Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Barack Obama's campaign calls one-finger issue 'absurd and untrue'

A spokesman for the presidential campaign of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has criticized The Ticket for making a "false and childish accusation" in an item Thursday that the candidate's one-fingered gesture during a speech that day might have been the finger aimed at his Democratic Party opponent instead of an innocent finger aimed at brushing his cheek or scratching a scratch.

As displayed in a video clip, Obama was criticizing Washington for its gotcha politics in general and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton specifically as being "in her element" there. As he mentions her name, he brushes his cheek twice with the middle finger of his right hand.

Ticket readers were invited to make their own interpretations of the gesture. Thousands read the item and viewed the video and a frame from it. And numerous other blogs and websites discussed the matter in the past day.

Democratic presidential candidate and Illinois Senator Barack Obama touches his cheek with one finger while criticizing his opponent New York Senator Hillary Clinton April 17, 2008 during remarks in Raleigh, NC

More than 500 readers left comments, a majority strongly criticizing the blog for asking the question. Those comments are available at the bottom of the previous item.

In an e-mail this afternoon Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, agreed with those commentors and said, in total:

"This is outrageous. The Ticket should be embarrassed for making this
false and childish accusation. It's absurd and untrue."

Asked to elaborate, LaBolt said, "I think my comment covers it. There's nothing to explain."

A spokesman for the Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

--Andrew Malcolm

 
Comments () | Archives (70)

The comments to this entry are closed.

The guideline to posting is a bit ironic:
"If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. "

Under thirteen year olds are probably the best group to tell us exactly what this gesture means.

CBS has a much longer video on their site, and when you check the moment, the delibrate pause, the crowd reaction (behind him, watch one fan explain the gesture to the other), it is nearly impossible to think that this was not intentioal.

The whole routine is based on juvenile gestures. But media, as always, gives him the benefit of the doubt, as they did Bush. How did that work out??

Plus, there seems to be two videos in which the crowds are very different. But unless a larger camera angle is available, it is hard to say for sure whether those are distinct events.

Obama lies! He knows what he did. Anyone who's flipped off someone by coughing, scratching knows exactly what he did. That whole sequence not just the 30 second clip you see there, was a mockery towards hillary clinton.

Obama is a liar! Hypocrite! Please...you want change...stop being arrogant. Stop whining about getting owned by Hillary clinton and ABC in the debate.

You want to be a President? Grow up man. Be a man. Stop lying.

You lost my vote!

Of course they would deny it, but if this was either McCain or Clinton they would be all over it. When I saw it I knew exactly what he was doing, but just for the sake of argument when my kids got home from school today, I showed the video to them without letting them see any of the headlines or writings about it. I asked them to watch it and tell me tell what they felt about what he was saying. When it got to the part in question, the first thing my son did was point to the video and say no way! did you see that, he just gave Hillary the finger, my other two also spotted it. I pretended to be shocked and asked where? They then pointed it out to me and when I asked are you sure that's what he's doing, they said "Oh c'mon mom, are you blind how could you miss that"

You got your response Andrew ... well done ... can we move on now?

OF COURSE he meant to give her the finger. And OF COURSE, Obama cultists rushed to his defense. Obama is a shameless manipulator and this Democrat will be campaigning hard for Senator McCain if Obama wins the Democratic nomination--and you can be sure I won't be alone.

what a coward. he thugs it up in front of the home town crowd, and then says he was "inadvertently" making gestures which most people find deeply offensive. great. i guess he wants to be the first gangsta president.

On Colbert last night it looked like the same kind of mean spirited attack. Both Hillary and John Edwards mocked themselves. Only Barack took the chance Stephen threw him to mock himself too, to mock Hillary. She'd done a routine in 'fixing' the monitor, and Stephen asked Barack if he thought Hillary was glad she'd fixed it for him. I felt slapped by his unseemly enjoyment of Hillary having fixed something that he was able to use. Of course her campaign is on fixing Bush's big mess, and if she can fix it for eight years, someone like Barack might indeed take advantage of her hard work. he had a chance to make fun of himself, but, no, he made fun of her. That made me realize that it's personal with him, he's not in this like she is, he's really angry with her, and it shows. He simply hasn't the demeanor to take on this job, especially since he thinks he doesn't need foreign policy advice. If he gets the nom and she works hard to get him elected, i think it will be a very strange presidency, although it can hardly be stranger than the last one.

Next, Obama's gang of paid liars will be telling us that Obama didn't make a stabbing motion with his hand and that he didn't reference Jay-z's song titled "Dirt Off Your Shoulder " when he made that gesture on his shoulders and that he didn't make the gesture where he was wiping the excrement off of his foot.
Google "Jay-Z dirt shoulder lyrics" and read those vile lyrics that Obama and his supporters think are so cool.
That gesture alone and it's dog whistle call to Jay-Z''s vile mouth are enough to disqualify Obama from the White House.
That man is dragging America down hard.

Andrew, you're grasping at straws and trying to create a story where there is none. I won't even point out the absurdities of your claim, many others have... You should be ashamed of yourself and you know it. Given your political background, you clearly have an ax to grind against Obama. Shame on you for denigrating the profession of journalism and using it as a political vehicle to engage in character assassination of the nastiest sort. I hope people see through your BS and that the LA Times has the sense to send you on your merry way to the retirement home. I will never read an article, book or blog entry written by you. Sir, you have no conscience or humility. What's even more sad is that I doubt you care.

I'm sure Senator Obama wasn't giving the finger to HIllary, but if he was, who could blame him?

Malcom,

For somebody your age you should ashamed to be involved in such trivial imbroglio. That`s what you teach your children, huh Dumbo? Do whatever it takes to get attention.
You guys went so low, no wonder you got sued by P.DIDDY.
OBVIOUSLY YOU DIDN`T LEARN THAT MUCH FROM YOUR IMMIGRANT PARENTS.

Of course this is a lie...what would you expect?

I have spent the better part of yesterday night emailing news organizations and DNC party leaders.

I also sent a message of outrage to Howard Dean at

http://www.democrats.org/page/petition/chairman

I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I will not support this guy after his crude behavior. I urge all of you who care to do the same.

I'm not a voter, full disclosure; I'm a Canuck.

That said, I have a set of eyes and ears and he looked awfully self-satisfied with his sly gesture. I think he knew what he was doing and giving the finger to a woman is pretty uncouth, I think.

Oh, I'm not one of Senator Clinton's defenders... I'm with McCain, to the degree which my opinion matters, which it doesn't. And I think tearing into her on any political or ethical matter is way cool in a campaign.

But the finger? Low class, Senator Obama.

If it was Clinton or Mccain a move like this would not have even been noticed. So what does it mean when he scratches his head?

It is two fingers, you morons. I am still real ticked off about what you posted yesterday. Here is the photo: http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll11/moreperfectunion/TwoFingersABC.jpg

Next time, get your facts straight before you publish some right wing Hannity taliking point.

Wow - seriously? This is an issue?

I guess I never would have known, if the PRESS THAT ROLLED OVER ON IRAQ hadn't let me know that Obama was flipping someone off... (Ahem - sorry for shouting.)

To the best of my knowledge, there was only one speech given in Raleigh. When you compare the videos they are from different angles, which is why there appear to be different people in the audience. However, the audience reacted to what they saw, just as many internet viewers have-his supporters felt he was flipping the bird and he didn't correct them if they were wrong. Let's say for the sake of argument that it wasn't intentional, it shows that he's an amateur in the political arena. Such a gesture (intentional or unconscious) while president could cause an international incident if made in the wrong circumstances. Howard Dean howls and he's out of the running, and with this Obama has shown he still belongs in the "Not Ready For Primetime Players"....

After seeing Obama give Hillary "the finger", I won't be voting for him, if he becomes the nominee.

Senator Obama is an arrogant liar. He does not deserve the Democratic Party’s nomination. He should apologize to all the women in the world for his indecent gesture.

I think Andrew Malcolm is a very perceptive and professional journalist .Perception seems flawed miserably in the Obama naive and gullible histerics posting
on this umptieth denial of yet another no brainer by the
endorsee of gov. Judas and that other nobody who
believes in a santa-Claus state and never met a taxe hike
he didnt fall in love with.Obama showed his lack of the
most elementary civility in such a hypocritical manner that
the most casual observer detected immediately.Only the
blind sycophants of moove on org were mystified and they are shooting the messenger, fooling only themselves

I know and everyone else knows good and well he was doing it and I also know as I'm sure everyone else does too, that had this been the other Candidates, the Obama Camp and Obamabots would be raising hell over this. Deny it all some of you may want, it's a fact.

why do conservatives in American politics act all masculine and act like they are really badass.

eg( the republican talking point about about how poor people don't deserve welfare and are lazy.)

but when this finger incident came up conservatives where all offended and politically correct?

you cant have it both ways.

I know and everyone else knows good and well he was doing it and I also know as I'm sure everyone else does too, that had this been the other Candidates, the Obama Camp and Obamabots would be raising hell over this. Deny it all some of you may want, it's a fact.

I don't get it?? Is the big fuss that this article is making for real? Or is the author employing irony, a la Stephen Colbert, to make a point about the sad state of the corporate media. After watching that debacle of a debate I could appreciate a little biting irony that challenges us to reflect upon our absurdity. While I applaud the effort to make us ponder the depths to which we've sunk, I think you should go back to the drawing board because I almost though you were serious.

After the ABC debate, I told my son that American media had finally hit bottom, that it was simply not possible for them to be more idiotic or more craven in choosing the "issues that matter".
Clearly, I spoke too soon. The same gutless wonders who failed utterly to provide any sane reporting on the run-up to war, who continue to fail by neglecting to cover this administration's trashing of the constitution, have now discovered finger-gate.
I suppose it fits right in with the "McCain called his wife a c-word" stories, and the "Hillary said f-ing flag" stories, but can we please talk about something significant before this country falls apart?

Now let's sit back and think about this for a moment.

He wouldn't do that in a way that was clear to EVERYONE, because that would be too obvious, right?

Therefore, assuming for the sake of argument that he did it, he nonetheless did it in a way that was NOT OBVIOUS to everyone.

So, if he did it in a way that was NOT OBVIOUS to everyone, it is, by definition, NOT OBVIOUS what the gesture meant.

If it's NOT OBVIOUS what the gesture meant, then we should not be having this conversation. Go to bed, kids.

Tell you what... ask a 16 year old boy what Obama was doing with both the "scratch face" gesture and the brush shoulders gesture. It is 100% crystal clear. 100%

I asked my twin sons and all their friends to watch the video and they were whooping with laughter, same as the audience who was watching Obama. These are EXACTLY the covert gestures which they would make to disrespect an adult who they dislike (teacher etc). They'd do the face scratch in such a way that only they and their friends "get it". It is irrelevant if the video shows "2 fingers or 1.5 fingers". That's the way it is done, do it but don't get caught.

Obama's behavior certainly made him seem "way cool" in their eyes. So I guess he reached his target audience? Kids?

Not to sound judgmental and old, but this does not inspire a lot of confidence in me! I expect this kind of juvenile behavior from my sons and their friends, but is this the type of behavior we want from a President?

Obama is nothing more than yet another in a long line of narcicistic, juvenille, dirty politicians. How sad.

Most of the comments posted here are representative of the fears of most of our nation and most of the world... Uninformed, childish individuals herded in to support leaders that speak to their baser wants. That's how we got Bush, and we people like Clinton and McCaine even have a chance.

I believe Obama knew exaclty what that scratch was, His way of telling not just Hillary But all who ask him questions that he dont want to answer, to F- - - Off, this guy is the right hand of RV Wright Wake up America, this Obama will be worst then Bush!

IF YOU LOOK AT A RECENT HILLARY SPEECH YOU WILL NOTICE THAT SHE MADE A SIMILAR MOTION WITH HER FINGER. THE ONLY DIFERRENCE IS THAT SHE WAS SCRATCHING THE LEFT SIDE OF HER FACE SO SHE USED HER LEFT HAND. I DID NOT VIEW THIS AS ANYTHING SINISTER.THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE HERE.THE REPORETR WHO TRIED TO GET ATTENTION FROM THIS NEEDS TO GET OUT OF THIS FIELD. MAYBE HE SHOULD TRY GARBAGE COLLECTION. AS FOR HILLARY SHE SHOULD TRY STOP LYING ALL TOGETHER. WHEN SOMEONE TELL THESE LIES SO OFTEN AND SO EASILY THEN MAKES FUN OF HERSELF IT MEANS THAT SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH HER.I DO HOPE THAT ITS NOT THE AGE, ALCOHOL, OR MEMORY LAPSE.IF IT IS ANY OF THE THREE THEN SHE SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED FOR THE WHITEHOUSE PREIOD. SHE HAS BEEN RECENTLY IDENTIFIED IN A BEHIND-DOOR FUND RAISER EVENT TO HAVE DOUBLE- TALKED THE MOVE-ON ORG WHO WERE SO HELPFUL TO HER HUSBAND IN HIS OWN DIRE SITUATION.SHE WAS CAUGHT ON TAPE JUST LIKE OBAMA WAS. HERE IS A LITTLE QUOTE. "SPEAK THE TRUTH AND SPEAK IT EVER, COST IT WHAT IT WILL,BECAUSE HE WHO HIDES THE WRONG HE DOES , DOES THE WRONG THING STILL.THIS CAMPAING HAS GONE FAR TOO LONG AND THE PENNSYLVANIANS HAVE THE POWERS TO END IT ON 4/22/08.PENNSYLVANIANS HAVE BEEN NEGLECTED OVER THE DECADES JUST LIKE MOST OTHER PEOPLE NATIONWIDE. I AM SURE THEY TOO ARE TIRED OF THE NEGLECT AND THE OLD POLITICS AND NEED A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. 08 IN ANY DECADE IS THE YEAR OF THE NEW BEGINING.THE DEMS NEED TO START DIRECTING ALL THEIR STRATEGIES ETC TO JOHN MCCAIN NOW. NOT TWO OR THREE MONTH FROM NOW .THE PENNSYLVANIANS ARE WELL AWARE OF THIS AND AND WILL BRING AN END TO THIS PROTRACTED OBAMA/CLINTON FIGHT COME PRIMARY DAY. PRECICTION------------------52% TO 48% IN FOVOR OF OBAMA.

Yes, the longer version of this video clearly shows that he did, indeed, intentionally give the finger when talking about Hillary. I will in no way ever vote for this person now. This is not someone I would ever want to follow as a leader.

What OBAMA did is very commonly done by people especially teens in high schools. He was addressing a high school group and KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING. He is showing his BLACK GHETTO SIDE!! He is not fit to be president or even senator.

I guess everybody seems to be reading "between" Obama's fingers... Good!

Let me get this one straight.

The Times is asking us to interpret as "the one finger salute" a mid-speech gesture by arguably the most disciplined and thoughtful candidate in recent memory, a man who has staked his very candidacy on putting civility back into politics?

If you're going to float BS -- at least float believable BS.

Like my 12 year old says - some grown ups never grow up . This is the heights of absurdity. You would think there is more to the presidential candidate reporting than trying to make a mountain out of a innocent scratch. Goodness sake!!! The media needs to grow up and report news adult to adult.

y wood he do thyt :'(

ok u r me now man

I've been reading blogs about this matter for the past two days and I find it very interesting that no one who was present at the event has written anything in Obama's defense, that no one has come forward to explain why else the crowd chose that particular moment to laugh, clap and cheer. In a speech full of sly gestures, gestures count.

Can the Obama supporters see the finger I use to comment on their blatant and childish behavior defending this man and his obscene gesture? Get it? The door swings both ways. There are many out here who do not appreciate Obama or his minions. We'll let you know for sure IF, and that's a big if, he makes it to the election.

Please consider watching this from a side angle. From the side Obama is using two fingers.
http://www.mydd.com/comments/2008/4/18/102120/357/8#8

Yes, it's clear, Obama did give Hillary the finger. I'm a democrat but I refuse to join a hateful cult. A hateful cult is what Obama and his supporters are. They are mean and angry. They might even try to harm some people who do not agree with them. If Obama is nominated I will vote for McCain. Obama has divided the democrates and this country. His supporters continually say insults and lies about Hillary. Obama is full of lies and cheap shots, no experience and questionable associates. He is not fit to be president of this country.

It's one finger, in two different speeches, same sentence, same finger stroking his cheek after the exact same line.

Who are you trying to kid?

A picture is worth a 1,000 words. It is disgusting that a person running for President of the US resorts to flipping the bird when talking about another United States Senator or for that matter using other gestures associated with gangsta rap. Obama thinks he is going to gain votes doing this? I know several he lost after they saw this piece of trash.

Earlier in the speech, before where LA Times cuts it, Obama also brushes his cheek. It's something he does a lot. And he wasn't speaking about Clinton then.

Here's the picture of Obama "flipping off" Hillary Clinton from a different angle: http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=10162 Unless they added an extra finger to the bird, it sounds like Andrew Malcolm owes Obama an apology. I won't hold my breath waiting for it.

Hello, there are *two fingers* there.

He scratches his face with two fingers, but we're supposed to conclude that it was secretly an attempt to get people to think that he was only using one finger, all part of his planned speech, because as we all know, flipping someone the bird is a time-honored way to earn votes?

Are you people completely out of your minds?

The man can't even scratch his face and he is being accused of flipping the bird. I guess we are going have to watch for the next three days him scratching his face as some major issue as evidence of his electability. What's next. We are definitely in the silly season. This primary season has gone on way too long.

That misperceived scratch was not the gesture people were laughing, clapping and cheering at, folks. Do you think an entire crowd can be so immature? It's not clear from the angle presented here, but the crowd clearly saw him jabbing forward while referencing Hillary's stabbing and twisting of a knife, and that was when they reacted.

Please see the official video release:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlR9DNfqGD4

This entire thread of comments and the huge chain of comments on this article's precursor (some made by supposed ex-Obama fans publicly disavowing their support) simply underscores the degree to which people's perceptions are immersed in false stereotypes. When we perceive what we think we should perceive, we avoid thought itself.

Wow... you people deserve exactly you what you will get if you fail to elect Obama. I can't believe how uneducated the people of America are. It's sad, actually. You are in a seemingly never-ending war. Your gas is approaching $4 per gallon. You don't have a respectable health-care or education policy. And you are debating whether one candidate gave another the finger? It's clear to the rest of the world how your citizens have been hoodwinked by the Bush administration. It's bound to happen again and again.

Ridiculous, people that call themselves Democrats saying they'd vote for McCain if the OLD AND TIRED Hillary and her politics of the past doesn't win the nomination? They're not Democrats and don't know the meaning of the word, John McCain can have you.

Hillary said it herself in the 1992 campaign: History is made by the FIRST TIMERS.

Not the OLD timers.

 
1 2 | »

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics


Categories


Archives
 



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: