Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Talk show host Hugh Hewitt broadcasts Obama using profanity

On Hugh Hewitt's radio show yesterday, he broadcast several clips of an audiobook adaptation of Barack Obama's 1994 book Dreams from My Father wherein he used alot of profanity and epithets (some racial) that were mostly quoted from other people. Hewitt really tried to nail it in that this would be a campaign issue:

I have written and broadcast on the subject of Senator Obama's first book, Dreams From My Father. It has to be the most unusual book ever by a presidential aspirant, and much of what he writes cannot be classified as mainstream, and some of what he wrote would shock the average American, including his causal use of profanity and his admission concerning past cocaine use. The book was first published in 1995, before Senator Obama could have imagined a presidential run and perhaps before he could imagine anything more than the Congressional seat he unsuccessfully sought in 2000.

I did not learn until today that Senator Obama actually recorded the audio book, and I suspect that it won't be long until the most controversial parts of that audio book are broadcast. I broadcast one excerpt from Chapter 4 today, from pp. 72-74, and asked the audience for their reactions. Some callers shrugged it off, but many were deeply offended. I pointed out that past profanity cases like Nixon's "expletive deleteds," Bush's description of a New York Times' reporter and Dick Cheney's response to Pat Leahy have generated enormous headlines, but never has a presidential candidate ever purposefully recorded himself swearing so profusely or with such variety. I think the audiobook tape will matter a great deal, even if only used in context, and that of course the YouTube generation will begin manipulating the tape as soon as it is known to be available.

UPDATE: When a caller accused me of cherry-picking one profanity-laced segment of the book, I broadened the selection of excerpts to include Obama's own profanity --not that of his friends which he recorded-- as well as some samples of other controversial passages. You can listen to the first five clips I used in the third hour of the program when it is posted later tonight here.

I just don't see this, and to be honest it seemed pretty pathetic and a veiled attempt to grab something on Obama on the part of Hewitt, who I do respect. There was a female conservative caller who called in in the middle of the hour where Hewitt interviewed David Drier who had the view that hearing him speak his mind in such a way would make them like him more, as it showed that he had been through a redemptive and self-reflective evolution in his life. There are a great deal of people who don't have a sense of self-reflection, and the ability to hang out all (or even just some) of your dirty laundry is quite commendable. If either the Hillary camp or the Republicans try to use this against Obama, I think it'll be more likely that it will result in increased sales of Obama's book than anything else.

Another note: This may be one of the first elections in a good while pitting two candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, against each other that are both accomplished authors. Strangely enough, the two both have memoirs with extremely similiar titles: Faith of my Fathers and Dreams from My Father.

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