting at all that year (whereas my introduction noted I was neither an Obama, nor McCain, supporter. I am still not an Obama supporter (nor any Republican nominee since then, either) but I am still a supporter of accurate journalism.

25 thoughts on “ Smear Tactic Debunked

  1. tragic that we sometimes base our assumtions on half trues .. the power of our information
    systems appear can turn light into dark make black seem white
    thank you to those that are able to follow up on such a sad use of technology and provide more accurate insight for those who do not have opportunity to wittness these events live and to see and hear with eyes and ears and come to our conclusions
    i plead guilty i should be doing more

  2. Have you truely read the speech and do you really listen to what this man said, when no in front of the Tel-a-promter?

    The only thing that has been totally and completely disbunked is BO who is a phoney and promoted by slick marketing. There is no sustance to anything he said. Especially those issue “above his pay-grade”; which most everything I have heard from this phoney is well above his pay-grade.

    Get real and open your ear’s -Try looking for sustance to in those words of CHANGE!

  3. Thanks for helping to clear this up. It’s amazing how low the religous right will sink to further their cause. Just remember, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

  4. Glad I could clear it up a little, but be careful about blaming swaths of people for a single message made by an individual. One or two people creating a false message equals not the intent of large groups. The religious right isn’t responsible for that video, the video editor is. To state that “the religious right” is responsible for anything puts you exactly in the place for most high scrutiny as acting on behalf of another group. Let us not nominate ourselves so highly ^_^

  5. You’re absolutely right – my bad! I apologize to the religous right for assuming they are behind this message. In fact, they are more likely victims here, as they are being used to spread the propaganda. It was in fact a Christian email list that I subscribe to that brought the original video link into my inbox.

  6. LG — you offer no particular evidence of your case. You’re simply making statements that are nullified by a simple statement to the contrary from any random person. I could just as easily disqualify your statements based on your ineffective use of language (truly, teleprompter, debunked, phony, ears, substance/sustinance.. all misspelled), which would be just as frivolous an argument. You’re basically taking the “look it up” approach instead of citing actual references. That brand of corner-cutting doesn’t jive with me.

  7. First, Obama cannot be the proclaimer of the word as obvious through these videos.

    Obama doesn’t understand that this country was founded on Judeo Christian principles. If we are no longer a Christian nation- in that sense- then muslim law as expressed in its radical way will attempt to be the law of the land. Recently, right here in the US, a father murderedters who were becoming part of “our land”; a brother murdered his sister for a similar reason…. why? They, US citizens, felt they had the authority as Muslims to respond to Muslim law. Judeo Christian law of the US says “Thou shalt not murder (kill is not the appropriate translation of the commandment).

    What next?

  8. Sr.Ruth — Anyone can be a proclaimer of the word as much as you or I, it doesn’t take a seminary degree. It takes a trust that Christ’s righteousness replaces our filthy unrighteousness for the purposes of compensating for the final judgment’s demands.

    I am not in agreement that the country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. The country was instead founded on priniciples that the government cannot dictate religious subject matter, in [response to/escape from] the religious oppression Christians endured in England. Muslims also outlaw murder, and hold aloft Moses and the commandments in very deep respect — considering Abraham is our shared forefather. US law is not Christian law — they are similar, but not identical. Do not come under the impression that the United States is a Christian nation. As a Christian, I do not believe it is myself.

  9. Firstly, I would have to partially agree that many among the religious right are ‘victims’ if you will, but given that many (I use the vaguest term I can here, for obvious reasons) are basically closing their eyes, watching the video in an attempt to reinforce their deep-seated bias, refusing to think, and spreading it around as if it’s eye-opening. Note that I’m not saying it is a matter of stupidity: in fact, it would take a very profound lack of mental faculties to be truly unable to see what an empty piece of propogandic smear-crap it really is, and the vast majority of people are well beyond that ability. The issue on both sides is that these sorts of attacks fill the role of ‘evidence’ that most people predisposed to these sorts of thoughts (in this case, even if it’s just a ‘bad feeling’ about Obama). The fact that it, indeed, entirely devoid of merit doesn’t matter, as it’s not going to be critically examined by those that it actually affects. If you look at the homepage for instance, it even provides a link to the full transcript of the speech that the snippets were taken from. Ballsy, it seems, but they know full well that people who will watch the video, read the entire speech, and cross-examine the claims, aren’t the ones that they’re going for.

    Of course, this trait is far from unique to the religious right that this ad targets, since it’s merely the base tactic of exploiting a deep-seated, fundamental belief. Nationalism, political ideology, and quite a few others are vulnerable, but religion is perhaps the easiest, if only because it is so extremely important to so many of its practitioners. We may love our nation, but when the fate of your very immortal soul is at stake, that tends to take precedence.

    More important here, is that the 527 in question was set up by Stephen Marks. The same Stephen Marks who was responsible for those infamous “Al Sharpton likes Hitler, and supports rapists and cop-killing. Al Gore met with Sharpton once. AL GORE IS WRONG FOR AMERICA” ads back in 2000, and perhaps more tellingly, penned a book entitled, and I’m not kidding, “Confessions of a Political Hitman: My Secret Life of Scandal, Corruption, Hypocrisy and Dirty Attacks That Decide Who Gets Elected (and Who Doesn’t)” And of course, he details all his extensive ties and history with all manner of GOP organizations, including a bunch of campaigns. Under his full, normal, real name.

    So somehow, this man writes a book essentially saying “I’m a lying, dirty-trick playing, hypocritical, scandalous GOP attack-dog,” and then STILL is able to start a 527, with his name prominently displayed, and actually wield a considerable amount of influence? The more I learn, the harder it gets to maintain faith in humanity. At least we have his phone number, though. I’m he just set up a voicemail or something, or disconnected the phone, as I have to imagine people wasted no time ‘voicing their concern,’ to be insanely euphemistic.

  10. I have a very great spiritual problem with Obama’s reference to “the Bible and how to guide the our nation”. The new testament is very clear on how to guide our nation and he should read more of it if he is a Christian as he “claims” to be. Our nation may have several different “religions” in it, but God explicitly tells us in His Word that we are to live and believe “as a nation” as He has instructed us to. If we do not, our nation as a whole will suffer. Obama smeared himself to our Lord.

  11. Debbie — The new testament does not instruct nations, it instructs individuals toward a certain path. You’re absolutely refusing to see any shade of world outside of the spiritual. Living “as a nation” is very far and different from “how nations should live.” Our nation is not an entity that can profit or suffer — people within a nation do. I see scripture telling us to live “apart from” the nations, rather than having such a firm foothold in the world. Obama has not smeared himself, he as re-established himself as trying to reconcile Christ followers and secular with each other. Are you not a disciple of reconcile?

  12. Explain that to me in your own words, not in popular catch phrases. Can Godly principles not still be accomplished using language that has sound reasoning that doesn’t directly reference scripture? That’s what Obama seems to be suggesting to us here, to me.

  13. Obama’s actual speech in its original context (the 2nd – not the 1st – video clip above) does not appear to be a mockery of the Bible, as the web site asserts, but, instead,
    addresses the practical considerations and questions that arise as we apply Biblical teachings to public policy.

  14. I kindly urge everyone to openly read this article. The point of the video was to show that Obama is quoting the Bible completely out of context. If he is a Christian (which he says he is) he pretty much just mocked and disrespected his religions holy text, not to mention his Lord and Savior (Jesus Christ). If he was a Muslim and misquoted and defamed the Qur’an and Muhammad’s own words as well, I’d feel exactly the same. All he’s doing to me is selling his professed religion out. I’d expect a grown man to stand up for his beliefs, not drop them for a laugh. Again these are just my opinions, I’m not at all trying to be mean or hateful. I again urge you to just read the article. Slavery as discussed in the Bible is not the slavery of the 1800s.

    • The point of the article I wrote above, the blog post itself, was to demonstrate that the PHforAmerica version misquotes Obama’s quotations of the bible. PHforAmerica edited Obama’s speech to make it sound as if he was misquoting the bible, whereas instead he gave the scripture referenced adequate reverence. Obama did not misquote the bible or take it out of context — PHforAmerica EDITED the speech to make it appear AS IF Obama had misquoted it. Obama DID NOT misquote the bible, as PHforAmerican leads viewers to falsely believe.

  15. Let me make it perfectly clear, as you obviously missed my point. Leviticus does NOT say slavery is OK. As I explained kindly above (please read the article) slavery was very different from what you’d expect. I watched your above video again, and although PHforAmerica does take snippets from it, it in no way puts words in his mouth (misquoting). He still said those things. You don’t have to agree with me as I’m sure you won’t. It’s awfully clear you haven’t studied or read the Bible. If you had, you wouldn’t yourself say he wasn’t taking it out of context. Please, just read Leviticus and the article I posted above. Again, that was my point. I said nothing of the “point” of your article, it was the point of PHforAmericas video. I’ll sum it up one more time. If you said 2 things in an interview-

    “I love basketball”
    “I don’t eat shellfish”

    Then I quoted you in a video only saying “I love basketball”, I would not be taking you out of context or misquoting you. I’m simply taking one thing you said aside and presenting it. Now if I was to quote you saying “I love eating shellfish”, that would be misquoting! All I want is for people to take a step back and research before they say incorrect things about others sacred and religious texts.


      If someone were to record me saying, “So my friend Bill said to me, ‘I like basketball’ and then handed me a ball to try it out, but I didn’t like it,” and you were to edit a video so that it were to sound as if I were only saying the words, “I like basketball” (when I was simply repeating what Bill told me), you would be misquoting me, using the words I did say, by removing the context in which those words were spoken.

      You seem to be implying that the slavery of the 1800s is the specific slavery to which Obama is referring. Obama merely states, “slavery” and offers no characterization of what variety of slavery that means.

      The article, which I read when you first posted it despite you falsely believing I didn’t (and also falsely purport that I haven’t studied scripture), confirms that the slavery and bondservantry is an acceptable practice and does not forbid it. As your original posts suggests, I re-suggest to you, to re-read your own article to discover what you actually linked.

      Obama is in no fashion claiming that the bible’s references to slavery’s acceptability apply to “America’s white abusive slaveownership of and the widespread mistreatment of Africans forced into servanthood.” Obama merely states, “slavery” and does not elaborate. To infer that Obama’s reference of slavery refers specifically to America’s historical bout with poor slave trade practices, is purely of your own invention and is not literally stated.

      Slavery is a permanent state — everyone is in a state of slavery, at all times. A kind and just slavemaster, versus a cruel and harsh slavemaster, is what makes the individual, personal experience of slavery great or terrible. If you are employed and earn a wage, you are even more closely in a relationship with the variety of slavery to which scripture refers.

      Slavery, like money, is neutral and has no default goodness or badness, and is okay for use by everyone. People may choose to torment others with money, just as slavemasters may choose to torment their slaves. Or, people may choose to assist others by paying for schooling, clothing, shelter and nutrition, just as a slavemaster may educate, clothe, shelter and properly attend the nutritional requirements of a healthy slave.

      Slavery is an acceptable practice, but the bible forbids the cruel slavemaster’s harsh and unmerciful treatment of slaves. It was not uncommon in OT times to sell oneself into slavery for a number of years, on purpose, as a technique for accruing wealth — which is obviously a different variety of slavery than the sort you have erroneously imposed as the sort to which Obama may be referring. You are essentially declaring that Obama has committed treason against Christ, based entirely on speculation, without trial.

  16. Paragraphs and paragraphs can do nothing to take away what Obama said. My problem is not with you it’s with Obama. My statement is simple. How he “quotes” God’s word with a smile and laughter, mocking his own Savior (he says he is Christian). You’ve done nothing but present yourself as an individual relishing in the truth of your own false comments. Are you so naive as to argue Obamas statements on the assumption that everyone knows the difference in regards to slavery? Do you not find it a bit funny he doesn’t feel it necessary to explain himself on such a sensitive topic? I actually commend you on explaining it, you just reiterated my original point and I thank you for it. If you take the Bible for what it is (God’s word) then obviously there’s a problem with his statements. What Obama said IS offensive against Christ! When Christ spoke on the Temple Mount he probably knew what he was talking about. He meant it as something we could apply to our lives forever, not something that was only applicable to a certain time period. I’m sorry you took so much offense to what I said as I didn’t intend to be offensive. As for your comment about me “erroneously” supposing that’s what he meant, that was not my point. With God’s word it’s imperative we make sure that we relay it with truth. That includes approaching sensitive topics with compassion and understanding (slavery being one of them). I can confidently say with all things considered, most Christians would not be happy with what Obama said. Quoting things from the Bible out of context, (like the comment regarding shellfish), is completely absent of Christs fulfillment of OT law. If Obama fully understood it, he would know that the Lord made all things clean (Mat 15:17-18). That means it wouldn’t apply to us today! I simply expect someone who speaks of the law, to know the law. I would never dare to judge someone “based on speculation” or in general. It’s not up to me to judge anyone, only God. What I can do though is stand up for my beliefs and stand up for God’s word. I don’t feel it strange or peculiar that I’m upset with Obama’s words. Religion is not a hobby, it’s one’s salvation and hope. My point being, as stated before, to take the Lord’s words as lightly and humorously as Obama did, in fact, was slanderous towards God. How can one accept Christ as a savior then laugh about his words in a public meeting? Basically, if the Bible is true, all scripture is “God breathed” (2nd Timothy 3:16). This means that we cannot take it’s principle and laugh about how they do not apply today. In closing, I again apologize if I offended you as I only intended to stand up for my beliefs.

  17. A better scripture reference for the fulfillment of OT law regarding dietary restrictions (which were symbolic for the Jews “clean” and Gentiles “unclean”) and the unity of the church is Acts 10:13-15. Probably won’t be back on here so thanks Ablestmage for the discussion and I hope no hard feelings. Also thanks for the opportunity to be a part of your debate.

    James 1:19-20 “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

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