a breath of fresh air

A breath of fresh air. That’s what I call Barak Obama’s response to the CNN-Youtube question about whether candidates, if elected President, would meet with leaders of rogue nations without conditions.

While he did not explicitly verbalize this, I assumed Obama meant to say that he would condition such meetings on benchmarks with respect to human rights, peace and security. Clinton subsequently hammered Barak, saying in effect that she would not meet with leaders of rogue nations unless certain conditions were met.

But, honestly, does anyone really think Obama (or any other Democrat) would pick-up the phone and cold call North Korea’s president? Or, similarly, take unsolicited telemarketing calls from leaders from Venezuela, Iran, or Syria?

But the politicking surrounding the CNN-Youtube debate interested me as much as the candidates’ responses to questions. By calling Obama’s response “irresponsible and naive” the day after the debate, Team Clinton sought to call attention and add extra lustre to Hillary’s leadership experience; and, simultaneously, shine a white hot light on Obama’s relative inexperience.

But in slamming her opponent, Hillary opened herself up unnecessarily to Obama’s right-back-at-you attack of her initial vote on the Iraq war, which he called “naive and irresponsible.”

And what were Sunday morning TV talking heads at shows like Meet the Press chattering about? Not about Clinton’s leadership experience but rather how she messed up and gave Obama an opening.

There’s no doubt in my mind that, from here on out, Obama is not going to skip a beat at spinning what originally was an “experience versus inexperience” narrative into “politics of the past (i.e. not engaging the world)” versus “politics of hope (i.e. engaging the world).”

It remains to be seen how long Obama can surf the wave he’s caught. But one thing is certain: in the future, Team Clinton needs to refrain from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Stay on message — progressive leadership experience in health care, education, foreign policy and economic opportunities. Let the media draw stark contrast between candidates, which the media is all-too-happy to do anyways.


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