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Sweet blog special: Obama on CNN's "The Situation Room" talks about Imus, Iraq, McCain.

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WASHINGTON--Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama made the rounds of the afternoon news shows to talk about Don Imus, Iraq and his differences with Sen. John McCain, a GOP presidential contender.

Obama criticizes Imus but does not flat out say he should be fired. He told NBC's "Hardball" he would not employ Imus. He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer "I believe that NBC should not be having hosts like Don Imus who are making derogatory statements toward women and minorities. I’ve got two young daughters who I hope will be athletes and the notion that somehow they would be degraded and insulted and that that would pass as humor and that NBC would be running that over the public airwaves, I think, is atrocious.''

On today's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, spoke about the debate over troop funding, his criticism of Sen. John McCain’s position on Iraq and whether Don Imus should be fired. Highlighted excerpts are below, and a full transcript follows.

Please credit all usage to CNN’s “The Situation Room”


Highlighted Excerpts

On the debate among Democrats over troop funding

BLITZER: Senators Harry Reid, the majority leader, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, they say cut off the funding if necessary to end this war. Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on the other hand, doesn’t go that far.

Where do you stand in terms of this debate among Democrats?

OBAMA: I am not yet at the point where I am prepared to say that I am going to cut off funding, partly because I spent a lot of time in Iowa, in Illinois, in small communities where every town hall meeting I have I meet with a mother whose son or daughter is in Iraq and they are concerned not only about getting them home but also concerned about getting them home safely and making sure they’ve got the night vision goggles and the armor and so forth.

Now I think Harry Reid is exactly right that if anybody is putting troops at risk, it is this administration who is now calling up troops that aren’t properly trained, sending them over there on rotations that are too frequent and too long and that the Democrats have acted in a very responsible fashion.

I don’t think we’re yet at the point where we have to immediately cut off funding. What I do think we have to do is to continue to put the pressure on the president and get more Republicans to listen to their constituents who are suggesting that perhaps it is time for us to bring this war to a close.

On Sen. John McCain’s position on Iraq

OBAMA: Well, look, I have enormous respect for John McCain but I think he is flat wrong on this issue and I think he has been wrong for some time.

What we have continued to see over the last four to five years is the constant presentation by the administration and prominent supporters like John McCain that we are making progress and that things are terrific in Iraq, and that’s not the case.

It is belied by every bit of information that comes over CNN and every other newscast and by people who are on the ground and by those of us who make visits to Iraq. The fact of the matter is is that we have a sectarian civil war. We may temporarily put the lid on some of the violence by sending additional American troops there.

On whether Don Imus should be fired

OBAMA: I believe that NBC should not be having hosts like Don Imus who are making derogatory statements toward women and minorities. I’ve got two young daughters who I hope will be athletes and the notion that somehow they would be degraded and insulted and that that would pass as humor and that NBC would be running that over the public airwaves, I think, is atrocious.

Full Transcript

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) AZ: When the president vetoes, as he should, the bill that refuses to support General Petraeus’ new plan, I hope Democrats in Congress will heed the advice of one of their leading candidates for president, Senator Obama, and immediately pass a new bill to provide support to our troops in Iraq without substituting their partisan interests for those of our troops and our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And joining us now, the senator mentioned by John McCain in that little clip, the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

Is he accurately representing your position, senator?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL: No, I think John was misquoting me a little bit there. What I said was that Democrats aren’t interested in playing chicken with the troops and we are absolutely committed to making sure that the troops have the equipment they need in order to get home safely.

But what I also said was that this president should in fact adopt a sound plan that’s already been presented by Congress. It is a plan that is reflective of a plan I put forward back in January that calls for a phased redeployment, having our troops out by March 31st of next year.

If he decides to veto it, I think the president is the one who is putting troop funding at risk. My advice at that point to Democrat would be to try to ratchet up the pressure, to shape a series of other conditions that can somehow rein in what I consider to be a continuation of a disastrous course on the part of this administration.

BLITZER: Let me try to pinpoint your position.

Senators Harry Reid, the majority leader, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, they say cut off the funding if necessary to end this war. Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on the other hand, doesn’t go that far.

Where do you stand in terms of this debate among Democrats?

OBAMA: I am not yet at the point where I am prepared to say that I am going to cut off funding, partly because I spent a lot of time in Iowa, in Illinois, in small communities where every town hall meeting I have I meet with a mother whose son or daughter is in Iraq and they are concerned not only about getting them home but also concerned about getting them home safely and making sure they’ve got the night vision goggles and the armor and so forth.

Now I think Harry Reid is exactly right that if anybody is putting troops at risk, it is this administration who is now calling up troops that aren’t properly trained, sending them over there on rotations that are too frequent and too long and that the Democrats have acted in a very responsible fashion.

I don’t think we’re yet at the point where we have to immediately cut off funding. What I do think we have to do is to continue to put the pressure on the president and get more Republicans to listen to their constituents who are suggesting that perhaps it is time for us to bring this war to a close.

BLITZER: In the statement you released earlier in the day, reacting to Senator McCain’s speech on Iraq, some of the references you make to ideological fantasies, you said what we need today is a surge in honesty. It looks like you’re directly going after Senator McCain’s credibility on this issue.

OBAMA: Well, look, I have enormous respect for John McCain but I think he is flat wrong on this issue and I think he has been wrong for some time.

What we have continued to see over the last four to five years is the constant presentation by the administration and prominent supporters like John McCain that we are making progress and that things are terrific in Iraq, and that’s not the case.

It is belied by every bit of information that comes over CNN and every other newscast and by people who are on the ground and by those of us who make visits to Iraq. The fact of the matter is is that we have a sectarian civil war. We may temporarily put the lid on some of the violence by sending additional American troops there.

The price for that is additional American casualties. But what we haven’t done is change the fundamental dynamic on the ground and that is going to require that Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds come to a political accommodation and we generate the kind of regional diplomacy that has been absent for the last several years.

BLITZER: We are out of time, senator, but a quick reaction to the Don Imus uproar. Do you believe he should be fired?

OBAMA: I believe that NBC should not be having hosts like Don Imus who are making derogatory statements toward women and minorities. I’ve got two young daughters who I hope will be athletes and the notion that somehow they would be degraded and insulted and that that would pass as humor and that NBC would be running that over the public airwaves, I think, is atrocious.

BLITZER: Senator Obama, thank you very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

OBAMA: Thank you.

END

9 Comments

I am a 58 year old female, I think the imus thing is way outta the ball park. If all these people trying to persecute him, why don't they go after the rappers, that can put down black women as they please. That is acceptable and this is not. What is wrong America!!!!!

Jeanette,

I am a 32 year old Black female and I echo your sentiment on not addressing Black rappers who degrade Black women in their music. It’s important, however to point out that it is 60% of Whites who are continuing to purchase this filth. So, this poison is not just being spread through our American society by Blacks. Whites, according to the numbers, play an even larger role. Not to mention, many of the CEO’s in the industry are white males in your generation and that of Imus. I would ask that you would urge your community to work with my community in banning or boycotting this disgusting rap music altogether.

Speaking of Imus, I have to say, I strongly disagree with you about him. I believe he should shave been fired. I also believe that Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and a host of other bigots should have their free Hate Speech Platforms revoked, but all in due time. While I applaud MSNBC’s efforts to drop the Imus Show, I am suspicious as to why the president of NBC was lamenting the process. He seemed very hesitant and reluctant and kept reiterating that it was the employees that gave him no choice. I wonder if EEOC violations played a role in this.

I don't listen to Imus because he is too coarse and offensive in MANY ways, not just because he has recently slipped up. I choose not to listen or partake in anything-Imus, but I defend his right to 'free speech'. Corporation-backing of Imus is about money, not about morals or personal values, and unless sponsors AND the listening audience demand action from the corporation, they'll continue to view the bottom-line profit that Imus brings in (and it's in the 15-20 million dollar range).

If people don't like what Imus says, DO NOT PLUG IN. How credible is Imus anyway? Does his personal slur or opinion REALLY matter? Consider the source.

Right now, while Imus is apparently playing humble and apologizing right and left, is he fooling anyone? Is he truly sincere with his words and actions? Considering what Imus is all about, do you believe he is sorry for his ho-reference? Personally, I smell a major book in-the-works, Imus-style. Regardless of whether or not Imus stays on his radio show, Imus will continue to be a controversial figure and in-your-face IF you plug into his spew.

That said, why is it that Imus is receiving so much publicity and negativity when there are so many rappers and black comedians who say as much as Imus, and much, much more? There is a double-standard being played here, and some of us are not playing.

If people are offended by 'racist' and/or 'sexist' remarks by Imus and they decide to act on this, act on ALL outrageous 'racist' and/or 'sexist' remarks. Stop picking battles based on who has delivered the message. Unacceptable is just that. And with the same standards.

Imus made a mistake. Like him, we are all humans and we make mistakes. I am dissapointed on how our society accepts how we endlessly chastise people. He apologized and we should ask ourselves "Why aren't we satisified with his apology?"

Are we a hateful, cynical society? Is this how we mend hate? With more hate?

Reverend Al Sharpton must believe something other than Christianity. Is it not wise to forgive and love each other? Why does he inflame this situation? He should stand behind Imus and speak in the spirit of forgiveness and understanding.

Should he be fired? It is up to his bosses. They should have a standard for conduct in their programs.

Put yourself in Imus shoes. What would you do to ask for forgiveness? How would you react to all of the criticism and cynicism? Who are we to judge?

We should lead by example not by our temper or lack of understanding.

Now using Obama logic it is time to shut down the music video's that are played on the free network stations. I would never want my children and grand children to see or hear what is being played over the airwaves. I hope that Obama will now tackle and fix the RAP entertainment injustice for everyone (all races) and not be concerned with just this one incident. I think most RAP lyrics are atrocious coming over the airwaves today. If he is going to be a presedent for all he will need to step up otherwise he is not the right man for this inclusive country.

Dee Anna, are you a fascist? You want all conservative commentators taken off the air? You sound like a fool when you call O'Reilly and Glen Beck racists. Name anything they said that is racist. Now, lets talk Sharpton(white interloper) & Jessie(hymietown)Jackson. Now there are two racists who should not have a radio show or a column in this newspaper. Listen up fellow white people and conservatives, she says "in due time" O'Reilly and Limbaugh will have their licenses revoked. Wake up people! They are coming after your civil rights if your skin tone is too light. This Imus thing is nothing more than a racist campaign by a bunch of racists to get themselves a white skull. They tried with the Duke Lacrosse players and failed so they had to settle for a shock jock. BTW, Dee Anna, what did you think of that racist movie from a few years ago called "White Chicks"? Were you appalled and offended at that? I bet you weren't because the woman being ridiculed were white. So once again Dee Anna, put up or shut your racist mouth up by giving me an example of O'Reilly or Limbaugh saying something racist. To Jeannete, the reason black rappers get away with it and Imus didn't is because Imus is white and he doesn't enjoy the black privilege that blacks enjoy.

The only thing to fear is fear itself so eloquently said by a man
who surely believed we would not still be so full of hatred between races in this day and age! What is this really all about?

I am a proud 33 year old African American female veteran of the United States Air Force. I grew up in the infancy of rap and have watched a medium that both educated and entertained me evolve into an industry that often demeans and excludes me. Make no mistake about it, Don Imus was wrong. Many rap artists are wrong. Yet, the two are NOT synonomous. As a people, African-Americans have ignored the cries of Reverends Jackson and Sharpton, Dionne Warwick, and the late C. Delores Tucker as well as others when movements to stop the misogyny and self-hatred contained in the lyrics of a music that we often call "ours" were started. The argument often used was based in and around monetary compensation by the aformentioned. Rightfully so, many chose to ignore these Black "leaders" because their efforts did not seem sincere. So why do we now follow blindly behind Jackson, Sharpton and others in calling for the firing of this man who has offended any and all daily on his show?

I am hesitant to call for the firing of anyone in any industry who has repeatedly violated the spoken and unspoken rules of decency without reprimand from their employer. The only news channel I watch with any regularity is MSNBC. I often fall asleep with my television on and heard Imus making seriously inappropriate remarks about Anna Nicole Smith while she was still in the morgue. Though not personally offended, I am certain he is aware that it is inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. His comments reaffirmed for me stories that I have heard over the years about his "hate-speech". At that moment, I did what all have the opportunity to do-change the damn channel! I hate most of what is out there in terms of rap and R&B, so I don't buy it. Corporations only feed to us what we consume. I want Heavy D. to put out another album (me and maybe a few thousand people), so I have to settle for tours. However, if I got those few thousand people together and we campaigned, it could happen. The point is there are opportunities for people to make a difference. Complaints about Imus have never reached the level of disciplinary action from the FCC, CBS and/or NBC until Jackson and Sharpton decided to make a stand. The young women who were the victims of his tirade were classy enough to withhold criticism so what does that say about us when we applaud his firing and the urging of it by two reverends who have made offensive comments in public as well. Of course, I think that both Sharpton and Jackson have relevance in the Black community and throughout society as a whole, but I would have felt more comfortable if the young ladies from my mother's alma mater called for his firing before many jumped on the bandwagon of Jackson and Sharpton.

The president of BET called in to Harball yesterday condemning Imus as well and cited the extraordinarily negative impact Imus' comments have on the Black community. This particularly disgusted me because although he does not create the videos, he determines what videos are played. The majority of the videos on Uncut are not by mainstream artists, they are young men who have bikini-clad women in "booty" shots. After this program airs, you can repent by watching two hours of religious programming. It is so hypocritical and makes thoughtful, intelligent African-Americans from all walks of life look just as foolish as those who supported Imus, yet condemned his remarks simultaneously. The coach of the women's basketball team was correct in stating that this debate is about "green". Imus would not have been fired if sponsors hadn't pulled their ads and sponsors wouldn't have done so were it not for public outcry. I want to see a genuine conversation take place concerning race in this country. I agree with Jeanette that others television/radio hosts should be included. Imus will have to find a way to redeem himself, but we as African-Americans must do so also.

This is a bi-partison observance and question -

After watching C-Span for the very first time during the past few days, I see that a vital Bill is on the floor and find the process unusually disturbing.

Why has no collective body of Congress since the 1940's introduced and passed a bill for Homeland Security legislation to be presented as a SEPARATE fiscal appropriation bill for vote for each fiscal year? Never has our nation's population, including its leaders (remembering the locales in 9/11) been in the state of emergency which prevails today.

Thank you for the work that you do.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 11, 2007 4:46 PM.

Sweet blog special: Clinton sends "respect for Rutgers" message. Calls Imus remarks "bigotry and coarse sexism." was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: Sen. Ron Wyden calls for Congress to act on health care now. Oregon Democrat says don't wait for 2008 presidential election is the next entry in this blog.

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