Clinton’s interpretation of Obama’s “blank screen” reference misses crucial point

The latest Hillary attack against Barak Obama is "I think the best description actually is in Barack’s own book where he said that he is a blank screen and people of widely different views project what they want to hear. He just hasn’t been around long enough. But with the blank screen it gives you a chance to just really infuse it with whatever you hope for, whatever you want without knowing."*

If that’s all her people could come up with from "The Audacity of Hope", his 362 page book – and that’s in the prologue on page 11 – they should be worried. Everyone should read Obama’s "blank screen" quote in context to gain an understanding of his character:

Undoubtedbly, some of these views will get me in trouble, I am new enough on the national political screen that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripe project their own views. As such I am bound to disappoint some, if not all of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book – namely how I or anybody else in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments.

The rest of this paragraph  shows Obama to be a man of insight, candor and self-awareness

If at this late date in the campaign this is all the smart people in Clinton’s inner circle can come up with from a book chock full of specifics and personal revelations from her opponent, it suggests we won’t see a miraculous comeback before the Texas and Ohio primaries.

If they used a removed from context phrase from the prologue because they are just now getting around to reading the book I can only attribute this to arrogance since these are very bright political professionals.

Don’t expect Hillary to quote two other insightful sentences that are on page eight of the prologue:

Most of us are wise to the ways of admen, pollsters, speechwriters, and pundits. We know how high-flying words can be deployed in the name of power, expedience, greed or intolerance.

I haven’t yet heard or read any members of the mainstream media put Obama’s "blank screen" comment in context. I hope that if they don’t, Obama himself does.

I give Obama a great deal of credit for being forthright in his prescience in recognizing the blank screen phenomena before he actual became a phenomenon.

The crucial part of the paragraph from the book won’t be quoted by Hillary Clinton.

In it Obama says that he recognizes that people will project their views on him but that he is "bound to disappoint some, if not all of them."

Can you imagine Clinton saying that about herself in any context?


* In an interview with Cynthia McFadden on Nightline (LINK).


  1. Hal Brown

    Hi Sandy,

    I thought Obama answered the charges in what Sherry wrote when Clinton made them in the last debate. I was satisfied with them. She has every right not to be.

    I have to admit with some embarrassment that I decided to support Obama and wrote about it here before I read the book even though I already had a copy. I began to read it with some trepidation for obvious reasons.

    By the end of the prologue my apprehension was alleviated and after two chapters I think had I been a Clinton supporter because I thought she was more experienced, I would have changed my mind.

  2. John J

    I cannot support Obama. He is flipping on his signed campaign pledge to use public funding and a spokesman of his is up in Canada backing off what he said about NAFTA in the Ohio debate. I especially find fault with the fact he’s not held the Afghanistan meeting in 15 months in office and he didn’t bother to show up for the Black State of the Union conference in New Orleans. He was too busy running for President.

    His opponent Hillary Clinton was the only Presidential candidate to show up.

    I don’t believe he will show up as President of the United States either.

  3. Carl Nemo

    I think it’s appropriate in our nation’s history that a bright, articulate, principled, although not perfect black man saves the nation, along with us white folks et. al. … :))

    There are times when I look at Obama, I see him in Lincolnesque garb with a stove pipe hat, exhausted and aged from the trials and tribulations of saving this once great Republic. Lincoln freed the slaves, just maybe Barak Obama will free the white’s from the duplicit hegemony of their own kind since the Civil War…!


    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

    Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865


    Carl Nemo **==