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Barack Obama makes a one-fingered gesture while speaking of Hillary Clinton

This is one of those political moments that really needs few words.

We'll no doubt hear much more about this incident in coming days.

Right now, we'll just leave this video for Ticket readers to view and judge for themselves. It's Sen. Barack Obama, according to the caption on YouTube posted just minutes ago, speaking to a friendly crowd in Raleigh, N.C., today.

He's talking critically about his opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, and the kind of distasteful gotcha politics that occur in Washington. And he says, "That's all right. Sen. Clinton looked in her element."

Watch the video right then. The presidential candidate raises his right hand to seemingly scratch his cheek.

He doesn't use his whole hand though. Just one finger. Briefly. A couple of strokes.

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

He pauses. He smiles slyly as the crowd begins to mumble and then he tries, somewhat distracted, to continue his remarks, smiling as the buzz spreads through the crowd.

He'll no doubt deny it later, but that mischievous smile seems to confirm plenty. And the crowd sure sees something.

(UPDATE: A new item has been posted on the Obama campaign's reaction to this issue, calling it "absurd and untrue.")

-- Andrew Malcolm

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What do I think? I think the press must REALLY be getting desperate for a news story when Obama can't scratch his cheek without them trying to turn it into a headline.

I'd expect this from 12-year-olds, not from the Times. Grow up, guys!

Kudos to Obama for, like his finger , finally letting his true colors out. It was needed. He is just as Machiavellian as any other politician. And the Wright speech as much as the half-hearted Bitter-Gate apologies lacked honesty, the urgency of being right, because they were extracted, FORCED out of him once he was caught. But that’s OK. No more Kumbaya BS. He’s part of the brothel; just like Hillary, Bill & McCain. Hey welcome to the whore house halleluiah! Now can we select the best girl in the house please?

Andrew: Are you afraid no one is paying attention to you? He scratches his face with his middle finger absent-mindedly for all of a split-second. On top of PastorGate, BitterGate and DebateGate, you would have us play FingerGate now?

Get a grip.

You gotta be kidding? Now, its about HOW he scratches his FACE? Oh my...

Wow you are really hurting for a story. That was hardly a gesture and the crowd's respond and his smile were regarding his "she's in her element" comment. This is the saddest excuse for a "BREAKING STORY" that it should be aired on Fox and ABC. Let me guess, Hannity told you to post this.

stop journalism. you shouldbe ashamed.

It's official, the news media is absolutely moronic.

How is this breaking news?
Is this what this race is turning into? Political blogs scanning You-Tube for things like this? Obama scratching his chin. You're kidding, right? I think this is an example of what Obama mentioned in the debate last night of people obsessing over every comment and movement of the candidates. Let's choose a candidate already and get a Democrat back in the White House.

Obviously, he was reading his script again... which he did not have last night... hence, the globbering by Hillary!

Yes, that was a subtle "finger job", absolutely!

I watched this speech before reading this blog and did not notice that at all. It is clearly not what he is doing, nor do I think the crowds reaction is being correctly portrayed by Andrew Malcom. That would just be to stupid and no way would he (or any other candidate) give fodder to his opposition like that on purpose.

With that said, I would also be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that Hillary's camp already has a new commercial in the works.

I cannot believe you are even dignifying this with a post. You just lost a reader.

He scratched his face. He's been doing it all campaign, sometimes with his index finger, sometimes with his middle finger.

Shame on you. You and your blog are no better than what ABC News did last night.

Another sound bite. Another clip. No context. Nothing but some random person beckoning for us to commit to the same judgmental foolishness that got us to where we are today with the Bush II republicans.

Now, what if he really is giving Hillarity the finger? I say, "Good on him". Give up one for McCain too. And a dozen more for the Bush, Dick, Condie, Karl, and the rest of the turkey farmers. That's why I'm going to vote for Obama. I think that he is the most likely person to stand up and give the Washington establishment the finger on my behalf.

Oh come on... you are just making stuff up.

PLEASE: what exquisite journalism! I actually saw the sign of the cross lingering above his brow there for a moment.

i certainly does look like he did.
but i don't think he's dumb enough to do something like that.
I sure hope he did though.
haha.
Obama '08!!!

Not to me. The middle finger is the longest one and does better scratching any one's face. It was carried out with grace and skill. I've never seen a better scratching done in my life. Very well performed. Good enough for the Olympics.

Ridiculous assumption,! What next, are they going to say he held on to someone's hand too long. Some people have too much time and should watch more TV.

One word: Ridiculous

He's done it many times. Either you are actually an Onion spoof or overtired.

Please, please tell me if you really believe this so, if you do, I can un subscribe.

On the ither hand, if you are joking like I think you are as a way of satirizing last night's nitpicking debate, I give you a lot of credit/

The economy is in the dumps, we are at war, New Orleans is still a disaster, and you are wasting our time with this?

You may notice that it's Sen. Obama's forefinger he's scratching his cheek with. Hardly giving someone a rude gesture like "the finger." I can't believe I'm reading such stupidity on the L.A. Times. After last night's idiotic debate, we now read pointless crap like this on one of our major news sources.

Why have American politics become such a circus. Hardly due to the passionate citizens that truly care about the politicians who serve us. It's because of our idiotic media with stupid, pointless stories such as this. Keep it up -- the mainstream media is digging its own grave.

You call this journalism? Give me a break!

Dear Andrew...get a life! What a waste of time!!! No wonder good people avoid politics. I've scratched my cheek many time in the same manner and wasn't flipping anyone off. After all the BS Obama took over the word "bitter," do you really think that he would intentionally do something this stupid. Obviously, you have much, too much spare time or you're a Hillary supporter. Get a life!

Just typical Obama. Another example of his demeaning attitude toward Sen. Clinton and women in general. He ignored her on national TV during the State of the Union; he is constantly looking past her or with his nose in the air when he is around her. His obvious and not so subtle attempt to flip her off is so blatant and rude, that the media needs to call him on it. If only he did this before yesterday's debate. Hopefully the media will start asking him about it. Shame on you Obama. For the good of the nation, and the party, you need to drop out of the race.

He did it and it was great.

THIS IS WHY YOU DID NOT WIN THE PULITZER PRIZE......YOU WOULD BE BETTER OFF WORKING FOR THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER

You should be ashamed.

amen Mike; let's hope he gives the figer for all of us. If he needs a few extra he can count on me...

This is blog post is of shockingly low quality. I chuckle when newspaper hacks whine about bloggers not being "professional" and then come up with garbage like this.

I have just as much evidence that you, Andrew Malcolm, were sniffing your finger as you dreamed up this mindless, ludicrous, vacuous, worthless drivel. Because it smells like something curious, that's for certain.

This type of "reporting" is emblematic of everything wrong with the mass media's role in "informing" our democracy. When will newsgathering operations see that the trivial horse-race style of covering politics results in leaders getting elected to who can perform in front of cameras but who lack ingenuity or wisdom. The mass media's ability to provide the context of our national debate is alarming, especially since we are all preoccupied with b.s. like reverand wright, "bitterness", and now "the finger" rather than the two million people who will lose their homes, the endless war in Iraq, and irreversible warming of our planet. The only finger i would like to give is to The Times

Umm...You are playing the same political games Obama is trying to avoid.

No one should be basing their vote on what happened in the video, but Obama clearly gave the finger in a sly manner. It was actually pretty smooth. So smooth, in fact, that anyone who points out that he did it is being criticized for grasping at straws. Very well done.

This could be the most brainless and idiotic piece I've read in the Times during the entire primary season. Andrew Malcolm should think about retiring to Palm Springs. He's clearly gone batty. Isn't this just the sort of dumbness Obama was talking about in that speech? Grow up, Times. Your readers are not teenagers giggling and pointing.

What do I think, Mr. Malcolm? I think you're an idiot.

The only thing his single finger represents is your IQ....you're an idiot!

I smell media desperation. Yesterday it was his patriotism, today it is his finger? I mean, why don't we wait till he farts, and then we can lynch him! Geeze!

It took me a while, but i just go the joke..

you arent serious.

you do make a good point though about how crazed this has all gotten

to the other commenters; he;s just joking, right

This story represents just another Washington lightweight reporter. If you've ever dealt with news people like I have, they're just after the quick one liner. They want the headline, not the real story. Whether or not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can handle the presidency is not as important to these news gatherers as is a quick soundbite. Major issues of the day which require a complex mind to analyze are not half as sexy as flag pins, mild associations with acquaitances, and other irrelevant garbage. These are not the issues that define how a leader will perform. They are irrelevant small minded junk that fits the small mind of the reporters who ask them. last night's debate gave us 50 minutes of crap. Timethat could have been spent on Trade, china policy, global warming, and things that really matter. When issues werea addressed, no one bothered to question Hillary Clinton on her astounding pronouncements on the middle east and her beligerant attitude toward Iran. But these reporters were on top of the slips of the tongue that both candidates had made. Great reporting? I think not! Did I just give you the finger? I'm not telling.

He thinks he is so sly, another nail in his coffin. How does he think he can get away with that?

Are we living in 20th century Russia?

Does Obama have to prove that he didn't beat his wife?

Whatever one's intepretation is, there are too many interpretation one can make about too many things. This is really crazy. Is this because of this man's race? I can't take it anymore. The press has gone crazy!

I am outraged. It is OBVIOUS he gave her an obscene gesture. He does it once, immediately after saying her name, the crowd reacts, and as they continue whooping it up, he can't help himself and smirks and laughs too.

What was the crowd responding to? What was he laughing about? It is very apparent and disgusting.

I'm sure the organized Obama supporters will be out in full force raging and denying this VERY OBVIOUS act.

Andrew, can you see what I'm doing with my finger?

What I see is Senator Obama Scratching his face with his middle finger, I believe he is smirking somewhat because he got his digs into senator Clinton And got a rise out of the audiences. What bothers me the most is that if you read body language WHEN A PERSON LIES blood races into there face, and the Liar will usually scratch or tug a part of there face. Obviously blood rushing into someones face is easier to detect on light skin.
So He most likely was lying, if not about Hillary Then at least about how he is hypcritically talking about politics in Washington Being dirty, then simultaneously doing the same mud slinging.

This man is a grade a Scumbag.

This is a joke, right? Please tell me that this is some sort of satire of the triviality of the ABC debate. If so, kudos to you. If not, please stop wasting what little credibility the LA Times has left with this complete nonsense you senile old fart.

Snobama is being revealed for his true colors, a sicko,and the proof is in the people that support him.
More fuel for the republicans to keep the White House, thanks, Snobama and you dummies that follow him like lemmings over a cliff.

Did your brain just fall out of your head? Did some teenagers take over your account and post this to your blog? This is a new low. You've dragged a great paper down into a pile of manure. (Manure of your own making, I might add.) Anyone that thinks Obama is giving anyone the finger in this video is off their rocker. And you, sir, are clearly off yours.

The Obamabots just don't get it, no one uses their middle finger to scratch their cheek. Index finger? Yes. Using the middle finger is awkward and unnatural.

The Obamaites would find some excuse to try and justify Barack's actions if it turns out that Obama is just another crooked Chicago politician.

I have only one suggestion for this reporter: you need help.

More disturbing than thge perceived slight to Senator Clinton, is that Senator Obama shows all the tell tale signs of being a liar. Here are a few:

Pay special attention to their eyes. People tend to look towards their left (that's your right) when they are remembering something that actually happened; and look towards their right when they're making things up. Liars also blink more often.
Sweating. People sweat more when they are not telling the truth.
A person who lies may touch and scratch their face, especially the nose.
A liar will feel uncomfortable when answering your questions, and will often turn his/her head or body away.
If you change the subject of your conversation quickly, an honest person will try to return to the previous subject of conversation, while a liar will suddenly become more relaxed and will welcome the change.

I don't think he was flipping Hillary off while he was thrashing her, I think he was lying and he knew it.
Much more disturbing.

The reaction from the crowd and his smile indicate he really was giving her the finger!

Mr. Malcolm, LA Times editors:
You must think posting to this blog is one big joke. The reporting here, particularly from you, Mr. Malcolm is often trivial and asinine no matter who or what you are reporting about.
I read the New York Times political blog and they are mostly getting it right. Then i come back to my local paper in LA, and this is what we get? The LA Times does not get it.
I come back because i believe this paper has something worthy to contribute and a healthy perspective along with other major papers in the US.
I do believe the staff are honestly trying to save the Times from becoming just another local paper, but posting this it obviously shows just how utterly clueless you are to how best to leverage the internet and the opportunity to show the talent the LA Times has.
If it wasn't clear before, it is hereby official, you are now part of the problem of why an informed national debate, such as can happen in a national election, is almost impossible to have. You are hurting America with this kind of trivialization. I dare you to post this. Shame on you!

 
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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.
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