Barack Obama: One smooth operator

Three days after his national spokeswoman implied that something “bigger” (read: racism) might have been at play regarding what some are saying have been “racially insensitive remarks” made by the Clintons and their campaign, and two days after it surfaced that his South Carolina spokesperson was circulating a memo detailing how the Clinton campaign was supposedly “politicizing race,” Senator Barack Obama held a news conference today addressing the allegations in general:

“I don’t want the campaign at this stage to degenerate into so much tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, that we lose sight of why all of us are doing this” Mr. Obama told reporters at a news conference here. “We’ve got too much at stake at this time in our history to be engaging in this kind of silliness. I expect that other campaigns feel the same way.”

Mr. Obama was seeking to be seen as taking the high road in the ongoing feud between his campaign and that of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. First, he conducted three back-to-back interviews with the major television networks here. Then, he hastily called a news conference at the Reno Events Center.

After speaking to hundreds of Nevada voters at a rally here, Mr. Obama urged Democratic voters not to become embroiled in racially-charged or motivated discussions.

“If I hear my own supporters engaging in talk that I think is ungenerous or misleading or in some way is unfair, I will speak out forcefully against it” he said. “I hope the other campaigns take the same approach.”

On a day that initially was devoted to speaking about the economy, he held a nine-minute news conference. Before taking questions, Mr. Obama mentioned his rivals by name and praised them.

“I think that I may disagree with Senator Clinton or Senator Edwards on how to get there, but we share the same goals. We’re all Democrats” Mr. Obama said. “We all believe in civil rights. We all believe in equal rights. We all believe that regardless of race or gender that people should have equal opportunities.”

He continued, saying: “They are good people, they are patriots. They are running because they think that they can move this country to a better place.”

Asked whether he believed either Mrs. Clinton or former President Bill Clinton had shown racial insensitivity in recent days, he said: “I don’t want to rehash that. I think that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have historically and consistently been on the right side of civil rights issues. I think they care about the African-American community and that they care about all Americans and they want to see equal rights and justice in this country.”

The article didn’t note whether or not he addressed the issue of the memo being circulated nor whether or not he commented on the statements his national spokeswoman made. But at this point it wouldn’t matter, for reasons I’ll explain below.

Isn’t he so generous, heaping praise on the Clintons after the weekend back and forth about the issue? Some people out there may view his response as such, but I believe it’s naive to think that. This is classic politics: you give the rumor time to make the rounds and for the seed of doubt to be planted before you respond forcefully “against” the type of tactic used/rumor being spread. Even one day is like a lifetime in politics, and as I noted earlier, it’d been two and three days respectively since the race card had been played by Obama’s staff. Apparently the O-Man is cool with letting his subordinates do his dirty work while he himself appears “above it.” Let’s not forget in all that that he’s a graduate of Chicago politics (read more on that here), and no doubt knows how to sling mud just like the rest of them. He’s just cleverly choosing to do it through his campaign staff. Smooth move, and maybe another reason Bill Clinton is hot under the collar over this whole issue at the moment: he’s being outsmoothed by someone who he probably considers a “junior” or “wet behind the ears” politician.

Something else I thought of today was how hypocritical it was for some of the mediots, pundits, and liberal bloggers who expressed outrage over Bob Johnson’s remarks – some of them clearly racially charged – about Obama while the Bobcats owner was on the campaign trail with Hillary this past weekend. Where’s the outrage been during all those times when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, among other race hustlers, have played the race card against a Republican – black or white – who didn’t deserve it? If it’s not ok for a prominent black figure to unfairly play the race card against a black Democrat, it shouldn’t be when they do so against Republicans, either.


Read more commentary on the issue, via Memeorandum.

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