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Barack's Sister Souljah Moment? (Obama bombs in Detroit speech) [View All]

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Herman Munster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-13-07 08:09 PM
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Barack's Sister Souljah Moment? (Obama bombs in Detroit speech)
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This week, Sen. Barack Obama attempted to fuel his presidential run with a scalding speech to the Detroit Economic Club, castigating Motown's big wheels for driving our dependence on foreign oil. "For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars," Obama told an audience stunned into silence after greeting him with a standing ovation."Whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could've saved their industry. Even as they've shed thousands of jobs and billions in profits over the last few years, they've continued to reward failure with lucrative bonuses for CEOs."

What played as an act of courage in the rest of the country, is being seen as political suicide here in Detroit. "People were looking for so much more from Barack Obama," Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told me. "He left a lot to be desired with that message." Kilpatrick, who introduced Obama to that thunderous ovation, met with him privately afterward and told him he missed an opportunity to woo Michigan voters by addressing their concerns about soaring health-care costs and fair trade. "As president, he needs to say what he would do to stand up for these other issues," says Kilpatrick, "instead of just slamming these companies for their fuel efficiency." And while it once might have seemed a slam dunk that one the nation's leading African-American mayors would endorse Obama, Kilpatrick makes it clear that he's not nearly ready to do that. "I'm not going to disengage from him simply because of one speech," Kilpatrick said. "But he needs to work on that message."

Kilpatrick is kind, though, compared to what others in Detroit are saying. "Sen. Obama embarrassed himself in Detroit with his lack of understanding of the problems facing the automobile industry, and what it will really take to fix them," the conservative-leaning Detroit News said in an editorial beside a political cartoon mocking Obama for criticizing a Detroit SUV that turns out to be a Toyota Land Cruiser. During his speech, the auto execs in the crowdand there were manybegan muttering that he didn't know what he was talking about. (One factual gaffe getting a lot of traction is Obama's assertion that Japanese cars average 45mpg, when the actual mileage is closer 30mpg). "It was definitely uncomfortable," says Eric Foster, a Detroit political consultant who sat near tables full of auto execs. "The mood lightened when he took on the oil industry."

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