Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bill Cunningham and John McCain

I support John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, on a host of issues.

I greatly admire his service to our nation. He's an American hero.

I think he will be a relatively strong candidate and I think he has a real chance of winning in November.

That said, John McCain can also be a real doofus.

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- A conservative radio talk show host who helped introduce Senator John McCain before a rally here Tuesday used Senator Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, three times, while disparaging him, prompting Mr. McCain to apologize and repudiate the comments afterward.

Bill Cunningham, who hosts “The Big Show” with Bill Cunningham, a local program here that is also syndicated nationally, was part of a line of people lauding Mr. McCain and revving up the crowd before his appearance here before several hundred people at a theater here.

He lambasted the national media, drawing cheers from the audience, for being soft in their coverage of Mr. Obama compared to the Republican candidates, declaring they should “peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama.”

He went on to rail, “at one point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and start covering Barack Hussein Obama.”

John McCain made no reference to Cunningham's remarks during his half hour speech. Afterward, during a news conference, McCain condemned Cunningham for his remarks.
Responding to questions from reporters, Mr. McCain said he did not hear what Mr. Cunningham said, saying that when he arrived, Mr. Portman was on stage.

“Whatever suggestion that was made that was any way disparaging to the integrity, character, honesty of either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton was wrong,” he said, “I condemn it, and if I have any responsibility, I will take the responsibility, and I apologize for it.”

He called Mr. Obama a “man of integrity” and said he was someone he had come to know “pretty well and I admire.”

He also said that it was not appropriate to invoke Mr. Obama’s middle name in the course of the campaign.

“I absolutely repudiate such comments,” he said. “It will never happen again.”

Good grief.

McCain says that it wasn't appropriate to use Obama's middle name.

I trust Obama will return the favor and make sure that no one at any of his rallies will say, "John Sidney McCain."

Sidney. It could be that McCain is sensitive about middle names.

Later on Tuesday, Cunningham responded to McCain's slap.

Sitting at a microphone in an office, Mr. Cunningham said:
Only Democrats, Air America, New York Times, talk-show hosts and newspaper reporters have freedom of speech. I have the right to speak my mind any way that I would like. If I consider Obama to be a hack Chicago politician from the Daley political machine, taking money from this Tony Rezko dude under threat of federal indictment, can’t I speak truth to power?

Mr. Cunningham said the media often say “nasty, negative things” about President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and that The Times had “smeared” John McCain on its front page.
Treat all the politicians the same. We’re not dealing with the messiah here. Obama cannot heal the sick and make the blind see. He’s a hack Democratic politician from Chicago, that’s all he is. Let’s treat him like every other hack Democratic or Republican politician.

Then he continued:
I’m angry at McCain. Why would John McCain repudiate me? I’ve been able to unite McCain and Obama against me. I might become a supporter of Ralph Nader.

McCain has a problem with Bill Cunningham just because he said Hussein.

That's an inappropriate reaction.

Watch video of Cunningham's remarks.

Cunningham wasn't as rough on Obama as McCain was on Mitt Romney.

I don't think McCain ever apologized to Romney, though I do remember him being nice when he accepted Romney's endorsement.

McCain's hypocrisy is troubling.

If McCain believes that Obama isn't eventually going to throw him under his Straight Talk Express bus, he's being incredibly naive.

Watch John Sidney McCain throw Bill Cunningham under the bus.

Recall the always respectful John Sidney McCain LAUGHED when a woman at a campaign event asked him, "How do we beat the bitch?"

How does McCain's reaction to that reference to Hillary Clinton's character fit with McCain's condemnation of Cunningham's remarks?

“Whatever suggestion that was made that was any way disparaging to the integrity, character, honesty of either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton was wrong,” he said, “I condemn it, and if I have any responsibility, I will take the responsibility, and I apologize for it.”

It doesn't.

Hypocrisy, thy name is John Sidney McCain.


Anonymous said...

Bill Cunningham is a pompous, self-absorbed hack. There are dozens of Republicans who could have spoken before John McCain's appearance, but they had to put Cunningham up there. He exemplifies what is wrong with politics and is more in tuned with the Democrats way of campaigning than he is Republican. His incessant emphasis on Senator Obama's middle name was meant for one purpose: to draw out fear and hate-mongering. That's all. The name Hussein was a part of the world's most dangerous man, but it is also a common Arabic surname in the Muslim culture. King Hussein of Jordan was one of America's allies in the middle east. What would loudmouth Willie Cunningham say to him about those remarks? We need to be strong in dealing with radical Islam, but let's campaign on issues (McCain will win this). Let's be the strong Republican party that Reagan believed in and not stoop to McCarthyism or defend the veiled slurs of a second-rate radio host.
-WhatsRight, Milwaukee

Mary said...

First, did you watch the video of Cunningham's remarks?

Cunningham did not put "incessant emphasis on Senator Obama's middle name."

If you think it's inappropriate to mention Obama's middle name in public, fine. However, you make it sound like Cunningham's 9 minute address was a hateful screed about Obama's middle name. That's not the case.

This "pompous, self-absorbed hack," as you put it, talked about issues and McCain's qualifications.

Be fair.

I think Obama would be wise to embrace his name. He should say he's proud to be named Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. instead of allowing anyone to use his name as a "veiled slur."

Do Obama and his people seriously think that Americans won't vote for him because his middle name is Hussein?

If that's the case, then they don't have much confidence in Obama and his qualifications to be president.

They don't have faith in the American people.

That fact is Barack Hussein Obama will be on the ballot in November along with John Sidney McCain.

Anonymous said...

What fear and hate-mongering? You cant mention that his middle name is Hussein or you're a racist?

What's troublesome is there's been no mention up until this last debate of Sen. Obama's ties with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation Of Islam. Even those connections to him through his own Church.

How is that fair?

If it were McCain that would be front page news. Or heaven help Hillary Clinton if she were connected with him.

Does he get a free pass because he's african american? Or because his name is Hussein?

He is a presidential candidate and he preeches unity and "owning up" to problems. These are valid questions to bring up during an important time in our country's history.

The media finally asked him about it and he stumbled for an answer. Finally he said he rejected Farrakhan. I wonder if he rejects donations from him and his organization as well?

How about his Church?

McCain apologized for Cunningham's remarks even though they werent suggestive of anything other than whats on the record.

Sen. Obama has said he'd meet with any leader, no matter the circumstance or what they've done.

That includes all those leaders Cunningham talked about.

Now it turns out that a radical muslim leader is endorsing him. (Farrakhan) He's already been forced to reject that, why not his church as well, who supports Farrakhan.

Wouldnt that be fair?

And if not, why?

Anonymous said...

Can you people please get off Bill Cunningham's back. This guy is a local entertainer and has been doing this stuff for 25 years locally. He loves the national exposure he is getting now for himself and radio station 700 WLW!! What this guy should be more concerned about is the wardrobe he had on when he got this exposure. Where did he get those rags he had on? He could have at least gotten a decent suit and tie. Maybe the station isn't paying this guy enough money and his fellow talk show hosts need to take up a collection for this guy so he can go shop for a decent suit the next time he is in the national spotlight. He and the station should both be embarrassed for the way he looked!!! Maybe this guy could borrow a suit from Bob Huggins' collection!!

Anonymous said...

@Mary - "Cunningham did not put 'incessant emphasis on Senator Obama's middle name.'
Explain why Cunningham has used "Mohammed" as a middle name for Obama as well? You can't seriously believe he's just using Hussein repeatedly in an effort to be complete.

@everyone claiming they're somehow "shocked" that this usage of his middle name is not right:
Each and every one of you know exactly why Cunningham and others are using Hussein the way they are. IT'S ALL IN THE CONTEXT. No one is saying you "can't mention his name" or anything similar. It's the way it's used.

It's only to attempt and paint a false picture of Obama as on the side of the extremists, a terrorist, a muslim, etc. A blatant attempt at fanning the flames of ignorance and xenophobia. This is extremely clear since he also inserts "Muhammed" as a non-existant middle name. The only purpose is to spread fear and make innuendos that are patently untrue.

You know EXACTLY why this is being done, don't pretend it's somehow "PC" or ridiculous.
If McCain's middle name was "Adolph" and democratic supporters continually emphasized the "Adolph" part and spread other lies that he was a Nazi supporter, would you be posting this garbage about being surprised anyone thinks it's an issue? Clearly McCain AND Rove himself - yes, Rove himself see this is an issue. Don't play coy.

It's a cheap shot to play on knee-jerk reactions and subconscious associations. That's all it is. Only opponents of Obama use his middle name in this way. Don't you think that says something?

Mary said...

Anonymous 5:21 PM, February 27, 2008—

I hope you don't object to being called "Anonymous 5:21 PM, February 27, 2008." Please don't take offense. I hope it's not hateful or fear-mongering.

I don't have any other way to address you. I don't have a first name, let alone a middle name, for you.

I'm not familiar with what Bill Cunningham says on his show so I can't comment. I'm not going to attempt to assign Cunningham’s motivation to things you claim he says.

All I know is what he said at the McCain event.

I really don't know why people are getting so upset about Cunningham daring to say Obama's middle name.

What matters is where Obama stands on the issues. In my opinion, that's what people should fear, not his middle name.

Moreover, why just focus on Hussein? Aren't "Barack" and "Obama" also Muslim names?

I think so.

Why don't you consider saying those names to be cases of fear-mongering? That doesn't make sense to me.

As far as your hypothetical Adolph example goes, George W. Bush has been called Hitler by those on the Left since he became president. Only opponents of President Bush call him Hitler.

His parents didn't name him Hitler.

Not exactly a term of endearment.

Pretty cheap, isn't it?

Talk about ugliness.

Anonymous said...

Mary, you're my hero. Excellent commentary and I noticed that Mr. Anonymous had no reply after your last posting. I listen to Bill Cunningham every day while I work and he is bombastic and professionally rude to everyone he speaks to or speaks about. This is just how he conducts his highly popular show. He is Howard Stern sans sexual content. In fact, if these comments had been made by Howard Stern, there would be no story today because people KNOW Stern. People would just say "Oh, that Howard crossed a line there". I challenge all you "sticks and stones" people to listen to Willy and get to know him. XM channel 173, daily 12:30 to 3:00 EST. I also challenge ANYONE to tell me what Obama's stance is on ANY issue (and don't say he wants to change things); I've already heard that rather loud drumbeat.

John, Dayton, Ohio

Anonymous said...

Read this page:
A paragraph of note:
Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."
There is a link to a page that shows how many times that word is used in the Bible.

Hussein is an extremely common name in a very large part of the earth, and in fact, Barack was named as such (passed down from his grandfather) at a time when Saddam Hussein was actually an ally of the US! Not that Saddam had ANYTHING at all to do with his naming, it is a family name.

You wrote: "Why don't you consider saying those names to be cases of fear-mongering? That doesn't make sense to me. "

You tell me. I have faith you're smarter than that. You know EXACTLY why over-emphasizing "Hussein" is being done. It makes a subtle association with "enemy" "muslim" "Saddam" "terrorist" and so on. You know exactly why that name is being singled out to be used by opponents.

You said yourself, only opponents of Bush have called him "Hitler", so it's the same thing now that only opponents of Obama are over-emphasizing his middle name, in an attempt to leverage ignorance and xenophobia and create a subtle association that doesn't exist.

Cunningham has inserted "Muhammed" as a middle name for Obama as well, calling him "Barack Hussein Muhammed Obama". Tell me that's not a transparent attempt to create fear.

You noticed I didn't respond? Could be because I didn't check back until today? Good "gotcha", must mean I'm a human waste.

Anonymous said...

Mary (and other responders),
I posted the original comment as Anonymous, but signed my screen name "whatsright" at the end (couldn't get Blogger to accept my password). I think that the 'post as anonymous' option is grouping different contributors under one name.

Mary, you've got an excellent blog. I enjoy reading your comments and those of your readers. But I still want to separate the Freedom of Speech issue from what was really being done at the McCain rally.

Let's campaign and win the Reagan way.

Thanks again.
-WhatsRight, Milwaukee
(getting that password updated shortly)

Mary said...


Thank you. I appreciate your feedback.

I think it's being kind to say Blogger is temperamental when it comes to posting comments. It is helpful to sign your comment to avoid the "anonymous" confusion. I encourage others to follow your example.

There's no question that some on both the Left and the Right want to present Obama as akin to the enemy in the War on Terror, Islamic radicals. They believe that will benefit them politically.

That's a sleazy move.

I agree. Win on the issues with superior arguments and ideas. Slurs and other juvenile tactics are indicative of intellectual impotence. Take the high road.

In my opinion, Cunningham's remarks at the McCain event should not be placed in the same category as the circulation of lies about Obama, his faith, and his allegiance to our country.

This sort of thing is very subjective.

I understand your point, but I don't think it's possible to separate the Freedom of Speech issue from any public discourse.

Mary said...

John from Dayton--

I, too, would like to know specifics about Obama on the issues.

Example: What would be the judicial philosophies of his nominees to the Supreme Court? Would he nominate someone in the vein of Roberts or Alito or Thomas or Scalia? Is Obama more of a Ruth Bader-Ginsburg guy?

Who knows? I don't hear Obama talk about the Supreme Court. I guess change means no nominees like Roberts or Alito. Not sure at the moment.

Hopefully, as the campaign progresses, we'll get some answers.

"Anonymous 9:02 AM, February 28, 2008" (Formerly known as "Anonymous 5:21 PM, February 27, 2008," I think)--

Obviously, Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. is named after his father.

Since Obama began his presidential campaign, back when Obama was not the front runner, he often joked about his name.

On the Tonight Show, October 17, 2007, Leno asked him how he feels about being the underdog, with Hillary being considered the shoe-in.

Obama responded, "When your name is Barack Obama you're always the underdog."

What's that? I guess now you'd have to call it false.

Watch this. Obama jokes about his name.

Get a grip. Really.

Granted, as I said earlier, there are people on both the Right and the Left eager to create fear by insinuating or saying outright that Obama is out of the same mold as our enemies.

That, of course, is ridiculous. Only fools would buy that Barack Obama is in any way like Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

They marginalize themselves.

Was Cunningham trying to spread fear? Ask him. I don't know.

Fear wasn't my reaction.

I really think Obama should embrace his middle name. Romney had to give his "Mormon speech." Obama should give his "Hussein speech."

I don't think he should run away from his name or his heritage. That's what he seems to be doing by creating this environment that demands apologies from people for using his middle name. It's weird.

Is America ready for a president with Hussein as a middle name?

Is America ready for a president with relatives with a Muslim heritage?

You tell me.

Anonymous said...

Funny, you ask hoping that the answer is no.

I cannot believe that you actually believe that the purpose could be anything other than fear-mongering. It's the bigots who are trying to create these associations and create fear in others.

"Hussein" comes from his grandfather. "Barack Hussein" from his father.

Joking about "Barack" is very different from being called "Barack Hussein Muhammed Obama" or being called "Barack Osama", especially when at the same time you have false rumors about your religion and that you are taking oaths using the Koran, etc. Again, don't play coy.

Why should America have to "be ready" for a president with Hussein as a middle name? America was ready for generals with Arabic names. America was ready for famous basketball players with Arabic names.

John McCain's adopted daughter is from a Muslim country. Oh no!!!

Just because Obama's grandfather converted to Islam doesn't mean there's something wrong with his blood, something horrible that is passed down from generation to generation like a curse. That's what the extremists want it to sound like, without actually saying it.

Mary said...

What do you mean by this?

"Funny, you ask hoping that the answer is no."

With all due respect, that's just a stupid thing to say. Your charges are completely baseless and it really ticks me off.

No kidding Hussein is a family name.

I don't care what Obama's middle name is. It's irrelevant.

Isn't it true that Americans are turned off by negative campaign tactics? Clearly, using sleazy tactics would be counterproductive.

If you believe that Cunningham was playing to bigots, hoping to scare them away from Obama, then you do.

My guess is that people attending a McCain rally are into politics. The same goes for talk radio listeners. I think it's the issues that matter to them, not silly stuff. I give them more credit. I doubt that anyone at the rally was influenced in any way by hearing Cunningham say "Hussein" three times.

People upset about the use of "Hussein" have to admit that they believe some Americans are bigoted and stupid; that those bigoted, stupid Americans will reject Obama solely because he shares a name with Saddam Hussein.

Sorry, I have more faith in the American people.

There are a lot of things that bother me about Obama. His middle name isn't one of them.

I could not care less about his middle name.

I fear his big government, sky high tax proposals that would cripple the economy.

I fear his utterly irresponsible Iraq plan and his incredibly naïve approach to foreign policy.

In my view, the things to fear about Obama are his lack of experience and the fact that he's on the fringe of the fringe Left when it comes to the issues.

Anonymous said...

I live in Cincinnati and have heard Willy's (Bill Cunningham)show many times. He has always used democratic president's/candidate's middle names when referring to them with an emphasis on the middle name and he will probably continue to do so. The tone he has used when using their middle names is generally meant to sound demeaning. The fact that Obama's middle name is Hussein is an unfortunate coincidence that Cunningham will probably use to good effect. However, don't claim that this is something new and/or unexpected. Willy has always done the middle name thing.

Anonymous said...

It's just "an unfortunate coincidence" now? Odd. Does he also insert "Muhammed" to go along with it, as he spreads lies about anti-Semitism or other Muslim connections that don't exist, or is that also "an unfortunate coincidence"? You're not fooling anyone. It's quite deliberate and clear why.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous,

It is really too bad just how angry you are at this whole thing. You make it sound like the "fear" got ya! Man, let it go.

You are probably going to get your way and we will be getting a democratic President this time around. Actually, we all deserve the president we get. Your rockstar friend Obama will be the likely winner and I think that is just fine, so long as he leaves me alone (unlikely as that is).

I do not fear his middle name or someone using his middle name.......for God's sake it is his name; Who cares?

Four years of complete lack of leadership and ability to do anything will open people's eyes about how they voted in 2008. We don't need a rockstar, we need a president and Obama is CLEARLY not qualified to be one. Free and open talks with Ahmadinijad (sp)? Mandating me to buy his healthcare? What makes anyone think the government is capable of running a program that large? They can't run anything with efficiency. Look how well they did with Social Security.....I'll be lucky to see any of it, yet they have my money! Frankly, I am not relying on SS for my retirement security anyway, but hopefully (doubtful), you get the point. Obama is a Socialist (there is a name you can fear).

Wake up Man!

John, Dayton, Ohio

Anonymous said...

It's just "an unfortunate coincidence" now? Odd. Does he also insert "Muhammed" to go along with it, as he spreads lies about anti-Semitism or other Muslim connections that don't exist, or is that also "an unfortunate coincidence"? You're not fooling anyone. It's quite deliberate and clear why.

You misinterpret me. Yes, the use of "Hussein" is deliberate. However, Cunningham has always used middle names. What is unfortunate is that Obama has "Hussein" as a middle name. Cunningham can claim that what he's doing is what he's always done, because it is what he's always done. He will continue to use Obama's middle name, because it is what he has always done. basically what is unfortunate is that Cunningham has been given ammo. It may have been that no one else would have used Obama's middle name during the entire campaign, but because Cunningham has used middle names before, he could freely use that ammo. Had McCain not distanced himself publicly from Cunningham, the media wouldn't have noticed, and Cunningham would have gotten away with it.