1. Obama and Long Movies
After Obama-supporter Senator Pat Leahy called upon Hillary Clinton to end her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on the ground that she cannot win and her continued efforts will damage the party’s chances in November, Hillary responded forcefully by claiming that his and others’ calls amounted to denying Democrats in the remaining primary states a chance to express themselves at the ballot box. On Saturday,
But on the previous day, March 28, Obama, at a rally in Pittsburgh, seemed to be strongly suggesting that Hillary exit the race, by describing the campaign as “a good movie that lasted about a half an hour too long.”
Surely Obama would like the race to end and Hillary to withdraw. No one can blame him for that. In fact, many of us increasingly fear that the fight between Clinton and Obama has turned nasty and that its continuation will diminish, not strengthen, the prospects for a Democratic victory in November. But Obama also knows that to call for Hillary to withdraw despite the outstanding primaries, the closeness of the race, and the absence of a resolution to the Florida and Michigan fiascos, makes him look like a competitor trying to press his opponent to concede before the voting has stopped and he has truly won the campaign. In such circumstances, doublespeak works wonders and Obama has increasingly shown himself adept at it.
2. Hillary and Gun Fire
Is it only a momentary flap or has Hillary seriously shot herself in the foot, so to speak, with her misstatements about her trip in 1996 to Tuzla, Bosnia where she claimed she landed under sniper fire and, instead of participating in a greeting ceremony at the airport, she and others ran with their heads down to waiting vehicles. CBS film of the event shows Clinton and daughter Chelsea being greeted by a little girl on the tarmac who kissed Clinton on the cheek with no sniper fire or running for cover anywhere in evidence.
Hillary is not the first political candidate to misstate the truth, whether purposefully or, as she claims, through a faulty memory. But this misstep has occurred at a particularly crucial point in time. The focus had been almost exclusively on Obama’s statements about the Reverend Wright, statements that had raised serious questions about Obama’s truthfulness. Clinton’s misstatement is even more glaring, as there is video that clearly shows her landing in Tuzla. And I for one will never accept that this was all a function of fuzzy memory. You don’t forget being exposed to sniper fire or, more to the point, you don’t mistakenly remember it when it never occurred. I would be willing to accept the fuzzy memory explanation if such an incident had occurred to Clinton elsewhere. But I’ve yet to read of a trip Hillary made where she was in fact greeted by sniper fire, at least the kind that comes out of guns rather than adversaries’ mouths.
3. Obama and Reverend Wright
On “The View,” an ABC television program featuring a group of female commentators, that aired this last Friday,
So, after remaining a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ for approximately 20 years during which time Reverend Wright made the incendiary remarks shown in often aired videos, Obama tells us now that had Wright not retired, which he apparently did a month ago, he “wouldn’t have felt comfortable staying there at the church.” Does this even mean Obama would have left the church had Wright remained as the active pastor or that Obama might well have remained but with feelings of discomfort? More doublespeak?
Most importantly, how convenient now to tell us of his lack of comfort while there appears no evidence he felt any during the years Wright was pastor and Obama belonged to the church. As to Obama’s claims that he was not present during Wright’s incendiary statements, let’s just say that it begs credulity to believe that Obama was unaware of Wright’s views and statements on the topics addressed in the videos throughout the 20 year period.
Obama’s efforts to distance himself from Reverend Wright’s incendiary statements and to even proclaim his own ignorance of them, while at the same time explaining and justifying his longstanding and very close relationship with Wright and even Wright's anger and remarks, don’t work for me. I see them as an admittedly skilled tap dance by a very talented political player. I have become increasingly cynical about Obama’s attempt to market himself as someone above politics and different from other politicians in the ways they seek office. Rather, this evidences even more clearly Obama’s calculated efforts over the years to build a coalition of constituents and supporters who frequently hold diverse and conflicting views by presenting himself somewhat differently to different groups. And that is precisely what all politicians do. I’d respect Obama more were he not so hypocritical in this endeavor. But, despite my misgivings, Democratic voters in recent polls seem to have accepted Obama’s explanations and his Philadelphia address and continue to support him in the nominating process. Nonetheless, I think the Wright episode will seriously weaken his candidacy in November, assuming he wins the nomination.
4. McCain, Lieberman and Al Qaeda
Will Joseph Lieberman be a vice-presidential candidate again in 2008? I ask that sarcastically but his constant appearances with John McCain have to make you wonder! To be sure, I am disappointed in Lieberman. I didn’t favor dumping him as the Democratic nominee for re-election to the Senate in Connecticut because of his position on the Iraq War but I must confess that now I feel otherwise.
In any case, while some of McCain’s supporters now claim that his misstatement in Jordan about Iran’s relationship with Al Qaeda was not incorrect, his remark was inaccurate and a gaffe and underscored the concerns many, including I, have about McCain’s ability to provide new, inspired and inspiring leadership to America.
As reported on
We have to hope that Lieberman is not emerging as McCain’s Dick Cheney and that McCain is not morphing into but a variant of George W. Bush.⌂