[Guest post by DRJ]
It’s hard to evaluate whether Barack Obama has the political skill to take on the Clinton machine but this recent 1-2-3 political punch suggests he might:
* First, he won the South Carolina primary in a decisive manner that pulled in a noticeable amount of non-black votes.
* Second, following immediately after the SC win that was questioned as a racially divided vote, Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama in today’s New York Times in an op-ed entitled “A President Like My Father.”
* Third, this ABC report states Ted Kennedy will also endorse Obama.
Obama’s spin on the campaign tactics used against him by the Clintons is also impressive:
“In response to Bill Clinton’s comments comparing Obama’s South Carolina win to those of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, Obama suggested Bill Clinton’s “frame of reference” and racial politics may be outdated.
“His frame of reference was the Jesse Jackson races. That’s when, you know, he was active and involved and watching what was going to take place in South Carolina. I think that a lot of South Carolinians looked at it through a different lens. . . As long as we were focused on those issues, we thought those would transcend the sort of racial divisions that we’ve seen in the past,” he said.
The 55 percent won by Obama in South Carolina was more than double the 27 percent of the vote that went to Clinton, with Edwards coming in third at 18 percent.
But Obama did clarify, however, that he did not think Clinton’s comments this week were intended to negatively harm his campaign.
“I don’t think they were trying to demonize me, but I do think that there is a certain brand of politics that we’ve become accustomed to, and that the Republican Party had perfected and was often directed against the Clintons, but that all of us had become complicit in, where we basically think anything is fair game,” he said.
He also reiterated that the “slash-and-burn politics” that exists in Washington today “is not the Clintons’ fault. It is all of our faults, in the sense that we’ve gotten into these bad habits and we can’t seem to have disagreements without being disagreeable. So part of what I think we have to do is to set a new tone in politics. Not a naive one.”
Obama has a lawyer-like ability to take words and ideas and turn them in a different direction. In that sense, he’s like the Clintons but (I think) better at it.
Hmm. Maybe Harvard Law should be #1 instead of YLS.