Saturday, March 08, 2008

Obama's response to Clinton's attacks

Although he's now racked up another huge caucus win (in the nation's least populous state), it's been a bad couple of weeks for Barack Obama. The Clinton campaign, coming off slim wins in Ohio and Texas that they have succeeded in spinning as significant comebacks, has drawn Obama into a series of mini media frenzies. Obama's responses to attacks about his connection to the developer Tony Rezko, and the off-record comments of one of his advisers, were inept. Although pundits are egging Obama to respond in kind to Clinton's increasing negativity, if he does it will detract from his main message that he can bring a new politics to Washington, DC. Obama needs to stay above these sorts of manufactured controversies.

He can respond to them by being honest about what they are: silly non-issues designed to churn up a few media cycles and distract people from the larger issues in the campaign. And, of course, the big issue of the primary contest math: There is virtually no way Clinton can catch up in delegates. By continuing to contest the nomination through negative tactics (such as suggesting that only she and McCain have crossed the "commander-in-chief threshold") she is showing that she prefers a weaker Democratic party to a stronger party without Clinton leading it.

Obama's promise is that he can help restore to our politics the dignity and grand purpose that have drained away during the twenty years of petty squabbling under the Bushes and Clintons. He should stick with that message, which has already carried him to the primary lead, and not let the Clinton campaign drag him--and the rest of us--back down into the bickering over inconsequential issues that has dominated politics for so long.

1 comment:

Robert Ellman said...

I think he succeeded in doing just that in his speech today. Hopefully, Obama has turned a corner and can now successfully pivot to address the economic and quality of life issues that have become overshadowed by the Clinton/Obama soap opera.