The right wants to make sure everyone knows that “Barak Hussein Obama” is a strange name. They want it to sound sinister. They want people to react with a feeling: scary black man with a suggestion of terrorist associations.
They destroy our leaders. They are spreading stories that he attended a terrorist school as a child, that his middle name is the same as Saddam’s last name, that his church “isn’t really Christian,” etc. Scary black man with a suggestion of terrorist associations. Eventually people will say, “There’s just something I don’t like about this guy.”
And now they are trying to manufacture a controversy hoping that big media will spread the word for them. To that end, now they are suggesting that Sen. Obama is being cagey – maybe even covering something up – about the origins of his name. Maybe the press will pick it up and spread the smear.
From MyDD’s When Petty Reporters Get Mad,
This latest is penned by Mike Allen.
Now, Obama’s about to endure a going-over that would make a proctologist blush. Why has he sometimes said his first name is Arabic, and other times Swahili?
How suspicious! The answer, as both Brad Delong and The Poorman note, is that Swahili and Arabic are extremely similar languages because of millenia of trade between East Africa and the Middle East. Delong writes, “”Barack” is both a Swahili word meaning “blessed by God” and an Arabic word meaning “blessed.””
Swahili AND Arabic. Get it? There is no controversey, the point is to just get the words “Swahili” and “Arabic” out to the public, preferably in a headline.
Whoever gave Allen the smear sought him out because they are building a political narrative around Obama divorced from important political issues. And Allen repeated the smear without checking because it seemed to fit into the story he wanted to tell.
One more thing. “Barak” is not just Swahili and Arabic. It’s also Hebrew: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam… (Update – Brad DeLong also noted this. I should have clicked through.)