Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tough Questions for Obama

A great deal is being made of Dana Milbank's column in today's Washington Post.
Reporters from the Associated Press and Reuters went after him for his false denial that a campaign aide had held a secret meeting with Canadian officials over Obama's trade policy. A trio of Chicago reporters pummeled him with questions about the corruption trial this week of a friend and supporter. The New York Post piled on with a question about him losing the Jewish vote.

Obama responded with the classic phrases of a politician in trouble. "That was the information that I had at the time. . . . Those charges are completely unrelated to me. . . . I have said that that was a mistake. . . . The fact pattern remains unchanged."

When those failed, Obama tried another approach. "We're running late," the candidate said, and then he disappeared behind a curtain.

Before he beat his hasty retreat, however, Obama found time to assign blame for the tough questions suddenly coming his way. "The Clinton campaign has been true to its word in employing a 'kitchen sink' strategy," he protested. "There are, what, three or four things a day?"

Spoken like a man who had just been hit on the head with a heavy piece of porcelain.
The media have been fanning the Obamania flames for several weeks now, breathlessly reporting on the fervor and size of the crowds he is drawing at rallies (and admittedly I have been doing the same). But with front runner status must come the tough questions and until now, Obama did have to field the hardballs. Will it be enough to derail the Obama express, probably not today or tomorrow. But with a Pennsylvania the next big stop almost sure to play a major role, Obama's rapid response team needs to get geared up because while it is three or four things today, it will be 10 or 12 tomorrow.

One of the commenters to Ann Althouse's piece wrote:
If Obama is the nominee we are in for a long 8 months of reading about his campaign mistakes. Politicans that get re-elected in tough elections do so because they are skilled politicians along with having other qualities. It could turn out that Obama is a skilled speaker but not a skilled politican.
This of course may be true and he is clearly not been tested as a candidate anytime prior. But as for campaign mistakes, this may be the first one that I have seen him and his campaign make. The Obama campaign thus far is probably the best campaign that has been run in my time watching politics. They have been focused, on message and remarkably stable in almost everything they have done.

It can be said of campaigns between relatively equal candidates (and I think it is fair to say Clinton and Obama are relative equals), the campaign that makes the fewest mistakes wins. Clinton's mistakes are legion and well-documented.

Obama will beef up his rapid response team, sharpen up or they will lose.

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