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.

Great job LA Times, National Inquirer would like to hire your editors. Your quality control is amazing.

wow... are you really this dumb or just regurgitate what other people post on u tube and hope someone pays you?

I think this spin shows that you are an idiot. There's nothing more to say about that. The crowd was cheering Obama saying Hillary was in her element, after he had just said how scummy Washington politics has gotten.

This is a no-story. How absurd that Mr Malcolm would want to make a headline out of such trivial nonsense.

This is exactly the kind of passive agressive game Obama has been playing throughout this campaign.

You have to see the whole video to make the judgment but really he did give Hillary the finger gracefully although. He smiles as the did the crowd and chuckled. I was watching the speech and lone by hold the finger was presented, it was loud and clear to me. Turning into ghetto...

I also note there is no flag pin on his lapel. Maybe you could look into that as well. With the debate and today's coverage, I'm wondering what is driving creadible news organizations to emulate noted non-journalist Sean Hannity. Actually, it's a little crazy making. Can we have a little real reporting? Please?

(We did the disappearing flag pin one Thursday morning.)

I watched this very carefully and I cannot agree with your obserevation, Mr Malcoml. It's very evident to me that he was simling graciously at the whole idea of Clinton "twisting the knife", not because of any sly finger gesture on his part. That's the kind of interpretation a delinquent child would make. I have to agree with the mejority. You are cluiching at straws here.

Are you guys really getting paid for this stuff? At a newspaper where real reporters are getting laid off? And you sleep OK at night how, exactly?

So how much are Hillary shills being paid? How do you and your ilk enjoy being minions of that shitstain on our Congress?

I swear, I can't tell if this is a joke..

This one is straight from the pages of The Onion!!

What do I think?

I think you should stop embarrassing yourself and your profession.

It must be rough having to manufacture news. Are you paid on a 'per post' basis or did you have a deadline?

Doesn't seem like much to me. But then again when Bill Clinton mentioned Jesse Jackson during the SC primary Bill was called a racist by the Obama people. Obama started the dirty gotcha campaigning so sorry kids I have no sympathy for him now. I think this could be big over the weekend.

So the LA Times has become the OC Register?

Calling all Obama supporters...what aren't you getting?

HE DID IT TWICE today!! TWICE! It was no scratch.

(scroll up to see the link to the 2nd CBS video)

Just one more example now coming to light about your candidates absolute lack of personal character. Isn't any of this opening your eyes?

This is a perfect story for the mainstream media. It ranks right up there with following every move of Britney Spears or Paris Hilton and starting every Iraq story with the number of soldiers killed. What we didn't understand before is that the board of the LA Times is now populated by 14 year old boys. The journalists are 13 and editors are 15. Good Job, Guys!

People who are supporting Obama are hardcore supporter. He literally give the finger to you and you all will still follow him and say he is only joking. Hahahahahaha

I'm am disgusted that a man of such years does not have dignity enough to disregard something as trivial as a simple itch. This is why I'm disgusted with society today. The sensationalistic (read: yellow) journalism of today makes finding worthwhile news impossible.

Why are newspapers posting blogs online? Journalists are there to write news with whatever facts they can gather. Their opinions should only be available online if it's on a personal blog APART from the newspaper. Am I being forced to turn to international news sources to actually find news about my own country? It appears so.

LA Times, I know your paper has been suffering but this is a new low. You make me sick. Plain and simple.

He smiled slyly because he delivered a line about Hillary being in her element in that negative, substanceless environment and the crowd reacted to it exactly the way they were supposed to. It's the same as Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart smiling after delivering a laugh line that the audience responds to. You're a joke.

The downward spiral of the LA Times. Chuck Phillips taken in by a wannabe hip hop thug, Tiger finishes 3rd, and now Obama's salute. Next I guess the Times will be reporting that when you record and play Hillary's cackling laugh backwards you hear "Die, Hussein, Die!" Sad to watch. Really sad.

Some commenters here are saying that he did it twice, in two different videos. I'm not sure that's true. I think it was the same venue and the same speech, just different camera angles. But even once is bad enough. And the CBS video is VERY clear. It's unmistakable.

can someone with a windows machine watch the greenville speech and see if he repeats the gesture there ...

he was in greenville and raleigh yesterday...

the video posted in LAtimes is from the raleigh speech...

wonder if he did the same thing at the greenville speech as well....

This is without a doubt the worst piece of journalism I have ever seen in my entire life. Even Bat-boy from the National Enquirer was more believable than what you're trying to to sell here. Please send me a list of names of people who agree with your take on this video; I've got some bridges I'd like to unload for cheap.

Just shameful.

He did it TWICE in the same day in different locations with the same speech and both times he raised his middle finger up at the same general part of the speech.

It is very hard for that to be coincidental. Problem is it's not a surprise. Mr Obama represents a whole new kind of politics...and it's more change than most people are going to want.

I remember I had a teacher who once stood there with her middle finger up, and the class of kids burst into hysterical laughter, and she never knew why. Thanks for reminding me of that funny scene.

(Well, we're here to serve, Marie. Thanks for sharing. Made us smile too.)

Andrew Malcolm is an idiot.

Obama's smile is more likely than anything him realizing why the crowd started to laugh. But no, Malcolm is sure. This is unbelievably stupid.

This has to be the weakest insinuation in the entirety of recorded history

This is something i would expect from Fox News.
Congratulations from New Zealand.

Network news has jumped the shark.


No wonder this country is going into the toilet. There should be an IQ test for being allowed to partcipate in dispensing the news to the masses...anything above the IQ of a rock should be high enough...

Are you kidding me...? My god man get a friggin grip...

of course, u'll find no obama supporter agreeing, but u sure can hear the cheers from them in ncarolina, and a pause by obama to regain his thoughts to continue. yet, his campaign continues to paint hillary as a lair and bitch, she aknowledge she misspoke about bosnia, yet they continue the march, unfortunately blind to unprofessional immature actions of their candidate, as shown in this video, perhaps not blind (?), maybe OBAMA was in his element, which condones this type of behavior as the norm.......hmm., makes one wonder, would OBAMA made such a gester in san francisco at that high yeild fund raiser. I doubt it! Where is national news coverage from CNN< ABC< CBS< NBC

as we see obama's gesture picked up by eager preying 'pundits' it is turned into a factual obscenity by the vilification of alleged intent purposefully linked to an observed action - regardless if that might have been coincidental or deliberate in the first place; anyone familiar with both the crude and subtle pr(opaganda) and censorship techniques employed routinely by the corporate controlled media these days that don't even stop short of all but consistently and predictably omitting the name of the most successful and only serious, but unloved-by-plutocracy finalist in the presidential race from public discussion or trying to mute his message by ridicule, (talking about RON PAUL, of course), can tell.
but who holds copyright for the questionable image created or presented above, malcolm or obama? is the 'artful' manipulation and transformation of public stupidity into public stupor a process that justifies a claim to copyright? well, after they got you to buy the idea that dna can be patented, or that a human being has no rights unless someone claims the 'authority' to 'grant' them to you, or that the constitution of the american republic is 'just a damn piece of paper' (- g.w. bush)...

This is beyond pathetic. American journalism: can it get any worse?

I thinks Senator Obama did in fact what he is being accused of. He paused long enough until he got crowd reaction, and then he slyly smirked. Yeah he threw the middle finger. I would not expect his followers, oh, I'm sorry, supporters, to be objective.

To be fair, If Senator Clinton had done this, she would be crucified.

Oh, yeah, Obama boys, put your big boy pants on. He got his clock cleaned

is this a joke? are you trying to one-up ABC? the debates were a hard act to follow, but this is just fucking ridiculous. you should be ashamed of yourself.

I think Mr. Obama is truly classless, and not in a good way.

First of all, it's amusing how people have come in here and done the typical statements:

"Oh...Obama supporters are stupid. They'll just come here and deny it".

NO one can 100% confirm that was him flipping her off. As much as you'll grasp at every straw trying to say it was "blatant", it wasn't, and you know it. I see one comment saying "Another nail in the coffin". Guess what? Right now, Obama's winning, so I don't think it's him sitting in the coffin right now. :)

Honestly, I'm ok with this either way. The media jumping on it doesn't surprise me.

If he isn't flipping her off: Fine. The media's going to jump on this and this will be even bigger than the stupid lapel pin issue that's *still* being asked about during debates? Jesus, get over it and talk about real issues.

If he is flipping her off: Guess what, Clinton-supporters? ALOT of the American public agrees with that sentiment, not just towards Clinton, but towards Washington, right now.

To anyone here saying people are stupid because their beliefs differ from your own, you're a great example of the ignorance of the general American populace. Congratulations. You're making us all look bad.

He only did it once. The CBS and LA Times videos are just shot at slightly different angles. Look at the guy just to the left of the big "W" in both videos. It's the same guy.

As for the picture on this page, it's shot at yet another angle. It shows the other end of the big "WE CAN BELIEVE IN" sign.

But wait...who's that guy on the grassy knoll....

Geeze, do people know what a finger gesture even is? Both the index and third finger would need to be bent back, but his index finger was clearly extended. The crown began to hoot because at that very point he said "Clinton looked in her element", because it was witty. If he wanted to give a finger gesture why not make it plain? Would a man of his caliber be that patently childish? Anyone who reads any smut into this is some kind of perverted moron.

I saw the video in its fullest and he did give the finger, there is no mistake. A few of the women behind him on his right side said "Did you see that" as she spoke to her girlfriend. Then they all laughed. no matter who we are you are going to see what you want to see. Not facing the truth is the problem with people today and live in denial. I thought we were smarter than that and focusing upon what is truth and right, not childest things. The human consciousness seems to never change. When are going to get it. I can see why the country is in the state it is in. As adults we can not even show the example for our children. How are we to exspect them to not show hostility towards others. When we can not even handle wards from others.

As my wife just pointed out, and she is the most observant person I know, Obama smiles a lot. That's his nature. He is a naturally happy go lucky, outgoing, friendly person with a good sense of humor and who is quick to laugh along with a joke. He hides nothing. He is open and honest and he is not the kind to be sly. That's rather the province of people in the media apparently.

Oh My Gawd!
He raised his middle finger?!



who gives a crap?

Go Obama!

Ya...I saw Obama today in front of his supporters brushing off last nights' debate as if it were dandruff on his shoulders. Slyly giving Hillary the "finger".
What's the matter? Did those meanies hurt your feelings?

Bittergate, Ayres, Wright and Rezko are fair game just as BosniaGate was fair for Hillary. Obama pretends to scorn this kind of discussion while HIS CAMPAIGN put out at least six memos on the Bosnia flap. Folks that's called talking out of both sides of your mouth.

Obama is just too haughty by half. Our concerns about Obama and his associations are not dandruff to be brushed off cavalierly.

His attitude is reflected in his wife and his supporters.

Below is a transcript from Bill Maher's 3/21/08 show.

MAHER: [overlapping] Big mistake!
HARRIS-LACEWELL: [overlapping] No, right. No, because the issue is now - it's not Barack winning our votes, it's whether or not we're good enough to deserve a leader like that.
MAHER: Well--
HARRIS-LACEWELL: [overlapping] A leader who can stand - no, no--
MAHER: [overlapping] That's not a good thing to say.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: [overlapping] No, well, I mean, I will say--
MAHER: [overlapping] That's not going to get you--
HARRIS-LACEWELL: [overlapping]--I - I will say that I'm not running.
MAHER: Right.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Okay, right. So I will--
MAHER: [overlapping] But, his wife said something similar.
MAHER: Yes, she said, "We're only going to run once. You better get on the train now..."

Here's Harris-Lacewell, a black, female college professor is saying, Obama is BETTER than us and Maher (An Obama supporter) is trying to tone her down because he knows that line of thinking is a loser.

Maher then brings up the statement by Michelle Obama which echoes Harris-Lacewell's attitude.

Well Mr Obama, rest easy, we can survive letting your train go on by.

in the CBS video, you can see the two ladies at the back left of the screan wearing red and black blouses talking. The black blouse woman leans over and tells the red blouse woman "he flipped her off" and the red blouse woman says "oh," nods her head up and down and then begins laughing hysterically.

The apple sure doesn't fall far from the tree does it. I can't believe that a United States Senator can flip off a colleague and his supporters laugh it off.

These people are nuts...they'd blindly follow Obama down to Guyana just like Jim Jones in the past.

>>The crowd began to hoot because at that very point he said "Clinton looked in her element"

Not to mention that the crowd started to react a split second BEFORE he began the gesture.

At best this blog is ridiculous. At worst, it's irresponsible. But in no way is this journalism.

This guy Obama is a product of the Chicago political machine. How can you possibly trust him considering his disrespect for Mrs.Clinton? Of course I don't like him since he will raise taxes like crazy. He has no class and no common sense. How dare he treat a woman like that.

I've read through Obama's supporters "excuses" about his crude, childish behavior. And I say to both Obama and his supporters, he shows how unready he is for the world stage.

Even that ultimate idiot W waited until he was elected to give the "finger".

This is in line which his previous "snub" of Hillary at the State of the Union or his "you're likable enough" comment. He is childish and petulant and needs to grow up considerably before seeking higher office.

I'm amazed he got to the US Senate, perhaps Ferraro WAS correct in saying he wouldn't be where he is were he not black.

He makes elitist comments to an elitist crowd in an elitist neighbourhood in San Francisco, and he gives a trashy gesture again diminishing his colleague at a working-class gathering in North Carolina.

Speaks volumes.

Mr. Malcolm, you ask us, what do you think? I think your massive delusional stupidity that allows you to imagine that someone scratching their face is somehow a personal affront to someone was not even in the room is symptomatic of the larger problem of the political reporting in this country. It might have done you some good to actually LISTEN to what Sen. Obama is saying, since he is calling out irrelevant shoddy journalism like yours. In the meantime, our troops are dying in Iraq and jobs are being shipped overseas. LA Times is in hot water over the FAKE Tupac story and now you try this? There had better be a forthcoming apology for insulting your readers' intelligence or else my family will cancel their subscription of 30+ years and I will tell them exactly why! I will suggest to every last person I know that they do the same. You ought to be ashamed.

You've got to be kidding me. He clearly uses 2 fingers. Your screen shot is the one frame in which is other finger is already curled back down. Watch the video, and zoom in (its a flash player just click your right mouse button on the video) you'll see for yourself 2 fingers.

Furthermore photos from the same event clearly show a two finger scratch.

« | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 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: