Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Responses to Uncouth Comments: Obama and Clinton

Americans were treated to a very constructive comparison between the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the past two days, and perhaps some insight into differences in the character of the candidates.

Obama aide Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a "monster" in an interview with The Scotsman - she apologized to Clinton, Obama, and resigned.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson likened Barack Obama to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr (who obsessively hounded the Clintons in the 1990s), saying "I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president" - not only has he not apologized, but Hillary Clinton first said she had no comment, and later added at a press conference in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, "Well, I think that is a true statement."

A classic piece of Clintonian word splicing - I suppose the statement could be interpreted as not saying Obama was like Starr and unfit to be President, but simply saying anyone who was like Starr did not deserve to be President - but it's surely not an apology or in any sense whatsoever disapproving of Wolfson's statement.

If ever America needed an example of new versus old politics, of political decency versus win at any cost, of grace in politics versus throw everything you can at your opponent whether true, false, or nonsensical, I think the difference between the Obama and Clinton campaigns in their responses to Power and Wolfson amply provides it.
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