The Bracelet Affair, Looking Back

Barack Obama’s statement “she asked me to wear it” is technically false — though it’s a pretty fine point and I don’t think I’d have worded it quite as strongly as I’ve seen being referenced. Let me explain: (And see the Bracelet tag at right for earlier posts and links.)

Early in 2008, Mrs. Jopek waited to see candidate Obama — apparently (from a later inteview) to ask him to tone down his anti-war rhetoric. She was a big Obama supporter, but it seems that she did not like this position. She intended to give him the bracelet and ask him to remember her slain son and the sacrifices we are making in Iraq. (I’m using more words than she did, but I think the statement is a fair recap.)

When she actually met him, after waiting 45 minutes in the cold, she was crying too hard to speak to him. She wordlessly gave him the bracelet, and they embraced. (So, technically, she never asked him to wear it.)

Later, she heard him use it in a speech, and wrote to him asking him “not to use the bracelet in speeches or debates”. She acknowledged this wording much later, as this affair blew up.

The interview with her (now) ex-husband took place (March). It was pointed out during the interview that Obama was still wearing it. Brian Jopek was not happy — and strongly against pulling out of Iraq — but was not in close contact with his ex wife.

Some months later, a separate speech by Obama (and subsequent meeting backstage) was videotaped by a student. The student asked about the bracelet, and clearly Obama did not know the name and had to look directly at it to read it. He told basically the same story — that he’d been asked to wear it. Not only was this apparently not true, but by this time he’d been told NOT to.

Or, more finely, “not to use it in speeches or debates”. It is arguable that he could wear it, as long as he didn’t refer to it. Referring to it violated her wishes in any event.

Later, the debate with John McCain. I was intrigued, remembered Hillary Clinton’s use of a little girl as a prop for health care (which badly backfired) and decided to do a little research.

Late at night, the article went up. The next day Jake Tapper from ABC and apparently tens of thousands of others were on it. And the Associated Press and Obama were apparently in communication — and AP called Mrs. Jopek to “rebut” the story.

The original article that came out actually confirmed that she had told him not to use it — but that she forgave him (she was still an Obama supporter). And, since she had not heard his intervening speeches, she took Obama at his word and was “honored” by his mention of her son.

Could he use it again? She would not commit to this. Parts of this article were damning to Obama, particularly confirming that she’d asked him not to use the bracelet.

Apparently, Obama’s team and the AP talked again — for about 90 minutes later the article was replaced with one with a far happier spin — and now the mother was “ecstatic” at the mention (in the headline) instead of merely forgiving him.

Most copies of the original article were killed, and replaced with the new one that omitted any reference to her asking him not to use the bracelet.

However, both versions of the article still exist — and I think the links in these posts still work for them. (Just confirmed that I still have a good link to the original version, that begins:

After Tracy Jopek gave Sen. Barack Obama a bracelet in honor of her son who was killed in Iraq, she asked Obama not to mention the bracelet on the campaign trail.

It was the same AP writer in both versions — I’d wager that he did NOT call back and get more quotes. I’d also wager that he received a stern message to “fix” the story to look better for Barack Obama.

Regardless of what he was told, the new version was indeed a completely different spin.

So that’s the story. The candidate looked bad, and damage control was done in hours — the woman at the center of it was (happily for him) still a supporter and went along with the idea, though she was clearly not “ecstatic” about it.

Imagine if she had become a Republican in the meantime!

===|==============/ Level Head

  • @tildeb,

    You claim I am misrepresenting you in the post you are replying to. Let a candid world consider the following facts. Here is my entire relevant paragraph:

    You have expounded at length demonstrating that you do not, as denying Christians any “influence,” prohibiting public expressions of Christian faith, and forcing Christians to act against their beliefs under pain of jail are all part of what you call “freedom of religion.” No framer of the Constitution would recognize your arguments, nor the country you envision.

    This contains a limited number of assertions of your position:

    That you wish to deny Christians influence

    You had written:

    My ‘final solution’ is to maintain the law that separates woo-meisters from influencing the public domain.

    There is no such law, but your lack of understanding here is well known; you continue to suggest that “separation of church and state” is in the Constitution.

    You had previously referred to Citizen Tom with the term “woo”; you are theoretically referring to all religions, which include Christianity of course, but you’ve demonstrated a special fire in your heart against Christianity, and with jihadists the issue is the implementation of Shariah through jihad, not public expression.

    That you wish to prohibit public expressions of Christian faith

    Here are the mechanisms you would enlist in this prohibition, since the law is not on your side:

    We – all of us who value freedom of religion – need to wake up and treat public expressions of religious belief with the distrust, disdain, and criticism it so richly deserves. It has no business in the public square, no business with public policy, governance, education, medicine, defense, no business interfering with access to reproductive treatments and therapies and procedures, no right to receive public tax exemptions and unpaid services, no privileged voice whatsoever but the right to be mercilessly mocked and ridiculed and made a pariah in the public domain.

    It is clear enough that you wish to prohibit such public expressions of religious belief, and could you enact a law for it you would do so.

    That you wish to force Christians to act against their beliefs under pain of jail

    You actually touched on this in your previous diatribe:

    no business interfering with access to reproductive treatments and therapies and procedures

    You consider “interfering with access” to abortion as being unwilling to pay for it, and you would force people to pay for it against their religious beliefs on pain of jail. Were this not true, there’d be nothing here for you to complain of, since the Hobby Lobby case was about forcing them to pay for it. Access was available to the abortifacients through any number of other avenues.

    You have claimed a “legal right” to force individuals to sell goods and services sold “in the public domain” to be sold to anyone, for any purpose. If they have religious objections, you would rule these invalid and force them to cater events they object to. Similarly, you have repeated that refusing to pay for your services for you because of relgious objections is denying

    I addressed your hypocrisy in a previous comment:

    I am always intrigued that the Left pretends to absolutely stand for tolerance of opinion, and will happily destroy the careers of anyone who disagrees. But I have read Marcuse, and the doctrines of the Frankfurt School; I know the Left’s actual stance with regard to freedoms it considers to be “reactionary.”

    Here, you speak of a “right” to force someone to produce goods or services for you, and in fact you named your claim on their goods and services a “legal right” that would be “reduced” if they were allowed to decide who they wished to provide them to. Where did such a right come from, do you think? Does it apply to religious opinions? Political opinions? The right to keep and bear arms?

    I will give Marcuse credit for the notion of humans becoming extensions of the commodities they buy. He died just before the rise of cellphones, but that description certainly applies. But his idea that any art, or any other form of expression, must be destroyed or suppressed if it did not support his totalitarian ideals … we are seeing that coming into play increasingly on college campuses, in media coverage, and in the attacks on businesses like Chick-Fil-A.

    It is thus not surprising to me that the only group of people who make a career out of attacking and destroying the careers of gays are hard-left Democrats, who endeavor to make life miserable for any gay who happens to be conservative. The attackers have never been very successful, as conservatives are far more tolerant and “outing” a gay employee does not cause them much heartburn. But it certainly burns the Left that a gay, a woman, a black is conservative and thus “off the plantation.” Somehow, among the “rights” that the Left has claimed is the right to attack such people and deny them a livelihood.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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