February 20th, 2008
11:52 AM ET

Flies like a butterfly; stings like a bee

It wasn’t your typical pre-game speech for a Hillary Clinton rally.
In remarks before Hillary Clinton came on stage here in Youngstown, Ohio  - and just as the news shows were projecting a Wisconsin win for Barack Obama – Thomas Buffenbarger,  International President of the Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, addressed the crowd and ripped into Barack Obama. He described Clinton’s opponent as “Janus, the two-faced god of Roman times… just a trained thespian, a terrific shadow boxer.” At one point he called for the crowd to “boo” obama and they obliged – briefly.

Recall, Clinton tries not to refer to Obama by name. And the campaign insists they keep their criticism on the substance.

Not Buffenbarger. Some choice lines:


-"Watch the junior senator from Illinois carefully. As he delivers his best lines, he cocks his head back lifts his nose up and turns his ear so he hears the roar of his adoring crowd. It’s a trained thespian’s move. But unlike some, we in the machinists union have seen this act before.”

-"He can act like a friend of the working man even as he dances to the tune dictated by billionaires.”

-"There he is with his nose in the air pontificating when the coast is clear, and as soon as anyone throws a punch, he’s in a bum’s rush to get away from a conflict.”

Apparently, not a lot of love lost there.

His main gripe? Obama didn’t intervene in a labor dispute. He apparently blames him for lost jobs and damaged lives.

And then there was this – read into it what you will: “What is new and novel and unusual is Barack Obama’s boxing show… Outside the ring he pretends he can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.  Great moves, great combinations, great footwork. But brothers and sisters, I've seen Ali in action.  He could rope-a-dope with Foremen inside the ring. He could go toe-to-toe with Liston inside the ring, he could get his jaw broken by Norton and keep fighting inside the ring. But Barack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk everytime there was a tough vote in the Illinois State Senate, he took a walk more than 130 times.  That's what a shadow boxer does.  All the right moves, all the right combinations, all the right footwork, but he never steps into the ring.”

A few minutes later, the crowd drowned out Buffenbarger, chanting, “Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!” The next speaker introduced the New York Senator who subsequently took the stage – with no mention of Janus or the shadow boxer.

 -Jessica Yellin, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: Jessica Yellin • Raw Politics
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