Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Power Shift

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Power Shift

The whole Samantha Power thing moved very quickly today. I'm not sure when the original story from The Scotsman, broke, but I saw a reference to it sometime in the mid- to late evening yesterday. Even being jet-lagged and exhausted is not a good enough excuse for an Obama advisor to call Hillary a "monster." I saw an apology from her before I left for work this morning, but I'm not sure if it was actually before or after participants in a Hillary conference called for her to resign from the Obama campaign. In what's probably the most surprising aspect of the whole thing, that's exactly what she did late this morning.

The reactions to this have been interesting. Some (such as Matt Yglesias and Josh Marshall) think the whole thing makes Obama and his campaign look reactive and weak. While I can see that point of view, it also makes sense that, since Obama is desperately trying to come across as taking the high road in his campaign, Power had to go. By all accounts, she is Obama's preeminent foreign policy advisor, and there's no reason that she can't continue to do just that. Power should keep a low profile, of course, but she doesn't have to disappear altogether.

It's also interesting that the Clinton campaign seems to be portrayed as having the upper hand in this. It's only a sense I've got, but it feels to me like they need to be careful not to overplay themselves. Sure, they seem to be winning in having Power pay the price of her "monster" comment, but still hanging in the air are Howard Wolfson's comparison of Obama to Ken Starr (just because you give the monster a name doesn't make it any less of a monster) and Hillary's continued insistence that McCain is better qualified to be president than Obama. Wolfson, at least, is trying to back away from his comments, though I have to admit that I'm not sophisticated enough to recognize a qualitative difference between what Wolfson said, implying Obama was "imitating Ken Starr," with what he claims he didn't say, "that Sen. Obama was like Ken Starr." The Clinton camp is playing pretty fast and loose, and if they're not careful, something's going to come loose when they can least afford it.


At 10:41 AM, March 08, 2008, Blogger Jason said...

As an Obama supporter, I'm hoping that his campaign will hit back hard. I would have liked to see a statement along the lines of "Ms. Power immediately regretted her intemperate comment. She tried to take it back and apologized. Senator Obama apologizes. Senator Clinton is not a monster. But there's no denying that her campaign has done some monstrous things." And then start cataloguing them, begining with Wolfson's statement and continuing through the sly comments about Senator Obama's race and purported Muslim religion. But I can also see that some might take even that as moving away from the high road, so maybe the Obama camp did play this correctly.

At 1:39 PM, March 08, 2008, Anonymous Doug said...

I don't know what kind of grand strategy or big picture the Obama campaign has, but it sure looks like it's a tough time to be Obama. I agree that the campaign has to come back with something. The high road has to consist of more than turning the other cheek. Doesn't it? As I said above, the Clinton campaign seems like they might overplay their hand, but to paraphrase another criticism Obama has encountered, "Maybe they might overplay themselves is not a plan."


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