April 13, 2008

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A ways back, on one of Steve Gillmor’s podcasts, I said that the Democratic nomination was Obama’s unless he “stepped in it” before the convention.

“Gotcha” politics being what it is, Obama’s recent remarks — a few dumb words among amongst zillions of smart and/or safe utterances he’s made in the course of a campaign — qualify.

Naturally, they’re being spun (in some ways correctly) as “damaging”. But there is a difference between real damage (of the kind that would reveal that Obama — or anyone — is too flawed in a critical way to trust as president), and the kind of superficial embarrasment that gets buzzed far out of proportion to its actual importance. Andrew Sullivan, a conservative who favors Obama for reasons I find heartening, sees the difference, and puts it this way:

  Is this election about how to salvage the least worst option in the Iraq disaster? Is it about restoring some kind of fiscal sanity? Is it about doing all we can to unite Americans in a war against Islamic terrorism? Is it about restoring America’s compliance with the Geneva Conventions? Or is it again about red-blue culture wars? We know what the professional political class is comfortable with. We know what Rove and Bush and Penn and Clinton believe. What we will find out soon is if Americans want more of the same. It’s a free country – and people can vote. Goodbye to all that? Or hello again – for yet another cycle?

Later he adds,

  Americans have had the presidency they deserved these past four years; the war they voted to continue; the debt they voted to increase; the incompetence they decided to reward. They also get to pick who comes next. If they want more of the same, they know who to vote for.

Here’s how The Onion put it. And they’re right.