Saturday, March 22, 2008

Paranoia takes root in the Obama campaign

A pattern has developed. The Obama campaign is exhibiting an extreme over-reaction to even relatively benign and innocusous statements that don't even mention their candidate, let alone their ongoing over-sensitivity to any statement that even hints of criticizing their candidate or his "special" quality.

The latest incident was a simple statement by Bill Clinton that neither mentioned Barack nor was even a critical statement on its own, but was perversely twisted into a critiicism of Barack's patriotism and and resulted in the Obama campaign criticizing Bill of being McCarthyesque to boot. Unreal. Absolutely unreal.

Bloomberg starts by telling us that:

A foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama accused Bill Clinton of questioning his candidate's patriotism and said comments by the former president were reminiscent of anti-communist crusader Joseph McCarthy.

Strong stuff. Hard to imagine Bill Clinton saying anything like that.

Here is what Bill said, as per CBS News:

The former president told a group of veterans Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina: "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country. And people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

That seems like a perfectly innocuous political statement to make. Nothing outrageous in any way and nothing that anybody should complain about.

I've tried, but even if I were to put myself into some paranoid state of mind, it would still be a long stretch to treat this as a statement about Barack. Sure, I can imagine some hyper-sensitive people doing so, but I seriously would say that someone going that far out of their way to insist that this was a criticism of Barack and assert that Bill was definitely questioning Barack's loyalty and patriotism was not being fair in any way.

CBS News informs us that:

Retired Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, a co-chair of Obama's campaign, said he was astonished and disappointed by recent comments the former president made while speculating about a general election between Obama's Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Republican John McCain.

Standing next to Obama on stage at a campaign rally in southern Oregon, the retired Air Force chief of staff repeated Bill Clinton's comments aloud to a silent audience.


McPeak then said to his Oregon audience: "As one who for 37 years proudly wore the uniform of our country, I'm saddened to see a president employ these tactics. He of all people should know better because he was the target of exactly the same kind of tactics."

Bloomberg fairly reports on Bill's statement:

Clinton said yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina, that it would be great if the U.S. presidential election were between his wife, Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona:"two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country."

Bloomberg goes on to tell us:

Introducing Obama today at a town hall in Medford, Oregon, retired four-star General Merrill "Tony" McPeak, said Clinton should know better than to employ the same tactics that were used against him when he ran for president 16 years ago.

"Both Barack Obama and John McCain are great patriots who love this country and are devoted to it,'' McPeak, an Obama campaign co-chair, said. "So is Hillary Clinton -- any suggestion to the contrary is flat wrong."

When approached by reporters after a rally yesterday in Salem, Oregon, McPeak said Clinton's comments were "more like McCarthy," referring to the senator from Wisconsin who in the 1950s sought to brand political rivals, government employees and some celebrities as being communist sympathizers, spies or otherwise unpatriotic.

"I grew up, I was going to college when Joe McCarthy was accusing good Americans of being traitors," McPeak said yesterday. "So I've had enough of it."

So Bill was even accusing Barack of being a traitor? Enough of this guilt by association.

McPeak did of course indirectly remind people that Hillary is married to a draft dodger. Himself employing the precise tactic that he decried Bill from using! Slick. So old politics.

So, here is some of the pattern that we have seen play out:

  • Bill Clinton of all people accused of making rascist statements in South Carolina.
  • Obama supporters "worried" about their candidate's "safety" because he is so "special" that somebody will go after him the way they did with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobbie Kennedy.
  • Geraldine Ferraro of all people accused of making rascist statements.
  • A Barack campaign adviser referring to Hillary of all people as a "monster."
  • Now, Bill Clinton of all people being accused of questioning Barack's loyalty and patriotism.

There is no question, there is a decided air of paranoia engulfing the Barack Obama campaign. Paranoia has clearly taken root and seems unlikely to be uprooted any time soon. It explains a lot of the hyper-negativity emanating from the campaign lately.

Where did this paranoia come from. Personally, I think it comes from the fact that Obama supporters really do see his rising start as truly something "special", something to be especially cherished and especially protected, to the point where any criticism or implied blemish of their "special" star is a matter of deep dishonor for them, causing them to lash out in, well, outright anger.

But the really scary thing is that we are not seeing Barack asking his people to chill, take a minute, take a deep breath, tell them "Don't worry, we can win even if not everybody loves us", or chiding them to remain positive, or any of the other forms of behavior that would show that he does not share their belief in him as being "special." Wow, he drinks his own Kool-Aid. A cult leader is not supposed to do that. Well, he knows they are a cult and he knows that it is best for him to simply let them run. Still, it would be a relief to see him exercise a little more adult supervision and dial back the cult-like and paranoid behavior.

-- Jack Krupansky


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