Isn’t it Ironic? Obama vs. Obama, McCain vs. McCain

By Natalie Gewargis

Jul 1, 2008 9:31am


OK, so maybe it doesn’t meet the technical definition of irony. (I’m as bad as Alanis in identifying the real thing.)

But this morning’s Note got me thinking quite a bit about consistency and the perils of hypocrisy in this race where both candidates, to a remarkable degree, define themselves as avatars of a different kind of politics.

First, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. He’s been wrestling with inconsistencies and perceived shifts in recent days — NAFTA, FISA, guns, and now add welfare to the mix.

And on the very day that he delivers a speech on patriotism where he tries to rise above politics-as-usual, it’s an old-style debate over who said what about whose military credentials that bogs down the campaign.

That’s how the Wes Clark storyline is potentially damaging to Obama in the long term — as brand erosion. Clark had and has no formal role in the campaign beyond offering advice when called upon, but as a prominent supporter and surrogate, what he says does rub off on how Obama’s perceived.

“Fine — but then don’t turn around and say we’re going to have a different kind of politics,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in response. “This is politics as usual.”

McCain has inconsistencies of his own to account for — on taxes, most noticeably, but also with some maneuverings on immigration reform, and on energy policy, with his recent reversal on off-shore drilling.

Then there’s the odd manner in which the McCain campaign pushed back at Clark — with a conference call that included one of the original Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Bud Day.

(Does it really take a Swift-boater to know a Swift-boating?)

You may recall that, four years ago, McCain defending his fellow Vietnam veteran, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., by decrying the Swift boat attacks as “dishonest and dishonorable.”

This year, as USA Today reports, nine Swift boat donors and their families have contributed $69,100 to McCain’s campaign, all while McCain remains critical of the activities of so-called 527 groups.

Again, consistency matters, particularly with these two candidates who have so much riding on their images.

– Rick Klein

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