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On Giant Loads Of Hooey, Or, You Should See My Inbox October 17, 2008

The McCain campaign is beyond desperate, at this point, and as you might expect, the emails are full of things McCain supporters would like us to know.

I had one of those emails cross my inbox yesterday morning…and I thought to myself:
“Self…since the author of this email asked me to look up her facts, maybe I should.”

So I did.

Next thing I knew, I realized I was looking at a giant load of hooey.
Follow along, and I’ll show you what I mean.

There’s a lot of talk about Obama and Tony Rezko in this email.
That Rezko made some sort of special deal when Obama purchased his home.

Here’s Obama’s side of the story:

Barack Obama bought his home the same way everyone buys a home, by making the best offer the sellers had. The details are that of a normal, boring real estate transaction by a young family buying the house they expect to raise children in. A couple named the Wondisford’s had two properties on the market, a house and an adjacent lot. Barack and Michelle Obama made the best offer on the house, which had been on the market for 8 months. Before the purchase, Obama asked Rezko, a local real estate developer, and for some advice on the purchase. While there, Rezko noticed the adjacent lot and decided to buy it. Neither got a break on the price, as confirmed by the Wondisford’s. The Wondisford’s requested to close on the same day to minimize their hassle. You can download the PDF where the Wondisford’s confirm all of this here:

Later, Obama purchased a strip of the Rezko’s property to give his kids more room to play, and he paid more than double the assessed value to avoid any claims of impropriety. The Rezko’s later sold the lot to another couple who are building a house on it. And that’s it. The whole thing is remarkable only for its utter lack of any drama or scandal…

This is what the “Chicago Tribune” was reporting, back in January of 2008:

JAN. — Between Jan. 15 and Jan. 23, Obama submits three bids: $1.3 million on Jan. 15; $1.5 million on Jan. 21; and $1.65 million on Jan. 23. He told the Tribune that he does not recall when he learned that Rezko was interested in buying the side lot, or how Rezko learned of the sale. But Obama raised the possibility that he was the first to bring the lot to Rezko’s attention. The senator’s campaign provided a copy of a previously released e-mail from the sellers. In response to questions from the Obama campaign, the sellers agreed that they “did not offer or give the Obamas a ‘discount’ on the house price” because Rezko paid their asking price for the yard.

“[Quoting Obama:] Tony asked me during the course of one of these conversations why I might not be interested in buying the lot and keep the property intact. And I said that, you know, it wasn’t worth it to us to spend an extra $600,000 or so on a lot next door when Michelle and I were really interested in the house. So, he said, ‘Well, I might be interested in purchasing the lot.’ And my response was, ‘That would be fine.’

“And my thinking at the time, and this is just to sort of flag this, this is an area where I can see sort of a lapse in judgment. Where I could have said, ‘You know, I’m not sure that’s a great idea.’ But my view at the time when he expressed an interest was that he was a developer in this area that owned lots, that he thought it was going to be a good investment. And my interest, or my motivation was here’s somebody that I knew who, if this lot was being developed, it’d be better to have somebody who knew, who I knew, who you know would give me schedules, keep me apprised of what was taking place and so forth. So I didn’t object.”

The email then goes on to make implications that because Valerie Jarrett, who might be Obama’s number one advisor (after Michelle) was born in Iraq, she is somehow a threat to National Security, and, presumably, that Obama is either a terrorist for knowing her…or, somehow, under terrorist control…

Vogue” Magazine disagrees:

Jarrett’s unlikely, unusual, unsumupable childhood began in Iran, where she was born in 1956. Not unlike Obama’s being “from” Hawaii or “from” Indonesia, that fact in and of itself is more misleading than it is illuminating. Her parents, both of whom are in their 80s and still working and writing and who live a block away from Michelle and Barack, are academics. Her father, James Bowman, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago and an internationally recognized geneticist and pathologist, is from Washington, D.C.; her mother, Barbara, an expert on early childhood development, has deep roots and a big extended family in Chicago’s Hyde Park. In 1955, the couple moved to Shiraz, Iran, where they stayed for six years as part of a program that sent American doctors to developing nations. When Valerie, their only child, was five, they moved to London for a year and then resettled back in Hyde Park, a neighborhood that has historically been a bit hoity-toity and one to which the Obamas have now brought a whole new level of cachet and bragging rights.

More about Jarret’s “terrorist” past:

She comes from a long line of “firsts”: Her maternal great-grandfather Robert Robinson Taylor was the first black person to graduate from M.I.T.; he became an architect and the vice principal of the Tuskegee Institute. Her mother’s father, Robert Rochon Taylor, was a pioneer in public housing who was the first black man to head the Chicago Housing Authority, in the forties. Her father not only was the first black person to be given a residency at St. Luke’s Hospital but also was the first to be tenured in his department at the University of Chicago. “Every summer my father did research in population genetics, which required him to study diversities of genetic-based diseases across the world, and so we would spend summer vacations traipsing across Africa,” she says, as one of her two BlackBerrys vibrates on the granite-topped table we are sitting at with a delivered deli lunch. “One summer we went from Ghana to Nigeria to Ethiopia to Uganda to Egypt and then back to Iran. We would be out in the countryside visiting different tribes, and my father would draw blood and I would help get the syringes together. We spent a lot of time in Mexico, and then we’d go back to England. So it required me to be able to straddle a bunch of different cultures and worlds. It made me comfortable talking to anybody at a very young age, and because I was an only child I spent a lot of time with adults.”

The email goes on to claim that “The Times” reported Obama advisor Robert Malley was “fired” because of his contacts with Hamas.

That story seems to be entirely wrong.
The actual facts?

Here’s what “The Washington Post” had to say back in May of 2008:

An informal Middle East adviser to Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign resigned Friday after a newspaper reported on his regular meetings with members of the Hamas militant group.

Rob Malley said he wanted to stop being a distraction for the campaign after facing attacks from the blogosphere for months for allegedly being anti-Israel, a charge he denies. Malley is a former National Security Council aide to President Bill Clinton who is now with the International Crisis Group, a nonpartisan conflict-resolution think tank.

Malley’s departure comes at a sensitive time for Obama, who appears to be nearing the Democratic nomination but has struggled to win the support of Jewish and pro-Israel voters. Hamas, which won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, refuses to recognize Israel and is dedicated to its destruction.

In reporting analytic reports he wrote for ICG, Malley would interview Hamas officials, as well as Israeli, American, European and other Palestinian officials. The reports, which made clear he had met with Hamas, feature recommendations for key players in the peace process. Malley said he informed the State Department before he met with Hamas and then briefed State afterwards on what he had learned.

“To do my job, I have to meet with savory and unsavory people,” he said.

But Malley said that after he fielded a call this morning from the Times of London, which asked about the Hamas meetings, he decided he had had enough. “This was a distraction for me; this was a distraction for them,” he said Friday night. “It is absurd, but that is what this campaign is about.” (The links were added to the story.)

Yes, folks, you heard that correctly.

In order to learn about Hamas, so that he could inform the State Department about how to develop smart policy to deal with Hamas, which was his job, Malley actually took the time and trouble to talk to people involved with Hamas…and then Obama actually asked him to tell him what he knows, from time to time, so that Obama would, you know, know what he’s talking about; and all of that is, apparently, frightening to the McCain campaign.

And yet what did McCain tell David Letterman just last evening? That part of what he would do to catch Osama Bin-Laden would be to improve our human intelligence capabilities in Middle Eastern countries.

My friends, I could go on and on about this for another 2000 words; but instead, I’ll offer you an allegorical story that makes the point for me.

Imagine that you are diagnosed with cancer.

Would you prefer an oncologist who is so offended at any scientist who looks into a microscope at cancer cells that he refuses to even associate with such an individual…or would you prefer an oncologist who calls up a researcher over at the National Cancer Institute to ask that world-renowned expert, who has offered advice to this oncologist before, what to do about your case?

I know who I would pick…and I bet a lot of you would make the same choice.