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Barack Obama, Joe Biden… and the Irish Americans… and the Irish too… August 25, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Reading in the Irish Times on Monday last the following fairly irascible piece by Niall O’Dowd one might have reasonably been wondering just what Obama was playing at.

For O’Dowd came to critique, not praise. He made some fair points such as:

…questions are being asked about whether he is quite the racing certainty he appeared after the Democratic race drew to a close in June.

After an impressive victory over Hillary Clinton (whom I supported) the Illinois senator set forth with a wet sail for the White House. Media excitement reached its zenith on the night of his final primary victory and Republicans referred caustically to the “anointed one”.

Since then, however, his campaign has seemed becalmed at times. He remains only three to five points ahead of Senator John McCain in major national polls, while generic Democrats lead Republicans by up to 15 points when the question is asked which party voters will support.

Right across the leadership of the Democratic Party there is an increasing unease that they might somehow blow their best chance at the White House in a generation. An unpopular president, a disastrous war and ailing economy should make this a landslide Democratic year. But yet the polls stubbornly have McCain in a virtual dead heat with Obama.

And that unwelcome name appears again.

Part of Obama’s problem relates to his difficulty in expanding his winning coalition over Hillary Clinton.

He put together African Americans, liberal whites and moderate independents, but never cracked the DNA of the white working class who remain the single biggest voting bloc up for grabs, especially in key states.

Perhaps. We shall see.

Mind you, there are one or two other statements that are – interesting.

We will soon find of if Barack Obama was merely a creation of a powerful left-wing caucus in the Democratic Party who was never going to win a general election, or a leader for the ages who confounds contemporary political wisdom and wins the White House in truly historic fashion.

Obama the creation of a ‘powerful left-wing caucus’? The man who throughout his bid for the nomination played to centrist tropes (even in his handling of the Iraq War issue, which to his credit he voted against). Surely O’Dowd protests too much. Particularly in light of his own analysis of of the coalition that Obama has put together thus far. But then as a piece at the foot of the article notes O’Dowd was not merely a ‘supporter’ but ‘…for a time an active member of Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign team’.

And what of:

Meanwhile, in the Irish Echo newspaper last week, Prof John McCarthy, a conservative Catholic commentator, also took issue with Obama’s lack of outreach.

Commenting on his “failure to visit Ireland” on his recent overseas trip, McCarthy stated: “One cannot imagine Hillary Clinton avoiding such a trip . . . surely an aspiring world leader would want to acquaint himself in greater detail with an apparent success story in the resolution of conflict.”

McCarthy went on: “A more likely explanation might well be the unimportance his campaign strategists attach to the Irish vote in America.”

That’s right. They are really really uninterested. And John McCarthy is a disinterested observer of such matters.

Indeed O’Dowd continues:

That could certainly be the case; repeated attempts to have Obama address an Irish presidential forum have failed while it now seems very likely that John McCain will take the opportunity in the near future.

The frustration is mirrored in other ethnic communities I have spoken with and even among old labour supporters. Some of the labour leaders apparently expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of outreach in no uncertain terms in a recent meeting.

Imagine that. It’s quite a charge. Obama indifferent to his roots, and more than that, effectively snubbing them. Political dynamite for an Irish American journalist to be making this close to an election.

What a pity though that he didn’t trouble himself to talk to – say – some Irish people, or indeed the Obama campaign. For curiously the very next day in the Irish Times in a report by Denis Staunton one reads that:

MINISTERS MARY Hanafin and Noel Dempsey and opposition leaders Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are among the Irish political figures expected to join counterparts from Kenya next week to celebrate Barack Obama’s roots in both countries at a lunch during the Democratic convention in Denver.

That’s right too. Obama, bizarrely looked to both sides of his family…

Mr Obama’s father came to the United States from Kenya but his mother’s family traces its ancestry to Moneygall, Co Offaly.

And far from the gloomy prognosis that O’Dowd relates we read:

Stella O’Leary, president of Irish-American Democrats, who is hosting the lunch, said Mr Obama’s shared ancestry in Ireland and Kenya was part of the “great American story” his candidacy represents.

And better still:

“It’s a great, interesting story and his Irish ancestry is not widely known in America. This is a chance to tell that story to Irish-Americans and to highlight the close bonds between Ireland and Africa,” she said.

But in a further slight to the Irish, and Irish Americans, Obama has selected, not Hillary Clinton, I mean of course… er… hold on. He’s selected another figure entirely.

Step forward, for it is he… Joe Biden. I’d sort of pegged Biden as a bit of a lightweight, not merely for his unusual hair colouring during the campaign for the nomination, but also due to his rather crass (albeit on the fly) comment about Obama which I won’t bother relating here. I caught him on the Daily Show soon after and he handled his appearance fairly deftly and with a degree of self-deprecation that was probably necessary. But his experience on foreign affairs is sterling being a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. One might even term him – for better and for worse – an original ‘liberal interventionist’ for his stance on the Balkans. And he wasn’t shy about supporting the Iraq venture. That said, mitigating that, once the war was in train he did pull back and became a vociferous critic. Regardless, there are many who will wonder about just what sort of person is going to be second in command should Obama make it to the Oval Office. And perhaps with good reason.

On the other hand in political terms he’s a much safer bet than some of the names that were thrown around earlier in the Vice Presidential candidate selection process. How he shores up the ticket is difficult to know. His policy experience presumably is no harm. His old white maleness likewise.

But a lot depends on the Convention this week. I’d draw peoples attention to four key events above and beyond Obama’s words on Thursday. Firstly the input by both Clinton’s. Slate’s Political Gabfest had an interesting take on it suggesting that Bill (Wednesday) might be unable to pass up the opportunity to shine in front of the crowd and, more than likely, would be very positive. The feeling was that Hillary (Tuesday) might be the one to not quite emphatically enough support Obama. I don’t know. Hillary Clinton will presumably want to keep her options open for 2012 should Obama fail… Either way, worth watching. Then there is Ted Kennedy’s pre-recorded video address (not sure what day, probably today) to the Convention. That should be worth checking out, if only because he positioned himself in the Obama camp relatively swiftly. And then we have Michelle Obama’s piece today where probably we can expect to see no hint of her earlier spikiness. Which is a pity, but tells us all we need to know about the nature of contemporary politics. The Slate piece also made the interesting point that whatever about Bill Clinton the guest speaker with real ‘rock star’ appeal was… Al Gore.

Meanwhile spare a thought for the fact that Biden’s 1988 Presidential bid collapsed in part – almost surreally – over his plagiarising a Neil Kinnock speech (which is in a way the equivalent of – say – David Cameron pilfering Mary Harney’s undying prose… shudder). I can’t quite work out is a good thing that Biden was savvy enough to think of a Kinnock speech as worth quoting (which he apparently attributed correctly most of the time), or not so good in that he would take that as his role model. Dangerous reformism. Obviously. ;) I’ll leave that for others to decide.

But on the Irish issue Biden is iron-clad.

Not merely Irish (and what a contest this is all shaping up to be, with Scots-Irish McCain) but a Finnegan on his mothers side. And… Catholic. Roman Catholic!

Neil O’Dowd, read it and veep. Read it and veep. Ahem.

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Comments»

1. splinteredsunrise - August 25, 2008

I always thought O’Bama was the Irish candidate… maybe we can get an ancestral home built by the time he visits?

But yeah, the Clinton coalition. Of those, I suppose the Latino and Jewish components might be a little easier, especially since Obama has signalled to AIPAC that he’s completely on message about Israel. The white working class would be tougher, and Obama so far has spectacularly failed to connect with that constituency. Indeed, sometimes he’s seemed contemptuous of it. This is how McCain can get away with calling Obama an elitist, despite being oodles richer than Obama – he can do the beer-and-burger thing, and Obama doesn’t seem able to.

But Biden? An old white guy? Michael Moore was warning that the Dems would do their usual gormless thing and pick a retired general, or a Republican. Biden isn’t quite that, but he doesn’t seem the kind of guy to inspire the base.

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2. Ian - August 25, 2008

I’d say the whole Irish-American elite were momentarily upset by the prospect of not having a Clinton administration to pay them attention. If one remembers reading opinion pieces in Irish newspapers when Bertie addressed the Houses of Congress a few months back, there was definitely a sense that Ireland’s prominence in the US had dipped, from the heady days of the 1990’s and the Peace Process.

Most journalists rightly put this down to the fact that with the Peace Process practically finished, the need to pay attention was lessened. They also thought this was a sign of how far Ireland had come. I’d agree but obviously our diaspora in New York and Washington feel otherwise.

But how prominent would Ireland be under a new Clinton regime? For the same reasons we are small fry under Bush, I’d say not very.

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3. Canon Stephen Neill (Rector of Moneygall) - August 25, 2008

As the holder and ‘discoverer’ of the records (with some help admittedly) of Barack Obama’s Irish roots I am delighted to see such a comprehensive response to Niall O’Dowd’s lazy and ill-researched article. Thank you!

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4. yankeedoodle1976 - August 25, 2008

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year-old Texas rancher whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

Eventually the topic got around to Obama and his bid to be our President.

The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know, Obama is a ‘post turtle.’

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was.

The old rancher said, ‘When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’.

The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain.

‘You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place.

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5. ejh - August 25, 2008

Could you give us any guidance as to who does “belong up there”?

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6. Dan Sullivan - August 25, 2008

I think it makes more sense to address the bread and butter issues that impact on the white working class like losing their jobs because the White House spent money like it wasn’t their responsibility to know where it came from or where it went or energy prices going through the roof because the Republicans are so much more interested in re-fighting their dads old wars that they didn’t future proof the economy’s energy position than to pander to them because they’re Irish, like rock music or red meat or whatever.

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7. splinteredsunrise - August 25, 2008

I think it was Rove, of all people, who said he thought Clinton was the stronger candidate because, while Obama was great at appealing to the white wine drinking section of the Dems, there were more beer drinkers out there. Obama’s big problem as I see it is his failure to see that there is such a thing as the white working class, and that it isn’t very responsive to his trademark Bonoisms.

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8. WorldbyStorm - August 25, 2008

Very welcome Canon.

Yes, I’d echo ejh’s question.

Ian, that sense of entitlement keeps coming through from the pro-Clinton camp, even now, doesn’t it?

I think there is a problem for Obama, as splintered and Dan note, but perhaps Biden staunches the flow of people away from him.

I saw Rove’s comment and my first thought was, ‘why is he saying it?’. Then it was that he’s being duplicitous and he doesn’t mean it and actually thinks Obama is the stronger candidate and wants to throw people off. Then it was that he’s being doubly duplicitous and he doesn’t believe that, but thinks that Clinton is stronger, but that he knows people will think he’s being duplicitous and therefore hopes they’ll plump for Obama. Then I gave up. :)

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9. Dan Sullivan - August 25, 2008

Rove is so much a snake; he’s practically a ladder.

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10. Bakunin - August 25, 2008

Niall O’Dowd is a trip. He believes that he got the Clintons elected and that he is responsible for peace in Ireland. His ego knows no bounds. Yet his paper is a big waste of trees.

O’Bama is the candidate of the “wine drinkers” (of course, Hillary was as well). The fact that he cannot connect with the white working class is evidence of that. He doesn’t have a thought in his head about foreign or domestic policy. McCain should be trounced, but it will be competitive.

The key thing about Biden is not the racist comments, the stealing of other peoples’ words, the fact that he is a dim-witted clown, or the hair dye — it is the hair plugs. Keep your eye on the hair. It is key.

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11. Dunne and Crescendo - August 25, 2008

‘I suppose the Latino and Jewish components might be a little easier, especially since Obama has signalled to AIPAC that he’s completely on message about Israel.’
Don’t assume American Jews vote for presidential candidates on the basis of their support for Israel. 80% or so of the Jewish vote has gone Democrat consistently despite the prominent Zionist Neo-Cons in the Republican Party.

‘The white working class would be tougher, and Obama so far has spectacularly failed to connect with that constituency. Indeed, sometimes he’s seemed contemptuous of it.’
Maybe he hasn’t connected but I don’t think his comments about ‘bitterness’ were contemptuous, if that is what your referring to. He actually has won white working class votes, just not in the numbers he will need.
Are we studiously avoiding the fact that Obama is black? Is married to a woman from the South-Side of Chicago? That their high-five celebrations were described as a ‘terrorist fist-bump?’ That his favourite song is by the Fugees? That his favourite character on TV is Omar from The Wire?
I’m afraid all that may or may not seem unimportant to us highly educated and cynical social scientists, but it matters in the US of A, big time. Wait till someone asks Obama why he admires a fictional Gay stick-up man who shoots drug dealers! No matter how centerist, or bland Obama presents himself, his race will affect how he is perceived.
Btw, I’d describe Niall O’Dowd as something other than a ‘trip’ but I fear I might be banned from the CLR if I do.

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12. Bakunin - August 25, 2008

Well, as a pessimistic social scientist, yes, O’Bama is black. And, yes, racism is alive and well in America. It defines the white working class and even the wine drinkers.

But in some ways you are undermining the significance of O’Bama vis-a-vis race. The fact that he is the nominee of the party of slavery and the confederacy is historic and exciting. It is also true that O’Bama is politically vacuous and is the candidate of an important segment of American capital. Despite all the talk about small individual donors, O’Bama’s campaign till is overflowing thanks to Wall Street firms and the Murdoch types. Yeah, we can talk about his favorite TV character or his wife coming from the south-side, but what are his politics? What does he believe in? What kind of change (his mantra) are we to see? He is already striking a more cautious and responsible posture.

Like many yahoos before him, O’Bama has raised the expectations of many people. He will disappoint them. Could it be that the beer drinkers are tried of all this? McCain is not an alternative to the status quo — is O’Bama?

More importantly, I agree – any discussion of O’Dowd can get ugly.

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13. a very public sociologist - August 25, 2008

Viewing all this from afar Biden seems to be a sensible pick. He won’t scare away conservatives too much. He has a certain gravitas that comes with being an insider, balancing Obama’s cultivated image as an “outsider”. And his class background might go down well with white working class voters who backed Bush last time.

All that said, does anyone ever vote for a candidate on the strength of his running mate?

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14. ejh - August 25, 2008

trademark Bonoisms

Here is a Bonoism for you. Don’t let it ruin your entire day, as being aware that it exists has ruined mine.

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15. Bakunin - August 25, 2008

I just watched it and threw up in my mouth.

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16. Barack Obama, Joe Biden? and the Irish Americans? and the Irish too?: Bits of art - August 26, 2008

[...] Link: Irish Blogs [...]

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17. Wednesday - August 26, 2008

his class background might go down well with white working class voters who backed Bush last time

Well, the white urban working class, maybe. But it won’t help Obama with the good ol’ boy vote – Biden is too northern, urban and Catholic for them. It’s interesting that this is the first Democratic ticket in a quarter century that hasn’t included a southerner… and we know how well the last such ticket did. Expect to see massive Republican shenanigans with the voter rolls, in the south particularly.

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18. WorldbyStorm - August 26, 2008

I think that’s a real problem you point to Wednesday.

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19. splinteredsunrise - August 26, 2008

It should also be the first Republican ticket in a quarter century that doesn’t include a Bush or a Dole. Unless McCain has a rush of blood to the head and tries to draft Jeb Bush as Veep…

I can understand why Webb didn’t get the Veep slot, but I think he might have been a more electorally useful pick, being both a southerner and a Reagan Democrat. Problem being that you can’t win any state in the south on the black vote alone, and it’s nearly impossible for a Democrat to win the presidency without picking up at least a couple of southern states. This is what puzzles me about Biden – the Dems can probably already win the states where he might have some appeal. But as Wednesday says, will he appeal to the good ol’ boy constituency?

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20. Wednesday - August 26, 2008

I suspect they’ve simply written off the good ol’ boy constituency. Out of all the groups that favoured Clinton over Obama, that was probably always going to be the hardest one to win over… they may just have decided to cut their losses and concentrate on the others.

you can’t win any state in the south on the black vote alone

No, but there are white liberals in the south too, and between them and a very strong black turnout he might just pip McCain in a couple places. Which is why I think the Republicans are going to go into overdrive to keep the black turnout as low as they can.

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21. WorldbyStorm - August 26, 2008

Wednesday, was reading over the weekend an analysis that tallied very well with yours there, that Obama etc think that a good black turn out could make all the difference in places like IIRC Virginia, etc… It’s not utterly unfeasible, is it?

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22. o'niell - August 27, 2008

Firstly, Irish genealogy, desendents of milo and scottie, scottie is the daughter of a pharoah in egypt and egypt is in africa, thus the descendents of milo and scottie are mixed with the blood of the africans. I am of the o’niell, from the tribe of heber, Kearney is one of us, Obama is the descendent of Kearney and most of ireland is one of us, Although we are descendents of the great one Pharoah and the great general O’niell, The zionist will do everything they can to stop the chosen one Obama from being elected president, they paid the expenses for evil slave trader cromwell to enslave our irish men women and children to america and the shores of the west indian carribeans and made slaves out of them in america and the west indians, we have our own holocost, they are afraid of the cross, the african americans and the irish love the cross, we don’t own no banks, or hollywood or the media, obama didn’t go to ireland or even inside the african american communnities, because they know that the ones who controll the media will twist it against him, the media tried to make the catholics look bad, who, controls all of these stations? their trying to make the irish look bad, for the irish in america are catholic, biden grandmother is irish, biden is catholic. all of this business calling yourself white got to stop, we did not call ourselves white when we were in ireland, they want all the europeans to call themselves white, so you can not see who is controlling the banks, the media, etc. We know who we are and our clans, we are family. How we suffered, the chosen one, irish ancestors are looking for you, to help him, his father abandoned him, his mother and gramps and toots did the best they can, and developed a strong young lad, gramps passed away and his mother passed away, and grandmother toots is old, now all of you are irish are cousins to each other and obama is your blood cousin for our many grandfathers are milo and scottie, thats why we are family. Obama is your cousin, your cousin needs your love and support, even if you disagree with his politics, don’t you dare talk against him, he is your blood, the descendent of milo and scottie, we are family, the princessess and princes of Milo and Scottie.

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23. Patricia - August 27, 2008

It’s tiresome that the Irish don’t just disappear from the american political scene. They should take their Irish passports and go back to the Auld Sod where their power-madness, bigotry and racism would be welcomed.

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24. WorldbyStorm - August 27, 2008

Oh, too true Patricia, they are soooo much worse than the white Anglo-Saxon power-mad bigoted racists, aren’t they?

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25. Dunne and Crescendo - August 27, 2008

O’niell’s all whacked out on Mountain Dew. Still a black nationalist-hibernophile-anti-semite is a new one on me.

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26. Patricia Smythe - August 27, 2008

According to Tom Hayden (an ex-husband of Jane Fonda and big-time alimony winner) ‘s demand letter posing as a blog at the Huffington Post, an allegedly “progressive” blogsite, “O’BAMA NEEDS THE IRISH-AMERICAN VOTE” (www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/obama-needs-the-irish-ame_b_117917.html) and must therefore do what he is told to by Hayden and his cronies. Actually Obama needs to worry about the many millions of disgruntled Hillary supporters, especially at the Democratic Convention. But as their interests do not coincide with those of Hayden and the crowd he has fallen in with this is ignored. I sent an email to Hayden, who never responded as someone truly “progressive” would, especially if he cared about what anyone who disagrees with him thinks (kinda like “Dubya”), so I am posting an updated version of that email here!

Dear Tom:

To your blatantly sectarian, bigoted and unreferenced (by any legitimate authority) assertion that “the peace agreement needs to be ‘cemented with jobs’, especially in the heavily-Republican and Loyalist neighborhoods which suffered most during the 30-year war. Investment, however, is skewed heavily towards Protestant-dominated institutions and neighborhoods”. I must ask where is the evidence that investment has been skewed towards Protestant neighborhoods? A little proof from an unbiased source would be nice. Loyalist areas in Northern Ireland are quite deprived, especially educationally, as anyone who studied the area or spent less than a week there would know.

To your dubious assertion that “Obama declared that the walls between Catholics and Protestants had come down in Northern Ireland, when in fact the barriers separating communities have increased since the Good Friday Agreement”, I must say the following: Even if this is true — and I am not sure because your thinking has become so disordered since you were converted to the ways of thinking of the ultranationalist Catholic integralist Terry Golway, the political contortionist Bruce Morrison, the hatemongering Brian O’Dwyer, the glorified ambulance chaser Charlie Schumer and the megalomaniacal Niall O’Dowd — what has that to do with Obama? What can America do about that? Forced integrated housing estates? Forced integrated schooling? The US has a lot of very serious and unprecedented problems facing us and your complete disregard of these myriad problems to agitprop over trivial, parochial nonsense disgusting.

3) FACT: The ILIR (Irish Legalization Immigration Reform) is indeed a racist and arrogant group and I am very proud and happy that, as far as I know, unlike the likes of Senators Schumer, Specter and McCain, who genuflected to and took photos with this group, Obama did not. As reported in the New York Times’ “How Green Was My Rally” (December 2006; see http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/opinion/10sun3.html, http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/11/opinion/eddownes.php) Schumer shouted a chant (Tiochfaid Ar La) normally associated with the Irish Republican Army, punched his fist in the air and mentioned his sister, Fran … Schumer … McNULTY!!! Wow, he figured out the keys to win that tough crowd over.

Trina Vargo came to that correct realization as anyone who came into contact with them would have and for exercising her First Amendment vigorously she was tossed aside like rubbish when she was no longer of any use, insulted and traduced, despite her many years of service to Senator Kennedy and her work with the Morrison visa scam, er scheme, that resulted in getting 48000 green cards to illegal Irish aliens for which they could never have qualified otherwise. My own best friend, a Polish national, sadly, had to wait 14 years to get his green card. Too bad he wasn’t born in the right place to qualify for the American Dream faster.

4) Finally, I think you should take a look at the responses to your article at the Huff blog website, almost all of which, many from Irish Americans who consider themselves Americans first and foremost, disagreed with your selfish, myopic demands. Two that caught my eye were:
a) Sorry, Tom, but your field trip has warped your perspective. The vast majority of “Irish-Americans” have assimilated to the point where their primary concerns are American concerns, not Irish. Those that haven’t are a very few that remain in isolated urban pockets, undereducated and out of reach to a black candidate. The Irish of which you speak are in Ireland and, needless to say, do not vote. Read your post again in a month and see if you still agree with it. (ched @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/obama-needs-the-irish-ame_b_117917.html#)

b) I grew up in a catholic irish neighborhood in the states. The racism was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I am Irish but I say to hell with what the Irish want and yeah to what black people need. The turning point for me was when I was about five years old and saw a mob of your so called wonderful Irish people burn down a house with a black woman in it holding her child (a baby) in her arms. I am Irish and I say to hell with what the Irish want. Apparently Tom, you have not seen the things I have seen. (cylindar @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/obama-needs-the-irish-ame_b_117917.html#)

By the way if “O’Bama” is so Irish why hasn’t the Irish government given him his Irish passport? They give them away like water to anyone they can, provided the recipient is white and preferably Catholic. (I’ll bet Hayden got his by now. The island nation of Montserrat is filled with the descendents of Irish slaves, but as they are brown-skinned Protestants, not white-skinned Catholics, you can bet there is no “outreach” by the 26 County “government”.)

In sum, Tom, you and your ilk are like modern-day Canutes trying desperately to turn back or ignore the changing demographic tides.

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27. WorldbyStorm - August 27, 2008

Patricia, there’s bits there of your email that I’d agree with – not least the special pleading by ‘Irish’ interests as regards visas at the expense of others, but it does feel a bit like overhearing someone else’s conversation, interesting but difficult to be sure one is getting all the points that are being made.

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28. Dunne and Crescendo - August 27, 2008

Between born-again Irish American Tom Hayden and the Irish-Americans who really don’t want to be, your not going to get too much sense. I did read ‘Irish on the Inside’ however and its not a bad book; contentious of course and desperate to find progressive thought in Irish America, but a useful antidote to the writing off of the whole lot as bigoted racists.

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29. WorldbyStorm - August 28, 2008

Yep, that seems to sum it up D&C…

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30. Patricia Smythe - August 28, 2008

WorldbyStorm – It is less “special pleading” than arrogantly demanding by a group which would be of no importance sizewise whatsoever — and whose loyalties are to Ireland, not the United States — except for the politicians who are constantly bending over backwards and pandering to them.

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31. WorldbyStorm - August 28, 2008

What’s interesting to me Patricia is how the perception of the Irish lobby’s strength has arisen.

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32. Patricia Smythe - August 28, 2008

WBS – Perception is perception – it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality any more than the drunk with the lampshade on his head calls attention to his fellow party-goers. The press is not paying enough attention to ILIR and its obnoxious behavior and pointing out the disparities between the ILIR and other immigrant groups — i.e. the Irish come from one of the most well-off countries in Europe, hence the world, which has its own harsh policies towards illegal immigrants, yet these voluntary migrants act like they are fleeing oppression – are they fleeing the Celtic Tiger or the Good Friday Agreement? I haven’t figured it out yet.

Specifically this was enabled by Bill and Hillary’s obeisances. While I am heartily glad Bill Clinton was elected I really don’t know how much the O’Dowd clique can pat themselves on the shoulder given the massive unpopularity of Bush 41. The other part is politicians like McCain, Specter, Schumer, etc. being willing to speak to and be photographed with ILIR this election cycle. Feed the egomaniacal hydra once and you have to keep feeding it until it is sated, thus beginning an endless vicious cycle. If they weren’t so arrogant and obnoxious, it wouldn’t be quite so bad. Still I strongly suspect any immigration reform package will have to be exhaustive and reasonably fair. Neither side can ask for Hispanic votes and then ignore congresspeople of Hispanic descent or other politicians, if they only have the courage to speak out. Don’t forget that in the early 1990s when the Morrison visa scam began there was virtually no Internet and most Americans really didn’t know what the execrable enabler Morrison was up to in his smoke-filled room. Also immigration is now an intense issue in every part of the country.

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33. WorldbyStorm - August 29, 2008

I actually agree with you on this. And there is an interesting aspect too when one looks at how this reflects back into Ireland where one strand of the anti-immigration crowd in Ireland has been dismissive of the Irish experience in the US in the sense that it looks towards the thin legitimacy of the visa processes (which as you say were tilted sharply in favour of the Irish and against others) while having no sympathy or understanding for others coming from a worse situation to Ireland.

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34. Patricia Smythe - September 4, 2008

Also, just to belabour the point – I doubt that more than 1% of the U.S. population has even heard of Niall O’Dowd, and active support for his egomaniacal agenda is but a fraction of that. It’s just the likes of Schumer, Specter, Morrison, Tom Hayden, etc. that have puffed up O’Dowd’s massive ego and seem inclined to continue doing so. I may just vote Republican. McCain allowed himself to be photographed with ILIR, but …

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35. Michael Quinlin - September 13, 2008

We’ve set up a clearinghouse of statements by the Obama/Biden campaign and various supporters relating to the issues of interest to Americans of Irish descent.

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