The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama’s ‘Madrassa’ Doesn’t Seem So Much Like a Madrassa


CNN checks out Obama’s school in Indonesia; here’s the summary from the Hotline:

CNN’s Vause went to Indonesia to check out the school Barack Obama attended, which Insight mag claimed was a madrassa.

Vause: “I’ve been to madrassas in Pakistan, and this school is nothing like that.”

More: “This school was established in 1934 by the Dutch. It has a very broad education. It doesn’t focus on religion. It has a very famous alumni. For example, the grandchildren of Indonesia’s second president attended this school. The current CEO of Garuda Airlines in Indonesia’s national carrier, was also a former student at Besuki Elementary. So this is just a normal elementary school, and there’s a good deal of confusion here how it could be confused as being an Islamic madrassa” (“Situation Room,” 1/22).

Vause: “Here, they’re taught science and math and practice traditional Indonesian dance. Besuki Elementary follows a national curriculum, just like it did in the ’60s and ’70s. Take a close look at Obama’s teachers, women and men, all in Western-style dress. There are religion classes once a week. Most of the 450 students are Muslim and are taught about Islam. The handful of Christians learn that Jesus is the son of God.”

Anderson Cooper reportedly punctuated the report with a slam at Insight, and/or Fox News: “Well, that’s the difference between talking about news and reporting it. You send a reporter, checks the facts and you decide at home.”

Howard Kurtz has more:

In an online posting, Insight called yesterday’s Washington Post article on the controversy a “hit piece” by the “liberal media establishment.”

While not addressing the veracity of the madrassah allegation, the magazine said it had contacted the Obama camp, which declined to comment.

“Insight’s story was not thinly sourced,” the posting said. “Our reporter’s sources close to the Clinton opposition research war room confirm the truth of the story. The Clinton camp’s denial has as much credibility as the ‘I never had sex with that woman’ statement.”

That response from Insight is not encouraging.

I recall raising this issue back in 2004 when some shocking, scandalous, and, if I recall correctly, never quite verified quotes from unnamed Democratic sources appeared in a column in another conservative publication.

Speaking from personal experience, it’s not impossible to get a Democratic campaign operative to talk to a reporter from a conservative-leaning publication… but it’s not exactly easy, either. There are trust issues to work out. The Democratic guys are always afraid you’re going to give them the shaft.

If you were the Hillary camp, and you had found out some shocking news about Obama’s education in his early years — and you wanted to do maximum damage to Obama among Democratic primary voters — would you leak the story to Insight? It’s not impossible, but it seems hard to picture. As it is, Obama’s camp can dismiss the story as “a right-wing smear” and very few Democratic primary voters will give it much thought.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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