25 February 2008

Silly season indeed

During the most-recent Democratic debate Barack Obama said the political "silly season" was underway with Hillary Clinton's accusation that Obama plagiarized words from another politician's speech even though that politician not only gave Obama his blessing to use the words but encouraged him to do so.

The silly season may have reached it's peek today with wide-spread distribution of the photo of Obama shown above.

It's a legitimate (not doctored) picture of Obama, on a visit it Kenya in 2006, where he donned local ceremonial garb, much like thousands of politicians have done when they visit overseas.

(Think 'W' walking through the garden holding hands with some foreign male head of state because that's what they do over there.)

The picture was unearthed by The Drudge Report, saying it was obtained from members of the Clinton campaign. (somewhat like the Karl Rove campaign tactics Clinton accused Obama of using on Saturday)

The Obama camp called it "divisive" and campaign manager David Plouffe called it "the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in this election."

Clinton's spokesman Howard Wolfson, on a teleconference with reporters today essentially said 'don't look at us.'

"I just want to make it very clear that we were not aware of it, the campaign didn't sanction it and don't know anything about it."

The campaign had earlier issued a statement in which it did not come anywhere close to a denial that the photo may have come from somewhere inside the Clinton camp.


If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry.

We will not be distracted."

But the Clinton campaign is indeed being distracted, or more accurately they are the ones doing the distracting - even if the Obama photo was not their handiwork.

Clinton today made a foreign policy speech in Washington, an area that - at least by her claims of superior experience - should be her strong suit over Obama.

But the silly picture of Obama looking like a member of the Taliban is getting all the attention.

And in her speech on foreign policy, Clinton made a few more incendiary remarks about Obama, contrasting his calls for talks with Iran and Cuba with his assertion that we should make an incursion into Pakistan, which harbors Osama bin Laden, and clean out the al Qaeda and Taliban elements who thrive there on the border with Afghanistan.

"He wavers from seeming to believe that mediation and meetings without preconditions can solve the world's intractable problems, to advocating rash, unilateral military action without cooperation from our allies in the most sensitive region of the world."--Hillary Clinton

The criticism of Obama - legitimate political criticism in most circumstances - becomes nothing more than "more mud thrown today by Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama" on the newscasts, if the speech is covered at all.

Unless you have been spending your recent days contemplating the meaning of life, your navel or the likely affect of Ralph Nader's entry into the presidential race, you are no doubt familiar with - and sick of seeing - Clinton's sarcastic rant yesterday which painted Obama and his followers as modern day Peter Pans, who refuse to grow up and face the realities of the real world.

Or her scolding of Obama Saturday over the campaign leaflets Obama's campaign distributed in Ohio.

All which followed her make-nice moment at the end of Thursday's debate.

The bluster seems to indicate that the "go-negative" wing of the campaign has won the day heading into the crucial Ohio and Texas primaries next Tuesday.

And just where has the strategy taken her?

A USA Today/Gallup poll today shows Obama up by 12 points nationally, though the latest three-day Gallup tracking poll shows Obama with a much smaller margin.

A Public Policy Polling poll shows Clinton's once huge lead in Ohio down to 4 points.

An American Research Group poll shows Obama ahead in Texas and facing a narrowing deficit in Ohio.

The University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll shows Clinton with a narrowing lead, and so does the latest Quinnipiac Poll, though her lead in that survey is still in double digits.

With so much negativity in the air, tomorrow night's debate at my Alma Mater - Cleveland State University - should be interesting.

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