Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Question 9

Russert to Obama: Do you accept the support of Farrakhan?

Yikes, watch out! Obama says he denounces the anti-Semitism in Farrakhan's statements. Russert continues to push ... Obama continues to say that is "reprehensible and inappropriate," and leaves it at that. Russert is trying to link Obama to Farrakhan through Obama's preacher.

(What is with this line of questioning? What is Russert insinuating? Obama has been clear on support for Israel ... does Russert expect Obama to identify with every statement made by his supporters?)

Obama makes lemonade out of this ... Regarding Israel, "Their security is sacrosanct and the U.S. is in special relationship with them," he says, adding that he wants to rebuild the relationship between the Jewish and African-American communities. He adds that he is sitting on that stage thanks in part to the support the Jewish community gave to the civil rights movement. That is a brilliant, brilliant transformation of a very ugly question.

Hillary says ME TOO! "I had a similar situation," she says, trying to remain relevant. She's forced to insert herself into the conversation here. "There's a difference between 'denouncing' and 'rejecting,'" she says, with an obvious barb at Obama. Clinton gives another example of the Clinton dictionary. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. :) )

Obama feeds the audience more lemonade: He says doesn't see a difference between "reject" and "denounce," but if "reject" makes Hillary more comfortable, then he "rejects and denounces" Farrakhan's remarks. The audience applauds for the first time tonight, pleased with the clarity brought out of the jumble.

This is political brilliance, plain and simple. He defangs her attack, making her look juvenile and catty, and he looks, again, like the longtime statesman.

Round 9 to Obama, and Hillary is beginning to fade.