Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Obama's, Bush's 'youthful indiscretions'"

Steve Benen (TPM):
Thanks to Billy Shaheen's swipe at Barack Obama's teenaged drug use, some of the media establishment seems to enjoy having a new toy to play with. It's not that reporters didn't know about the issue before -- Obama has been forthcoming on the issue -- it's that now the story is a "campaign controversy."
With that in mind, CQ's Craig Crawford drew an analogy that doesn't seem to work.

Throughout the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush managed to dodge detailed questions about his partying past in the same way that Obama's team is now doing -- by calling foul against anyone who brings it up. But in the final weekend before the 2000 election a drunk driving arrest surfaced that Bush had never revealed. It almost cost him the race.

Democrats might want to be sure that nothing similar could happen to Obama, but only he can say for certain.

That's not how I remember 2000. The problem with Bush's DUI was that he lied about not having a criminal record. Few seemed to care about Bush having been arrested; the more salient issue was over his willingness to be deceptive about breaking the law. (In retrospect, it was a sign of things to come, wasn't it?)

In this sense, it's the opposite of the Obama issue. The senator hasn't lied at all -- he's written about experimenting with drugs as a teenager in his book, he's talked about it on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, and he's responded candidly to questions about it over the course of the presidential campaign. This week, David Axelrod took the extra step of telling reporters that Obama never sold or shared drugs with anyone.

Crawford urged Obama to "come clean now." Isn't that what's already happened?

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