Do Sen. Obama's Advisors or Campaign Staff Speak for Him?
I know the answer, but the reason I ask the question is simple. Anytime some advisor or campaign staff member of Sen. Clinton makes some unfortunate remark, some of the "progressive" blogs of the Reality Based CommunityTM - and the "netroots" base of Sen. Obama - automatically conclude that the person speaks for Sen. Clinton. Yet, when it is time to evaluate whether Sen. Obama's advisors or campaign staff speak for him, we all know that the answer to this question is Completely DifferentTM. According to the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Rulebook written by some of the great "progressive" blogs, portions of the so-called "netroots", and their friends in the media and the Obama campaign, Sen. Obama's advisors and staff only speak for him when he approves what they say and don't speak for him when he doesn't. It's that simple, see!
We saw that play out repeatedly in the past few months. To cite just a few examples, here are the various people who were apparently NOT speaking for Sen. Obama:
- The Obama campaign aide who urged the Press to look into Bill Clinton's "post-presidential sex life"
- The Obama superdelegate who had similar concerns about Bill Clinton
- The Obama campaign aide(s) who circulated the race-baiting "D-Punjab" memo
- Jesse Jackson Jr. and aides/advisors who accused the Clintons of race-baiting
- Samantha Power who referred to Sen. Clinton as a "monster"
This mystical phenomenon of Sen. Obama's advisors evidently not speaking for him took on a life of its own this week on the policy side as well.
First, a top Obama economic policy advisor and DLCer Austan Goolsbee got exposed for his wink, wink downplaying of Obama's pandering rhetoric on NAFTA by reassuring Canadians otherwise (yes, I know the Obama camp denied this just as they denied the original story that there had been any such contact).
Second, a top Obama foreign policy advisor Samantha Power made the case on British television (video link included) that Obama's pandering rhetoric on a withdrawal of troops from Iraq was just that (emphasis mine):
The host, Stephen Sackur, challenged her:"So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out in 16 months isn't a commitment isn't it?"
"You can’t make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009," she said. "He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. He will rely upon a plan – an operational plan – that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn’t have daily access now, as a result of not being the president. So to think – it would be the height of ideology to sort of say, 'Well, I said it, therefore I’m going to impose it on whatever reality greets me.'"
"It’s a best-case scenario," she said again.
Third, this latest episode (emphasis mine):
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has consistently spoken out and voted against granting retroactive immunity for telecoms that participated with the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. This stance was part of the reason he won the support of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), a leader on civil liberties issues.
One of Obama’s advisers on intelligence and foreign policy advisers, however, is someone who “strongly” supports telecomm immunity. John Brennan is a former CIA official and the current chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. In a new National Journal interview, Brennan makes it clear that he agrees with the Bush administration on the issue of immunity:
There is this great debate over whether or not the telecom companies should in fact be given immunity for their agreement to provide support and cooperate with the government after 9/11. I do believe strongly that they should be granted that immunity, because they were told to do so by the appropriate authorities that were operating in a legal context, and so I think that’s important. And I know people are concerned about that, but I do believe that’s the right thing to do. I do believe the Senate version of the FISA bill addresses the issues appropriately.
Let's just say that the number of Obama advisors and campaign staff who evidently don't speak for him have been accumulating pretty rapidly in the last few months. Yet, when Sen. Clinton's advisors or campaign staff say something, the Reality Based CommunityTM and "progressive" blogs can't wait to pounce and claim that they only reflect her thinking and that she can therefore not be trusted. It's called the Clinton Double Standard, or sometimes, Clinton Derangement Syndrome.
NOTE: The interesting thing of course is that Sen. Obama sometimes doesn't speak for himself. See here.