Speechs, myths and the mess
"They would do anything to win, and that means anything," David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, told me Monday. "There is a frenetic energy around them to commandeer this election in any way they can."
Axelrod went on: "She is the ultimate Washington inside player. She is always asking, `How do we wire the vote? How do we wire the system to get the results we want?'"
Ah, the smell of Unity in the morning air. Axelrod should just shut up and go write the speech.
Anyway, the new wrinkle around this whole Wright fiasco is how rapidly its thrown the Obama camp off their game. Fineman gives a run-down to the official responses that have come out of Obama's camp since this story began raging:
So what do Obama and his surrogates say?
*David Axelrod, Obama's media adviser and close friend, said with what I assume was a straight face (it was a conference call) that a main reason why Wright did not give the invocation in Springfield was that the temperature outside was too cold.
*Obama very carefully says that he never heard any of Wright's incendiary preachments while he, Obama, was "in the pews" in the church.
*Obama says he never heard them "directly" from Wright in "private conversations."
*Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, one of Obama's closest political allies, said many of Wright's most inflammatory remarks were made BEFORE Obama joined the church.
*The new pastor of the church (the Obamas still belong to it) in essence is threatening to brand as racist anyone who questions the statements and record of the Rev. Wright.
*Obama has said that he repudiates all of the nasty Wright statements that are circulating as audio and video files on the net (including the "God Damn America" and "U.S. of KKK A" ones) and that he "probably" would have walked out of the church and had words with Wright if he had heard them in the pews.
*At other times, Obama has dropped the "probably."
Now I'm told that Durbin was winging it, and the campaign did not mean to defend Obama by claiming that Wright's controversial remarks were more than 20 years old.
This kind of thing cannot go on, which is why Obama and his brain trust wisely decided that he would have to give a speech to put the entire thing into a new and wider context.
That's some pretty wild swinging. I know there are avid Obama supporters that, like the freepers, blame all things on Clinton. Yes, Clinton has gone dark on the matter for an obvious reason, but there's little doubt to anyone that's watched this develop that it is a Republican hit-job on Obama. This is due to "a Republican opposition eager to rough up the man they expect to face in the general election":
But there is no mistaking that the Wright association gives Republicans a vulnerability they will pound on relentlessly in a general election.
The GOP has proven skilled at questioning the patriotism of Democratic candidates. Just ask John F. Kerry, defeated presidential candidate, and Max Cleland, defeated senator, if such attacks work in the post-Sept. 11 political environment.
They will blend together Wright's fulminations with quotes of Michelle Obama saying her husband's candidacy has made her finally proud of America with pictures of Obama himself sans the American flag on his lapel (the latter a point that has thrived in conservative precincts of the Web and talk radio).
Do the mis-steps of the Obama camp that Fineman notes above have to do with the fact that the attacks are coming from Republicans instead of a Democrat? The post-partisan myth that Obama has believed is possible at the Presidential level is getting a dose of reality.
It'd be tough to find a conservative writing about how scared they are of Obama in the GE lately, Andrew Sullivan hedged his bet over the weekend by saying he's now undecided in the GE of McCain vs Obama. I don't think Clinton supporters have won anything by this whole fiasco, its just a great big mess.