Barack Obama released an advertisement this week looking to appeal to Hispanic voters by invoking Hugo Chavez and by absurdly connecting John McCain with Rush Limbaugh, the immensely popular radio talk show host who, by all accounts, doesn’t care for the Arizona senator. Whatever Obama’s intentions were, in the words of CNN commentator Ruben Navarrette Jr, the advertisement was “riddled with problems.”
ABC News’ Jake Tapper also tore the advertisement apart in his piece entitled Obama’s New Spanish Language TV Ad Es Erroneo, and Limbaugh himself responded to having his words taken out of context with an op-ed piece, Obama is Stoking Racial Antagonism, in The Wall Street Journal.
I thought that both were important enough to include here in full,. Please read, and enjoy.
From the Fact Check Desk: Obama’s New Spanish Language TV Ad Es Erroneo
by Jake Tapper, ABC News
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has launched a new Spanish-language TV ad that seeks to paint Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as anti-immigrant, even tying the Republican to his longtime conservative talk-radio nemesis Rush Limbaugh.
As first reported by the Washington Post, Obama’s ad features a narrator saying: “They want us to forget the insults we’ve put up with…the intolerance…they made us feel marginalized in this country we love so much.”
The screen then shows these two quotes from Limbaugh:
“…stupid and unskilled Mexicans”
“You shut your mouth or you get out!”
The narrator then says, “John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote…and another, even worse, that continues the policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families. John McCain…more of the same old Republican tricks.”
There are some real factual problems with this ad, which is titled “Dos Caras,” or two faces.
First of all, tying Sen. McCain – especially on the issue of immigration reform – to Limbaugh is unfair.
Limbaugh opposed McCain on that issue. Vociferously. And in a larger sense, it’s unfair to link McCain to Limbaugh on a host of issues since Limbaugh, as any even occasional listener of his knows, doesn’t particularly care for McCain.
Second, the quotes of Limbaugh’s are out of context.
Railing against NAFTA in 1993, Limbaugh said, “If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine ’cause those are the kinds of jobs NAFTA is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I’m serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do — let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work.”
Not one of his most eloquent moments, to be sure, but his larger point was that NAFTA would mean that unskilled stupid Mexicans would be doing the jobs of unskilled stupid Americans.
I’m not going to defend how he said it, but to act as if this was just a moment of Limbaugh slurring Mexicans is not accurate. Though again, certainly if people were offended I could understand why.
The second quote is totally unfair. In 2006, Limbaugh was mocking Mexican law, and he wrote:
“Everybody’s making immigration proposals these days. Let me add mine to the mix. Call it The Limbaugh Laws:
“First: If you immigrate to our country, you have to speak the native language. You have to be a professional or an investor; no unskilled workers allowed. Also, there will be no special bilingual programs in the schools with the Limbaugh Laws. No special ballots for elections. No government business will be conducted in your language. Foreigners will not have the right to vote or hold political office.
“If you’re in our country, you cannot be a burden to taxpayers. You are not entitled to welfare, food stamps, or other government goodies. You can come if you invest here: an amount equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage. If not, stay home. But if you want to buy land, it’ll be restricted. No waterfront, for instance. As a foreigner, you must relinquish individual rights to the property.
“And another thing: You don’t have the right to protest. You’re allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our President or his policies. You’re a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you’re going to jail.
“You think the Limbaugh Laws are harsh? Well, every one of the laws I just mentioned are actual laws of Mexico today! That’ how the Mexican government handles immigrants to their country. Yet Mexicans come here illegally and protest in our streets!
“How do you say ‘double standard’ in Spanish? How about: ‘No mas!’”
But even if one is uninclined to see Limbaugh’s quotes as having been taken unfairly out of context, linking them to McCain makes as much sense as running a quote from Bill Maher and linking it to Obama.
Asked for backup as to how Obama could link McCain to Limbaugh, the campaign provided this interview with McCain refusing to condemn the Minutemen from from the Kansas City Star:
Q: ‘Are they a good thing? The Civil Defense Corps, do you think — do they help in the immigration fight, or not?’
A: ‘I think they’re citizens who are entitled to being engaged in the process. They’re obviously very concerned about immigration.’
Q: ‘Are they helpful?’
A: ‘I think that’s up to others to judge. I don’t agree with them, but they certainly are exercising their legal rights as citizens.’
Asked about the “lies” they’re accusing McCain of telling, the Obama campaign provided evidence that McCain in July 2008 told La Raza that he would have voted for the DREAM act, a bill that provides scholarships for the children of illegal immigrants, even thought he earlier in the campaign season said he would have voted against the bill.
Let’s delver further into this.
In the November 2007, Myrtle Beach Sun-News, McCain said of the DREAM Act, which he had cosponsored in the past, “I think it has certain virtues associated with it. And I think other things have virtues associated with it. But the message is they want the borders secured first.”
The newspaper noted that McCain said he’d vote against a temporary worker program, even though he supports the idea. “I will vote against anything until we secure the borders,” he said. “There is no way we’re going to enact piecemeal immigration reform.”
Before La Raza, McCain was asked by a young Latina if he’d support the DREAM Act, and he said, “Yes. Yes.”
The full exchange, however, goes like this:
QUESTIONER: Hi. I’m a part of One Dream 2009 and I am one of the 6 million who either have an undocumented parent or is undocumented and I wanted to know if you would support humanity all around the world and support our Dream Act that we are trying to pass.
MCCAIN: Yes. Yes. Thank you. But I will also enforce the existing laws of a country. And a nation’s first requirement is the nation’s security, and that’s why we have to have our borders secured. But, we can have a way and a process of people obtaining citizenship in this country. And, we cannot penalize people who come here legally and people who wait legally. And so, that’s a fundamental principle on which we have to operate. Thank you.
The Obama campaign also provided a number of seemingly conflicting comments McCain has made about offering greater funding for education programs in the No Child Left Behind act — telling the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in June that he “would fully fund those programs that have never been fully funded,” while not suggesting any greater funding for the bill when he’s talked about education in front of whiter audiences.
That ignores the fact that McCain has suggested reallocating the way the $23 billion for NCLB is spent.
McCain has changed his rhetoric and his emphasis when discussing immigration after almost losing the GOP presidential nomination because of it.
He now says the borders must be secured before anything else happens. And in that, he’s opened himself up to charges of flip-flopping, though the Obama campaign is quoting him selectively and unfairly to make their points.
The greater implication the ad makes, however, is that McCain is no friend to Latinos at all, beyond issues of funding the DREAM act or how NCLB money is distributed. By linking McCain to Limbaugh’s quotes, twisting Limbaugh’s quotes, and tying McCain to more extremist anti-immigration voices, the Obama campaign has crossed a line into misleading the viewers of its new TV ad. In Spanish, the word is erróneo.
Obama is Stoking Racial Antagonism
by Rush Limbaugh, for The Wall Street Journal
I understand the rough and tumble of politics. But Barack Obama — the supposedly postpartisan, postracial candidate of hope and change — has gone where few modern candidates have gone before.
Mr. Obama’s campaign is now trafficking in prejudice of its own making. And in doing so, it is playing with political dynamite. What kind of potential president would let his campaign knowingly extract two incomplete, out-of-context lines from two radio parodies and build a framework of hate around them in order to exploit racial tensions? The segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s were famous for such vile fear-mongering.
Here’s the relevant part of the Spanish-language television commercial Mr. Obama is running in Hispanic communities:
“They want us to forget the insults we’ve put up with . . . the intolerance . . . they made us feel marginalized in this country we love so much.”
Then the commercial flashes two quotes from me: “. . . stupid and unskilled Mexicans” and “You shut your mouth or you get out!”
And then a voice says, “John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote . . . and another, even worse, that continues the policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families. John McCain . . . more of the same old Republican tricks.”
Much of the media that is uninterested in Mr. Obama’s connections to unrepentant 1970s Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright have so far gone along with the attempt to tie me to Mr. McCain. But Mr. McCain and I have not agreed on how to address illegal immigration. While I am heartened by his willingness to start by securing the borders, it is no secret that we have fundamental differences on illegal immigration.
And more to the point, these sound bites are a deception, and Mr. Obama knows it. The first sound bite was extracted from a 1993 humorous monologue poking fun at the arguments against the North American Free Trade Agreement. Here’s the context:
“If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine ’cause those are the kinds of jobs Nafta is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I’m serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do — let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work.”
My point, which is obvious, was that the people who were criticizing Nafta were demeaning workers, particularly low-skilled workers. I was criticizing the mind-set of the protectionists who opposed the treaty. There was no racial connotation to it and no one thought there was at the time. I was demeaning the arguments of the opponents.
As for the second sound bite, I was mocking the Mexican government’s double standard — i.e., urging open borders in this country while imposing draconian immigration requirements within its own borders. Thus, I took the restrictions Mexico imposes on immigrants and appropriated them as my own suggestions for a new immigration law.
Here’s the context for that sound bite: “And another thing: You don’t have the right to protest. You’re allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. You’re a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you’re going to jail.”
At the time, I made abundantly clear that this was a parody on the Mexican government’s hypocrisy and nobody took it otherwise.
The malignant aspect of this is that Mr. Obama and his advisers know exactly what they are doing. They had to listen to both monologues or read the transcripts. They then had to pick the particular excerpts they used in order to create a commercial of distortions. Their hoped-for result is to inflame racial tensions. In doing this, Mr. Obama and his advisers have demonstrated a pernicious contempt for American society.
We’ve made much racial progress in this country. Any candidate who employs the tactics of the old segregationists is unworthy of the presidency.