Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

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

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

To get notices on each new Ticket item sent to your cellphone, go here and register. We've got tomorrow's vote and then, immediately, construction of a new White House administration

Comments () | Archives (564)

The comments to this entry are closed.

It depends upon what the meaning of "is" is.

Interesting that you should profess such confidence that we should be hearing much more about this "incident" in the coming days. Since you're not in the predictions business, I have to assume your confidence is based on some solid information. So if you were led to this "incident" by the Clinton campaign or its surrogates, I think that is newsworthy enough that it should be disclosed. Clearly Obama's remarks were effective and likely displeased the Clinton campaign, so it would not be surprising that they would look for something to pick at, no pun intended.

Are you nuts? Are you out of your freaking gourd? He scratches his face. He scratches his face! With one finger, unlike most guys who scratch their faces with both thumbs.

Get a life!

You must be affilated with ABC. They're also a pathetic excuse for a "news" organization. We have brave soldiers and citizens dying in Irag, people who have lost their homes, children without healthcare, an economy in a tailspin and this is what you consider news. What a joke!

There is another angle of this and it is clear what Obama is doing. He pauses, smiles, laughs and two women behind him whisper to each other and giggle. Then the crowd goes wild. There is no doubt about it, he is giving a subtle message to Hillary to go *&^% herself.

Go ahead and minimize, Obamabots, but this has gone viral now. He gave Senator Clinton the finger, and it's there for all to see.

The LA Times used to be set as my home page. After 30 years of using it as my main source of news, I'm giving it up completely. This standard that the LA Times has set is lower than I'm willing to go.


All of the sudden I'm really dissapointed with the direction this whole thing is headed. What a joke, in light of the pain, suffering and peril our nation faces.

Of course he knew what he was doing, hence the little smirk. Just another nail in his coffin if he is the Democratic nominee. This man is not Presidential material, no way, no how, and if this little gesture is indicitive of what has become acceptable behavior in selecting the leader of the free world, God help us all.

Obama's a tool just like the rest of the politicians in this country. If you really want to change Washington then you ought to pick up a gun an do it 1776 style.

Okay, now this is as ridiculous as Bill Clinton making a gesture with one finger while talking about Monica Lewinsky while smoking a cigar !

What next, the Obama nation bugging Billary's sex life? While In ecstacy you have Bill and Hill joyfully screaming;

"OOOOH? BAM !..Ahhhhhhh".

You be the judge on who is saying what. Does that mean they are both thinking of Barack? Or were they just in the moment, as Obama might have been.

Keep on Clinton nation, it is indeed desperation time. My illustration of Billary's sex life is as far-fetched as this video, for cryin'-out-loud !

I can not believe that someone posted this video as something meaninful to see. This Clinton machine needs to start addressing important issues. In if I were Barack, I were not even mention stupidity like that, thats what Clintons people want to do, dirty politics.

This is so silly. No way is that a rude finger. Is this what Hillary needs to win now? Pathetic.

Mr. Malcolm you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself for making something out of nothing. Unbelievable.

That's right, if you play it backwards Obama curses Clinton too - you should try it.

Hey JJ12345-are you a sociologist? Or anthropologist? Perhaps you should post the research that supports your ridiculous assumption. I happen to scratch my face with my middle finger-use it to clean the gunk out of my eyes too. Its a family trait. Get a grip.

You cannot be serious! Obama keeps his cool through all of the crap thrown out there, crazy emails, insane accusations, and you think he'd risk everything like this? On some petty 3rd grade gesture? You are out of your mind.You have officially lost all credibility.

If he intentionally did make a slight, he is no better than a pre-teen.

As a student of journalism and an admirer of the LA Times, I am ashamed this made the news cycle.

Exactly the kind of sly behavior I have come to expect from Obama - and the denials are the behavior I expect from his supporters.

i think folks need to visit a library and spend more time reading than all this silliness to feed the media. perhaps, just perhaps we could focus on the real issues facing this country. and I am far from being a young person as people who support Mr. Obama are claimed to be. I am in his opponents age group 65 to be exact.

He just got my vote ! Read between my fingers Hillary !

Never mind the finger, what's all that whining about? What a wimp! got his butt kicked in front of millions in the debate by a girl, and he comes back with these childish remarks. yeah, he's presidential material. This is why McCain is going to mop the floor with Barack....what, does he need his wife to do the debates for him? pathetic.

I think this is's not at all "obvious"...his "sly smile" comes much later.

The woops from the crowd are in reaction to what he's saying: that Clinton was right in her element of GOTCHA politics. Let the man scratch his cheek for crying out loud without the tawdry press looking for something to chirp about.

real issues will never be discussed as long as our time is spent on such issues. and this is true of all parties


An African-American male "supposedly" flicking-off a rich white powerful female politician !

Okay, this is supposed to sabatoge Obama's reputation, how?

Hillary is at a point where "she can do no right" and is way over her head in "dishonesty" that Obama's rude gesture -even if it were calculated - just may win him more supporters!

HE' S DONE...........stupid thing to do five days before an election...he's gone...........

Wow, life imitates a Seinfeld episode once again.

I guess that makes Donnie and all the HillBots on this board George. Paranoid. Insecure. Neurotic. Chubby. Slow witted.

If you go to the and Yglesies's blog, you find a direct video, not a cellphone capture of the TV, you'll see he used two fingers.

But hey, Donnie, politics is hard. I don't blame the retard HillBots, they are old and uneducated and, um, let me see if there is a good word to describe them ... bitter. Ellen and Palamino and the usual old, stupid trolls on this board see what they want, and they could always go to You Tube and get outraged. Or Taylor Marsh's site for single, bitter, menopausal women.

But for an alleged reporter from the establishment press to dignify this is just beyond stupid. After your defense of Boy George and the debate and now psoting this, the MSM rot is deeper than I could ever imagine. No wonder your medium in dying and the LA Times is tanking. Should have taken the buyout, fool. Have fun working for Sam Zell. Stupid fool.

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

Hey Andrew,

you are out of your flipping mind!! Take a vacation and don't come back. How dare you post this garbage.


If Bill was speaking at a press conference and made this same gesture, I don't think he'd be thinking of Hillary ! It would probably be signal for Monica to go to corner market, buy a fresh box of cigars and with his shy-smile serves as a reminder to leave the light on.

Well, if those who created this video have a point of view, I could use my imagination too !

This campaign is getting fun !

You know, if we were in France, and thier potential leader prompted the same exact same gesture against his rival, there would not be this much "hoopla".

If Bill Cinton, were at a French press conference, and conducted himself in a similar fashion, it probably means that Gennifer Flowers is waiting to "water his loo".

Thank you so much for exposing this communist, pinko, fascist boy from being elected and ruining God's own America. 96 more years in Iraq!

I can't believe I thought this was worth throwing may career as a Really Important Blogger away. What am I going to tell Mom?

And you call yourself a journalist?

I'm embarrassed for you. More idiocy from the American press.

He's a jerk.

are you kidding me? this is ridiculous and shallow. Please grow up.

It's official: covering the presidential race causes brain damage.

You're a moron.

Stupid story,
I've scratched my face with one finger in the past and probably with my middle finger without even thinking about it

Folks like you are what's wrong with "journalism" and politics. Engage your brain in something more serious and meaningful, if you're capable.

Well if Bill denies having any sex with Monica, why can't Obama deny that this gesture was calculated?

America is unique in that most Americans believe we have free press in this country, and so long they believe it the press will continue to praise themselves. It is hard to find a country, historically or now, in which journalists are capable of praising themselves all the time for writing freely whatever they want while disregarding the fact that if they did write anything, over a long period of time, that would not please their owners they would not be in that position in the first place. That is also reflection of a more broader intellectual culture that allows for dissent but only on comfortable issues where outcome, one way or another, does not matter.
In that context, journalists are allowed to write about Obama's finger as much as they want and let the public comment on it. This way we are forced to accept a general frame of debates during which nothing of importance to the people can be discussed.


Look at this video that's not ads grainy and from a better angle, both the middle and index finger are extended:

You guys all so tired of getting nailed by Jon Stewart and Stephen Clobert that you're just parodying yourselves now??

If anyone outside of the most overzealous and truth-challenged of Hill's Shills seriously believes that Obama was flipping off Clinton...well, I'd sure like some of whatever it is you've been drinking (or smoking)!


I've done exactly that myself many a time. I'm not gonna take sides here, but I know one when I see it. And he flipped her off.

Is this a joke? I watched the video 5 times before coming to this website, and not once did I see the so called "obscene gesture". I guess the media has decided to really take Obama down. This is beyond stupid.

I'm a clinton supporter, and even I can support journalism like yours. This is pure garbage, go back to journalism school.

I watched this a few times and I have to say its a tough call. He "scratches" his face, but I don't see an immediate smile or smirk. He takes a pause, hooting ensues, and then he continues. Maybe he smiles because he made an obscene gesture or maybe because he is reflecting on what Hilary Clinton has said from before. I think its hard to say.

Of course he flipped the bird! It is completely obvious that is what he is doing. The audience knows it too, that is crystal clear.

Taken in context of what he's saying and the other gestures he uses (turning the knife, brushing the dust off his shoulders), it is obvious... not even subtle.

Any young person would immediately read, understand and "get" those gestures he's making (and they clearly did). The brushing his shirt is a rap reference to a Jay-Z song.

What an arrogant jerk. Good grief. Can the press please call him on this bigtime? This guy might be President!?!

« | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 11 12 | »


Recommended on Facebook


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



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: