The Phony Campaign

2008-04-13 Update

It may be that everyone is getting tired of belaboring the obvious …

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"Hillary Clinton" phony172,000-8,000
"Barack Obama" phony164,000-5,000
"John McCain" phony154,000-10,000

  • John Dickerson from Slate muses on the likely McCain strategy against Obama:
    The GOP's attack will boil down to the accusation that Obama is a big phony. The Democrat gives them an opening: Obama talks about how he goes in front of hostile audiences, but he doesn't really do it much. He heralds his bipartisan appeal and talent for bringing people together, but his track record on these fronts is thin. He talks about how his administration will put its negotiations over policy on C-SPAN, but he has run a conventionally conservative campaign, keeping press access relatively low. When his top economic aide (and former Slate contributor), Austan Goolsbee, got into trouble, the campaign hid him under a bushel rather than offering him to reporters to answer questions. "Obama talks about doing these things," says a McCain aide, "he just doesn't do them." With big acts of accessibility and reaching out beyond his party ranks, McCain hopes to show as well as tell that Obama's promises to do the same are empty.
    Pun Salad is in favor of keeping the phoniness issue on the front burner, but the pots and kettles on that front burner are all pretty black.

  • A number of people have pointed out the sheer phoniness of Obama's inclusion of "anti-trade sentiment" in his short list of nasty attitudes in the small towns of Pennsylvania and the midwest. For example, Victor Davis Hanson:
    It was not George Bush or John McCain, but Barack Obama himself who tried to salvage Ohio by demagoguing NAFTA and opposing a free-trade agreement with Columbia. His entire campaign is predicated on showing more anti-trade sentiment that the Clintons.
    Stephen Spruiell points out:
    Barack Obama owes Austan Goolsbee an apology. Approximately one month before the Ohio primary, Goolsbee, an informal adviser to the Obama campaign, attended a meeting with Canadian government officials at which he was asked about Obama's apparent hostility to NAFTA. According to a memo written about the meeting, Goolsbee told the Canadians, “much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.”
    Obama channels Smoot-Hawley to the yahoos, and Goolsbee to the elite. For connoisseurs of the phony, that's pretty good.

  • But Hillary's still on top, phony-wise, and for good reason. Dick Morris detects tergiversation in Hillary's current anti-NAFTA rhetoric:
    Trade was no side issue in the Clinton administration; it was central to his key worldview — that he had to lead America to compete successfully in the new global economy. His refusal to submit to protectionism or to legislation to reduce layoffs — his commitment to the free market — was a singular badge of courage in his presidency. For Hillary to indicate now so fundamental a disagreement with a policy so integral to her husbands’ presidency is transparently phony.
    To be fair, you should also read Sam Stein's attempt (a couple months back) at the Huffington Post to say, hey, no, she was really anti-NAFTA back then too. A bunch of people are quoted to that effect, and some of them might not be angling for positions in Hillary's administration.
    So why didn't we hear such protests from Hillary Clinton during her husband's administration?

    "The whole time that she was first lady," said Robert Shapiro, the undersecretary of commerce during the Clinton White House years, "she, like everybody else...[was] not supposed to deviate from the position of the administration. There is no freedom of speech in there, and that certainly applies to a first lady."

    So the defense is: sure, she was phony back then, but we're getting the real deal now.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 11:08 AM EDT