September 8th, 2008
09:18 PM ET

Obama questioned community organizing, too

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/08/art.obama.cu.jpg]Editor’s Note: Amy Holmes is an independent conservative who has not endorsed any candidate for president.

Amy Holmes | Bio
CNN Political Analyst

Republicans have been getting heat for knocking Obama's community organizing. It turns out that back in the day Obama knocked it, too. In a lengthy investigative piece in the New Republic, John Judis reveals that, "[w]hen Obama came to South Chicago, he believed in community organizing; within two-and-a-half years... he was clearly growing disillusioned."

For the whole story - what Barack Obama won't tell you about his community organizing past and why Obama actually agrees with Republicans - click here.

Filed under: Amy Holmes • Barack Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. kim-chicago

    Sometimes I think it takes a certain intellect to understand Obama. If you read this article and think he was critical of community organizers then I think you need to reread it or ask someone to explain it to you. The skills from that experience, are the basis for this revolutionary campaign that he is running.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  2. eric

    Women are their own worst critics, that's why they couldn't get HRC elected.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  3. Kim A

    I would say this is an article about how Senator Obama grew discouraged with his role as a community organizer, but vowed to continue working for the good of society and the people in it. It does not say he belittled his role as a community organizer in a televised national arena in an effort to turn a positive and difficult experience into a negative sound bite.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:07 pm |
  4. Sharon

    If you see how politics destroyed your educated father, would you not be disillusioned too? He had a choice! Wall Street or Community Organizer. Look, where community organizing elevated him- nominees to the highest office in the land!

    September 8, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  5. billschmudlap

    What community did Jesus organize? What voters did he register? What welfare did he help people sign up for? His kingdom was not of this earth, he did not organize people for the Roman empire. Why don't you compare BO to Mohammad and see what happens?

    September 8, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  6. Lisa-le

    Palin makes the same speeches but in different City's and States give me a Break .

    September 8, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  7. eric

    To hear the ani-McCain/Palin just tune in to CNN every evening.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  8. 60 yr old white woman

    OK I SEE MY POST WAS ELIMINATED, GUESS THE TRUTH GETS KICKED OUT. So I will repeat it and see if it gets posted again.

    The facts are that Obama spent 2 1/2 years in southside Chicago as a community organizer ($10,000/yr salary) AFTER college. He realized he could do more if he furthered his education so he left, entered Harvard Law School, graduated magna cum laude and President of the Harvard Law Review and then returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights attorney and teach constitutional law.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:01 pm |
  9. Daniel

    Sorry Amy, but your conclusions are unsupported by the data. Many of the conclusions reached by Judis are also unsupported.

    Critiquing methodology is not the same as rejecting the activity. Nor is it remotely the same as saying that community organizers have no actual responsibilities, as Governor Palin implied in no uncertain terms; or implying that work as a community organizer is not actually work at all, as implied by Giuliani.

    They were wrong to say what they said, in the manner that they said it. Simple as that.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  10. olivia

    This article isn't fact, just opinion.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:57 pm |

    Frankly, you are the one who is disillusioned. There is absolutely no comparison between the two views. Obama is proud of what he did as a community organizer all those years ago and has never mocked the work that he has done. In fact, it is because of that experience why Obama felt that he needed to do more. In order to restore America, he knew that he had to bring change to Washington and thats exactly what he will do.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  12. Barbara Galecki

    Amy, I enjoy listening to your opinions even when I don't agree. Unlike some Republican commentators, you are not (how shall I put this), demeaning, harsh, mocking or offensive when you speak.

    I do, however, not agree with your comments or those of John Judis.
    Senator Obama came to a conclusion that he needed to bring change to communities in a larger forum than that of community organizer. He did not belittle or mock such efforts. Unlike Governor Palin.

    Rochester Hills, Michigan

    September 8, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  13. Gen

    So much for the "liberal media..." I've seen nothing but criticism about every word uttered out of Obama's mouth past and present. Yet, I hear almost nothing negative about Sarah Palin or John McCain, minus the overdiscussion of her daughter's pregnancy and McCain's poor vetting process.

    What about Palin's sarcasm director to community organizers? How can criticizing people working to improve their community possibly be a bad thing? And what about the fact that Obama was a community organizer when he was in his mid-20's, around the time when Palin was a sports broadcaster? And her Penecostal background? And the fact that she hasn't yet sat down with any major news organization to be interviewed?

    All of this is funky and the media is doing nothing about it. I'm absolutely disgusted.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
  14. Rose

    It is only when the little guys, whether in cities or rural areas, are united are they heard by, and given a platform with, big government. Community organizing allows for this unification and essentially gives the little guys at least some of the powers the big company and special interest lobbyists have. McCain's and Palin's disdain for community organizers shows their disdain for the little guy and support for the lobbyists who run McCain's campaign.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:42 pm |
  15. Joe

    Backing you all the way and would be very proud to call you our Grandson. It takes many paths and experiences to create the person you are today. You have our vote and we are retired citizens.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:42 pm |
  16. Renee

    I appreciate the article, but would not concur that Senator Obama agrees with Republicans with respect to community organizing. Ms. Holmes this was a stretch. On this issue the comments made at the Republican convention regarding organizers will and should stick as the venom they intended it to be. I honestly learned little from the speakers at the Republican convention except for their fear of what Senator Obama and his campaign may achieve. Desperate times calls for desperate measures.

    On another note, can you provide clarity to the notion that while many Republicans and Conservatives shun Democratic policies and positions, they consistently reap the benefits of those very policies.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  17. Sarah

    I have been watching and listening to Amy Holmes for a while now and find her to be quite the miss know it all – she is rather annoying and not very objective.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  18. pauline

    Given the attacks against Mccain\Palin by Obama and his left wing press buddies I find this comment tame by comparison. It is obvious that the republicans were not putting down community workers per se.
    To believe that a community worker has the experience to be commander in chief is quite laughable.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:39 pm |
  19. Michael Orth

    Jesus was a community organizer...Pontius Pilate was a governor.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  20. ALICE

    community organizers help where the federal govt. fail, and as uasual it's in the inner cities, where the population is mostly african american, has palin said anything about what she would do for poverty stricken communnities, of course not, because her and john mccain can care less about the inner cities, and i can care less about them, and sean hannity too

    September 8, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  21. olivia

    This is an opinion piece and nothing more. The crack that was made last year wasn't just direct at Obama, but at those 84,000 people who just lost their jobs. There was no place for those comments in a campaign.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  22. Annie Kate

    Recognizing the shortcomings of what you are trying to do is not the same thing as belittling the efforts of someone doing the job. The GOP may not think much of community organizers but they don't need to belittle their efforts.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 8, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  23. ingrid roze, NYC

    those who think he is contradicting himself are really not listening are they? if you read the article and see what he said, he had the feeling like he wanted to have a different type of impact, he liked politics and why not? his stating that community organizing shaped who he was is actually even more accurate a statement. it was that experience that helped him discover that he wanted to make an impact even if using political strategies.

    furthermore, i agree with jen (first blogger) who basically said that deciding to change one's tactics and strategies (i.e. no longer do community organizing) is NOT at all the same as belittling and disrespecting what folks are doing on the grass roots level. it is the belittling of the work that people do that really gets my goat- remember that suffregettes, quakers (as in new england abolitionists), MLKing were all basically community organizers that became movements.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  24. AJenkins

    Amy, I know that you are a Republican who is trying to derail the truth, Not this time!. The Republican party needs to apologize for belittling community service. It sickens me right to my very core. I have a full time job, i am a wife and mom, and I always curve out time to help in my neigbourhood. I live in a college town, so there are lots of opportunities to make a difference. I sometimes bring my eight year old son with me in the hope of setting a good example Shame on you and the republicans for your foul comments.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  25. Candy Wilson

    I think that is a lot of what inspired him to go into politics to change things from that level.. He felt he needed to get to a higher level to bring about promise. I think this is why he is running today... I don't feel Amy got the right read on the story. thankyou

    September 8, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  26. Sick&Tired

    Give me a break. Growing disillusioned after working as a community organizer for two-and-a-half years is a whole lot different from the nasty swipes made at the McCain-Palin convention last week. I'm not calling last week's convention the "Republican" convention since the McCain camp took such great effort not to mention the word Republican themselves last week. I guess next the two Mavericks will change the name of the party from Republicans to Mavericks.

    It was also hilarious to see the signs "Country First" hanging around the McCain-Palin convention, when the majority of the convention was spent trashing the Dems vs. sharing ideas and plans to make our "COUNTRY FIRST."

    September 8, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  27. Joanne Peery-Ptokes

    Any day I'd rather have a president with more than a grasp of COSTITUTIONAL LAW than another guy bragging about graduating near the bottom of his class.
    Maybe Bob Woodward's book will re-ignite misgivings about electing yet another un-curious, low-brow commander-in-chief to spend up more lives and money, and to leave our debt and submerging infrastructure continuing to slide downhill backwards.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  28. eric

    Actually, the Obamas have a skewed definition of ‘Community Organizer’ its openly discussed in their ‘Public Allies’ aka ‘Michelle’s Boot Camps For Radicals’; you don’t really believe that there will only be one chair behind the desk at their oval office do you?

    September 8, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  29. Rich from Phoenix

    This is nuts. By the same logic, a young lawyer who gets frustrated with the practice of law would be belittling the value of the American legal system? Young doctors who grow frustrated with the difficulty of practicing early in their careers are belittling modern medicine? Come on.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  30. Charles

    There is no comparison. Palin belittled and mocked people who dedicate their lives to try help others. It was insulting. Obama's comments show that he tried, but realized that he couldn't do as much as he wanted in that position. There is nothing wrong about it, just a man with a higher sense of purpose.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  31. C.J. from California


    Shame on you ... recognizing the limitations of being a community organizer is not the same thing as belittling it. 'Fess up ... your partisanship is showing even though your introduction claims you are an independent.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  32. lampe

    Nobody Belittled anything: Obama, said " Being a Mayor, and a Governer, did not give Palin the experience needed to be V.P.". Palin responed, by say " Being a community organizer, does not give you the experience needed to be POTUS." I really don't see how either comment was belittling, they both said exactly what they thought. People there are so many more issues to be paying attention, instead of this he said she said crap.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:01 pm |
  33. Bahb

    Great! We don't need another idiot in the Whitehouse who "Stays the course!" even if it leads nowhere.

    September 8, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  34. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    Thanks, Amy. It's what many of us who have lived in Chicago already knew about Obama. Have you considered emailing it to Roland Martin?

    September 8, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  35. James Dylan

    It's well known that Obama considered his time as a community organizer mostly a failure. But when he tries to down play Palin's experience as Mayor of a small town then the bag gets opened wide. He probably wishes it never got opened as Palin's experience hasn't been considered a failure. He would benefit himself if he stayed focused on who he is actually running against and not the subordinates. Of course as the media and blogisphere is attempting to help his cause it is doing quite the contrary.

    September 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm |
  36. Cindy

    Funny that Obama wants to down the Reps for talking bad about community organizers yet he back in the day decided that being one was useless and did no good!! LOL Yeah he is one to call someone out on it! It's also funny that he went back to Chicago and never went back to community organizing again and did away with their ideals.

    And I see here we get a glimpse of his true record organizing stuff! It didn't seem to go to well did it!?


    September 8, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  37. Paula from GA

    That's fine. He didn't actually start the Organization he worked with. The person that did had to go to the Mayor's office and asked for some kind of help with the problems in the City or small town. He and Biden insulted Palin being mayor with any decisions even on helping local organizations. Even the one he worked with in Chicago. Daly likes the guy, I guess he didn't make decisions either, UH?

    September 8, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  38. Jen

    Admitting that trying to fight the system from the outside the system is basically like running in place is not at all the same as belittling those that try. There is no comparison.

    September 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm |