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Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama: What’s Hanford?

posted by on May 19 at 11:55 AM

Campaigning in Oregon, Obama admits he’s not up to speed on an issue that looms pretty large in the Pacific Northwest:

Via Ben Smith, who also admits not knowing from Hanford.

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Dude, didn't you get that memo?

Posted by Greg | May 19, 2008 12:02 PM


But Kudos that he admited to not knowing about it...wonder if he will follow up later?

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | May 19, 2008 12:05 PM

John McSame would have talked about how he remembered delivering nuclear materials to Hanford, and then later been caught having misremembered that he took them to Passaic, NJ ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 19, 2008 12:09 PM

You think Senator Clinton's going to deliver a hastily-assembled PowerPoint presentation on Hanford this afternoon?

Posted by Bub | May 19, 2008 12:11 PM

Well, it was a better answer than "General. I can't name the general. General." or "Medvedev or whatever", but it's a bit dodgy.

Though I will also say, I'm not so sure even a lot of PNWers know much about Hanford or what's happening there. I'm pretty sure they don't know how much contamination there has been of the Columbia, for one thing. Or how many problems the private contractors who are supposed to be cleaning the thing up have had with storage, or how badly those private contractors are gouging the contract, etc. I think if you put together a 10-question quiz on Hanford and stopped people on the street downtown to ask them about it, the general level of ignorance on this topic -- especially given how many people come here from somewhere else -- might be pretty amazing.

Posted by Judah | May 19, 2008 12:15 PM

What? With all the stories of people being swept away by rising rivers, a stale housing market , Washington State Ferries in poor conditions, Microsoft courting Google who has time to follow a boring old nuclear reactor.
That was an awesome admission of ignorance on an issue from Obama.

Posted by Biggie J | May 19, 2008 12:28 PM

@2 I'd guess that a nuclear site in Washington might have an easy time slipping past someone looking for need-to-know things about Oregon.

Posted by Mike of Renton | May 19, 2008 12:36 PM

I didn't know about Hanford. Granted, I'm not running for president, but that is a pretty high bar to set.

I think the big thing to take away here is that he admitted not knowing. He didn't bullshit, or change the subject, or call anyone names. He just said, "I don't know."

I bet he could read up on it and understand what is going on better than either McBush or The Hill.

Posted by Mike in MO | May 19, 2008 12:51 PM

Hmm. Choices ...

Should we go with Candidate A who can't tell the diff between Shiite and Sunni and thinks Iran is like Iceland .... and has no real Economic policy cause it's just Tax Cuts for the Ultra-Rich Bush III policies ....

Or Candidate B who doesn't know every little town in America's "important" issue in detail but has a better foreign and economic policy ...

I know, let's just Live In Fear like McSame wants us to!

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 19, 2008 12:52 PM

Yep, definitely botched that one. He should have studied up on Hanford immediately following Super Tuesday at the latest. But, okay, he's going to learn everything on the bus? Some reporter should ask him about Hanford again TOMORROW.

Posted by annie | May 19, 2008 1:05 PM

Eh, I don't know. I suppose he should've studied up a bit more before arriving, or that his aides didn't brief him properly on the key issues. But I wonder how much encyclopedic knowledge a presidential candidate should be required to hold in his/her head at any given time. I mean, sure, we hope someone in his administration knows about Hanford, but does he have to be up on it at all times?

Posted by tsm | May 19, 2008 1:18 PM

good thing he isn't running for director of the department of energy

Posted by some dude | May 19, 2008 1:25 PM

Here's a quick refresher, Barack (and I am a strong Obama supporter and state delegate for him):

1) My mother worked there from 1944 to 1950. She died of cancer in 2001.

2) Her first husband worked there the same years, and died of testicular cancer in the 1990s.

3) My entire family lived in Lewiston, Idaho, from the 50s on, in the zone of "Downwinders" --and all of our family suffers lifelong thyroid conditions.

4) The United States government purposely released radiation from Hanford and studied its drift in the Northwest and beyond, and did not alert the public, treating them much the way they treated the so-called Atomic Veterans of the 1950s.

Everything else is at

I'm still voting for Obama BECAUSE he dares to admit when he needs more information. Like we should discourage that? Would we prefer a smug President McCain and pretend he's a nuclear scientist?

Posted by Andy Niable | May 19, 2008 2:25 PM

Charisma and inspiration is really all it takes. It's not like one actually needs to know anything to be president, one can just pick up what one needs to know as one goes along.

Posted by inkweary | May 19, 2008 3:15 PM

Hey, I saw President Kennedy at Hanford, a groundbreaking for one of the reactors.
Yes that puts my age in the Hillary demographic, I'll shut up now.

Posted by Epimetheus | May 19, 2008 3:44 PM

How could a US Senator not know about Hanford? WTF

Posted by charlie in st. paul | May 19, 2008 4:45 PM

Guess what? Doc Hastings, the current congressman from the tri-cities, didn't know squat about Hanford when he got elected, either. In his first major budget debate back in the early 90s, he called Handford funding "pork" and supported a republic-led spending cuts bill that would have cut the clean-up budget. After getting slapped around in the local and statewide press, he figured it out and has been comfortably re-elected ever since. Tempest in a teapot.

Posted by whatever, whatever | May 19, 2008 4:58 PM

The real question isn't which candidate knows more about Hanford; it's which candidate is going to staff a Department of Energy and an EPA to effectively deal with these problems instead of pretend they don't exist? Presidents don't do that much heavy lifting themselves; and the worst legacy of the Bush Administration, BY FAR, isn't the worthless shithead in the oval office, but the tens of thousands of incompetent ideologues he has appointed in every corner of government.

Posted by Fnarf | May 19, 2008 5:31 PM

@18: Bullseye, Fnarf. Somehow I don't think we'll get former directors of horse clubs at the helms of important government agencies in an Obama administraion.

Posted by Andy Niable | May 20, 2008 7:40 AM

Hey Will, I can't tell the diff between Shiite and Sunni! Will all the Mr. Male Interns for my wife, and so I can't discuss the issues, ALL PLEASE RISE!

Posted by Kathy | May 20, 2008 9:32 AM

Well the fact that he didn't know anything about the Hanford reservation is quite concerning since there seems to be a major push for nuclear being the new "Green" energy source and a One of A Kind facility being built to help contain the waste produced by these nuclear facilities in a solid glass state just seems like a lack of preparation. But what I am bothered by the most is his comments where he said we need to look into other ways of producing power instead of nuclear and hydro. As of right now there are three new nuclear power plants planned to be built here in America and during a major GBM that took place nuclear was stated as being a “Green” source of energy. So it seems that there is a large push for Nuclear to be the energy source for the future.

Now granted knowing every little thing about every little town is not necessary but local crime rates versus a project that not only helped win WW2 but the Cold War as well .... they still teach history right.

Posted by Golden | May 20, 2008 10:52 AM

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