WASHINGTON, Feb. 22
Those who don't learn from campaign history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
So/and a quick review of Wednesday's Clinton-Obama-Geffen chronology makes it clear who made errors at which points along the way. Read it with an eye towards judging in the future who has learned from their own mistakes (and those of others) and who has not.
(Note: events marked with a * did not necessarily happen -- but probably did.)
3:30 am ET: *A Googling monkey reads Maureen Dowd's New York Times column with the Geffen quotes and rings the bell at its work station.
5:30 am ET: *Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson -- a long-time devotee of the New York Times and an early riser -- reads the Maureen Dowd column with the Geffen quotes and immediately realizes that he has both a problem and an opportunity.
6:16 am ET: *A bleery-eyed, twenty-something rapid responder in the Hillary Clinton for President war room reads the Maureen Dowd column with the Geffen quotes and immediately calls Phil Singer. Singer says, "I know, I know -- Howard already called me."
9:35 am ET: *DreamWorks political mastermind Andy Spahn wakes up and reads The Note. He goes back to sleep.
9:47 am ET: The Clinton campaign releases the first of its statements from Wolfson, calling on Sen. Obama to renounce Geffen and return his campaign cash. The Clinton campaign rends its own credibility with a certain category of reporters by wrongly saying that Geffen has an official role in the Obama campaign.
9:55 am ET: *Newsrooms in Washington and New York gleefully adjust their plans for the day.
10:10 am ET: *Edwards strategists Jonathan Prince and Nick Baldick share a cheerful, cold-blooded strategy call.
10:22 am ET: *Dowd begins to get calls from every cable and broadcast television show – 90% from bookers and 10% from reporters wanting access to her audio recording of the interview. Dowd, remembering her famous "Nightline" appearance on arms control, refuses all requests.
11:11 am ET: Taking the Wolfsonian bait, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs strikes back with his own statement, invoking the Clintons' previous affection for Geffen (or, at least, his money) and the crass exploitation of the Lincoln Bedroom. The Obama campaign rends its own credibility with a certain category of reporters by wrongly saying that Clinton had not disavowed the controversial statement of one of her own supporters.
10:35 am ET: *A "senior" Clinton advisor who wasn't consulted about the initial Wolfson statement angrily tells everyone he/she can reach that it was a mistake. Later, as the day plays out, the same advisor begins implying to friends that she or he thought of the original idea to put out the statement.
11:17 am ET: *Terry McAuliffe, Harold Ickes, and Bill Clinton begin a series of phone calls to various people on the East and West Coasts. Profanity is used.
Noon ET: *Spahn begins a series of telephone calls to figure out how to respond and work on a statement. The sequence, played out over several hours: Obama strategist David Axelrod calls Spahn. Spahn calls Geffen. Spahn calls Geffen back after Geffen hangs up on him. Spahn, smoother than a baby's bottom, gets it done and makes everyone -- but the Clintons -- happy.
12:08 pm ET: Wolfson releases another statement.