When Politico.com surfaced the 1995 questionnaire that Barack Obama filled out while running for the Illinois state senate –the one with Obama’s hand-written notes on it– it contained a “biographical sketch,” one obviously supplied by the campaign. That sketch included the statement that Obama’s “commentaries have been heard on national Public Radio.”
This caught my eye as I worked for PBS Los Angeles-affiliate KCET throughout the ’90s, and knew that the radio commentaries from our sister network would sometimes make for pretty far out listening.
Off I went to the transcript data base of NPR and discovered exactly one commentary delivered by Barack Obama on October 28, 1994: “Charles Murray’s Political Expediency Denounced.”
The commentary itself is pretty predictable. Charles Murray is denounced as being “interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically, the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor.”
“With one finger out to the political wind,” Obama continued, “Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it’s artfully packaged and can admit for exceptions like Colin Powell.”
Obama strikes a note that foreshadows Bill Cosby: “For blacks, that means taking greater responsibility for the state of our own communities. Too many of us use white racism as an excuse for self-defeating behavior. Too many of our young people think education is a white thing and that the values of hard work and discipline and self-respect are somehow outdated.”
And he closes with an exhortation to spend more money:
That being said, it’s time for all of us, and now I’m talking about the larger American community, to acknowledge that we’ve never even come close to providing equal opportunity to the majority of black children. Real opportunity would mean quality prenatal care for all women and well-funded and innovative public schools for all children. Real opportunity would mean a job at a living wage for everyone who was willing to work, jobs that can return some structure and dignity to people’s lives and give inner-city children something more than a basketball rim to shoot for. In the short run, such ladders of opportunity are going to cost more, not less, than either welfare or affirmative action. But, in the long run, our investment should pay off handsomely. That we fail to make this investment is just plain stupid. It’s not the result of an intellectual deficit. It’s the result of a moral deficit.
Read the whole thing. (At a one-time cost of $3.95. Sheesh. Doesn’t taxpayer-funding get access to 195 archives?) Murray fans and others can pick apart the rhetoric –the refusal to spend more and more on failing schools represents a moral deficit?– but I was struck by the fact that this is the only Obama commentary in the NPR data base. The biographical sketch provided by Obama promised “commentaries.” I had assumed a monthly contribution, or at least a batch of broadcasts.
Perhaps the data base is incomplete, though it has the appearance of the sort of comprehensive catalog that only a government subsidy can deliver. If it is incomplete, NPR would certainly do its taxpayer sponsors the service of producing the other Obama commentaries in its archives. Or the Obama campaign could produce the evidence that Obama hadn’t gone Joe Isuzu as early as ’95.
If, on the other hand, it is the only commentary Obama did, do we another little instance of Obama’s puffery? Resume padding by a first time candidate isn’t big news or even little news. More like an interesting detail in a yet to emerge comprehensive biography of Senator Obama. But Team Clinton did warn us on 3/25 of “Senator Obama’s Record of Exaggerations & Misstatements.”
Getting the full bio on the likely Democratic nominee is a MSM assignment that is overdue. When do we get the Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law School transcripts for example. (Senator Obama graduated Magna Cum Laude from HLS, so he’s got nothing to hide.) When do we get the run-down on the Chicago “community organizer” years? Or does Obama’s account simply get accepted by a MSM eager for the triumph of the most left-wing major party candidate in American history?