By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Hudak used birther code name for Obama

Republican congressional candidate William Hudak has apologized to Sen.-elect Scott Brown for incorrectly claiming that Brown had endorsed his campaign. But questions remain about Hudak who, in the face of evidence to the contrary, continues to insist that he’s not a birther. A statement issued by the Hudak campaign includes this:

“What is most distressing is the extent to which left-wing bloggers continue to use smear tactics, including trying to portray me as a ‘birther’ and falsely denigrate and accuse Senator-elect Brown of being of that belief,” Hudak said. “Let me make clear that while I don’t agree with everything he does, President Obama is our President and I believe he was born in the United States, and accusations that he was not are unsupported nonsense and non-issues to the business of our country,” Hudak remarked.

Hudak is right — claims that Obama was not born in the United States are indeed “unsupported nonsense.” But in a Web video sent to me by a reader, Hudak refers to Obama as “Barry Soetoro.” Obama was known as Barry Soetoro (his stepfather’s last name) when he attended school in Indonesia. According to, some elements of the birther movement have seized on that fact in the hopes of proving either that Obama was not born in the U.S., or that he gave up his American citizenship at some point.

The video interview, which Hudak did with a woman who calls herself the Ultimate First Amendment Patriot, is devoted to the various stickers Hudak has plastered on his truck. Following a discussion of Thomas Jefferson, Hudak says (around the 2:09 mark):

The way that this is being handled is by the folks in Washington, such as Miss Pelosi, who I quite frankly characterize with a caricature as Porky Pelosi. In this commonwealth of Massachusetts, another gentleman by the name of Mr. Patrick, who I characterize as Tax Patrick on the back, as well as the king honcho, Mr. Obama, who is also known, or not so widely known, as Barry Soetoro. These are the gentlemen and the ladies who are the inspirational leaders for turning America into more of a socialistic country than the American democracy that we are designed and founded on and our traditions.

Toward the end of the video, we are treated to some shots of his truck, including his “NOBAMA” license plate and a huge message on the back that plays on Obama’s name with “One Big Ass Mistake America.”

Recall, too, that before yesterday, the only two newspapers that had ever reported Hudak believed Obama was not a native-born American were the Tri-Town Transcript and the Salem News. Editors at both papers have told Media Nation that Hudak never sought a correction.

Finally, a clarification. I’ve been a little hazy on the sequence by which the Transcript and the News first reported that Hudak held birther views, and that he’d put up a sign in his yard depicting Obama as Osama bin Laden.

As I have noted, the Transcript reported it first, in November 2008. But Nelson Benton’s column in the Salem News came nearly a year later, in September 2009. The reason the Transcript did not identify Hudak as a congressional candidate is that he was not running at that point. Hudak announced his candidacy in August 2009.

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Good for speech, bad for democracy?


Who are those unnamed “political blogs”?


  1. Harrybosch

    Listening to his arguments about tax rates (“the tax rate in 1776 was near zero!”) made me recall it was British resentment against their American cousins not “pulling their weight!” and “paying their fair share!” that had them beseeching their rulers to get the colonies to pay more for the rights and privileges of being British citizens.

    Americans were paying something like 1/2 a shilling in tax for every 26 shillings other British citizens were paying.

    Being the number one military power in the world is expensive.

    One wonders what Hudak would have thought of the nascent American government “driving us into debt!” and floating currency that had zero behind it to bear the costs of revolution.

  2. Nice reporting on this story, Dan.

  3. BillH

    Dan, I agree that this is excellent reporting. Stay with it. Little did we know that there was actually a sixth Marx brother–Hudak–who survived Harpo, Zeppo, Gummo and the others, and who now seeks to lift us out of the our depression just as his brothers cheered our nation during the 1930s. I’m sure that he won’t stop until we’re rolling in the aisles.

  4. Jerry

    Good catch. ‘Barry Soetoro’ is definitley code.

  5. Joey

    Rather rich that this tubby tea-bagger is calling Nancy Pelosi ‘Porky.’ If everyone was at her BMI at her age, we’d have a lot less diabetes– which, somehow, I suspect he’ll be contracting at 65 or so and then relying on Medicare to pay for his medical bills.

  6. I wonder though if Barack Obama had kept his step-father’s name if he would be president today.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Tony: You think “Obama” is a big asset? If he can get elected as Barack Hussein Obama, I think he could get elected as Barry Soetoro.

  7. Tunder

    This is “priceless” as Fish likes to say.

    The guy is an official first-class idiot which amazes me even more seeing all of the Hudak signs in my neck of the woods.

    Very hopeful that this stuff goes mainstream, Dan.

  8. lkcape

    It is clear, Dan, that your objective is to trash this candidate, and I would assume that since he appears to be in your neck of the woods, that it is the Republican candidate for the district in which you live.

    So far, few have picked up your rantings, so the viral nature of this effort seems to be having difficulty jumping from one host to the next.

    Are you going to spend the next 9 months pursuing this non-story?

    I guess you can always dream about a Pulitzer Prize. I’m wondering what your Tenure Committee is going to think about this…

    …O silly me, they are elitists themselves and will see you as trying hard to be a professional-level elitist, worthy of being brought into the tenure fold, shown the secret handshake, and given your personal golden soapbox from which to spout more of the pre-packaged elitest drivel which get shipped in weekdays from the Dons of Cambridge collegiate community.

    Harvey Silvergate pass you any pearls recently? Stephen Mindich?

    • Dan Kennedy

      lkcape: I am reporting Hudak’s own words, complete with video. You response is that my “objective is to trash this candidate.” I find that very interesting.

  9. Tom G

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say William Hudak watches Fox News … and the reception is fine.

    Here’s the deal Bush wasn’t a real conservative so there’s no need to rethink the platform – unregulated markets are self-correcting, tax cuts create jobs, liberalism is big government and government doesn’t work, Obama isn’t one of us, he’s one of them. What did I miss?

  10. Joey

    Look, Dan has just uncovered information– and he hardly even ‘uncovered’ it, it’s so damned plain out in the open– that a candidate is now trying to bury. A politician squirming away from his beliefs to win public office isn’t worth that office. Keep it up, DK!

  11. Dot

    Welcome to America 2010, where facts are elitist. H. L. Mencken is laughing his ass off somewhere.

  12. Harrybosch

    “Are you going to spend the next 9 months pursuing this non-story?”

    If so, you’ll spend the next nine months coming here to read and comment on it.

    Which is crazier?

  13. mike_b1

    There is nothing more precious than those in government complaining about … government.

  14. Tunder

    “I’m wondering what your Tenure Committee is going to think about this…”

    Watch out, Dan. Double secret probation could be next.

  15. Tunder

    “So far, few have picked up your rantings, so the viral nature of this effort seems to be having difficulty jumping from one host to the next.”

    • Dan Kennedy

      Tunder: Yes, although the story cites “several political blogs.” I didn’t know I was plural.

      Here’s a story in today’s Salem News — along with the Globe and the Eagle-Tribune, one of the three biggest and most influential papers in the district.

      Another local editor has told me he intends to ask members of the Republican town committee in his community if they will support Hudak.

  16. mike_b1

    Forget his loony beliefs. No one — repeat — no one should support Hudak until he buys himself a new shirt.

  17. Al

    great work Dan… I wonder if he’ll stay in or drop out? Or will the Republicans try to find less of a wing-nut candidate to run against him. I just saw his Nobama van in Salem the other day and he also spoke at a tea bagger rally in downtown Peabody a few months ago. They drew about 100 people but were outnumbered about 3-1 by pro-health reform demonstrators.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Al: Under normal circumstances, John Tierney might have faced a lone, fringe candidate like Hudak. After Brown’s victory, I’m sure there are several Republicans thinking about the race. The ones that come most immediately to mind are Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins and state Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester. They’d be looking at it even if Hudak hadn’t just blown himself up.

  18. LFNeilson

    Hudak say who dat? when I say Hudak?

  19. lkcape

    I’m sure, Dan, that any one with a certain degree of dispassion would conclude that you are either puffing your pastry or trashing this candidate… or both.

  20. Scutch

    Is Hudak still driving around in that truck or has he flip-flopped?

  21. Al

    at least, with Cousins, you’d get a true moderate…

  22. Steve Stein

    So far, few have picked up your rantings, so the viral nature of this effort seems to be having difficulty jumping from one host to the next.

    Yeah, a Globe front-page story is pretty obscure, after all.

    Major kudos, Dan!

  23. Tom G

    Sarah Palin has refused Hudak invitation to campaign with him. She said his extreme beliefs, not rooted in reality, would damage her reputation as a well-reasoned realtity-based candidate. I read it on Malkin’s blog.

    The rats are fleeing the sinking ship. Republicans eat ever piece of bullshit propoganda masters put on their plates.

    It’s about time one journalist in American called bullshit.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Sarah Palin and Media Nation — together at last!

  24. Scutch

    I googled Abby Bertleson (“Ultimate First Amendment Patriot”)
    This made my head swim:

    Here she links to
    This is what the Russians have to say about us. Very interesting and important to read.
    The irony of this article appearing in the English edition of Pravda (Russian State Newspaper) defies description.

    But she ignores the reason that is linking to the article in the first place. This Pravda is not the old Communist Pravda, which shut down in 1991. It is a new publication that has co-opted the Pravda name.

    P.S. The Boston Herald apparently published an excerpt of this Op-ed back in June. I’m assuming that they left out this passage from the original article:

    Senator Barney Franks, a social pervert basking in his homosexuality (of course, amongst the modern, enlightened American societal norm, as well as that of the general West, homosexuality is not only not a looked down upon life choice, but is often praised as a virtue) and his Marxist enlightenment, has led this effort. He stresses that this only affects companies that receive government monies, but it is retroactive and taken to a logical extreme, this would include any company or industry that has ever received a tax break or incentive.

  25. lkcape

    Good pairing. Two peas in a pod.

  26. Harrybosch

    “But she ignores the reason that is linking to the article in the first place.”

    Let alone headlining the entry with the banner “Pragda News Article.”

  27. Scutch

    Once again, Harrybosch’s elitism rears its ugly head.

  28. Dan: I don’t know. There is a mystique to the name. I think if he kept the name Barry Soetoro he would have just been considered an ordinary schlep all along the way of his life like so many other people. If you watch the Frontline program about his life, he received an amazing amount of breaks and set asides. Many people opened up doors for him. He received access millions of other blacks (and whites, for that matter) never receive. I can’t help but think that the mystical name along with the liberal white guilt had something to do with his ability to climb the social ladder to power. He probably never would have been embraced by the intelligencia or progressives at different parts of Harvard and Chicago had he been just an ordinary Barry like so many other ordinary Barrys. If you hear some of the Harvard Law folks talk about it, when asked what is was that drew them to him, and they say, Well, he’s Barack Obama … unable to really say what they mean … Would they have been wowed by his speaking prowess and ability to connect – or con – people into believing in him, whether they were actually hearing what he was saying or not, if he was an ordinary Barry instead of Barack? He would have just been another schlep trying to get by.

  29. Harrybosch

    Spelling is elitist.

  30. Scutch

    That was pure reverie, Tony.

  31. Harrybosch

    “when asked what is was that drew them to him, and they say, Well, he’s Barack Obama … unable to really say what they mean”

    Think that’s called “charisma” and it is something real and something palpable. And whether he was known as “Barry” or Barack” would have changed nothing.

    Someone else who has it is Steve Jobs. Folks who get too close to his orbit speak of the “reality distortion zone” that occurs just by being in his presence.

    John Sculley goes into this in some detail in his memoir “Odyssey.” When the not yet thirty Jobs asked him, the then CEO of Pepsi, if he wanted to “sell sugar water for the rest of his life or change the world,” Sculley was his.

    Until Jobs had no use for him, that is.

    See also: Lots of preachers.

  32. Tom the Elitist Barber

    Ikcape, you’ve lost your mind, I mean compass. This is Media Nation, not Fox Nation.

  33. Tunder

    “No one — repeat — no one should support Hudak until he buys himself a new shirt.”

    The least of his problems!

  34. Tom the Elitist Barber

    Fox Nation threw lkcape off it’s forum thingamabob. They became alarmed after realizing his writing skills were greater than the average 2nd grade level of their whiners, I mean bloggers.
    I get it. So he takes refuge at Media Nation as a mole, realizing Dan Kennedy allows everyone their opinion no matter what their political leanings.
    Ingenious Ikscape, dastardly but ingenious. You’ll go far as an undercover operative for the “I’m Not Crazy” Hudak Listening Tour of Essex County.

  35. O-FISH-L

    With due respect to Snopes and our host, how is using a known alias for Obama a code name? If Barack Obama was an underground agent on Hogan’s Heroes, somehow I think he’d have been called something like Goldilocks, Papa Bear or Little Red Riding Hood, not by the same name he once used for himself.

    Fictional TV aside, just think of the money, effort and training the US Secret Service could have saved by using “Barry Soetoro” instead of “Renegade” for his current code name. Maybe Hillary Clinton could have been “Hill Rodham” instead of “Evergreen” and so on. Tricksters, those birthers. Pretty sneaky, sis.

  36. mike_b1

    “A known alias.” Hehe

    Right. How “24” of you, Fishy.

  37. Joseph Blocks

    So where do Brown and Hudak stand on the H1B and L1 visas that have flooded the country with cheap IT workers at the behest of Micosoft and other corporations? I voted for Brown and I’d like to vote for Hudak too, as Tierney is doing us no good, but who can trust the Republicans on globalization, offshoring and guest visas when the corporations promote all these? So called Hi Tech visas use diploma mill graduates from India for the most part and have dropped rates and salaries for many Essex County residents. If there is such a shortage how come rates and salaries are going down?

    Anyway where does Hudak stand, If it’s the same boilerplate we get from Tierney, forget it

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