CBS Frets Obama Can't Escape 'Hussein' Middle Name in Israel

The Wednesday CBS Evening News story on Barack Obama's day in Israel presumed Jewish concerns about his commitment to Israel are unreasonable as reporter Sheila MacVicar empathized with Obama's plight while she fretted about how an Israeli newspaper columnist “referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.” After noting that Obama “did spend an hour with the Palestinian President, something John McCain did not do on his trip here,” MacVicar stressed the “the focus of the day was to try to reassure Jewish voters who are suspicious of him.” From Jerusalem, she then held up a copy of the newspaper as she rued:
It's an uphill battle. An example? A commentator writing in this morning's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama, talked about his Muslim stepfather, his childhood in Indonesia, his openness to dialogue with Iran as real sources of anxiety for both the Israeli establishment and American Jewish voters.
MacVicar concluded by bemoaning: “However unfair it may be, it will take more than this trip to alter the very deeply held perception of some that on Israel the Senator is not to be trusted.”

An excerpt from article MacVicar cited, “Obama visit all about wooing Jewish American voters,” by Aluf Benn:
....Israelis don't interest McCain and Obama. Rather, it is their Jewish voters and contributors at home. Barack Hussein Obama -- with his Muslim stepfather and his childhood in Indonesia, his suggestion to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leftist image that adheres to his advisors -- has raised deep anxieties among the Jewish establishment. Republicans sensed a massive defection of Jewish voters. Obama's campaign managers have identified it as a problem and their candidate has been working on calming things down and issuing pro-Israel statements. McCain visited Sderot and expressed his support for Israel. Obama will follow in his footsteps Wednesday, as the city is experiencing a rare moment of lull. But Obama will also have a chance to denounce terror in real time: Tuesday's bulldozer terror attack took place next to his hotel in Jerusalem....
Transcript of the story on the Wednesday, July 23 CBS Evening News:
HARRY SMITH, ANCHOR: Barack Obama continued his overseas tour today in a country that could be very important to his presidential aspirations: Israel. As Sheila McVicar reports, what he's trying to do is simple, succeeding, though, may not be.

SHEILA MacVICAR: In Jerusalem this morning, wearing a symbolically colored tie -- blue and white like Israel's flag -- Barack Obama set out to prove his friendship for Israel and woo voters back home. His hand shakes with senior Israeli statesmen.

BARACK OBAMA, AT PRESS CONFERENCE: I'm here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel the United States.

MacVICAR: His head bowed in prayer at the holocaust memorial were meant to convey his commitment to the Jewish state. The Senator did spend an hour with the Palestinian President, something John McCain did not do on his trip here.

But the focus of the day was to try to reassure Jewish voters who are suspicious of him. It's an uphill battle. An example? A commentator writing in this morning's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama, talked about his Muslim stepfather, his childhood in Indonesia, his openness to dialogue with Iran as real sources of anxiety for both the Israeli establishment and American Jewish voters. A key issue for many American Jews is the future of Jerusalem. Obama did say it should remain Israel's capital undivided, but then was seen to back-pedal.

BARACK OBAMA, AT PRESS CONFERENCE: No, I didn't change my statement. I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel.

MacVICAR: How he is viewed on Israel will be crucial in swing states, especially hotly contested Florida.

JEANNE CUMMINGS, POLITICO: In a state like Florida, it can make the difference between victory and not.

MacVICAR: However unfair it may be, it will take more than this trip to alter the very deeply held perception of some that on Israel the Senator is not to be trusted. Sheila MacVicar, CBS News, Jerusalem.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center