Obama: My uncle liberated … Auschwitz? Update: No mention in 2002 speech; Update: Video added; Update: New video

posted at 10:54 am on May 27, 2008 by Allahpundit

The meme about Obama’s many gaffes is fun and useful as an antidote to the media myth of St. Barack’s infallibility on the stump, but I think we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns, especially in cases like the “fallen heroes” comment where he’s guilty of nothing more than awkward phrasing. I can imagine myself stumbling into the same silly formulation and that’s without 15 months of 18-hour days on the trail. Needless to say, it’s also a bit late in the game for conservatives to take great exception to rhetorical clumsiness in a would-be president.

Like See-Dub says, though, there are gaffes and there are gaffes:

Obama also spoke about his uncle, who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz. He said the family legend is that, upon returning from war, his uncle spent six months in an attic. “Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” Obama said. “That’s why this idea of making sure that every single veteran, when they are discharged, are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder and given the mental health services that they need – that’s why it’s so important.”

Follow the last link to Ace’s site for a reminder of who did the liberating at Auschwitz. I notice that the Auschwitz part of Obama’s remarks isn’t quoted, which made me suspect that he hadn’t specified the camp at all and the reporter had sloppily jumped to conclusions. Not so: WaPo’s account also mentions Auschwitz (although again without directly quoting him). The charitable explanation is that he simply mistook which camp it was that his uncle helped liberate — Patton’s army, for example, liberated Buchenwald and Mauthausen — but according to Obama it was his grandfather who marched with Patton, not his uncle. (Or was his uncle in the Third Army too?) The uncharitable explanation — well, follow the link to See-Dub for that. I don’t think Obama’s crazy/Hillaryesque enough to make up a story like this whole cloth knowing what the consequences would be if he got caught, but there is a parallel with the Tuzla debacle here insofar as it’s never a good idea to float a powerful personal story that hasn’t been thoroughly fact-checked. Exit question: Barry’s got some interesting theories about World War II, huh?

Update: Geraghty has the right read on Obama’s proneness to gaffes. It’s not that he shouldn’t be indulged, it’s that the press should be similarly indulgent of conservatives.

Update: Lawhawk notes that Obama didn’t mention Auschwitz at all in his speech yesterday and wonders if CBS’s reporter simply made it up. Answer: no. WaPo noted the Auschwitz line too. It wasn’t part of the speech but the speech doesn’t represent the sum total of what he said in New Mexico. It’s only 10 minutes long; per WaPo, Obama spoke “for most of an hour.”

Update: I made a mistake in the headline; it wasn’t his grandfather who he said liberated Auschwitz, it was his uncle. Which prompts the question: Which uncle? Geraghty’s been googling and it looks like his mother was an only child. Was this “uncle” just a family friend, like “Uncle” Jeremiah Wright?

Update: A reader e-mails pointing to this passage in Obama’s 2002 anti-war speech:

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.

No mention of his uncle, even though this would have been an obvious place for it. Maybe it was his grandfather who helped liberate Buchenwald with Patton and somehow that turned into a mysterious uncle liberating Auschwitz. But, er, how and why?

Update: Commenter windansea sends along the video. Skip ahead to 5:14 for the part about his uncle; as luck would have it, it’s almost inaudible thanks to the wind blowing at that moment, to the point where I can’t tell if he mentions Auschwitz at all. I’ll trust the reporters who were there, two of whom claim to have heard it.

Other commenters are telling me that his great-uncle Ralph was in the service, so that’s probably who he means. In all likelihood he simply named the wrong camp here. Sloppy, but not nefarious a la Tuzla.

Update: Yeah, he said it. Here’s audible video from CNN.


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Obama Advisor Accuses Jews of ‘McCarthyism’
Red Pill on May 27, 2008 at 3:43 PM

The main problem with that accusation is that McCarthy was right.

Akzed on May 27, 2008 at 4:20 PM

I refuse to even call them “Democrats” or “Liberals.” What used to be a Party with a fringe element of Communists has now become infested with Communists. Just look at the statement, last week, of Maxine Waters re: “socializing” [stupid ass that she is] – nationalizing the oil industry.

They need to be called what they are – Socialists and Communists – and their goal is to destroy our country, as we know it.

Too many “Conservatives” play the Communist game of using euphemisms in order to mask the truth.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 27, 2008 at 1:41 PM

I couldn’t agree with you more, OhEssYouCowboys. Take a look at this poster some of us here on HA brainstormed. I think it hits pretty close to the mark.

Comrade Obama – Hopeiate Of The Masses

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 4:33 PM

The main problem with that accusation is that McCarthy was right.

Akzed on May 27, 2008 at 4:20 PM

I agree with you. McCarthy was right. But the Communists on the left try to turn it 180 degrees and use it as “McCarthyism” as an attack word. Just as they do with “Swiftboating”.

My point in that link is that a closet Communist advisor to Obama (Zbigniew Brzezinski) is falsely accusing Jews of ‘McCarthyism’.

Red Pill on May 27, 2008 at 4:51 PM

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 4:33 PM

That poster hit the nail on the head. My first impression was – that I could see these posters being placed in every city and town – with people not speaking their minds about their “leader,” for fear of arrest and interrogation.

Nice work, and ty for sharing.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 27, 2008 at 5:03 PM

Lets see, He cant get his family history right, Not good at us geography (57 states and not done.) when he speaks he sounds like a used car salesman telling you what you want to here.

yea he is qualified LOL.

tengger on May 27, 2008 at 5:09 PM

Comrade Obama – Hopeiate Of The Masses

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 4:33 PM

Really terrific job!!!

RushBaby on May 27, 2008 at 5:12 PM

What uncle????????

drjohn on May 27, 2008 at 5:15 PM

Nice work, and ty for sharing.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 27, 2008 at 5:03 PM

Appreciate it.

Really terrific job!!!

RushBaby on May 27, 2008 at 5:12 PM

Been looking for you to give you that link RB. Thanks for your input and support! I think it came out pretty well.

Did you notice the way that he’s pointing to the red star on his lapel with one hand and the star and the hammer and moon logo with the other? The stars were Entel’s idea. If you see Gilda and alycan1, please send along the link, as I think they’d get a kick out of seeing the finished product.

I apologize for posting this link so much lately, but I really want people to see it and spread it around on their own sites and emails and whatnot. I’d also urge everyone with the ability or desire to make and express your own statements like this. The more material there is out there, the more the message gets communicated.

As I said yesterday, it’s not Obama’s race that’s the problem. Not at all. It’s his marxism and the fact that he’s dangerously naive.

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 5:28 PM

At last, Obama has named his “crazy uncle in the attic.”

I’m sure his great uncle is flattered.

Django on May 27, 2008 at 5:58 PM

Is it possible that he signed up much sooner than when he was inducted?

Esthier on May 27, 2008 at 3:01 PM

Signed up earlier, younger, lied ….. do we really want to go there?

upinak on May 27, 2008 at 6:36 PM

The story in his family his Uncle(A Hero)went up into the attic and wouldn’t leave for 6 months..

Sheesh..

I wonder where he went to the bathroom and how he got food.

Chakra Hammer on May 27, 2008 at 6:46 PM

Did you notice the way that he’s pointing to the red star on his lapel with one hand and the star and the hammer and moon logo with the other? The stars were Entel’s idea.

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 5:28 PM

Nice touches! Another good one is the glow you put behind him. LOL!

As I said yesterday, it’s not Obama’s race that’s the problem. Not at all. It’s his marxism and the fact that he’s dangerously naive.

That’s exactly right. And the weird cultlike worship he’s getting from otherwise normal Americans.

RushBaby on May 27, 2008 at 6:49 PM

I believe LBJ was a Communist.

Red Pill on May 27, 2008 at 3:20

Agree, or he was at least a useful idiot.

I believe he played a role in informing Castro of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Red Pill on May 27, 2008 at 3:20

I have no knowledge of that but I wouldn’t doubt it.

I believe the Communists were behind the assassination of Kennedy

Red Pill on May 27, 2008 at 3:20

No question about that. Agree 200%.

…. in order to elevate Johnson to the Presidency.

Red Pill on May 27, 2008 at 3:20

If Johnson was a commie or just an useful idiot and clearly he was one of the two, then your statement stands to reason. However, I doubt JFK was killed exclusively for the purpose of elevating Johnson.

JFK was getting ready to do a mighty shaking of the liberal establishment, heads were about to roll, and communist influences in high places were about to be dealt with. I think this was the primary reason for his assassination.

I believe LBJ’s goal in Vietnam was to send tens of thousands of our best to their deaths.

Red Pill on May 27, 2008 at 3:20

I think financial gain the the promise of power were the primary motivations.

Maxx on May 27, 2008 at 7:21 PM

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 4:33 PM

Great poster, that needs circulation!!

Believe it or not, this poster is actually on sale on Hillary’s web site.

Maxx on May 27, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Great poster, that needs circulation!!

Believe it or not, this poster is actually on sale on Hillary’s web site.

Maxx on May 27, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Thanks Maxx! Spread it far and wide.

And man! What a creepy hildebeast poster! I showed it to Mrs. B just now and she said, “Wow, that looks kinda communist, doesn’t it? I’d have thought you or one of your buddies would’ve made something like that.”

Heh.

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 8:11 PM

O’Reilly defends Obamas B.S. says its trivial and not a reflection on him, blames the media. Slams Cheney for wearing a cowboy hat at the USCG graduation. God help America!

dmann on May 27, 2008 at 8:55 PM

Agreed, the Memorial Day mis-speak wasn’t more than a twig on the fire. But the Auschwitz gaffe is a story of Bosnia-sniper-fire proportions… or more.

petefrt on May 27, 2008 at 10:02 PM

Did anyone care when McCain claimed Reagan negotiated the rescue of the Iranian hostages?

Typhonsentra on May 27, 2008 at 10:05 PM

Maxx on May 27, 2008 at 8:01 PM

That poster is just plain creepy…

jerrytbg on May 27, 2008 at 10:13 PM

And man! What a creepy hildebeast poster!
techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 8:11 PM

You and I had the exact same feeling on that. After reading Maxx’s post I went straight to responding…didn’t read yours till after. btw, nice subtle changes on yours, good job!!

jerrytbg on May 27, 2008 at 10:18 PM

And the weird cultlike worship he’s getting from otherwise normal Americans.

RushBaby on May 27, 2008 at 6:49 PM

I’m afraid that cultlike worship is the new normal for a lot of Americans. It’s politics as American Idol. You don’t need the facts – just vote for the one who’s prettiest and sings best.

Rosmerta on May 27, 2008 at 10:59 PM

I’m afraid that cultlike worship is the new normal for a lot of Americans. It’s politics as American Idol. You don’t need the facts – just vote for the one who’s prettiest and sings best.

Rosmerta on May 27, 2008 at 10:59 PM

Dead on target! That is exactly what it’s come down to.

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 11:33 PM

That poster is just plain creepy…

jerrytbg on May 27, 2008 at 10:13 PM

techno_barbarian on May 27, 2008 at 8:11 PM

It’s funny that you both used the same word to describe it… and I agree, it is creepy. All it needs is a commie star to make it complete. Hillary is a commie and proud of it, as opposed to most Democrats who are commies and would prefer you didn’t know.

Maxx on May 27, 2008 at 11:55 PM

It’s funny that you both used the same word to describe it… and I agree, it is creepy. All it needs is a commie star to make it complete. Hillary is a commie and proud of it, as opposed to most Democrats who are commies and would prefer you didn’t know.

Maxx on May 27, 2008 at 11:55 PM

Reminded me of a saddam poster or wall mural. Curious that she would approve of this imagery and style. I think she saw Gilda’s t-shirt design and decided she had to have some iconic imagery of her own. ;o)

techno_barbarian on May 28, 2008 at 12:06 AM

Obama: “My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka.”

Treblinka was closed by the Nazis in August 1943 after a rebellion by the prisoners. The Allies did not invade France until June 6, 1944, ten months later, on the other side of Germany from Poland, where Treblinka resided. It was the Soviets who overran Treblinka and other extermination camps in Poland in the summer of 1944, not the Americans.

It was also the Soviets who liberated Auschwitz in Poland, not the Americans, in January 1945. Unless his uncle served with the Red Army, he didn’t see Treblinka nor Auschwitz.

So Obama’s claim that his uncle liberated or saw or heard accounts from other GIs who liberated Treblinka or Auschwitz is not only wrong, but impossible. He got the who, what, when, where, and why wrong. What this demonstrates is that Obama is ignorant about WWII, about who fought where, about the timeline of the war, and about the geography of Europe.

However, what does the truth matter if you have the best intentions, right? Sure what Obama said was fake, but in its way it was accurate, right, and he really believed it was true so that’s as good as being true, isn’t it?

So who wants pie?

Tantor on May 28, 2008 at 12:26 AM

Barack Obama is the kindest, nicest, warmest, most wonderful human being I have ever met.

Barack Obama is the kindest, nicest, warmest, most wonderful human being I have ever met.

-Gaucho Marx.

profitsbeard on May 28, 2008 at 1:20 AM

it’s also a bit late in the game for conservatives to take great exception to rhetorical clumsiness in a would-be president.

Do you also argue that, since Bush is an alcoholic who spends us into deep debt, in the future the minimum we have the right to request is a rhetorically clumsy alcoholic who is guaranteed to spend us dangerously into debt? Can we now only elect transplated Texans?

snaggletoothie on May 28, 2008 at 1:32 AM

My-O-my…Hussein Obama’s pants are on fire again, again, again, again, and again!

byteshredder on May 28, 2008 at 1:38 AM

He doesn’t even know where he is (two towns lately he got wrong).

I wonder if all the excuses being given by the Obama-campaigning media because poor baby has been working so hard applying for a job he’s not qualified for, would also be given to over-worked medical personnel.

My oldest granddaughter graduates from 8th grade this year, and has decided to skip all further unnecessary stuff like high school, college, and so on, and plans to apply for a CEO job. All she has to do is have a huge group of enormously wealthy people buy the job for her, and there you go, she’s in!

waterfall on May 28, 2008 at 2:18 AM

Events like this makes me wonder…what would be the perfect history test for a US Presidential candidate (and perhaps the MSM)?

Perhaps that would be a good project prior to the upcoming Political Conventions: compile a list of the 100 (or so) best history questions to present to the candidates? In fact, it might be a good way to provide a refresher to the voters, too.

Any suggestions for pertinent questions?

mtngto on May 28, 2008 at 1:06 PM

I heard Spike Lee was rushing to make a movie based on Obama’s story until he learn the truth,No not that it didn’t happen but that Obama’s (great)Uncle was White,then he walked off muttering something about Clint Eastwood being a racist.

mlong on May 28, 2008 at 10:47 PM

So… from the first Clip, Obama is going to pull troops out of Iraq but he is going to increase the number of troops? WTF..

Chakra Hammer on June 7, 2008 at 4:00 PM

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