Technology with attitude

Obama Campaign Overreacting To Drudge Photo?

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[Republished from nonpartisan 2008Central.net]

This morning Drudge ran with a story about a picture of Obama from his visit to Somalia in 2006 (photo here). From Drudge:

With a week to go until the Texas and Ohio primaries, stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a “dressed” Barack Obama.

The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya.

The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

“Wouldn’t we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?” questioned one campaign staffer, in an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

Right away, I (and any good skeptic should) had some questions about this:

  • First, is this report even true? It seems like something that would be pretty easy to corroborat. A screenshot of the forward perhaps? A name of the staffer, something…anything? No? Oh, you mean you just want us to take Drudge’s word for it? Oh, okay.
  • Second, assuming it is true, what exactly does “circulated” mean? The report (and certainly the reaction of Obama’s campaign) makes it seems as though the Clinton campaign is peppering Texas and Ohio with this picture. Rather, at worst, this seems to be one staffer emailing this to another staffer.
  • Third, again assuming it’s true, what exactly is the message? Is there an insinuation that Obama is some secret Muslim? No. Rather, it seems like a frustrated staffer complaining about the press coverage that Sen. Clinton has been receiving. And truth be told, it is a fair criticism (although, such an email is definitely not the most effective way to complain).

Did the Obama campaign ask these questions? Did they seek to corroborate Drudge’s report? Did they even try to figure out what was actually meant and said? No. Instead, David Plouffe issued the following response:

“On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world.”

Plouffe is accusing Clinton’s campaign of “shameful, offensive and fear-mongering” tactics worse than any candidate from either party so far during this election. These are pretty strong words. I sure hope they have confidence that Drudge’s account is even accurate. They must, right?

A reporter asked on a conference call with Obama advisors [sic] Susan Rice, Richard Danzig, and Scott Gration how they knew the email came from Clinton.

“I’m afraid we’re not terribly well informed about it,” said Danzig, who said he’d “love to hear [a denial] from them.”

Alright, well, let’s again assume that everything Drudge said is true, is Plouffe’s response accurate? Is an internal staff email complaining about press coverage (because I’m sure Obama staffers never complain or say surly things about their opponents) really worse than Romney suggesting that Democrats will waive the white flag of surrender to terrorists? Or, [insert any other nasty thing that has happened this campaign, which is way way way worse than this internal email]?

Now, instead of offering a reasoned response, calmly articulating Obama’s complete overreaction, Clinton’s campaign manager sent out a nonsensical, irate response:

“Enough.

“If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.
“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry.
We will not be distracted.”

It may have better served them to point out that if it’s true, they’ll fire the staffer. And then, offer for consideration the Obama campaign’s response, without any corroboration or desire to get that corroboration, was not only extremely hyperbolic but also destructive for the party.

But still, it may serve everyone to actually think about the report, ask why Obama’s campaign just blindly followed Drudge’s account and if their response wasn’t a bit of an overreaction.