Thursday, December 13, 2007

Obama, Clinton, and Edwards Advisors Face Off on Hardball

I love Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. During this primary campaign it has been must-see television. I know I've written before about how much I enjoy MSNBC's programming, from Morning Joe to Hardball to Countdown, but one of the top reasons to watch MSNBC is their amazing panel of pundits that they always have on. I've flipped to Bill O’Reilly's show from time-to-time and who are these Democratic and Republican "strategists" he has on? At least Hannity and Colmes have people like Dick Morris and Newt Gingrich on, people who I may not agree with but at least they know what they are talking about. Some woman was filling in actually the other night for Alan Colmes, and she couldn't get a sentence out. Had no clue what was going on. Meanwhile, on MSNBC, you have Chuck Todd, and the great Howard Fineman from Newsweek, and Roger Simon from The Politco, and Tim Russert, and Pat Buchanan, and Washington Post writers like Anne Kornblut and Eugene Robinson and Chris Cillizza (and I could go on and on and on). These are people who are great writers and reporters and really know their politics and are fascinating to listen to.

Well, today on Hardball, it wasn't any of the pundits getting into the act, but advisers to the three main Democratic campaigns for President. Chris interviewed David Axlerod (Obama chief strategist), Mark Penn (Clinton pollster and advisor) and Joe Trippi (former Howard Dean frontman and current John Edwards strategist) and they got into it over Clinton's negative campaigning. And (and this won't come as a big surprise to blog readers) I agree with Obama's campaign. It was Hillary Clinton who said that she was ready to start attacking and that "now the fun part starts." And since that time, the Clinton campaign has knocked Obama for saying he wanted to be President when he was in kindergarten, had two members of their volunteer staff resign after forwarding along e-mails claiming Obama was a Muslim who is trying to infiltrate America and destroy it from the inside, and now had one of their top people, New Hampshire co-chair Billy Shaheen resigned after bringing up questions about Obama's past drug use which Obama himself wrote about in his own autobiography (By the way -- How many times can the Clinton campaign say "this comment wasn't authorized" or "this was a joke" when these attacks keep coming one after another? Just wondering). I saw a YouTube capture of the segment on Ben Smith's blog over at and it's must see TV for political junkies like myself.

Two comments, one was, notice how Penn, defending Clinton was still able to link the words "Obama" and "cocaine" while trying to say the comments were not endorsed by the campaign, which as rightly pointed out by Joe Trippi, was just the Clinton campaign continuing to perpetuate the Obama/drug connection even while they are trying to disclaim that they are doing that. Also, as Chris Matthews pointed out, and as I wrote at the start of December Edwards is the biggest beneficiary of this Obama-Clinton spat. Clinton's the big loser, obviously, because it's another in a series of campaign gaffes and isn't going to endear her to anyone in Iowa or New Hampshire or anywhere else, and Obama will gain, because Clinton will fall and he gets to big the grown up in the dispute, but Edwards gets to be above both, and gets to be the guy not fighting about politics, but fighting for change. It's no accident he talked about fighting corporate greed the entire debate today, and when people get sick of the political attacks of Clinton, and they lump Obama in with that even if he's an unwilling participant, Edwards is going to gain. People counting him out in Iowa shouldn't be.

And one last debate thought, Joe Biden, again, a great performance. More than anyone else, including Obama, Biden has impressed me in these debates. So much so that I'm going to write his name in and vote for him in the Michigan primary. It doesn't mean much since the Democrats have all taken their names off the ballot here in accordance with the wishes of the DNC (except for Hillary of course) so our primary is pretty meaningless, but Biden deserves it. He doesn't want to be VP, and probably wouldn't be a good electoral choice, but I'd make him Secretary of State or Defense or anything he wanted if I were the next President.

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