Monday, March 10, 2008

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Reversing Clausewitz

In a Reuters story on Barack Obama declining Hillary Clinton's premature offer of a VP slot, we get to this priceless bit of spin by Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson:

Obama took note of Clinton's repeated attacks and said the vice president's primary role would be to take over if the president died or was incapacitated.

"If I'm not ready, how is it that you think I would be such a great vice president? Do you understand that?" he asked.

Asked about the contradiction of touting Obama as a vice presidential candidate while condemning his ability to lead, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson implied there was still time for Obama to prove himself before the Democratic Party convention in Denver in August.

"We do not believe Senator Obama has passed the commander in chief test," Wolfson said. "But there is a long way to go between now and Denver."

This begs the question... what, exactly, is required to pass that test? How do the next five months on the campaign trail provide such an opportunity [Wait, Obama won Mississippi? He's definitely commander-in-chief material!--ed.]?

In one way, this is a typical bit of grade-Z spin. In another way, however, it does shed an interesting light on the Clinton campaign's mindset about politics. As the Chicago Tribune's Mike Dorning and Christi Parsons reported, Hillary Clinton's fabled experience in international relations is pretty weak beer. The implicit message of her campaign, however, is that Clinton has faced greater trials and tribulations in the political arena for 15 years -- and that experience translates into preparation for foreign affairs.

Clausewitz famously said that war was politics by other means. Hillary Clinton's zero-sum tactics in the past week suggest an inversion of Clausewitz's dictum. For Clinton, politics is simply war by other means.

This might actually work. Clinton, by throwing out her steering wheel, might actually scare enough superdelegates into following her.

But it's really becoming more difficult with each passing day to distinguish Hillary's mindset from George W. Bush.

posted by Dan on 03.10.08 at 06:42 PM


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