Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Obama tarnished his reputation as a new style politician by deciding not to take public funds for the fall campaign

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By Dan Balz

As described in Dan Balz’s Take (Washington Post) this morning, the two male candidates in the 2008 general election have launched an aggressive, old-style political campaign with testosterone levels that appear extremely high.

Balz’s observation would most likely not surprise anyone with the exception of the few remaining Obama supporters who have not yet been stripped of their naïve faith in the guy they believe is destined to lead the nation into a new political era, sans corruption of any kind.

McCain’s believers – remember the “Straight Talk Express” – probably brought to the general election a little less naivete and a more mature grasp of the reality of the political process, still…

Nevertheless, to a Clinton supporter who has gradually become a more or less anthropological observer of the race since my candidate conceded to the haloed Obama, it’s still rather stunning to read how deeply mired the sterling male standard bearers of the two major parties have already become in the politics of the past.

Balz observes:

“Both candidates have contributed to this. Obama tarnished his reputation as a new style politician by deciding not to take public funds for the fall campaign, despite a pledge to do so if his Republican opponent would do the same. He had promised to sit down with McCain to discuss the whole issue of money before making any decision.

“Obama's decision may have made political sense, but it was a demonstration of old politics, not new politics, and his reasoning for refusing public funds was as tortured as anything he has had to say in his campaign.

“McCain has hurt himself and his reputation as an independent thinker by reversing course on past positions, whether Bush tax cuts -- which he did long ago -- or opening up coastal areas to offshore drilling. His campaign, in the view of some of his own supporters, has allowed itself to show an angry and resentful face that they believe is contrary to McCain at his best.

“It is difficult to believe that Americans are enjoying all this -- or even paying close attention to it. The attack-counterattack cycle is so quick that only the most devoted of political aficionados can keep up, and the tone is so relentlessly critical that only the most partisan will applaud it.”

Balz couldn’t resist comparing the state of the general election campaign to the Democratic primary contest between Obama and Clinton:

“The long battle between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, for all its intensity and competitiveness, rarely reached the levels of negativity and petulance seen in the opening weeks of the general election. Whenever Obama and Clinton crossed a line, they seemed quickly to step back, mindful of the consequences of letting their contest get out of hand. So far there seems to be no such impulse governing either the Obama or McCain campaigns as they go after each other.”

As far as Obama and McCain both showing their true colors as old-style pols at this early stage of the general election, 18 million Clinton supporters are shaking their heads sagely while modestly restraining themselves from saying, “We told you so.”

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