April 18, 2008

Live by the Biography, Die by the Biography

Marc Comtois

Like other conservatives, I've been amused by how Saints Bill and Hillary have transmogrified into untrustworthy and selfish snakes-in-the-grass in the eyes of so many of their former water-carriers. Along the way, we've learned that those who were once part of the media conspiracy arrayed against them in the '90s are now taking their side against He Who Endures for Us All. But at least the bucket brigade has been consistent in one manner: in their world, traditional methods of assessing character weren't applicable to their favored candidate (Bill) then--shady land deals, extramarital sex and plain ol' lying--and they don't count now. Just look at the reaction in the press and amongst the Obama flock to the questions asked in the recent debate.

It used to be that you took a measure of a person by looking at how they acted and with whom they associated. How else could you assess their judgment, prudence and character? But some began to think that it was an old fashioned way to judge people, especially if such close scrutiny brought up some, er, personal foibles that weren't very attractive to particular candidates (Bill, again).

So what to do? Why, instead of worrying about how a candidate actually behaves and treats others--you know, all of that real world crap--how about defining character by the policy positions someone holds. Heck, makes sense. If you're trying to tear down the religion and culture upon which the moral judgment (that ain't currently working for you, anyway) is based, then why not try to define a new morality based on your new touchstone: politics. All you gotta do is check off the right boxes and you're on your way.

But, this time around, that's caused a problem for the Democrats. Because Clinton and Obama have checked so many of the same boxes this has been a primary campaign where the candidate's nearly-identical political substance has been overshadowed by their personal styles and biographies. And it's in the latter where, to the non-wonk set, the real difference lay.

To date, Obama has benefited from the comparison of biographies and styles, mostly because we all know (too much) about the Clintons. Obama didn't have to do much to sully her with her own past; it was already known (if heretofore ignored back when she was one of the Elect). But finally, in an attempt to to get behind the Obama hagiography, an unexpected quarter of the media, ABC, decided to delve into some of his associations (Wright and Ayers) and comments ("bitter", "cling to"). When you run a campaign based on biography and rhetoric, you had better be prepared to answer questions about both. He wasn't and, despite the screams from the Disciples, this was all fair game and quite the norm. Just ask a Republican.

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The arrogance of Hillary was fully revealed Wednesday night when she made a Limbaughesque whoop about Obama's $200 contribution from Ayers in '96, conveniently forgetting that Bill pardoned Ayers on his way out of the Oval Office.
Her attempt to play more conservative than thou is laughable.

Posted by: rhody at April 18, 2008 11:49 AM

What I find most surprising about the current phase of the Dem. battle is (1) how many times Sen. Obama has "stepped in it" when not working from a prepared text, and (2) how poorly prepared Sen. Obama appears to be for handling debates or media questions.

The "typical white person" comment was particularly odd; he had been preparing for a few days to deal with the Rev. Wright/race issue, he delivered a prepared speech about it, and then he went on the radio and called his grandmother a "typical white person." Is it possible that he didn't realize how very bad that sounded? During a live radio interview?

The "clinging" remark was also bad, but it was not knowingly said into an open microphone going out over the public airwaves. Again, he handled the post-mess-up poorly -- and that's a continuous problem -- but the circumstances of his making the statement in the first place were not the same as in the "typical white person" live radio interview.

I wonder what kind of preparation he has for these situations. Is he put through interviews by his staff? Do they subject him to cross-examination in order to toughen him up? Or is he surrounded by a bunch of fawning yes-men?

I have been indulging the presumption all along that Sen. Obama is both brilliant and talented. I have also been saying that he's been bound to stumble because he's not really prepared to run for national office. I think the later has been confirmed by recent weeks, and, for that matter, I am beginning to question the former as well.

Posted by: brassband at April 18, 2008 1:24 PM

"The arrogance of Hillary was fully revealed Wednesday night when she made a Limbaughesque whoop about Obama's $200 contribution from Ayers in '96, conveniently forgetting that Bill pardoned Ayers on his way out of the Oval Office."

That is a LIE Rhody-as usual. Ayers was never pardoned by Clinton.

Posted by: Mike at April 18, 2008 8:22 PM

"Ayers was never pardoned by Clinton."

Correct. Bill Clinton pardoned or commuted the sentences of two members of the Weather Underground, along with a raft of other equally scummy people. And some scum he pardoned or commuted solely with the purpose of getting his wife elected to the US Senate.

Most of Bill Clinton's pardons were a serious abuse of the power of the Presidential pardon.

Posted by: Monique at April 18, 2008 9:16 PM

Whether or not Ayers was pardoned by Clinton, the larger point is that Hillary's trying to have it both ways.
Pardoning a criminal - OK.
An opponent accepting $200 from a criminal of the same ilk - bloody murder!
If Obama has to defend the $200 from Ayers, let Hillary defend the pardons Bill handed out like penny candy.

Posted by: rhody at April 18, 2008 11:18 PM

Rhody-the Clintons pardoned Susan Rosenberg and the FALN terrorists.When the latter group was sentenced in Chicago,US District Court Judge McMillan stated that he was sorry he couldn't impose the death penalty.Let's not forget the New Square Hasidic thieves or Marc Rich, as bad as George Soros.Hillary is a liar and a hypocrite-Obama probably doesn't lie about his accomplishments like she does,but he lies about his intentions if he were to be President-I think he will be another Jimmy Carter,appeasing tyrants and terrorists;allowing anyone to enter the country with impunity;he will try to disarm law abiding firearms owners to a significant extent;and he will create more division in the country because if he doesn't agree with Jeremiah Wright on such important issues as race,why did he consider him a mentor and attend his sermons for 20 years?

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 19, 2008 11:43 AM

Fine - let's see Hillary defend that.
And I think the Clinton campaign's whining about Obama getting preferential treatment from the press has been rendered bunk once and for all, too.

Posted by: rhody at April 19, 2008 8:15 PM
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