Some Republicans today are dismissing the 2007 tape of then-Sen. Barack Obama delivering an address at Hampton University as nothing new. Some on the left are suggesting that it’s old news. The latter focus on the shout-out to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, which had been played on network TV when Wright first stirred controversy for Obama in 2007. But the networks never aired the most important part of the speech. That part of the address reveals a divisive, race-baiting version of Obama that the man and his handlers have successfully kept under wraps for years.
The most important, and most divisive, part of the speech is when the future president explains his version of events following Hurricane Katrina. Obama’s version of events puts race at the center of the tragedy. Obama also put race at the center of the national response to the terrorist attacks on 9-11-01.
“Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt twenty months later there’s a law, federal law — when you get reconstruction money from the federal government — called the Stafford Act,” Obama told his audience in 2007. “And basically it says, when you get federal money, you gotta give a ten percent match. The local government’s gotta come up with ten percent. Every ten dollars the federal government comes up with, local government’s gotta give a dollar.
“Now here’s the thing. When 9-11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act — said, ‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here’s ten dollars.’ And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with y’own money, here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not gonna wait for you to scratch it together — because you’re part of the American family.’
“What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money? Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much!”
As a senator, Barack Obama was in a position to know both where New Orleans’ money was and that the Stafford Act had been waived several times for the people of New Orleans. He was also in a position to know that the Bush administration had offered assistance to Louisiana and to New Orleans before the hurricane struck, but the local governor and mayor — both Democrats, and one of them black — had turned the administration’s offer down. Obama was also in a position to know that at the height of the disaster, as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin screamed “Where are the buses?” to get people evacuated, dozens of city-owned buses had been left unused, and they flooded. The city of New Orleans, it turned out, had dozens of ghost police officers on the rolls to pad their federal grant money, and did not even have a comprehensive list of its city school bus drivers, so they could be contacted to help evacuate stranded citizens. Sen. Obama was in a position to know all of this, yet he chose to channel Kanye West and suggest that the disaster in New Orleans was a result of racism.
He did this off the script. It’s what he really believes, or at least believed in 2007. That is not old news.
Obama and his handlers have also been aware, for five years, just how incendiary and dishonest, and potentially damaging, his off-the-cuff Hampton speech comments were. The version of that speech that BuzzFeed posted Tuesday afternoon had been edited to remove the inflammatory sections, effectively sanitizing the speech. The media dutifully reported that speech in 2007, minus the racist conspiracy theory. The quote above doesn’t appear anywhere on the Internet prior to last night.
So, obviously, it’s not “old news.” It’s an old speech that tells us something new about Barack Obama.