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

By Natalie Gewargis

Jul 1, 2008 9:31am

FROM GUEST-BLOGGER RICK KLEIN, from ABC’s The Note

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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