Barack Obama's past

We got a mountain of reader mail and online commentary on "Obama and Me," by Todd Spivak, February 28. Below is just a sampling:

Yes we can! You know, I actually enjoyed this story. Nothing in it changes my vote for Senator Obama, however. There seems to be a common theme in Senator Obama's career — people feeling that he has not "earned" his current status in politics. However, for me, it isn't a matter of "paying dues," it's a matter of getting things done. For whatever reason, he has been brought to this place and he is uniquely positioned to do something that has never been done before — take the will of the people directly to the White House.

P.S. The ending of this story did come across as just a little bit petty — kind of makes the entire article seem like sour grapes.


Barack Obama

Comment by Nashville_fan

Feelings: Hopefully, there will come a day when reporters stop interjecting themselves into the stories they write. Factual information about Obama's past politics is legitimate and fair game and should be reported. But the focus of this story seems to be the reporter's relationship with Obama and how he "felt" when Obama criticized a story he wrote. Really, do we care? That has nothing to do with anything, except to try to victimize the reporter and make Obama look bad. Do I get to go off and write 2,500 words about how one of my clients got upset with me over something? Reporters need to stop making it about them and stick to reporting relevant facts.

Comment by Mike N.

Change is good: Great article on Obama. Anyone with half a brain would know that he is ambitious and stepped on a few toes to get where he is today.

 It took me a while to get over the fact that this guy decided to run for the presidency after only one term in the U.S. Senate. I thought he should wait his turn and believed that there were others more deserving. But as with many things in life, I realized that this election is not about me or how I want things to be. Other blacks, including our Civil Rights Era parents who resent him for challenging the status quo and taking on the beloved Clintons, need to realize this as well. This election is about America. For America's people to prosper the individualistic attitudes must pass away. Obama's movement is about us helping ourselves and finding common ground.

 It's good to learn that he's not perfect, and that he isn't afraid to piss people off, especially other black politicians who resent his rise because they had nothing to do with it and feel that they can't benefit from it. Working as a staff analyst at the City of Houston's Mayor's Office, I've come across many older blacks who shake their heads and suck their teeth about him — and laugh and shake their heads at me too. But then I smile and shake my head back at them, because I know that if it weren't for them and their struggles, neither Obama nor I would be where we are today. It's a shame that they can't welcome change.

 Andrea Young Jones

Thanks: I read your article and was compelled to write you a thank you note.

During this election, I have been dismayed to see that the U.S. media have ignored the most fundamental principle of journalism to stay neutral and independent and report the truth to the public.

The U.S. media censor themselves to promote Obama and condemn Clinton. This is worse than in China, where the government imposes the censorship. Here in the U.S., the media have the freedom to report the truth, but they choose not to. Have the U.S. media been bought, or blinded by their ignorance?

The media have the responsibility to help voters make informed decisions. But they have failed miserably. CNN disappointed me the most, as it's supposed to be the greatest news channel out there.

I now get information by watching the Euro News, which provides facts, not ­opinion.

Joey Sky
London, UK

More lies: Mark my words. Obama is a dangerous man because he is holding out a dream to people who have lost hope. Unlike George W. Bush, who only promised to make rich people richer (and did), Obama may break this country in two when he does to America what he has done to poor people on the South Side of Chicago. The people with whom his false message resonates the loudest are those most unable to handle another liar in the White House. The saddest thing of all is that were he what he pretends to be, I would be one of his most ardent supporters.

Hillary Clinton has spent 35 years working for women and children, low-income families and middle-class families, helping Americans with access to health care, taking care of our veterans, protecting the environment, and strengthening the economy of this country. She has already made things better.

I am proud to be an American, and I am even prouder to vote for Hillary Clinton for the next president of the USA.

Jennifer Beegle

Duh: It is no wonder that "newspapers" are a dying breed. I wouldn't want the black ink smudge on my hands after reading this poorly researched, obviously biased, attention-seeking piece of trash. Guess you still haven't made it to the serious outlets, and you saw this as an opportunity to jump-start an obviously unimpressive career. But thank you for showing us what an intelligent person already knows: Most politicians have help getting to office (duh); Obama probably pissed some folks off (duh); politicians should back legislation that directly affects their constituents (duh); Obama rose to spotlight because he is able to negotiate with both Republicans and Democrats (duh...isn't that a good thing?); and Obama is obviously very perceptive, as he was able to name your major character attribute (which was overheard at the fund-raiser).

It is depressing what mediocre standards we have for what constitutes journalism these days. I think you should try TMZ...I'm sure they could use your talents there.

Obama '08!

A divider: I cannot believe that anyone in his or her right mind would vote for or endorse Obama after he stated that he "knew how Hillary would react when stressed." He also said that "he knew her claws would come out." He also had the audacity to tell her that he did not "whine" when she released negative fliers about him. What he implied was that women can't control their emotions, and that they engage in catfights and whine. He claims he represents unity, not division, but those are clearly the words of a dividing leader and furthermore, they reflect what is truly in his heart. There is a Polish saying that states, "It is a stupid bird that poops in its own nest." If women vote for him, I hope they get what they deserve and this inexperienced, pompous, provincial, sexist and holier-than-thou gasbag is elected. 

Mary Anne Whitonis
Mountain Top, PA

Good story: I am an older supporter of Sen. Obama's, not the prototypical first-time participant in the political process. (In fact, I'm a 55-year-old white male professional and lifelong Democratic voter who came up through the '60s). I found this article via a hostile comment on The Caucus, the NYT political blog I've become somewhat addicted to during the primary race. I think this is a solid article, and I disagree with those who think the perspective is too personal. I like a good story well told, and I appreciate the author's gritty determination and honesty.

To me, this piece shows that Senator Obama is in fact a human being who has strengths and weaknesses, just like the rest of us. Anyone who develops into an outstanding person goes through a long period of development during which some of his or her behavior is flawed and less than admirable. Examine the life of any great man or woman, and you'll see that process unfold. So I appreciate learning about the messy path my candidate walked on his way to a rendezvous with history. Thanks for a fine story and best wishes along your own path to excellence.

Comment by Owen Scott, III (Ph.D.)

Interesting and informative: Is there any reason why no one else has examined the legislative record of a first-term U.S. Senator who began running for office his first day in that job? 

Cynthia Wolff
New York, NY

What's next? Okay, so let me see if I have this right. Obama had help advancing his career, some of the politicians he passed by are jealous, and he might have called the "reporter" an asshole. Horrors! Will your next exposé cover how he also goes to the bathroom, doesn't shave on his days off, and occasionally forgets to clip his toenails?

Comment by Jim

Fairy tale: Thank you, Todd Spivak, for your story on Senator Obama. I for one am worried about the lack of scrutiny of his past. Senator Obama's rhetoric seems to part ways with his actions, but nobody seems to care.

 So, thank you for trying to enlighten us on his past. At this point, I do not think anything makes a difference anymore. People want their "fairy tale." They want to believe the image they have created of him.

Jami Pollard
Helsinki, Finland

No hope: Thank you for your honest look at the man that is Obama. I am deeply troubled by his candidacy and the way his supporters threaten and intimidate people who dare to question him.

Hillary Clinton is, in my opinion, an astonishing candidate. She deeply cares about a civil rights and women's rights agenda and will do more, if we give her the chance, to promote equality than any president the past many years. Plus, at a time when we are engaged in two wars, she has the gravitas to be commander in chief.

I do not trust or feel hope when considering Senator Obama — in fact, as a woman, I feel abused and diminished.

Ann Gonzalez
Seattle, WA

No way: I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you, to learn that a politician has engaged in...politics! The humanity.

Seriously, this piece might be more appropriately labeled an opinion or commentary piece. It certainly doesn't rise to any acceptable level of actual journalism. This being my first visit to the Houston Press, I'll reserve comment on whether this piece is indicative of the journalistic standard of this newspaper. But if it is, then I understand better why Texas politics (thanks for W!) are as they are. I do find it interesting, however, that in every hit piece I've read about Obama, most have not risen beyond the level of hearsay, easily discredited "fact" or, in this case, a lot of sour grapes from former political rivals eclipsed by his success. This interests me because it shows that no matter how hard the attempt to smear his name, record, heritage, patriotism, etc., he still emerges relatively unscathed and with little of that dirt sticking to him.

Perhaps Obama actually is the enthralling leader and optimistic visionary he appears to be. I really think we could use that right now.

Comment by notfamous

Turning to FOX: Thank you so much for printing Todd Spivak's article. The voters have been asking questions and are being shouted down by Obama campaign staff and Obama people on blogs. I turn to CNN and MSNBC to see a lot of bias in favor of Obama and not a single question about his background. No vetting has been done of this candidate at all. I actually turned on FOX today to get anything on Obama's background, and that was really scary for a lifelong Dem like me.

Gina Swoboda
Scottsdale, AZ

Let No Paper Tear Them Asunder

A show preview on the Slits [Playbill, by Chris Henderson, March 6, 2008] stated that John Lydon was once married to the mother of Slits frontwoman Ari Up. In fact Lydon and Up's mother, Nora Foster, are still married.

The Houston Press regrets its error and congratulates the happy couple on being together.

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