Tag Archives: bracelet


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!

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Bracelet Wrap

As subsequent events have shown, the original analysis was correct. She DID ask him not to use it.

Her objection: It was being used by Obama to make it seem that she was against the war effort. She wants it to be “successful.”

It’s even more starkly clear that SSgt. Jopek supports the Iraq war effort, and he was personally over there doing it. His fear was that we would leave without finishing the job, and he spoke to this eloquently.

But, Tracy Jopek is an Obama supporter, and as was originally said she doesn’t want to “sabotage his campaign” by complaining.

There’s almost a second story under the surface:

She said she was “satisfied” with his handling of it during the debate, but a number of places rewrote and propagated this as “ecstatic” in quotes. There was no such quote, and it is contrary to the tone she has in the quoted phrases. (See previous entries under the “Bracelet” tag.)

So — which Obama supporter in the media decided that “satisfied” wasn’t good enough, and decided to play up the headline?

Of interest, many of the headlines that were posted with “ecstatic” (and they showed up on Google News this way) were subsequently changed to “satisfied”. In other words, they know they’re being watched.

Also, the first AP report was relatively mild — and it confirmed my original assertions that she DID ask him to stop using the bracelet. It gave other information that was somewhat damaging to Barack Obama, while trying to be complementary. The very first sentence confirmed my point:

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.

This was at 7:37 Eastern time.

But about 90 minutes later, the story reappears, re-written; much of the “damage” is removed and it comes out much more strongly in support of Obama. The tone of the second article is very different from the first in terms of the quotes from Tracy Jopek.

Did the Obama campaign complain to Associated Press?

Tracy Jopek is not the villain here; I think she is honestly doing what she thinks is best, and the original quotes from her certainly portray a thoughtful and fair-minded person.

I cannot ask her to call the Associated Press on the apparent stunt, here, as this would indeed hurt her candidate. But the AP is once again, from the evidence I see, harming journalism in favor of advocacy.

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Bracelet Update: She did ask him not to use it

According to this fresh AP report, Tracy Jopek DID ask Barack Obama not to use “in speeches and debates” the bracelet I wrote about here and here.

However, she’s still an Obama supporter and is satisfied with what he said Friday about no soldiers dying in vain.

She is apparently unaware that Senator Obama HAS been describing soldiers as dying in vain, using her bracelet, prior to the debate.

A few days after offering it to the Illinois Democrat, Jopek, of Merrill in north-central Wisconsin, had a change of heart. She realized it could be interpreted as a protest against the war, a statement that made her uncomfortable because other military families who suffered losses still supported the conflict.

“I am a mother, a mother who lost her son. It’s hard to know what’s right, what’s wrong about this war. Very hard,” she said. “And I know there are a lot of families who lost loved ones.”

So she e-mailed the Obama campaign through its Web site asking that he not mention it during debates or speeches.

She never got a reply but said she didn’t hear of him mentioning it after that — until Friday, when Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain appeared in their first debate. In response to a question about Iraq, McCain said a New Hampshire woman asked him to wear a bracelet honoring her fallen son, and asked him to make sure the Iraq mission succeeded so his death would not be in vain.

She doesn’t want to hurt his campaign — but she wants him to make sure the Iraq war “succeeded”.

Obviously, she agrees with him in other areas, and it is her right to do so. But this business doesn’t make Senator Obama look any better — it is simply a matter of forgiveness after permission was denied. Fortunately, he got that.

Here’s the upshot:

Does Tracy Jopek still support Barack Obama? Yes.

Had she asked him not to use the bracelet any more? Yes.

Was she surprised to find that he was still using the bracelet in his speeches and debates? Yes.

Does she want an immediate end to the war regardless of consequences? Apparently not. (And certainly the father SSgt Brian Jopek does not!)

Will this be a big issue? Probably not: she is the one who would have to make a fuss, and as I reported originally she didn’t want to sabotage his campaign.

But Barack Obama IS, as it turns out, guilty of continuing to use the bracelet after being asked not to.

Nor does she want him to continue to do so.

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The Obama Bracelet Issue, part 2

I have tremendous respect for Staff Sgt. Brian Jopek, who is the father of Ryan David Jopek, the soldier killed in Iraq whose bracelet Barack Obama wore during the debate.

When I discovered the March interview in which the father related the mother’s desire for Senator Obama not to wear it, I was struck by how diplomatic Brian Jopek was trying to be.

He was, in March, still on active duty, and was about to be deployed to Guantanamo. I expect that he’s there now, I don’t know.

This was the Wisconsin Public Radio interview I found. on this WPR website (the March 20 2008 interview) SSgt. Jopek tells the interviewer that the mother had asked Barack Obama not to wear the bracelet.

During the interview, in which the WPR interviewer is trying to get SSgt. Jopek to speak out against the war, he’s clearly not cooperating. He is concerned, he says, about the new president pulling out of Iraq before the job is done.

I admire his constraint, and his careful reaction to the interviewer. He’s likely to get drawn into this, and I am sorry about that. For what it’s worth, I believe that Brian Jopek has conducted himself admirably, carefully avoiding the political aspects but clearly believing in the mission. It is evident that he does not support Senator Obama’s plan to “pull up stakes or ‘pop smoke'” as he puts it. And yet he says nothing about the candidate specifically, and is respectful and cautious.

My hat is off to him, and my condolences to the family for their loss of a young man who was tremendously respected and loved and proud to serve his country.

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Welcome, new visitors!

I happened across the information about Senator Obama’s bracelet by looking for information about the soldier’s parents; I discovered the WPR interview with his father that way.

I have tremendous respect for Ryan Jopek and his father Brian. Some time back, during the Abu Ghraib business, I wrote this to honor our soldiers that had fallen in the line of duty.

I’m just getting this site going, but if you’re interested I’ve been writing for about seven years at this site:

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Barack Obama’s Bracelet

UPDATE: For the full recap, use the “Bracelet tag and see the whole sequence. The story has been confirmed.

Barack Obama’s bracelet is apparently not being worn with permission from the parents, and what he’s saying about it seems not to be true. The mother is no Cindy Sheehan.

This, in a fair world, should come back to bite him: During the debate on September 26, 2008, Barack Obama attempted to counter John McCain’s bracelet story. This was portrayed as “new” — but it is not: Senator Obama has been telling HIS bracelet story since the bracelet was given to him in February of 2008. (Even so, Senator Obama had to read the name from the bracelet during the debate.)

But there’s a difference: Senator Obama is apparently doing this against the parents’ will. He was specifically asked, according to Staff Sgt. Brian Jopek (Ryan’s father) to stop telling this story and to take the bracelet off.

Mrs. Jopek was an Obama supporter (at least in March of this year) and doesn’t want to sabotage the campaign, so she refused to give interviews. But I found an old radio interview with the father Brian Jopek (who served in Iraq and is now apparently serving at the Guantanamo base):

BRIAN JOPEK: Whatever is decided, we need to make sure that it benefits the American servicemen, and also the Iraqis.
* * *
We don’t wanna go back in there in ten years, at a greater cost and more lives.

I sure hope that, whoever is elected, Democrat or Republican, that they look at the big picture and don’t just pull up stakes — or “pop smoke” as we say in the military, because of the political atmosphere.”

Regarding Barack Obama: According to the father, Tracy Jopek wrote to the Senator: “She had asked him not to wear the bracelet.”

The WPR host — clearly anti-war (and quoting Lancet numbers of deaths) suggested that Obama had not worn it recently. This was months ago.

Here’s the clincher — Barack Obama is using the bracelet to support a position that his father (and Ryan Jopek himself) clearly do not subscribe to, and at the time even the mother that gave him the bracelet didn’t want it used in the media (that comment was made here) and asked him to take it off.

Brian and Tracy Jopek are now divorced. I don’t know what her current thoughts are. But this interview on WPR, from March 20, was interesting. The quotes here are from about 10 to 14 minutes in.

Here’s the WPR page containing the “Iraq War 5th Anniversary” interview from March 20:

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(Update: WPR, not NPR)