Monday, January 22, 2007

someone smears two Democrats with one brush.

I've never liked cheap smears. But I also don't like cheap tricks.

And I didn't like this one, now that CNN has showed that it is a lie that was reported in Insight Magazine claiming that Obama had attended a madrassa, or fundamentalist Islamic school, when he was young.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Allegations that Sen. Barack Obama was educated in a radical Muslim school known as a "madrassa" are not accurate, according to CNN reporting....

Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971, with his mother and stepfather and has acknowledged attending a Muslim school, but an aide said it was not a madrassa....

Insight stood by its story in a response posted on its Web site Monday afternoon.

The Insight article was cited several times Friday on Fox News and was also referenced by the New York Post, The Glenn Beck program on CNN Headline News and a number of political blogs.

But CNN did what apparently Insight magazine didn't choose to do: investigate.

School not a madrassa

But reporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.

He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."

Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama's political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, "and are seeking to prove it."

"It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. ... So that's a mixed school."

What really troubles me more than the story is the alleged source:

Insight attributed the information in its article to an unnamed source, who said it was discovered by "researchers connected to Senator Clinton." A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.

"This is an obvious right-wing hit job," he said.

And he is right. How often does any news organization come right out and cite its sources? Clearly someone wanted the claim to be that it came from the Clinton organization.

Not that I am a supporter of either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama for President (for one thing the next President will need to negotiate our way out of Iraq, and I'm not sure that a person with a single Senate term is the experienced hand we need at the negotiating table). But these kinds of cheap tactics make me wonder if someone in the GOP is afraid of both of them.

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