If you were still under the illusion that President Obama is completely different from every other politician, prepare to have your world shattered: A conservative website has dug up footage of the president talking differently to a mostly black audience than he does to mostly white ones.
Despite the Daily Caller's suggestion that the video is some kind of great find, it isn't: It's from 2007, when Obama was very much running for president. And the many reporters who covered it at the time included — as CNN hilariously noted — Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson.
Watch the video:
Commentators on Fox News, where the video was unveiled Tuesday, said Obama seemed to stoke racial tensions in the speech, delivered to black clergy at historically black Hampton University. In it, he derides the Bush Administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina — not exactly an extremist viewpoint. He also calls for the federal government to waive local matching requirements for federal aid, as it did in other national emergencies. Again, not a wildly controversial position.
What stood out for conservatives was Obama's language: He said there were "quiet riots" when young African-Americans felt abandoned by their government, and that the Bush Administration "was colorblind in its incompetence."
"Riot" is a scary word made less scary by the fact that, as the word "quiet" indicates, there weren't any. And as the word "colorblind" suggests, Obama was calling the administration inept, not racist.
For much of Tuesday afternoon, the Drudge Report ran teases about the Daily Caller's plans to unveil the supposedly shocking video on Fox News' "Hannity" — just ahead of tonight's first debate between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
But when it emerged, it was more amusing than shocking. Then-Sen. Obama does sound noticably different, especially in his pronounciation of the word "dollah." He sounds like he's trying to win over an audience of black preachers, which of course he was.
But what does that prove?
Perhaps he's nakedly manipulative. Maybe he was playing up his folksiness. Or maybe he's toning it down now. Or — imagine — he became a more cautious speaker when he became the leader of the free world.
Politicians often talk to different audiences differently. Romney, who sounds stiff everywhere he goes, is the rare exception.
Both Clintons sound folksier in the South than they do on nightly news interviews. Steve Forbes, Ralph Nader, Christie Todd Whitman and Pat Buchanan attempted slangly PSAs on "Da Ali G Show." And debate footage that emerged during George W. Bush's presidency found that he sounded arguably more eloquent when running for governor of Texas than he did as president.
The video also featured Obama giving a "shout out" to his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and praising him. Not much of a big reveal there: In case anyone didn't know, Obama used to have a pastor who sometimes railed against the United States. Obama dropped him, hard, during the 2008 campaign. Then he won the election. If it didn't bother Americans enough to deny him office then, it's hard to imagine why they would care about it now.