On the eve of the first presidential debate, conservative media outlets seized on footage of a five-year-old speech by then-candidate Barack Obama, who argued at the time that the federal government discriminated against Hurricane Katrina victims.
The June 2007 speech at Hampton University in Virginia was widely covered, as Obama was already well into his presidential campaign. However, the conservative news outlets that pushed the video Tuesday night argued the media skipped over portions of the speech.
Speaking to a largely black audience, Obama in the video made the case that race relations still had a long way to go in the United States, claiming the divide most severely has an impact on impoverished parts of the country.
The 2007 event was not a closed, secret gathering. It was open to the press, and CNN affiliate WAVY filmed the full speech. The crux of his speech was reported by CNN at the time.
This same opening was mirrored in nearly every news organization and on every television news program last night and this morning.
Put it this way: this speech was so pedestrian that even FOX News didn't raise a stink about it when it occured. It's not like Barack Obama wasn't already on the radar, as this is three years after his "there are no red states" speech at the 2004 convention, which catapulted him into the limelight for 2008.
The point he raised at the time, the point conservatives jumped on, was an obscure fact of policy known as the Stafford Act, which says the local and state governments must kick in at least 25% against any Federal monies. This was waived after the 9/11 attacks, as well as Hurricane Andrew, but curiously, not for New Orleans and Louisiana after Katrina.
Nutbag conservatives jumped on this observation as an example of Barack Obama's overt racism. Funny thing about the speech, tho...
Obama described this rejection of New Orleans as "colorblind", a point neither Hannity nor Drudge, nor even Daily Caller's Tucker Carlson made in the release of the tape. Daily Caller was the organization that apparently re-edited the speech to suit conservative purposes.
Here's the thing: if you want to defend the Bush administration handling of Katrina, that's a debate I bet President Obama would re-visit in a heartbeat, as there have been any number of global-warming induced natural disasters on his watch that were handled professionally and promptly. Indeed, I bet he'd make almost the exact same speech today if asked to.
As a side note to Tucker: how racist is it to point out Barack Obama's patois? Is it anymore ridiculous than pointing out that Romney suddenly developed a love of grits when he campaigned in the south?