At a press conference today, President Obama was confronted by a reporter for Fox News, who asked him about an accusation leveled by a man who was his neighbor during his childhood in Hawaii. The reporter, Shepard Greeley, said the former neighbor, a man now in his seventies, had alleged that Obama, along with a group of friends, knocked on his door on Halloween Night, 1972, when Obama was eleven years old.
The neighbor, who prefers to remain anonymous, said he gave each of the children two Hershey treats, and that they politely thanked him. However, when the neighbor peered out the window a few seconds later, he saw Barack Obama facing him on the other side of the window, rubbing the window with one end of a bar of Ivory soap. The neighbor said he tapped on the window, and that Obama grinned, “gave me the finger,” and ran away.
Reporter Greeley recounted the episode, as discussed by the neighbor, toward the end of the press conference, and Obama replied.
OBAMA: I remember that incident well. I admit that it happened. But there is more to it than that. First of all, this man was a Republican. He was one of the wealthier men on the island, and he didn’t pay his fair share of taxes. No, I am not suggesting that he was a tax evader. I am sure he paid all the taxes he legally owed, but that was not enough. He should have paid more. Why? Because he was wealthy, and other people were not. The people who were not were entitled to a substantial cut of his income, simply because they had less. That’s the American way.
GREELEY: But, sir, you merely soaped his window, you didn’t break into the back of the house and take his money, did you?
OBAMA: (chuckling) Is that what he thinks? OK, let’s leave it at that. A second point I will make is that this man was a white heterosexual. Such people are fair game for malicious pranks and contemptuous utterances, because they don’t belong to a coherent interest group. It is difficult to solicit them as a body for campaign funds. They are too diffuse. Most sensible politicians ignore them.
If the man had been gay, then I would have a lot more explaining to do. Instead, I will just emphasize that this was a childhood prank. If the man had been gay -- or Hispanic, black, a member of the media, a show-business celebrity, a doddering billionaire from Nebraska, or part of any of the other , close-knit interest groups whose votes I am focusing on in this election, then I would be abashed, and would apologize profusely.
I am willing to bet that when Mitt Romney went trick-or-treating, he played all his pranks on gays, minorities and wealthy left-wingers.
GREELEY: Do you know that for a fact, sir?
OBAMA: No, but it stands to reason. Look at his history. Whether what I say is true or not, I want to plant it in the minds of the members of my constituencies and other prospective voters, and I appreciate your giving me this opportunity to do so. Next question?…
Arthur Louis's Blog
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- February 28
- I was a writer and editor for more than forty years with four newspaper and magazine publishers. I am the author of two non-fiction books: "The Tycoons" and "Journalism and Other Atrocities," and one novel, "The Little Champ," all available on Amazon.com
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