Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 7, 2008
POLITICS: Who Ya Gonna Call?

As Michael Kinsley once said, a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Witness this totally unsurprising (except for the source) admission by one of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisers, responding to Walter Mondale's Hillary Clinton's now famous "3 a.m." ad asking which candidate you want answering the White House phone at 3 a.m. to deal with a national security crisis:

"[Hillary] Clinton hasn't had to answer the phone at three o'clock in the morning and yet she attacked Barack Obama for not being ready," Ms. Rice said. "They're both not ready to have that 3 a.m. phone call."

True enough. But then, they're not the only ones running for President, are they? (See, the silly mistakes you make when you get primary-season tunnel vision). Even the lefty bloggers can pick up on the obvious (this from a conference call with the Hillary camp):

Blogger Jane Hamsher gets on and asks whether the 3 a.m. ad is reinforcing a Republican message - "isn't McCain ultimately the winner in that tactic"?

Yeah, sorry Jane, I know it's terribly unfair for anyone to consider national security when they vote for the presidency. It's like Swift-boating! Rice's admission came as part of the Obama camp's effort to push back at Hillary on the grounds that she, like Obama, lacks John McCain's qualifications for the job:

"It's important to examine that claim and not just allow her to assert it, which I think has been going on for quite some time," Mr. Obama said. "What exactly is this foreign experience that she's claiming? I know she talks about visiting 80 countries. It is not clear, was she negotiating treaties or agreements, or was she handling crises during this period of time? My sense is the answer's no. I have not seen any evidence that she is better equipped to handle a crisis. If the only criteria is longevity in Washington, than she's certainly not going to compete with John McCain on that."

McCain, of course, has been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for 21 years - longer than Obama has been out of law school. And before that, a quarter century in the U.S. Navy.

Hillary feels the same way about the contrast between McCain and Obama:

"I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. . . it's imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold," . . .

"I believe that I've done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you'll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy," she said.

Calling McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee a good friend and a 'distinguished man with a great history of service to our country," Clinton said, "Both of us will be on that stage having crossed that threshold. That is a critical criterion for the next Democratic nominee to deal with." . . .

She said she and McCain had traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan together as she repeated a line that surfaced from the campaign trail. She and McCain "bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign, Clinton said, while "Sen. Obama will bring a speech he gave in 2002," stating his opposition to the Iraq war as an Illinois state senator.

thehemofhisgarment.jpgIn Obama's case, he is lashing out now because he thinks he got thumped in Ohio and lost in Texas, leading to howls of despair at his party's lack of an exit strategy from the primaries and speculation about the party's descent into a spiral of self-destructive attacks, all because Hillary did a better job of whining to reporters than he did:

"There's no doubt that Senator Clinton went very negative over the last week," Obama said. He said the Clinton campaign's multiple attacks "had some impact" on the election results "particularly in the context where many of you in the press corps had been persuaded that you had been too hard on her and too soft on me."

"Complaining about the refs apparently worked a little bit this week," he said, equating members of the news media with referees in a sporting event.

"So hopefully in addition to my call to Lorne Michaels, hopefully now people feel like everything's evened out and we can start actually covering the campaign properly," he said.

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the reference to Michaels, producer of the television comedy show "Saturday Night Live," was a joke.

Don't worry, Obama can't handle Lorne Michaels but he's quite sure he can handle Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad.

* - Beldar's take on the Hillary ad isn't really relevant here but it's still funny.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:54 AM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-14 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

"Don't worry, Obama can't handle Lorne Michaels but he's quite sure he can handle Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad."

Uh, let me guess. Obama will look into their souls and decide they are men of God, and he can do business with them?

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 8, 2008 10:39 AM

Off topic from the original post...

Daryl, the alternative to "[I] can do business with [Putin]" is what? Regime change in Russia? I don't get the snark about Bush's comment that he can deal with Putin; I'm no Bush fan, but to suggest that some other president would have chosen a better leader for Russia is ridiculous.

On the other hand, it is within our national capabilities to unseat Chavez and Ahmadenijad. Are you really recommending that?

Posted by: Steve Johnson at March 10, 2008 4:39 AM
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