Early Show Challenges Obama Claim Selma Trip 'Not About Politics'

How slow was the news this morning? Bianca Solorzano, the CBS reporter covering the Anna Nicole Smith funeral in Nassau, the Bahamas was reduced to chatting with a local florist. Turns out Anna's favorite color was pink. Who knew? Solorzano also scored an exclusive with a fellow supervising the placing of crowd control barricades at the cemetery.

But along the way, co-host Tracy Smith [who normally works the weekend show], did pose a pertinent question when Obama tried to sneak an answer by her that was so disingenuous it might have made Bill Clinton blush. Smith mentioned that this weekend, both Obama and Hillary will go to Selma, Alabama for the commemoration of the civil rights marches of 1965. Barack actually had the chutzpah to claim "well, I think this weekend is actually not about politics. To me, it represents some of the best moments in American history where ordinary people stood up to injustice."

Let's see. Obama is fighting the rap that he's not "black enough." Al Sharpton is riding a publicity wave off the story that he is the descendant of slaves owned by relatives of Strom Thurmond, and sending signals he might jump into the race as the authentic African-American. And Barack just decides to meander down to one of the iconic sites of the civil rights movement.

But it's "not about politics." Of course not. We're ashamed to have even entertained the notion.

Smith put it to Obama that "at the same time, everything tends to wind up being about politics. Is this a chance to answer some of those critics whos said you haven't been connected enough to the African-American community?"

Check Obama's head-shake, responding to Smith's challenge, that comes 45 seconds into this video clip. Was that a flash of his reported testinesss? In any case, he replied: "a lot of that has been stuff at the national level. It's not based on the work I've done in Illinois. You don't hear that chatter back home where I'm well known." Maybe so, but Obama is running "at the national level." Sort of sounds like a non-denial denial, doesn't it?

Credit Smith for not letting Obama slide.

Aside: Despite claiming to represent a different kind of politics, Obama had already demonstrated earlier in the interview that he's capable of slinging baloney with the best. Asked if he would welcome Al Gore's entry into the race, Obama responded: "Yeah. I would welcome him to go anywhere he wants to go." Preferably to some Amazonian rainforest for the next two years, no doubt.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net


Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.