Hmm. John Tabin of the American Spectator writes in, pointing out that the conventional wisdom that the Hillary-Obama tussle ended up with a win for Clinton may not be so set in stone.
Slate’s John Dickerson thinks that the Geffen episode was a misstep for Obama. I’m not so sure. It served to insert Obama into an event that was supposed to be about the candidates who showed up. And as Oscar Wilde observed, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
Indeed, as some bloggers would say. If Hillary doesn’t show up at a debate, she’ll be mentioned by one of the other candidates, and we saw Obama a topic of discussion this week. It’s hard to picture the absence of any other candidate being noticed by the rest of the field.
But isn’t everyone buzzing about Geffen turning on the Clintons, not the degree to which Obama is responsible for Geffen popping off?
Margaret Carlson is going with the a-pox-on-both-their-houses response:
Geffen’s comments would be lining the kitty-litter box by now if the Clinton campaign hadn’t decided to make a federal case out of them. Communications director Howard Wolfson went ballistic, putting out a statement accusing Obama of the politics of personal destruction, calling on him to return the dough and cut loose Geffen for “viciously and personally attacking Senator Clinton and her husband.’’
…If these two front-runners are going to go at each other over nothing, they may yet leave space for someone else to emerge.
Finally, Rich weighs in:
I suppose I agree with the CW that it was a mistake for Obama to be baited into responding to Hillary, but I’m not sure how much a pointed press statement is going to hurt his positive image in the long run and the usual rule of thumb in such things is that it is a mistake for a front-runner ever to “attack down” against a trailing candidate. The big beneficiary here is probably John Edwards, who might be able to come up the middle if there’s a bruising Hillary-Obama fight, just as he came up the middle in Iowa in 2004 when Dean and Gephardt pounded one another.
By next week, we will have moved on to another brouhaha, so I have my doubts about how much this incident will affect either candidate. But I’m less impressed with Hillary’s attempts at counterpunching than with Obama’s efforts to stay above the fray.
UPDATE: E.J. Dionne also prefers the they-both-lost and grow-up memes.
Because Clinton pulled her saintly opponent off his pedestal and made her new enemy Geffen into an Obama problem, she might be seen as the net winner. In truth, both campaigns showed they care a lot more about themselves than the causes (and the party) to which they claim to be devoted.
Isn’t it the distinctive trademark of an E.J. Dionne column that he uses the adjective “sainted” on a Democrat, and is neither sarcastic nor smirking?