Just How ‘Nice’ is Barack Obama Playing?

Mon, March 31, 2008


Hillary Clinton has gotten more than her share of heat from her opponents about whether or not she’s been playing ‘fair’ in her campaign against Barack Obama.

There was her comment about whether Obama was Muslim, “No, not as far as I know,” she told the interviewer.

It could have been an innocuous comment or it could have been meant to cast doubt in people’s minds about whether he was a Christian in sheep’s clothing. We’ll never really know which it was, but we do know that Hillary took a pounding in the media for it.

So why is Barack Obama not getting more grief from reporters and pundits about his verbal passive-aggressive moments? They are there if people are willing to look.

Feminist and friend Gloria Feldt comments on her blog about Obama’s less than charitable recent comment — “My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants.”

She can run as long as she wants? Innocent commentary? I’m not so sure, and neither is Feldt:

Note the tepid and dismissive, ‘Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants.’ In one carefully chosen short phrase, Barack Obama uses a verb form that bestows his permission, as if she needs it, while at the same time subtly belittling her because she is staying in the race. Both of these rhetorical techniques aim to diminish one’s opponent while seeming to be gallant and awarding oneself the cloak of the putative front runner who can afford to be generous.

If Obama is the great orator so many make him out to be, then it would be hard to believe that this comment wasn’t carefully parsed and targeted. Just as I am sure there was at least a little bit of purposeful venom in his infamous comment to Hillary Clinton that, “You’re likable enough.” He has a repertoire of zingers that are crafted to plant the seeds of doubt that the ‘little lady’ could really be the next president.

It took me a while to put my finger on it, but it’s becoming more clear to me that there is an oh-so-subtle snarkiness to Obama’s comments about Hillary Clinton. He holds back from the all out frontal attack on his opponent, preferring to shave away little bits of her with words that aren’t easily pegged as negative. But they are there. They can’t be denied.

Obama is not as pure a campaigner as so many would like us to believe. I’d just like the media to be more tuned in and stop giving him a pass on his comments. Women are used to double standards in a lot of things, but could we have an even playing field on media coverage for once?


On a nicer and lighter note, it’s time once again for the monthly Perfect Post awards. This month, I am giving this little beauty:

Perfect Post Award 03.08

to MammaLoves for her post, How He Became Our Son, Part One. As a mother by adoption, this was particularly moving and meaningful for me. I hope you’ll like it, too. Thanks Mamma.

Check out all the other Perfect Posts at Kimberly’s place, Petroville, and at Lindsay’s Place, Suburban Turmoil. Thanks, as always, ladies!

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6 Responses to “Just How ‘Nice’ is Barack Obama Playing?”

  1. Sornie Says:

    I think that both democratic candidates are getting their fair share of heat from the media (from different media outlets in respect to each candidate) but Barack appears to be taking the high road compared to Clinton.

  2. Lisse Says:

    I agree. I’ve been thinking this for months and could not come up with the words.

    I’m not sure it matters whether or not he’s a nice guy, but it IS frustrating that he gets such a pass and while she is called a B*tch.

  3. Ivy Brown Says:

    Comparatively speaking, it seems like Obama takes the high road.

  4. fudgelady Says:

    While either reading of Obama’s statement about Clinton is possible, the words are ultimately a statement of fact — she CAN run as long as she wants! That’s as far as we can go unless we can read Obama’s mind.

    I’ve got to say that it’s a refreshing moment in modern campaigning when the ‘insult’ — if it even exists — is so subtle we can’t even get at it. We’ve all sure heard a lot worse!

  5. mamikaze Says:

    I think most people would respond in that verb form. It’s common language. To become offend by that is being to sensitive. I bet Hillary would have respond in a very similar manner had the situation been reversed.

  6. Amber Says:

    I had to laugh because I watch some of his speeches and think to myself “now that wasn’t very nice….”. Ive been noticing those zingers for a few weeks now, yet I have never heard anyone call Obama “evil” or “nasty” like I hear the media call Clinton. Great post.

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