I don't think adding my opinion that Hillary came out on top adds much to an episode that won't mean much in a couple of months. But then Barack couldn't just take his early campaign Oscar-let and go home. Curiously, he interfered with a dying story and not in a way that helped him. He told the New York Times that it was his communications staff that uttered the snarky comeback to Hillary's insult and that he, Prince Barack, didn't approve of it.
Lynn Sweet's column today in the Sun-Times had the details.
Obama repudiated the hardball tactics of his own staff. And he made it seem he was clueless about a major story dealing with his own campaign.And....
In a front page New York Times interview published Friday, Obama suggested that his marching orders to stay on the high road were ignored, quite a public flogging.
Obama, who is rarely without a cell phone or BlackBerry, seemed curiously removed from a major political story dealing with his campaign.Obama and his staff obviously need to synch their BlackBerrys. The larger point is more troubling from a strategic perspective. Why did Obama hang his staff out to dry for a cheap attempt to tell the Times that he doesn't like the rough stuff?
He told the Times the clash erupted as he was flying back to Chicago from Los Angeles on a red eye. Then, he was busy getting a haircut and taking his kids to school.
Later that day, he was back in a plane, presumably with aides who could have delivered the news.
Folks may well have been ready to move on by the end of the week. But Obama, in a baffling strategy, made a surprising call -- to the New York Times.
The story had already played out more or less in his favor and all the Obama topper did is make himself look unpresidential. If communications director Robert Gibbs popped off without following protocol, Obama should have scolded him privately and let the story fade away in his favor.
A leader has to make these judgments every day. You can't singe your staff every time you see an opening for a cheap pander in the New York Times. That kind of move doesn't shout out strength, and with a logo like this, hard-nosed opponents like Hillary, McCain and Giuliani looming, I can't imagine al Qaeda is quaking in its caves over the prospect of an Obama regime.
Obama is positioned well in the Democratic primary right now. His problem is that any external event: a terrorist act, heightened tension over Iran, god forbid a successful surge, will expose his muddled internationalist, head-in-the-sand, views on radical Islamic terrorism and burst the babble of his celebrity candidacy.
In the meantime, Obama also is exposed on his "above-the-fray" posture. Hillary's camp is going to snare him continually in that trap of his own creation. He needs to give himself some room to maneuver politically by issuing a statement clarifying what he means by staying above it all.
Hillary still has made the biggest mistake in the raceâ€”her panicked early entry. Her positioning on the war slightly to the right of Obama, however, is probably a long-term asset. Barack is on the wrong side of historyâ€”it's just a matter of when events expose his naivetÃ©.