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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The Lounge: Flashback-Gate

Anyone here occasionally miss the Primaries? The spectacular array of scandalous -Gates was enough to excite the most docile of observers. So come on, who misses the amusement just a teeeeeensy bit? A lot of you probably don’t, but someone out there does. Be honest. Raise your hand.

Okay, I’ll fess to it. By the end of it, naturally, I was ready for it to come to a conclusion with a quickness, but for a while there, it really was a blast. Remember the passion — sometimes a bit overdone (…okay, more than a bit) — on both sides? Remember when DKos and MyDD were hard-fought battlefields? Remember back when we didn’t know what a “PUMA” was? (Don’t you wish we still didn’t?) Really, some of it was pretty fun. Certainly entertaining, if nothing else. It held our attentions well, didn’t it? Hell, a lot of us became friends during the Primaries — that’s at least where most of us first became familiar with one another.

And I think some of the tightest bonds were originally formed amongst those referred to as the Late Nite Crew, consisting of both strong Hillary and strong Obama supporters who managed to overlook their differences. Instead of fighting, we had fun with what was going on: Pointing out obvious trolls and trollish behavior (no matter which side it came from). CG was queen of video of clips, but I’ve had to remove the one I originally posted in this diary, just for our Holz. ; )

(No, really, I couldn’t keep it from starting automatically, so it was annoying as hell. Look downthread for some of CG’s clips — she’s posted them in the comments.)

So let’s reminisce, shall we? Let’s remember the amusing bits from the Primaries rather than, as seems to be the habit on certain blogs, stoking old flamewars. What were your favorite faux controversies? We all know the major “-Gates” like Slumlord-Gate (Rezko), Terrorist-Gate (Ayers), Pastor-Gate (Wright), Bitter-Gate, NAFTA-Gate, Sniper-Gate, and Plagiarism-Gate, but I’ve listed and discussed a few of my favorite trivial – Gates here. I want to focus on the lesser known (but far more entertaining) blow ups. My memory isn’t always so swift, so remind me of the ones I’ve left out, and I’ll update as needed. And please remember, we’re here to laugh about the silliness of the -Gates, not to argue their validity (or lack thereof). So no infighting, ladies and gentlemoose. This is meant to be fun. Let’s keep this lighthearted.

And here we go, in no particular order:


Here’s one some of you may not remember. In June of 2007, members of Barack Obama’s campaign staff issued a memo which referred to Hillary Clinton as a senator from the Indian region of Punjab and criticized her record on outsourcing. The Punjab jab was in reference to a statement Hillary made in 2005: “I am delighted to be the Senator from Punjab as well as from New York.” Obama quickly apologized both to Clinton and the Indian American community, calling the memo “stupid and caustic.”

Fairy Tale-Gate

The proverbial feces hit the fan on January 7, 2008, when Bill Clinton said of Barack Obama’s statements regarding the Iraq war, “This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” Chris Matthews (HAH!) aired an abbreviated clip of Clinton’s comments and mischaracterized his words, indicating that he had been referring to Obama’s candidacy itself.


In Janary of 2008, Hillary Clinton stepped in it a bit when she made a comment about Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr., which some saw as belittling of Dr. King’s accomplishments.

Mrs Clinton, trying to make a point about presidential leadership and Mr Obama’s constant references to Dr King, the civil rights icon, said: “Dr King’s dream began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.”

Mrs Clinton has since tried to clarify the comment, but the damage was done. Mr Clyburn, who had previously said that he would stay neutral, told The New York Times that he had been “bothered a great deal” by the remarks and was rethinking his position.

This issue probably received wider coverage because of the recent dust up over Fairy Tale-Gate.

Jesse Jackson-Gate

And here we have what was arguably Bill Clinton’s worst moment on the campaign trail. In an attempt to defray Senator Clinton’s likely upcoming loss in the South Carolina Primary, he compared Barack Obama’s campaign to that of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. Jackson won the Primary on both occasions. Most of these -Gates are pure silliness in my opinion, but I have to admit that the offense on this one was legitimate.

Obama The Magic Negro-Gate

This one’s actually pretty offensive, but at least no one was able to blame it on Hillary. David Ehrenstein, who happens to be both an African American and a liberal, wrote a piece in March 2007 in the Los Angeles Times called “Obama the ‘Magic Negro,'” in which he argued that whites, who are often frightened of African Americans, were voting for Obama because he was safe and “benign”. Eager as always to cash in on controversy, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh aired a song parody set to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon” called “Barack the Magic Negro,” performed from the perspective of a “Sharpton-esque” African American man lamenting that Obama is “not authentically” black. Lyrics found HERE.

Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.

The L.A. Times, they called him that

‘Cause he’s not authentic like me.

Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper

Said he makes guilty whites feel good

They’ll vote for him, and not for me

‘Cause he’s not from the hood.

Listen on YouTube


In early March 2008, in the vast, tangerine halls of DailyKos, one of the silliest and most controversial – Gates of the Primaries reared its ridiculous head. A user posited that among Hillary Clinton’s “vermin strategies” was an attempt to make Barack Obama “blacker”. That’s right. With his/her devastating and impressive acumen, this fair blogger deduced that the Clinton campaign had decided that Am
ericans just didn’t think Obama was black enough. Apparently, Jabba the Penn and Co. set out with gleeful malice (which, though certainly not unheard of, was not the case here) to show the world that Obama was just a wee bit too black to be President. Kos picked up the story, slapped it on the front page, and the rest of the blogosphere ran with it. As with nearly all -Gates, it was thoroughly debunked.


This one’s probably my favorite, guys, not least because I was so entrenched in the depths of Primary dementia that when I first heard it, even I thought, “Hmmmm.” Allegedly, Barack Obama shot Hillary Clinton “the finger” in mid-April of 2008 while mentioning her at a campaign rally. He was discussing the “gotcha politics” that occur in Washington and said, “That’s all right. Sen. Clinton looked in her element.” He then paused to scratch his face. Unfortunately, he chose to do so with only one finger. Thus was Finger-Gate born.


In September of 2007, a faux firestorm was started when Barack Obama was caught on camera without his hand over his heart during a playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but many insisted that the incident occurred during The Pledge of Allegiance.

Experts on the national anthem say the law seems a bit out of date, given its reference to a man’s “headdress.” Yet it’s still cited in several military manuals found on the Web.

Modern custom does not require a hand over the heart, said Anne Garside, director of communication for the Maryland Historical Society, home of the original manuscript of The Star-Spangled Banner.

“I think the bottom line is that you show respect with your demeanor,” she said. “Whether you put your hand over your heart, hold your hat at shoulder level or waist level, is really in this day and age irrelevant.”


Many Rightwing pundits used this occasion to further the “Obama is unpatriotic” meme.

Flag Pin-Gate

In October of 2007 Barack Obama stated that he would not wear a flag pin on his lapel. O noes, Obama hatz Amerikahz! Amidst the uproar, Roland Martin humorously suggested that we amend the Constitution to require candidates and civil servants to wear a flag pin:

“Since it is clear that our nation is paralyzed and so not able to close our borders, feed the homeless, develop businesses in the inner cities and save people from having their homes taken by foreclosure due to ruthless mortgage companies, all because some folks don’t wear a flag lapel pin, we need to lead a national movement to demand that Congress and the states make requiring officeholders to wear a flag lapel pin the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Proud-Gate (or alternatively, Angry, Disappointed Black Woman-Gate)

Conservative pundits and talk show hosts had a field day with Michelle Obama in February of 2008 when she made the statement, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country,” while referencing the hope and hunger for change she had seen among Americans while campaigning for her husband. Her meaning was distorted, and her remarks were used to paint her as an unpatriotic, angry black woman. With her typical grace and poise, she deflected such attempts with ease.


This one was a PUMA favorite (even before they were technically PUMAs). TexasDarlin and her ilk insisted that Obama was not a suitable nominee for President because he was, in fact, not an American at all.

In the first half of 2008, a number of rumors swirling around about presidential candidate Barack Obama coalesced in the claim that he “refused to produce his birth records” because doing so would demonstrate some or all of those rumors to be true: that Barack Obama was “not African,” that he was a Muslim with a middle name of Mohammed, that he wasn’t born in the United States at all (and thus didn’t qualify as a native-born citizen), etc.


Last I heard, they’re still pushing the theory. The fact that Obama released a copy of his birth certificate available to the public in June 2008 doesn’t seem to have had any impact on their delusions.


Ah, yes, the infamous whitey tape. Supposedly, Michelle Obama went on a racist tear at some point, blasting “whitey” for all the world’s ills. This was supposed to be the PUMAs’ ace in the hole, the thing which would cost Obama the election and pave Hillary’s way to the White House. We’re still waiting for it. Now… when did they say it was being published? Just in time to damn Obama in 2012, I’m sure.


MSNBC was caught up in a storm of controversy when reporter David Shuster remarked that it seemed as if Chelsea Clinton was being “pimped out” by her parents, who were sending her out to make regular appearances on the campaign trail.

After receiving a suspension, he grudgingly apologized after first attempting to defend his sentiments in an email exchange with Clinton spokesperson Philippe Reines.


This picture appeared on the front page of Drudge Report in late February of 2008. The story was that it was being disseminated by the Clinton campaign, and it sparked a tremendous amount of outrage. As it turned out, the photo was sent to Drudge by a bunch of Freepers.

“Good Job,” a user on Free Republic said Sunday to the person who posted the tabloid pic. “[I]t needs to get to Drudge,M.Malkin,Debbie Schussel etc….I want to see his explanation on this.”

Raw Story


This was perhaps the weirdest allegation of the entire Primary season. Blogger Ann Althouse got it into her muddled head one morning that Hillary’s 3AM ad was a prime example of race-baiting because of the pajamas the sleeping boy was wearing. She asks the question, “Why are the letters ‘NIG’ on the child’s pajamas?” Note the letters ‘NIG’ in “GOOD NIGHT”:

ently Ms. Althouse was under the impression that this was meant to remind America that Barack Obama is a ‘NIG’. Or is it a ‘NIC’? Looks a bit more like ‘NIC’ to me. Maybe Hillary was just trying to remind everyone that Obama was a dirty smoker?


Yes, yes, I know I mentioned it above as one of the well-known -Gates we don’t need to go over, but honestly, it was just one of my favorites. As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t find humor in the mistakes of your own candidate, you’re in big trouble. Taking things too seriously is never good. So please enjoy a vid of what REALLY happened in Bosnia:

Well, that’s what I have come up with. I know there are plenty more. So which ones did I forget? Which ones were your favorites? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add to the diary as we go along (as if it really needs to be any longer, huh?)

Close the Gate on the -Gates. If they can laugh over it, so should we!


  1. sricki

    BONUS general election -gate:


    Moar outragez!  Obama is a sexist!11!!1 He called Sarah Palin a pig, oh noes!

    It all began with an Obama campaign stop in Virginia. “John McCain says he’s about change too,” said the candidate to the assembled crowd. “So I guess his whole angle is watch out, George Bush, except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics, we’re really going to shake things up in Washington.”

    Added Obama, “That’s not change. That’s just calling the same thing something different. But you can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, and it’s still going to stink after eight years.”

    Apparently that makes McCain a smelly old fish! Obama is ageist AND sexist! How could we have elected this man?!? IMPEACH!

  2. louisprandtl

    episode was the start of the war….PJ did an awesome job in covering primary wars earlier in his magnus opus “Flaming for Obama”.


    However I thought one day you or CG will hopefully write about the primary wars in the blog from the other side..:)  

  3. Kysen

    There was quite the kerfluffle over the reported initial plan for Obama to give his speach in Germany using the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop.

    Obama wound up delivering his speech (to approximately 200,000 Berliners) from the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park.

    Just realized that Brandenburg Gate Gate occurred during the General Election campaign…not the Primaries. Oops.

    There were so many GATES during the Primaries that it is hard to remember them all. I recall a Tip Gate, though. Petty enough to meet the aim of the diary fer sure  😉

    Hillary and her entourage neglected to leave a tip after lunch. Oh The Humanity!! Tacky? Of course. Easily dismissed as an unfortunate oversight? Of course. But, wound up with a Gate all it’s own. Woot! Tip Gate.

    (my faves are Birthday Gate and Whitey Gate…for the pure tin-foil hattery required to embrace them)  😉

  4. My god, the never ending Preacher Who Wouldn’t Go Away.

    And Plagiarism-Gate.  That was when I first saw the power of all this virtual activism stuff.  I had joined Obama Rapid Response (ORR) and it seemed like all these folks knew so much more than I did (and they did) so I never said anything until one day when the conversation was about how to phrase a particular point that it was agreed we wanted to get the MSM to understand.  I listened for a while and finally wrote a short explanation and sent it to the group as my first Political activisming.  About three hours later, on CNN, Jack Cafferty uttered the exact words I had written (because the group had spread them around and lots of folks had hammered the MSM with them).

    Wow.  You actually can make a difference, however fleeting…

    I loved the Primaries.  It was a wild ride unlike anything I will ever experience again, even the remaining time up to the GE can’t compare.  

    Thank god it’s over!


  5. KLRinLA

    I remember something (very vaguely) about an uncle-gate, where Obama’s uncle helped rescue jewish peeps from a more infamous compound, when actually it was another location – LIAR!!! IMPEEECH

    And though not one of the candidates, there was scarf-gate around that same time where a Rachel Ray wore a scarf in a dunkin doughnuts commercial that resembled what arab terrorsits where – again, very fuzzy on the details.  SEERIOUZ OUTRAGE BY M MALKIN, FIRE RAY, RENDITION HER!!1!

    Three ball-gate, where lizard head suggested Hillary give Obama one of her extra testicals, very odd use of false/reverse sexism on both candidates in support of Hillary

    And I miss the primary wars for the humor, oh the infinite humor, but I don’t miss seeing other more noble and not trollish posters get caught up in being misled, myself included (RFK/assasinate Obama-gate, slaps head).  The whole drama could be used as a study in psychological analysis  (I remember Brit wrote an excellent piece for work)

    And by the way Sricki, you and CGal and the rest of C4O were the notable staunch Hillary supporters that saw past the bull and realized you could back both candidates in support of democratic and progressive ideals and in opposition to the inevitable business as usual with McCain.  I think it made a lot more reticent Hillary supporters in the myDD community see the big picture and help some of them in transition, and I will always remember that as a beacon of light and sanity in the delusional chaotic depths that MyDD plunged into during that period

  6. Hollede

    I have never felt so fired up in my life until that point. Then the GE got me even more fired up. Sigh, now I have a tummy ache.

  7. louisprandtl

    war controversies. I think another big one is the Muslim Smear against Obama which definitely was one of the lowest moments of the primaries…I think these also deserve their place in the pantheon of Gates….

    1) Indiana Slur Gate video which falsely alleged Mickey Kantor actually used the N-word to describe Indiana folks during ’92 BC campaign. In fact the video was doctored and it went around the blog like a wild fire just before the Indiana primary. It went well with the racist tar that the Clinton team was smeared with… There were some good investigative theories posted in the blogs tracking down who actually first posted on Youtube..but that’s all old bad blood..

    2) Did Obama publicly stated his opposition to Iraq war before the Senate vote when HRC voted in favor of the authorization? I don’t know whether that was an deliberate attempt to discredit Obama or not. There were several video posted at DKos trying to prove otherwise but were conflicting. I actually tracked down the Chicago’s local news reports which actually quoted Obama’s speech in Oct 2002 which proved my initial assessment to be wrong.

    3) Hospital Gate: Jed Report and DKos went ballistic on this thinking this is another SniperGate, even NYTimes printed this on its frontpage, alleging one more example of HRC lies…but then they were the ones who were caught spreading the falsehoods…and JedReport (now Jed L, DKos Frontpager) made a half assed correction in his blog…

    4) Another low point of DKos frontpagers when DHinMi posted his infamous disgusting frontpage diary where he was dreaming about HRC… (it was this point when I left DKos)….

  8. this diary is the bomb.  ah who could forget the primaries…  

    my particular favourites of course were flip-the-bird gate, 99 problems-and-bitch-aint-one gate, flag-pin gate, fairy-tale gate and assassination-gate.  all for the sheer ridicuousness.

    its fascinating that the primary was so much more impassioned and furtive than the GE was no?  but as much as i am so glad to have those days behind me – i treasure them both for their entertainment value and the fact that it brought some seriously quality people into my life.

    btw – that image with the birth certificate is classico!

  9. spacemanspiff

    The one …

    The only …

    teh engels

    A taste of what awaits if you follow the link:

    Point of no Return

    by engels, Sat Jun 07, 2008 at 01:19:59 PM EST

    As much I love Hillary, it is time for me to stop.

    She repeated multiple times today to the point when my blood was about to boil:

    “We must help to elect Barack Obama as president”.

    Thanks Mrs. Clinton, but no thanks!

    No my support for that man from me and shame you,

    Democrats, RBC, DNC and all those people who

    forced Hillary to say this speech today.

    I just get 2008 Presidential Campaign Survey from DNC with 17 questions, including request for contribution.

    And I return it with my honest and refusal to support people who did what RBC did.

    I will publish this survey with my answers as an update of this diary or as separate diary or, if I will be banned, on other site.

    But it is obvious what questions are and what my answers are.

    100% satisfaction or your money back!


    Loi - Engels Pictures, Images and Photos

  10. in celebration of the primaries especially for my BBB sricki…   a lot of my faves were removed ;( – but here goes:

    ive been holding this one back for use here – but the occasion hasn’t arisen yet…

  11. Michelle

    Didn’t Obama call some woman “Sweetie” and everyone got all bent out of shape on it because he is totally sexist?  I would go look somewhere, but nah, I’m too fucking lazy.

    And btw, no one better call me Sweetie or I’ll drop FAILs on your asses! 😉

  12. thatpurplestuff

    Two funny “-gates” that you didn’t list involve Jay-Z.

    The first was “99-Problems-Gate”, a debunked “-gate” in which Obama was rumored to have come out at a victory party to a song that said “I’ve got 99 problems but a b* aint one”.  The other one was “Brush-That-Dirt-Off-Your-Shoulder-Gate”, which probably doesn’t need further explanation.

    One that was really entertaining solely because of its idiocy was “Fairytale-Gate”, when Bill got hammered over calling Obama’s candidacy a fairytale when he was clearly talking about his position on Iraq.

    I think in terms of mini blog-gates, however, “Is-This-Snark?-Gate” has to be my favorite.  Really funny time period there.

    Anyway, AWESOME DIARY THAT IS IN NO WAY A TURD SANDWICH!  I need to make a point to visit here more often!

    PS. I just read through the comments and saw that CG listed two of the gates that I did.  Great minds!

  13. Is it just my Obamabot group think, or do Clintonistas agree that – putatively – you had by far the best trolls. Whether Engels, Campskunk (and all the other Hampster Critters) or even the prime Gate creator (Jerome of ‘Crashing teh Gates’) I can only think of a handful of good Obama trolls.

    There’s an obvious reason for that – Operation Chaos was all about sowing division against the perceived front runner – so it’s not about genuine Hillary supporters being more trollish, just the dynamics of the race.

    Or am I so parti pri that I can’t see the troll mote in mine own eye?

  14. Steve M

    sricki, this diary is awesome.  That birth certificate never gets old!

    It’s been a long time since Iowa, but nobody even mentioned PLANT-GATE.  That was such a horrible scandal (Hillary planted a question at a rally! OMG!) that John Edwards created a whole website to make fun of it.  I mean, that should have been instantly disqualifying, for sure.

    I always saw belief in Finger-Gate as the point at which people would go from being acceptably pro-Clinton/anti-Obama to Officially Nuts.  The equivalent on the other side would be, I dunno, maybe the RFK thing.

    Good times, good times.  I always said that all would be forgiven as long as Obama actually won in the end.  If he had blown it I would totally be a BITTER CLINGING SWEETIE though!!

  15. The Moose has really been lucky lately in the quality of its new members. I hope all of you stick around for awhile. I think you’ll find it’s a friendly place. I hope your examples of joining in will inspire some lurkers to begin participating in the community. We might be a tiny village today, but when a community is as full of fertile ideas as this one you know what can happen. Fertility always leads to growth.  

  16. rfahey22

    There are some people who are trying to keep it alive by spreading ill-will about other appointees, but it’s clear that those people either need psychiatric help or were never Democrats in the first place.  At least in the primaries it could be explained away by “passion.”  It just isn’t the same.  God bless those deluded morons for trying, though.

  17. HappyinVT

    Watching Contessa Brewer play the video back and forth trying to figure out what Obama was doing was the height of journalism.  I dare say it’s been a very loooong time since Obama ever gave anyone the finger.

  18. rfahey22

    You know, zerosumgame and others who would pass off their incessant bellyaching as core First Amendment political speech and claim that the rest of us were trying to subvert their constitutional rights.  On a private website.  Yeah.  Of course, about the only thing they ever did was to complain about their inability to complain without a rejoinder.  But whatever, they were protecting our freedoms.

  19. Stipes

    I love this diary.

    It brought back so many memories.

    Thinking back now, it was such an amazing time.

    Thank you for posting it.  I’m going to read it a second time.

Comments are closed.