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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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Earlier he scratched his face, seemingly deliberately with his BABY finger.The middle finger and the reaction and the coy smirk is as as obvious as can be. And so what? Don't y'all like him more?

Did the LA Times hire a 13-year-old to post here? This has all the maturity of the people I knew in junior high.

What do I think? I think that you are a shallow idiot.

There are plenty to important issues to address and yet you can't think of one?

Just another perfect example of how journalism is going down the toilet and dragging the rest of the country down with it.

There was nothing worthy that he said just before he did that to warrant the cheers and claps.

It very clearly was an elementary-school-type slam with the middle finger.

"You know, Senator Clinton was in her element..she... (sticks up middle finger apparently to scratch his cheek)..."

Who even uses their middle finger to scratch an itch.

And notice how he trails off, and moves his hand in slow-motion.

If it was a real itch, people scratch it very quickly. Not is slow-motion.

Very disappointing Barack! That debate really hit the right spot with you, it seems.

"C'mon this is dumb. I'm taking LA Times off my favorites in protest. Smarten up the content."

Amen. Making something out of nothing. LA Time just lost my readership. Good on ya!

This is serious journalism....for God's sake.....

The country is sliding into depression...and we are interpreting EVERYTHING....he should give speeches with his arms folded....

you are total a disgrace....

This is a man who wants to be Commander-in-Chief and who refuses to wear the flag and standard for our country. You will not have the respect or trust of any soldier who wears the country’s uniform and who protect your freedom if you do not stand up for the people’s right to keep and bear arms as well. This right is an insurance against a government that would take up arms against its own people. Don’t you Liberals get it? The Nazi’s disarmed its Jewish citizens and look what happened when they were dehumanized and re-classed by the elitists in the Third Reich! I rest my case.

Watch this again carefully. It seems quite clear that Barak's smile and pause was related to the unexpected crowd reaction to his unintentional gesture. This unexpected reaction simply caused him to lose his rhythm, resulting in the slight stutter and a mildly "embarassed" smile.

Obama's finally figured (or should I say fingered) out a way to connect with blue collar folks. This'll put to rest all the worries about him being too elitist, and probably garner him a bunch of votes from people who otherwise never would have connected with him.

He obviously despises Clinton -- and why not? -- he's a politician like most other politicians. Power hungry and pissed off at anything that gets in his way. As he clearly is showing us today.

LAT reporter -- Please read this: That is not what was most damning at this speech. Please, LAT reporter, note that when he brushes off his shoulders he is subtling referring to a vulgar f-filled rap video by JZ I think -- and that is why some of the crowd reacted, the ones that listen to that filfth. Why isn't the media reporting this!

Mr. Malcolm. This is a steaming pile of dog poop. Everyone in the country is now slightly dumber by osmosis from your rampant spreading of stupid.

I make the assumption that you are NOT merely being a political shill striking out at Obama in hate, (though this would be more palatable). I instead choose to assume this foolishness is non-partisan hackery brought about by a lack of ethics, journalistic integrity, and humanity.

This story is so very much a non-story of gossiping buffoonery it causes me pain. It is symptomatic of the vapid, air-headed babble that is tearing America apart with gossiping nattering hen-pecks. A death by needles of scornful and a burial underneath piles of BS.

YOU ARE SCUM sir, YOU ARE WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA. Had you any honor left I would advise you kill yourself, instead I merely advise you to quit your job and dedicate your life to some harmless charity which might have a use for your thundering stupidity or at the very least could contain it.

STOP KILLING AMERICA YOU MONSTER. She does not deserve this abuse.

there is no question that the way in which he stopped and put his finger to his cheek and paused that he was definitely giving the finger.
this is very sophomoric behavior and anyone who thinks this man should lead our country must be an idiot. my 13 year old son has better behavior than that.
Obama might talk like he believes he is an elitist, but his actions are more like trailer trash.

Andrew, I think you should retract your story. It's totally irresponsible. It's totally inaccurate. The side view of the same exact moment -- which is readily available -- shows that he had two fingers alongside his face. The notion that Obama is so politically unsavvy that he would flip Clinton off in public is, on its face, absurd. You should be ashamed of yourself, and you should count yourself fortunate if the L.A. Times allows you to keep your job after publishing this garbage.

I give ole Hillary the one finger salute every time I see her on tv, but Obama did not. He was scratching his face as he usually does when he's speaking. If you actually look at it he used two fingers, shocking!! He smiled? He usually does.

No seriously, did you media people not learn anything from the debate fall out? Anything at all?

Does anyone really believe that Obama would knowingly sabotage his campaign just when he is about to win the nomination? It sure is funny reading how mad some of you get though.

Obama is underhanded and he's most comfortable MOCKING... He loves to mock and the smile on his face and the cheers tell it all... He flipped off Washington and Hillary.

This con artist voted for the Bush/Cheney Energy Bills, Takes tons of money from Special interests using a shell game of lawyers, bundlers, and wives... and campaigned for Joe Lieberman against the anti-war candidate Lammont. He's not who he claims to be. His books are bitter, His friends are extremists left and right, and I'm tired of listening to him trash Hillary for 20 minutes and spend the next 20 explaining that he's not negative he's above the fray. DOUBLE-TALK. He thinks he's slick, but being underhanded and passive aggressive, shows no courage. We need someone with courage who can think on their feet in the white house.

The debate questions are the same ones I hear people talking about all over the internet and are legitimate. Obama says he wants to talk about the issues... well we hear him do that and it's always... What She Said. People want to know if he has integrity, or is a con man, and I'd say he has no integrity and he is a con man.

If you took a moment to verify your information you would find various angles of that speach that show he was using two fingers.

You may want to take down this post before you look like a complete fool. Wait, too late.

Linky from another angle.

Next time Obama will scratch his face with that particular finger .....take it from me .... it will be for you. Are you happy now ?

This is the best proof that the media INSIST to STEER the election away from our ERGENT ISSUES. They succeeded to elect twice a presedent we can take a beer with. Fellows latus wory about the troops being killed instead of OBAMA`s finger ??????????????????????/

Nice contribution to our national dialogue, LA Times. You should be very proud.

You would have to be blind not to see this gesture and his "Cheshire cat" grin afterward....the crowd certainly didn't miss it! It was obvious to me the first time I saw it happen. This is another concern...his antics are sophmoric and have no place in an adult presidential campaign. His performance in the debate last night was terrible and he looked weak and whiney....he also exposed his lack of understanding of simple economic issues such as the capital gains tax...WOW! The news media did him absilutely no favor by not vetting him before now. But the idea of voting for someone for president who has not been properly vetted is an absurdity. He will have to show me much, much more than he hs so far if I am to vote for him for anything. And he will certainly have to allow tough questions and be prepared to give reasoned responses without the antics.






Card indexing is not a small scratch when one litter of mail fun turns to laugher you know the outcome was a true fact watching and listening. Those types
of indexing are for home grown jeanjockers.

At two NC rallies yesterday, in response to his miserable showing at the PA debates on Wednesday, Barack Obama gave Hillary Clinton the “finger” gesture. This was not a gesture that can be excused away as a misunderstanding on the part of the media because he was filmed twice, making the identical move at the exact same place in his “speech”. I firmly believe that the gentlemen of this country would find Obama’s move to be as offensive as every woman should. This man wants to be our president, and has the audacity to show such vile disdain for the majority group of the population. There were children in the group as well.

There's no question about it. He most definitely flipped Hillary the bird, and the audience obviously thought so as well. Just more proof that Obama is progressivley decompensating as more and more people focus on what a horrible Presidential candidate he is. Obama is used to running in elections without any real competition. He's not used to actually having to work for it. Just wait until the general election campaign starts. Barry's not even gonna know what hit him.

Obama supporters write this is all BS. But if this clip was about Clinton they would be all over her.

The guy is a shameless politician like the rest. He's just better at playing the people like a fiddle than most.

Im glad someone is showing some journalistic integrity. Give me a break you know I saw Hillary Clinton scratch her face with the same finger to when talking about Obama yet I am not about to say he flicked him off. Grow up and get a life.

We must get rid of all mediamen, followed by pllsters

Are you serious??? I saw Obama speak at a rally of more than 20,000 people at the Madison Kohl Center back in January. I saw him do this (absently scratch his cheek in the same manner) numerous's merely a mannerism. Is there any depth today's journalists won't sink to, to try to get a story, or rather make one out of nothing? I'll be so glad when Barack is elected and all this bullspit will be laughable and forgotten history.

Bravo, Andrew, for having the courage to report this while most other journalists are cowering in fear of the Obama cultists. Keep up the good work. It's people like you who keep me from being completely disgusted with the mainstream media this political season.

God help them all if they straighten a wedgie!

(1) The desperation to create mini-controversies out of nothing is really breathtaking; (2) it doesn't even make sense -- it's not like Hillary is sitting there in the crowd, or likely even watching the rally -- it would at least make a little sense if he was doing that in the debate in response to a question or one of her attacks; (3) Considering that he would just as likely be giving that small based on his oral jab of HIllary, the fact that he smiled does not even come close to proving anything at all ; (4) it is really sad as journalists you're wasting time on the 0.0001% chance he was doing that.

I think Obama was giving Hillary the finger because he pauses at that moment and waits for the crowd reaction to end before he continues with his verbal attack. Obama is such an arrogant hateful jerk! He is a mean person who is clearly not very smart or dignified.

Hillary Clinton is so much better than he is in presenting and having ideas, in putting forth proposals in historical context and in being a true leader. She does not need to debase or demean another person, or call her opponents racist, or his supporters bitter_as he has. Obama just points the finger, whining and blaming others for *HIS* poor judgement in the friend/associations he keeps.

Obama lies about not knowing that his pastor Wright is a racist bigot, not knowing that his slumlord friend Rezco was under investigation, and later indicted for theft, when Obama "bought" the land next to his house from Rezco's wife.

Obama lied about the circumstances of his birth and how his father came to the US, saying the Kennedy family program helped him when in fact his father came before the program started. See the Washington Post article, "Obama Overstates Kennedys' Role in Helping His Father" By Michael Dobbs

Obama lied about his positions regarding issues on a questionnaire he turned in during one of his Chicago political races, until evidence emerged in Obama’s own handwriting showing Obama worked on the answers himself, so those were the positions he held. Obama lied about having nothing to do with lobbyists until it came out that a lobbyist was a key part of his own campaign in NH, at which point Obama simply said that he meant Federal, not State, lobbyists only.

But he is not just a liar, he is a fool.

The New York Times article, Obamas’ Tax Returns Show Donation Spike, states that:

"The 2006 return also show a charitable deduction for a $13,000 donation to the Congressional Black Caucus. It is illegal to deduct political contributions as charitable contributions. The campaign said Mr. Obama had filed an amended return to eliminate that item as a deduction."

Isn't he a lawyer, isn't he supposed to be the preeminent law student? How is it that he turns out to be so ignorant and so incompetent that he makes an illegal political contribution right as he is running for President? How could he not understand enough of the law, or history, or how congress works, to not make such a mistake?

Obama is not fit to be President. He is totally inexperienced and is just going to try to rely on advisors with no vision of his own like George W. Bush has done. Please vote for someone who is smart, even brilliant, as the NYT editorial board described Hillary Clinton. She has been working on solutions to the problems that affect hardworking Americans all her adult life. I am confident that she will understand tax law and make it fairer for the average tax payer.

Hillary will be a great President.

Obama is a gifted speaker - he is very smooth. He knows exactly what he is saying and he knows exactly which gestures he is using. If it was a mistake, why wasn't he embarrassed when the audience reacted?

No one will every be able to prove that this was a deliberate act, but he certainly appeared to be smug and satisfied with what he did.

Pictures are worth 1000 words.....the video speaks for itself.

Neither candidate shows any integrity IMHO

I think he was sending a secret signal to Ayers, Wright, Rezko, Bin Laden and the Illuminati, is what he was doing.

I did not think it possible for the media to be any more pathetic than the moderators last night, but Andrew Malcolm proved me wrong. And the fact that realclear linked to it is beyond the pale.

I like to give my middle finger to the person who posted this video! Don't you people have anything better to do than to try and turn a face scratch into an expression contempt? Jeez, the media really has hit rock bottom.

Classy. "I, uh, err, uhh, I..". Great speaker. All of the Obama sheep are hilarious. You take this guy for his word, yet he has absolutely no experience to back up what he is saying. He is nothing more than a smooth talking car salesman..about to sell you all a lemon. His Socialist & Carter-like pacifism will be horrible for the U.S. Take a look at the friends he keeps..Wright, Ayers, Meeks, and surely more to find out about. He's a pompous, inexperienced unknown who is "Just Words".

No doubt about it---he was giving her the finger and I can't say that I blame him. Hillary knows that she can't get the nomination and she is hell bent on destroying his chances against McCain in the general election so she has a shot in 2012. What a shame that in the process of trying to destroy Obama she is committing us to four more years of war and disastrous economic policies. I forgot, though, she wanted the war in the first place.

I am so shocked by obama's gesture that even though I am a Hillary Clinton supporter, I hope and pray that he did not intend this gesture.
It looked to me like he was flipping the bird and that sly smile as people start oohing and aaahing and laughing.
Can you imagine folks that this "man" might become our president, barely out of high school.\
I am appalled, I just cannot believe this.

This is such crap! Anything this guy says or does is misconstrued! He scratch his face with his middle finger and that is giving HRC the finger! WTF! I guess in your world when he sh*ts, he is making dinner for HRC. Get a grip!

I saw it early this morning and questioned if he was making a gesture. I've seen people scratch their face many times without this thought coming to me spontaneously so I suspect it was intentional. Whether or not it was, the man seems arrogant to me. Who cares though, huh?

Is it my imagination or are the Obamatrons getting more hysterical with every passing failure and gaffe of their "candidate."

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

Really??? Is this what it has come down to? Trying to interpret what Obama was doing while scratching his face.

Wow. It's a good thing nobody cares that 4000 American soldiers have died, 100000 Iraq's (probably much more), the country is going broke, 50000 homes forclosed per month, and 50 million people still without healthcare.

I feel much more informed now. Thanks.

Clear As Day... I have seen the light. This man is a fraud, a liar and a huge hypocrit. He will go down as one of the worst candidates in History. A Racist and an elitist snob.

No - Obama for me Ever!

Liars Constantly touch and scratch there faces when they know they are Lying. Sorry its a fact, blood rushes to your face and you react without any thought.

Well, at least he did not get busted digging for a buggar. That would been big news! ... although this seems to be creating quite a buzz. I say we take this to a vote.

Another thing the mainstream media refuses to cover because it just so happens to be good new for Clinton - former New Jersey Governors Jim Florio and Brendan Byrne pledged their support to Hillary Clinton today, after being chosen Thursday as add-on superdelegates. Their show of support comes the same day US Rep. Betty Sutton announced she too would support Clinton as a superdelegate.

Three superdelegates in one day. But all the press can say is the SDs are moving toward Obama. Apparently not ALL of them are moving that way.

So this is the state of your reporting? A mindless gesture becomes news simply because you want to create controversy where none exists? Your editors should fire the lot of you this instant. I thought flag pins were bad enough, but this crosses the line. You owe Obama an apology, but I'll settle for your jobs instead.

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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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