By- Suzie-Q @ 8:00 PM MST
Posted May 31st, 2008 at 2:35 pm
Let no one say the Obama campaign is unwilling to take advantage of opportunities that avail themselves.
“We all misspeak sometimes. I’ve done it myself. So on such a basic, factual error, you’d think that Senator McCain would just admit that he made a mistake and move on. But he couldn’t do that. Instead, he dug in. And the disturbing thing is that we’ve seen this movie before — a leader who pursues the wrong course, who is unwilling to change course, who ignores the evidence. Now, just like George Bush, John McCain refused to admit that he made a mistake. And that’s exactly the kind of leadership that we’ve had through more than five years of fighting a war that should’ve never been authorized, and should’ve never been waged.
“We don’t need more leaders who can’t admit they’ve made a mistake, even when it’s about something as fundamental as how many young Americans are serving in harm’s way.”
Excellent. McCain’s remarks underscored a discomforting ignorance, but McCain’s refusal to acknowledge his error points to something akin to a Bush-like character flaw.
You can almost hear McCain’s righteous indignation for having even been asked to explain why he’s wrong. “But I’m John McCain. I can’t be wrong about the troops. Don’t you understand?”
As Atrios put it, “He is McCain, so he is good and moral and right and correct and anything else is unpossible.”
In the bigger picture, I can’t help but love the fact that Obama’s team is playing for keeps here. The whole situation sounds like the traditional dynamic turned upside down — a candidate gets a key detail about the military wrong, the opposing side pounces, the candidate begins to parse the meaning of the words to insist technical accuracy (which doesn’t actually apply), and the opposing side treats the whole mess as a gift-wrapped present.
But in this case, it’s the Dem who’s on the offensive.
Greg Sargent concluded:
It’s clear that McCain’s campaign misplayed this one. He could simply have said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I misspoke. I meant to say we’re in the process of drawing down to pre-surge levels. Sorry. Now can we get back to the issues?”
But instead, the McCain camp tried to turn this into a debate about “verb tenses” — the sort of error more often committed by Dems, and more often exploited by Republicans. Who knows how big an impact this will have, but the fact that Obama camp isn’t letting up on this will cheer Dems wondering how aggressive the Obama team will be in the general.
For the longest time, I heard a lot of speculation about Obama being “too nice.” He wouldn’t “mix it up” enough; his style of politics was overly committed to staying “above the fray.” (How many times did we hear the line about Obama finding it “too hot” in the kitchen?)
When it came to the intra-party fight for the Democratic nomination, Obama didn’t engage in the kind of aggressive tactics we usually think of in relation to a political street fight. For the better part of the year, he didn’t have to — he was winning.
But since the Indiana/North Carolina primaries, as Obama began to shift away from Clinton and towards McCain, we’ve seen a Democratic campaign that hasn’t hesitated to hit the Republican nominee as hard as possible, as often as possible.
I half expect the McCain campaign to start asking, “Whatever happened to the politics of hope?”