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Obama Strikes B(l)ack

March 9, 2008

Speaking with reporters on the campaign jet, Sen. Obama talked a little strategy and dropped hints of what is to come.

She’s made the argument that she’s thoroughly vetted, in contrast to me,” Mr. Obama said. “I think it’s important to examine that argument because if the suggestion is somehow that on issues of ethics or disclosure or transparency that she’s going to have a better record than I have and will be better able to withstand Republican attacks, I think that’s an issue that should be tested.

There’s a lot more in the piece, but that’s the important point. “ethics and disclosure.” He’s likely talking about the refusal delay in releasing the tax returns, however he could well mean rehashing old old tiresome discussions of the various “gates” the Clintons were embroiled in during Bill Clinton’s time in office. I suppose it’s fair because if Sen. Clinton goes against McCain, you think we wont hear about it (again)?

Obama doesn’t necessarily have to hit back too hard, he is still leading the delegate count after all. And after Wisconsin and Tuesday he will have two more primary victories and the “comeback” talk will be diminished and pundits will start pointing to Pennsylvania and we will have six weeks of speculation about what will happen.

Here’s the caveat in Obama going on the attack. Yes, it allows Clinton to appear as a victim of an unfair attack. However, it may alter Obama’s perception as Everybody’s All-American Black Man. Part of Obama’s appeal to independents, Republicans and White people is a perception that he “is not like other Black guys,”* someone to whom my Skeptical Brother might refer as a Negro. On the attack, not only does he become just another politician, his nice guy image begins to dissipate.

However, if anyone can manage to attack with a velvet glove, it’s Obama.

There’s also the question of whether these attacks will work. Sen. Clinton’s hardcore supporters have already either forgiven her shortcomings and/or disbelieve any past transgressions. Wolfson is already fanning this flame with his comparisons of Obama to Ken Star.

There was an interesting piece on the AP wire today regarding Obama’s support in the African American community, whether it’s a boon or hidden hindrance. It’s probably a stretch to argue that his Black support is driving White voters away. White people who are not going to vote for Obama because he has too much Black support weren’t going to vote for Obama in the first place. But buried in the piece at the end is a quote from a Black female who supports Sen. Clinton:

I sit here almost every single day and hear debating: Hillary or Obama? My closest friends, I have very much influenced their vote for Hillary. They accuse me of being against the social movement. And I accuse them of voting with their emotions and not looking at the facts.

Just what are those “facts” of which she speaks? Obama’s best bet is to raise issues regarding the vapid experience argument. Did you negotiate treaties during your 35 years of foreign policy experience? I’m just asking because I can’t recall. Who made the call to bomb the Somali aspirin factory, you or your husband? Just how many insurance company lobbyists did it take to craft your health care plan? Does your 35 years of experience include negotiating sweet, yet ethically sketchy stock deals for your family? If being married to a President qualifies you to run, then perhaps we can look forward to a Laura Bush campaign in the future.

Ultimately, responding well to Clinton’s attack’s while making a case for himself against McCain is his best plan. This appears to be his current path, though it is a worry. Clinton’s attacks are a partial preview of what to expect in the general election, so it behooves him to start practicing.

*i.e. anyone with a college degree or in the process of getting one and is shockingly able to use nouns and verbs. See also “articulate”


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