Thursday, February 22, 2007

Clinton vs Obama - SMACKDOWN!

Slate summarizes the recent imbroglio between Hillary and Barack:

Maureen Dowd quoted former Clinton supporter David Geffen as saying a variety of unkind things about the former first couple. "Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling," said the media mogul, who hosted a fund-raiser for Obama Tuesday.

The Clinton campaign immediately called for Obama to disavow Geffen's remarks and return his money. Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs, responded sharply in a statement, saying "We aren't going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln Bedroom."

The Clinton campaign shot right back: "I would have thought that a campaign trying to change our politics would have disavowed those comments and moved on," said Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson.

By Slate's estimation, Clinton comes out ahead on this one. The Obama campaign's tartly worded reply, as well as their refusal to disavow Geffen and his comments, belies Obama's alleged high-mindedness, and shows that he is a hypocrite who will sink to gutter politics. I haven't followed this non-event religiously, but I gather that's the overarching theme of the media coverage.

I don't read it this way at all. The Clinton camp baited Obama by issuing an ultimatum; if Obama HAD denounced Geffen's comments, he would have been sinking to the Clinton campaign's level by even acknowledging this. Candidates can't be held accountable for the comments of their donors. If this were the case, Obama would have to hire a full time staff of people just to disavow comments. Gibbs's comment was frankly fantastic and right on the money. This is the way that politics works, and besides, I haven't heard Obama say anything about how he would conduct his campaign that would preclude his campaign manager from having made such a comment.

I guess they are saying she "won" because her camp was able to turn this negative comment about Clinton into a negative about Obama. I agree, the Clintonites are pretty shrewd at playing on the public's dislike of hypocrisy; but they should be very, very careful, as this knife cuts both ways.


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