May 28th, 2008
10:00 AM ET

Questions of judgment

Barclay Palmer
360° Senior Producer

The RNC yesterday said, "Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief." That after Obama said his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz. Obama's campaign later said the candidate misspoke, and was referring to a part of Buchenwald. Did the RNC revise its statement... Should it?

On the same day - and that's a fascinating piece of timing, isn't it? - news broke that former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has written in a forthcoming book that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of "candor and honesty."

And that's from a friend, or a former friend anyway.

The American public has made its judgment of the Bush Administration clear, with polls consistently showing a ballpark of 70% saying the President isn't doing a good job. It remains to be seen how much its judgment will inform the presidential race, or whether, once again, it'll be more about elbows flying.

What do you think?

Please send us your thoughts... Thank you!

Filed under: Barack Obama • Barclay Palmer • Raw Politics
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Larry

    Barack Obama never voted against the war in Iraq, he wasn't a senator when they took the vote in 2002; so that's another lie from him. He didn't become a senator until 2004. Kerry & Edwards both voted for it.
    I'm surprised, well not really, that CNN has let Obama get another free pass

    May 28, 2008 at 8:23 pm |
  2. Larry

    Seems like a lie is only a lie when Hillary is the one that makes the gaffe. Well, we have proof of Hillary's lie, gaffe, misspeak, whatever. However, all we have of Barack's 'accidental mistake' is his word; let's see an interview with any of his living relatives who can support and verify what he said, or did he just make i up?

    May 28, 2008 at 6:24 pm |
  3. Carolyn

    The story was told to him by family members over the years. He wasn't born yet...The family probably said Auschwitz in the telling. The story is true, they confused the camps. Thats not as big a deal considering the passage of time what about John McCain confusing the Sunni and the Shiite. Thank goodness for Joe Lieberman.

    May 28, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  4. Paris

    It is very clear that CNN is part of Obama’s campaign.
    This has been apparent in the debates, news reporting, your blogs and even your interviews.

    It is amazing that CNN never questions the golden boy OBAMA.
    But every little thing from Hillary and McCain is questioned and even
    judged by your anchors and declared wrong or fault.

    CNN this insulting the intelligence of your audience can’t be sustained and sooner or latter people
    will see what you really are about.

    May 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  5. Chris - Hemet, Ca.

    The RNC has a lot of nerve commenting on anyone's misspeak about anything after all the spin and lies of the last eight years. Obama had the facts straight he just had the wrong concentration camp. It's not like "weapons of mass destruction" or even "sniper fire." Stating an errant fact is quite different than making it all up.

    May 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  6. seah ohio

    Obama's Judgement Should be Questioned.

    He has made many stories up pandering for votes.

    He has lied to the American people on purpose.

    He gets so confused and flustered under any kind of pressure. He can not handle direct questions. He can not handle a debate. He will fall about with real world decisions.

    His choice of friends shows great concern, He choose his friends, He knew what their ideals and ideology was, what they were about and what they believed in can chose to continue a close personal friendship with them for 20 years. Of Terrorist, criminals, Muslim supporters, anti-American, anti-white.

    A Threat to national security

    He has given motivational speeches, with religion injected into them like sermons, He has complied a group of followers like a religious sect.

    Yes Concern for National Security should be the upper most concern and worry right now.

    May 28, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  7. joe

    I suppose even a 46 year old can have a minor senior moment since even McCain has had at least one senior moment during the campaign. Who among us hasn’t mistakenly missed a birthdate, anniversary, secretaries day, forgotten where they put the keys to their car or house or remembered something differently than his/her spouse. It’s not like either Obama or McCain invented something that did not happen at all like being under sniper fire while landing in Bosnia. Both Auschwitz and Buchenwald were concentration camps. Surely no one contends that Buchenwald was a nicer place than Auschwitz.

    May 28, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  8. joe

    I suppose even a 46 year can have a minor senior moment since even McCain has had at least one senior moment during the campaign. Who among us hasn't mistakenly missed a birthdate, anniversary, secretaries day, forgotten where they put the keys to their car or house or remembered something differently than his/her spouse. It's not like either Obama or McCain invented something that did not happen at all like being under sniper fire while landing in Bosnia. Both Auschwitz and Buchenwald were concentration camps. Surely no one contends that Buchenwald was a nicer place than Auschwitz.

    May 28, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  9. Susan

    The RNC should not have to revise their statement in reference to Senator Barak Obama's statement on Auschwitz/Buchenwald. Both Senator Clinton and Senator McCain have been held accountable for their mis-statements or exaggerations, not only by the media but also by Senator Obama himself. Senator Obama seems to be able to dish it out, but appears to become very annoyed when the tables get turned on him.

    Former White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan writes in his book about his righteous indignations over the war in Iraq. If his conscious bothered him so much, why did he stay? Many higher level cabinet appointees have left administrations when they could no longer support their President.

    This will not hurt Senator McCain as he is his own man and not President Bush. He does not have the arrogance of President Bush and will listen to those that he has entrusted as advisors.


    May 28, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  10. Debbie, NJ

    What Obama did was not lie. He messed up the facts. That is a lot different than Hillary the liar who has no facts in her statements. But her supporters somehow have a problem with facts or truth just like she does. When you make up something that has no reality in it that's a lie. Like Bosnia, Chelsea jogging on 9/11, being against NAFTA, should I go on. Those are lies. Mistating the name of a country but the events actually did happen is a gaffe.

    May 28, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Barb

    CNN has led the media in campaigning for Obama. This is sad fact, when this is one of the most historic moments in history.
    When you watch the Democratic Party manipulate, and punish voters for not doing things their way, the rest of the world has too ask where is the freedom in america.
    Making voters accept Obama if they want a democratic president goes against everything america claims too stand for.
    American's have had a hard time making a chose, this has a lot too do with the media bias against Hillary Clinton,but she still has managed too keep Obama from winning, If the democratic party is willing too have a president with Obama's past, american's should be asking themselves if they want be a democrate.
    Obama just might be the the biggest mistake the democratic party ever make's.

    May 28, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Kent, Illinois

    What difference does it make which concentration camp? It doesn't. His relative helped liberate one of them. This will fade away fast. Hmmmmmmmmmmm let's see.....Obama's relative helped jewish prisoners...any more questions on whether he or his family will continue to back Israel? I thought not. This actually helps him. Lol.

    McClellen.............thank you for informing the public about the truth. Rove tried to dismiss you, but clearly you had a close up view of what was going on and what was being done behind closed doors......................oh that's right. Bush just met with McCain for some "fundraising" behind closed doors. Ring a bell? Anyone else sick of GOP secrets?

    May 28, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  13. Rob

    so this is an issue?the repubs have now sent more young men and women to Iraq to die then were lost on 9/11 on lies and this is an issue with the RNC? Most of them should be up on war crime charges!

    May 28, 2008 at 1:43 pm |
  14. linda hemmingsen

    how can anyone say obama has good judgement?after his minister ,and he lied repeatedly about hearing any thing nasty. well in his books he wrote years ago he quotes some of the hatred where is the media.cnn has fallen for him and is refusing to investigate him. obama has been looked at by the cia and they have been looking into his communist ties on the blogs this man who has worked for years in the fbi and cia is said to say he is going to present evidence of historylinks to communism of obama and the threat it relates to the oval office. has anyone heard this in the media?they won't ask anything about his relationship as a adult with ayers, rezko, and all the other corrupt people he alls dear friends. how can he be president with people like this?he says macain gets money from lobbyist but when the donation s from macains came out obama got three times the amount forom the same people. so, why isn't anyone saying he is a lier when he slams macain and he is doing the same but getting more. isn't there any ethical standards here anymore?

    May 28, 2008 at 1:43 pm |
  15. Kim

    Obama's story was correct, his great-uncle did help liberate a concetration camp. I don't think the fact that he confused Auschwitz with Buchenwald is significant in any way.

    The RNC pouncing on a minor thing like this just proves to me that they have difficulty making a legitimate case against Obama on the issues.

    May 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  16. Jo Ann

    Why should the RNC revise their statement; what is wrong with it? Which do you believe; that Obama accidentally “confused” the name Auschwitz with Buchenwald or that he is lacking in his knowledge of basic WWII history? I hope you guys are aware that the Americans did not liberate Auschwitz, the Soviet troops did. I think Obama deliberately used the name Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald because he knew it would leave a bigger impression and he knew that CNN and MSNBC would defend him vigorously when he apologized for the “mistake” and that is exactly what you did yesterday by blaming the media and the RNC for blowing it all out of proportion. He knows just how to manipulate his “fans.”

    Funny, CNN did not extend that same courtesy to Hillary Clinton in regards to the Bosnia incident, or anything else for that matter. 360 raked her over the coals for days about that “mistake;” you even took the opportunity to bring it up again last night. You never even considered giving her the benefit of the doubt. The 360 Blog even allowed that clown Roland Martin to criticize McCain for saying he was “running for the office of Commander-in-Chief.” Yet you regularly dismiss Obama’s mistakes, misstatements, and lies without much scrutiny. Don’t you have any integrity left at all?

    Personally, I find Obama’s many historical and geographical inaccuracies very troubling. They do raise serious questions about his judgment and fitness to be Commander-in-Chief.

    As for McClellan, he is getting his revenge for being hung out to dry and looking like a fool in the White House Press Room in regards to the Plame incident. However, I think he is right that the Bush administration used propaganda to go into Iraq. I don’t believe the timing of the release of his book is accidental, but I also think it may contain information that will be beneficial to McCain in the Fall.

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    May 28, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Larry

    Does Barack have any living relatives that can be interviewed about what he said?

    May 28, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  18. JC- Los Angeles

    Obama writes memoires before accomplishing anything of note; editors then edit said tales; hilarious; unfortunately, when he speaks, he doesn't have an editor; he's a classic dot com; no real track record, no accomplishments, no long term positive result, just a real thin plan and a promise that things will work out; Toto from The Wizard of Oz showed us all we need to know; pull back the curtain and our leaders are all smoke, mirrors and hot air.

    May 28, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  19. Larry

    n understand if Obama is referring to his mom's side of the family, which he pretty well ignores and throws under the bus until its to his vantage for political gain. Obama has pretty well thrown his lot in with the African-American community, guess he doesn't know that there are Kenyan-American communities and that they too have churches.

    If I was Jewish I'd think that for the supposed next president would have a deep understanding of the Holocaust, but I guess his usual teleprompter was not available.

    May 28, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
  20. Peggy

    Oh, come on. Haven't we all gotten a few things wrong in family stories we were told as kids only to be corrected years later on a few details by mom or dad or others? This is nothing.

    The sniper story Hillary told really was questionable.

    This little mixup, however, is a non-issue.

    May 28, 2008 at 12:54 pm |
  21. carmen

    RNC shoots first talks later. Why would it or McCain be different than Bush et all?

    May 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm |
  22. Bryan Price

    Let's see, one party picks upon anything said by the opposing party for any kind of error. The opposing side corrects itself.

    The party doing the picking, has been show to blatantly make errors for its own agenda, and to ignore all calls to correct itself for years. And now, somebody that was definitively in the know has blown the whistle that the party giving out lies as truth. AND THEY HAVE NOT YET CORRECTED THEMSELVES! After years!

    You know what. All people are human, and humans make mistakes. Which is fine. Humans must be able to correct such mistakes.

    Barack Obama realizes that, and corrects himself.

    The current administration continues as if they don't have to correct themselves.

    I know which party I've voting for in November.

    May 28, 2008 at 12:20 pm |
  23. Michelle in CA

    It is interesting that the RNC's statement that Obama has made “frequent exaggerations and outright distortions” is, in itself, an exaggeration and an outright distortion. Obama did make a mistake about which concentration camp his great uncle helped liberate, but that was neither a distortion nor an exaggeration. Perhaps they are referring to instances when Obama responded to his opponents’ and the current administration’s use of bias, slander, outright lies, exaggerations, distortions, coded messages and emotional manipulation. However, the public, the press, many political pundits of both stripes and a growing percentage of his political peers have lauded him for calling Bush, the Clintons and the McCain campaign out on the carpet for their Rovian tactics.

    When you live in a glass house don't throw stones. Thank heavens insiders are finally coming out with the truth that this administration, and those who have been co-opted into their distorted world view, have been responsible for foolish mistakes, blatant lies, underhanded dealings, outright distortions, sophisticated sociological manipulation, stonewalling and strong arming of the press and who knows what else. I hope others have the courage to come forward.

    What is tragic is the Bush administration’s mistakes in judgment have led to the deaths and injury of thousands of incredibly brave and loyal volunteer military personnel as well as, many thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. Our government has made a commitment to assisting the Iraqi people in rebuilding their country. What about making a commitment to those who have fought in this war? It is incumbent on this nation to demand soldiers, who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, get the medical, emotional and financial support they need to return successfully to this society. We must not fail them as this administration so callously has.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  24. Jay, Denver CO

    I think Jon Stewart was right... the RNC and McCain need Hillary Clinton on their ticket to win!

    McCain/Clinton '08!

    May 28, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  25. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I think if things were that bad, McClellan should have been a man of honor and spoken up then regardless of his consequences. Apparently there was too much personally to be gained by staying silent then and speaking out now. I do wonder how much if any of what he says is truth and how much spin the Bush haters will put on this piece and attempt to use it to discredit the Republican Party in November. I'm not buying any of it because his timing and agenda seem too suspicious to ever make this an accountable report of historical fact.

    Oh well. Obama does a good enough job discrediting himself whenever he speaks whether the Dems help him or not. To not know family history and misspeak to America on your personal life is an act of sheer ignorance and bad judgement. No, it won't destroy world peace (already done centuries ago). It does signify a willingness to speak to please whether the information is correct or not. It fits in the same category as Hillary's sniper fire story. But it's worse. He's using his own family to make himself look good. That takes a level of slime the other two candidates don't touch. It does matter whether it was an uncle or great-uncle (there's a big difference between a parent's sibling or in-law and a grandparent's sibling or in-law, and our future president should be able to at least figure that much out). It really matters what camp was liberated and by whom. Those interred deserve the respect of the end of this human atrocity being reported correctly by our potential future leader. If he can't get his history straight for America, the world, or to even tell his own daughters and wife what really happened in his own family, why should I believe he'll be able to get anything straight while he's president? The RNC is within its right to pull all the stops on this one. Their claims are valid. But of course, the Obama supporters (including those on this network who bow down to him) will justify anything he does and vilify anything the Republicans do. It ought to be a fun ride until a winner is verified in November.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:42 am |
  26. Elcee

    Comparing these two things is like...blueberries to watermelons...or something? They're not in the same universe! I'm (obviously) speechless – and outraged!

    THIS is some of what Obama is talking about when he speaks of "old politics".

    It is so crucial that we get past this type of ridiculous and insulting (to the voters) spin. The only way we can make this happen is to reflect our opinions in our VOTE – and maybe on these types of websites as well.

    I hope...

    A middle-aged white woman in Michigan (eats venison, too)

    May 28, 2008 at 11:37 am |
  27. Michelle

    Obama simply misspoke about which concentration camp.
    Move on people. Scott McClellan is a way bigger problem
    for Repubs, Kudos on your panels last night,especially
    Mike Allen from Politico who actually broke the story. It
    kept things real along with Candy(who rocks) along with
    Ed Henry, Gloria Borger and Michael Ware. Good work.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:37 am |
  28. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    No, the RNC doesn't want to revise their statement regarding Obama's judgement, they want to shut it up. They have opened up a can of worms that is more to the eye than what Obama has said. I can't wait until general election when the truth about McCain will be exposed.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:26 am |
  29. Gary Chandler in Canada

    I can see the Red ads now! There will be many clips of what Hillary HAD to say. eg, McCain would make a better President, and so on.
    The Blues would be well advised to compile all the nasty things the Republicans had to say about McCain.
    By the way, Obama 'challenged' McCain to a debate on foreign policy issues; he even said he would take on Bush at the same time. Nobody is making the point that the 'military' man chicken pooped out with a 'let's go Iraq together' response.
    McCain, instead of sniping through the press, accept Obama's challenge. Get on stage in front of the cameras with him!

    May 28, 2008 at 11:21 am |
  30. Sharon from Indy

    Scott McClellan is only one of many who are going to bring forward the secrets of George W. Bush and Dick Chaney. It is only the beginning. Like Watergate, the Executive Branch of the US Government abused the privilege.

    Unfortuantely, thousands of American lives were lost because of the "hidden agenda" of two oil men trying to protect the US interests in the Persian Gulf region.

    As for Obama mistake in quoting Ouschwitz rather than Buchenwald in regards to his uncle serving in the liberation of of a Nazi concentration camp, does it really make any difference where his uncle fought or why Obama wasn't in the military?

    These controversies only take us away from the issues on hand; the war in Iraq, skyrocketing oil prices, a depressed economy, and poor educational system in the US.

    I look forward to the debates.

    May 28, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  31. Diane

    What does Obama's misspeaking have to do with the cost of tea in China or his judgment? It's the RNC's judgment that is questionable, and that is one subject they need to stay far away from. In his few years of public service to this country, he has proven that his judgment is far superior to his opponents who have years or poor judgment and failed missions to their credit..

    May 28, 2008 at 11:05 am |
  32. Wilma

    The Obama campaign has taken a page from Rove's political playbook. Secure & manipulate powerful friends in the media. The Iraq was sold to the american people with the help of the media. The media's main concern back then was the struggle to get more of their own reporter's embedded with the troops. Truth had no place in this rush to war. Truth be damned! What else do you think MCClellan means when he states "manipulating sources of public opinion"? The only thing that stopped Obama's march to the coronation, was Clinton's win in NH. Otherwise, the media would have deemed Obama, to be the nominee, after just one win in Iowa. I find amazing, the same similarities, between Bush & Obama. Arrogance, will prove to be Obama's downfall, just as it has been Bush's.

    May 28, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  33. Cecil Jones

    This Primary season has taught America how to distinguish a lie from the truth. We needed to learn this lesson before 9-11, but later is better than never. What we do with this information is the key to our future. Will we hold anyone accountable if they wag their finger or fabricate for self preservation? Obama misspoke because there was some truth to his version of events. How about "No woman is illegal?"

    May 28, 2008 at 10:25 am |
  34. Cindy

    I think that Obama is getting off way too easy on his Auschwitz lie!! He said that to bolster his image because McCain has been on him about not being in the military. That is plain to see. Plus he has used the Auschwitz thing before! Why the media is so willing to give him a free pass is beyond me! If Hillary would have made that statement she would be attacked mercilessly!! What is fair for one should be used on all! So I hope that the Reps keep hounding him on his lies. It seems the media won't...so somebody needs to!

    This is just like before when the media was so easy on him and it took Hillary putting out stuff and even having to prove it herself before the media would ever touch Obama. Can anyone say double standard!? Or maybe who's the media darling? HMMM....

    May 28, 2008 at 10:24 am |
  35. Annie Kate


    I don't think the RNC should revise its remarks; you would think Obama would get a family story correct; if he can't keep that straight how will he handle the complex issues we face as a nation? They say the devil is in the details and he really didn't get those right on this one.

    On McCellan's book I'm waiting to see if it has any impact on McCain's campaign or approval ratings especially since it sounds like a large part of the complaint that McCellan had was with the Iraq war that McCain supports. I hope it won't have any effect on McCain – he isn't Bush and I doubt Bush's style of governing will be McCain's. It is going to be interesting to see what happens.

    And the race – I thought the elbows were already beginning to fly......

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 28, 2008 at 10:20 am |