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Video: Karl Rove describes Barack Obama as 'articulate'
David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Published: Friday March 9, 2007
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As the Associated Press reports, "Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama just can't escape the word articulate." The word is considered by many African-Americans to be an insult since there are "insidious underlying assumptions" behind its usage, whether intentional or not.

During a speech on Thursday at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, White House political adviser Karl Rove became the third political figure to use the word to describe Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

"He's charismatic, he's articulate, he's a very strong figure on the national stage," Rove said. "But something tells me that people are going to say [they want] experience and depth. As a result it's going to be, 'Can he live up to the standards?'"

The AP report continues, "Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, a Democratic presidential hopeful, described Obama to The New York Observer in January as, among presidential candidates, 'the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.' Biden later apologized for his remarks."

Obama later issued the following statement after Biden's apology: "I didn't take Sen. Biden's comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate. African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."

The AP notes that "President Bush also referred to Obama as 'an attractive guy, he's articulate' during a January interview on Fox News Channel."

At the spiritual website, Ryan Beiler, the web editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal, recently criticized both Biden and Bush. "Though praising a United States Senator for being 'bright and clean' may have been the most obviously offensive of Biden's words, President Bush's similar praise for Obama in an interview with Neil Cavuto the same day on Fox News -- 'He's an attractive guy. He's articulate' -- echoes more insidious underlying assumptions," Beiler wrote.

"NEWS FLASH TO WELL-MEANING WHITE FOLKS: When you praise people of any minority or ethnicity for being 'articulate,' you're suggesting that you have deeply held stereotypes about people that don't look like you that are only overcome by what you see as noteable exceptions," Beiler wrote. "Or that 'articulate' doesn't mean, as Webster's suggests, 'able to speak; expressing oneself readily, clearly, or effectively,' but rather, 'I expected you to talk like a black person, but you speak just like I do! Way to go!'"

The following video from the Associated Press shows Rove describing Obama as "articulate," and the entire speech can be downloaded at this link.