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Archive: April, 2008

POSTED: Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 7:50 AM
Filed Under: Obama

With respect to his former pastor, Barack Obama decided yesterday that it was no longer enough to merely reject and denounce. It had become imperative for Obama to nuke and bury.

He had no choice. Jeremiah Wright had turned into a one-man wrecking crew, and it was starting to look like Obama was just a passive bystander, a hapless witness to his own destruction, lacking the requisite guts to take the guy down. Most importantly, that kind of passivity is hardly the kind of character trait that many Americans want to see in a commander-in-chief. A real leader has to show that he can confront and isolate his adversaries. And Wright had indeed become an adversary.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 4:26 AM

While watching the Rev. Jeremiah Wright hold forth yesterday at the National Press Club, I began to entertain the notion that perhaps the guy was a Republican mole - trained in secret and dispatched by Karl Rove, or by one of his proteges, with instructions to inflict maximum damage on the Obama campaign.

But no. There is no need for GOP mischief-makers to lift a finger, not when Obama's spiritual mentor seems capable of doing the work all by himself.

Here's Obama, trying to get his sea legs again after suffering a third consecutive big-state defeat, trying to convince downscale, modestly-educated whites in Indiana and North Carolina that he's not some scary apparition...and there's Wright, crashing into the news cycle four days running, offering up new provocative soundbites to replace the old.

POSTED: Monday, April 28, 2008, 10:03 AM

This is a very sensitive issue, but it needs to be discussed. When the unpledged Democratic superdelegates finally look hard at the electability factor, they will be compelled to judge whether Barack Obama would be a risky nominee because of his race.

In the end, this may not be a deal breaker. But right now it can hardly be ignored – not after what we learned in Pennsylvania, where, according to the final exit polls, 12 percent of white Democratic primary voters said that race mattered in their choice of candidate...and, of those whites, a whopping 76 percent chose Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.

Think about that for a moment. If 12 percent of the white Pennsylvania Democratic electorate – in a closed primary, with no independent or Republican participants – were willing to tell exit pollsters eye to eye that race was an important factor, to Obama’s detriment, then it’s fair to surmise that the real percentage, recorded in private behind drawn curtains, was surely higher.

POSTED: Sunday, April 27, 2008, 4:29 PM

I've spent the past few days monitoring the "maverick" - after all, the presumptive Republican nominee deserves some equal time in this race - and it's appropriate to conclude this burst of coverage by noting another example of how career Washington politician John McCain says one thing but does another.

Several weeks ago he skewered Barack Obama for uttering a few "elitist" words about small-town voters, but here, courtesy of McCain, we have a vivid case of elitism in action:

Last summer, when his original campaign organization imploded and he was severely strapped for cash, some observers wondered how McCain would keep himself in the race. After all, a candidate can't stump very effectively unless he has the means to travel. Theoretically, however, he did have one ace in the hole: his wealthy wife.

POSTED: Saturday, April 26, 2008, 9:17 AM

Career Washington politicians such as John McCain sometimes violate the high standards they have supposedly established for themselves.

For instance, here was McCain yesterday, waxing indignant about Barack Obama's Chicago neighbor, academic William Ayers, the former '60s Weather Underground bomber. During a phone call with some conservative bloggers, McCain played the guilt-by-association game, demanding that Obama say he's sorry for knowing the guy:

"I think not only a repudiation, but an apology for ever having anything to do with an unrepentant terrorist is due the American people."

POSTED: Friday, April 25, 2008, 12:04 PM

Having already logged nearly 27 years as a Washington politician, John McCain is clearly a master of the game. When it comes time to dish the dirt, he keeps his hands clean as he tut-tuts about the incivility of our politics. He looks good doing it – the Washington press generally loves it when he’s in pious mode on the high road – and, meanwhile, he gets to reap the rewards of the dirt being dished. Why pilot your own Swift Boat when it’s so much more attractive to condemn those who do it for you?

Case in point: His artful dance with North Carolina Republican leaders, who have fashioned a low-road, anti-Obama advertisement that is slated to air on statewide TV next Monday.

By the way, you’ll be seeing his choreography a lot during the months to come. It’s really a win-win for the presumptive Republican nominee; various GOP locals and conservative freelancers will chuck the muck at Obama - they're already doing it - and McCain will take the opportunity to tut-tut while the message circulates to the masses.

POSTED: Thursday, April 24, 2008, 3:30 PM

If we all weren't so focused on the slow-motion Democratic death march, we would have already spent some time this week talking about "McNasty" and debating whether reports of his "volcanic temper" would imperil his prospects for the White House.

I am referring, of course, to John McCain. You may remember the name. He's the guy currently cruising America on his "It's Time for Action Tour," while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton busy themselves with the ongoing task of pounding each other to jelly.

Obama and Clinton are on the front page every day, their perceived character flaws in full view. McCain's signature character flaw - his well-documented propensity for blowing his stack, for lashing out at colleagues and little people who cross him - did actually make it to the front page last Sunday, in one newspaper, but that little fire sputtered and died amidst the mega-focus on Pennsylvania's primary.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 1:50 AM

Six weeks of bowling and Bittergate and Pastorgate and nonexistent Bosnian snipers....and for what? The Pennsylvania results have essentially changed nothing. There is seemingly no cure for the chronic Democratic migraine - and the fear, among so many members, that they are tearing themselves asunder.

Memo to the voters of Indiana and North Carolina: Take these candidates, please!

Now that Hillary Clinton has secured her solid Pennsylvania victory, we know two things - both of which we basically knew before:

About this blog

Cited by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of the nation's top political reporters, and lauded by the ABC News political website as "one of the finest political journalists of his generation," Dick Polman is a national political columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is on the full-time faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, as "writer in residence." Dick has been a frequent guest on C-Span, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC. He covered the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential campaigns.

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All commentaries posted before April 18, 2008, can be accessed at www.dickpolman.blogspot.com.

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