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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Barack Obama: OK. We'll, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes

That pretty well sums up last nights Democratic debate and Obama's problem in general. I am not sure anyone knows for sure who Obama is running against, Hillary or Bill Clinton, because it is Bill Clinton that is front and center, not Hillary, not Hillary's ideas or stands on issues, everything is about Bill and I think that is starting to become apparent to Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike.

The Politico
shows the exchange that is being talked about this morning.

CLINTON: Now, I just — I just want to be clear about this. In
an editorial board with the Reno newspaper, you said two different
things, because I have read the transcript. You talked about Ronald
Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his

OBAMA: Your husband did.

CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not. And...

OBAMA: OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against

The fact that Bill Clinton is a former President pretty much guarantees that everything he says publicly is given attention, which is, in part, completely free advertising for the Clinton machine, on any given day and which it is becoming apparent that they are using it as such to attack Obama on all fronts.

From The Guardian:

One of the emerging issues of the campaign is the role of Bill Clinton. Obama brought this up in the debate, saying he recognised his right to campaign for his wife, but that he was troubled by what he said was the former president's misrepresentation of his, Obama's, positions.

One again, the focus is on Bill, not Hillary, not what the plan is for the country, not any issue of the day....its all Billy.

About that Reagan remark of Obama's-- Obama made a very good point about how his remarks have been misrepresented by the Clinton machine, Bill Clinton in particular and the New York Times points out the reality of those remarks compared to what Hillary or Bill (who can tell the difference anymore) claimed:

In one of their starkest differences in Monday’s debate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Senator Barack Obama had talked about “admiring Ronald Reagan” and that Mr. Obama “said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote.”

Mr. Obama responded by saying, “What I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to.”

At issue were remarks Mr. Obama made last week to The Reno Gazette-Journal. While he spoke positively of Reagan and described the Republicans as “the party of ideas,” he did not say that he admired Reagan.

Obama's original remark:

“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. He tapped into what people were already feeling, which is, we want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and, you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

The Clintons obviously feel threatened by Obama and they attack at any given moment, and yes, this is being noticed by Democratic supporters as evidenced by some of the reactions on the left side of the blogosphere.

Democrats are going crazy. I'm hearing from friends in DC, friends that are mostly apolitical, and blog friends that the tone of the primary is just vicious. Beyond that, it's not just the candidates, but supporters have now become nuts.

That was from Open Left. More on the lefts reactions towards the bottom of the post.

More on Bill Clinton from Eugene Robinson in a piece appropriately called "Obama vs the Clinton Legacy":

But Obama has set his sights higher, and implicit in his campaign is a promise, or a threat, to eclipse Clinton's accomplishments. Obama doesn't just want to piece together a 50-plus-1 coalition, he wants to forge a new post-partisan consensus that includes "Obama Republicans" -- the equivalent of the Gipper's "Reagan Democrats." You can call that overly ambitious or even naive, but you can't call it timid. Or deferential.

Both Clintons have trouble hiding their annoyance at Obama's impertinence. Bill, especially, gives the impression that Obama has gotten under his skin. His frequent allegations of media bias in Obama's favor recall the everybody-against-us feeling of the impeachment drama, when the meaning of the word "is" had to be carefully parsed and the Clinton White House was under siege.

Obama hit back in an interview that aired Monday on "Good Morning America," saying the former president "has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling" and promising to "directly confront Bill Clinton when he's not making statements that are factually accurate."

For Obama, it's clearly an added burden to have to fight two Clintons instead of one. But at the same time, there may be benefits in having Bill Clinton take such a high-profile role in his wife's campaign that the missteps and disappointments of the Clinton years are inevitably recalled along with the successes. Whatever the net impact, there appears to be no plan for Bill Clinton to tone it down -- not with the nomination still in doubt. The Clintons don't much like losing.

Next we have the New York Times Campaign Stops, an opinion piece and what does it focus on? Hillary? NOPE.... Once again, Bill Clinton:

It’s been said that Mr. Clinton’s recent feistiness has revealed a side of him previously unknown to most Americans. But this is incorrect: he is rather a master of what one might call “strategic emotion,” the use of tears or anger to comfort voters or intimidate the press. During his presidency Clinton lashed out at, among others, then-ABC White House correspondent Brit Hume in 1993; reporters who continued to raise questions about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky in 1998; and the Senate Republicans who rejected the 1999 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

These days the former president’s “outbursts” serve a dual purpose: they lend the impression that Senator Clinton is the insurgent running against the media-supported Obama, while also creating the illusion that it is the former president, not his wife, who is actually the candidate for the Democratic nomination.....

CBS's Horserace even titles their pieces with "Tonight's Real Debate: Obama Vs. Bill Clinton?", which pretty much describes the whole campaign perfectly.

If the headlines inspire the questions at tonight's Democratic debate in South Carolina, expect former President Bill Clinton to come up nearly as often as Hillary Clinton, the one who's actually a candidate.

Bill Clinton's actions, both during his administration and on the campaign trail on behalf of Hillary, have become a central point of contention in the Democratic race, and Obama recently added fuel to the fire when he suggested that Clinton failed to "change the trajectory" of the country while president, but Ronald Reagan did.

Even a debate question was focused on....thats right....Bill, when Obama was asked if he believes Bill Clinton was the "first black president," as Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison once declared.

The New York Times politics page has the head line of "In S. Carolina, It’s Obama vs. Clinton. That’s Bill Clinton."

The strategic shift intensifies a new dynamic in the race: Mrs. Clinton’s campaign this week in South Carolina is essentially running Mr. Clinton against Mr. Obama. The two have been engaged in a war of words, with Mr. Clinton accusing the Obama campaign of voter coercion in the Nevada caucuses, and Mr. Obama saying on Monday that Mr. Clinton had made comments that were “not factually accurate” and that his advocacy for his wife had grown “pretty troubling.”

Noticing the theme?

Hillary Clinton may technically BE the candidate Barack Obama is running against, but that is a mere technicality, because he is really running against Bill Clinton.... is that Hillary Clinton's campaigns strategy because they know she couldn't win and wouldn't even be a candidate at all if it weren't for her husband?

I think so.

Bill Clinton attacks like a rabid dog, Hillary Clinton enjoys all that free publicity he gets her, and when she is confronted with those words she gets to hide and claim "but 'I' didn't say that"!!!!

Representative James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat has said, regarding Bill "He needs to chill a little bit".

That is highly doubtful because then people would have to look past Bill and might not like what they see if they took a hard enough look at Hillary-without-the-Bill-Factor.

Left side of the blogosphere reactions to last nights debate.


The hardest thing to calculate are the political ramifications surrounding Bill Clinton's increasingly prominent role in his wife's campaign. Early in the pie-throwing segment of the debate, Obama complained, "One of the things that happened in the course of this campaign ... [is] a set of assertions by Sen. Clinton, as well as her husband, that are not factually accurate." What Obama was, in essence, saying is, "Buy one exaggerator (Hillary) and get one free (Bill)."

Salon also had this to say:

It was "about as nasty a debate as we've seen in this presidential cycle, and Mitt Romney was not even in the state." Clinton seems to get most of the blame, while Obama simply fought back. But at center of the wrangle is the same old issue: does America want a "Clinton dynasty"?

Liberal Values about.. Bubba!!!!:

Bill Clinton has not only been telling fairy tales of his own with regards to Obama’s position on the war, but has also told fairy tales about his own views. In November The Washington Post questioned Clinton’s claims that he had “opposed Iraq from the beginning.” Hillary Clinton’s record isn’t very good either. Last month Foreign Policy in Focus reviewed her views on the war dating back to the pre-war days, which show a stark contrast from the anti-war views expressed by Obama above. Reviewing Hillary’s record shows why Bill Clinton might want to revise history, but his fairy tales do not change the past.

The reactions go on and on from both sides of the blogosphere, but one continuing theme in all of them is...Bill Clinton.

Not Hillary, not Hillary's ever changing positions, but it is all Bill, Bill, BILL, BILL BILL BILL Clinton.

For your viewing enjoyment, here is the heated exchange between Barack Obama and Billary Clinton, via YouTube.

(Definitely worth watching, even if it is just for the laughs)

South Carolina's leading News Paper, The State, graded the three candidates on their performance last night.

Hillary Clinton/Bill Clinton and Barack Obama received B's and John Edwards got an A, primarily because of this comment:

When Edwards finally got a chance to speak, he won applause by saying, "I want to know on behalf of voters here in South Carolina, (with) this kind of squabbling, how many children is this going to get health care? How many people are going to get an education from this? ... I respect both of my fellow candidates, but we have got to understand this is not about us personally."

Others discussing this:

PoliGazette, Right Wing News, Blue Crab Boulevard, Scared Monkeys (They are asking the same question about WHO Obama is actually running against), Gateway Pundit, Jules Crittenden, Don Surber, and Wizbang.