Candidates cannot be everywhere (and often cannot stoop too low into the nasty mud slinging), so they need surrogates on the war path for them. Nevertheless, everyone should know their place. There is a reason why politicians do the talking and the strategists do the strategizing. Politicans are communicators, strategists are not (necessarily). Strategists plan, politicians execute the plan.
That was more than evident on yesterday’s Meet the Press where both Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod and Clinton’s Geoff Garin were horrendously pathetic. Not only were they so much worse to look at than Obama and Hillary, they both lacked the public speaking skills necessary to effectively get their bosses’ points across in a non-destructive manner. I don’t doubt their intelligence and worth to their respective campaigns, but as “visible” advocates, they were about as eloquent as a George W. Bush speech. The net result made both candidates look bad.
Unfortunately, I think that much of the Hillary camp’s mud slingings has tested Obama’s patience and has worked against him negatively. Obama needs to focus on his core message — hope, change, and a new politics. And to do that, he can’t get involved with her games, even if it means that he doesn’t give her an immediate knock-out punch.
It’s funny, but conservative pundit Robert Novak actually pretty much endorsed Obama in “What’s the Matter with Obama“, asking him to get back to his message. He even alluded to the fact — en contra Hillary arguendo — that Obama is an attactive candidate to Republican voters:
Traveling the country the past few months, I have encountered habitual Republican voters so entranced by Barack Obama’s potential to lead the nation that they plan to vote for him in November. Once Hillary Clinton’s supporters return to the fold, Obama Republicans could produce a Democratic presidential landslide. But Obama’s recent missteps jeopardize their support and imperil his election.
While I agree with Obama needing to stay above the fray, you almost wonder how he could possible stand Hillary calling him a hypocrite when he defends himself. Her argument is something like this:
The U.S. needs a fighter for president. I am a fighter and I will play dirty if that is what it takes. Obama says he wants to play fair, but if he defends himself or fights back then he is stooping to my level, thus making himself a hypocrite.