The continued Clinton criticism leveled at Obama and the free ride he's gotten from the press seems to be having an effect on Obama's campaign style. Where he has in the past avoided answering questions, and has instead relied on his attack dogs and press people to issue position statements, he's now being forced in front of the microphones and cameras, to wit:
At a press availability following a town hall meeting in Kingstree, South Carolina, Senator Barack Obama took questions from his traveling press corps - not exactly a regular occurrence on the Obama bus. "I know that during the scramble on the campaign trail, we don't always have a chance to do as much Q&A as you guys would like," Obama noted at the start of the news conference.
But take a look at how this press report covers the event:
Free ride or not, most of the questions Obama got today were regarding the Clintons. When asked if he thought he had underestimated the "Clinton Machine," Obama said no. "The Clinton operation is a tough, well-honed political machine built up over the course of 20 years. We have always been the underdogs in this campaign; we have always been the outsiders, the insurgent campaign. People have forgotten that I think. "
A reporter from the New York Times questioned what he meant when he said in last week's debate that he felt like he was running against both Clintons, Obama answered, "Let me sort of dispose of the, the whole issue of President Clinton. I have said this repeatedly, that he is entirely justified in wanting to promote his wife's candidacy. I have no problem with that whatsoever. He can be as vigorous an advocate on behalf of her as he would like. The only thing I've been concerned about is when he makes misstatements about my record. That's what I'm seeking to correct. And I do hold the Clinton campaign, as a whole, accountable for statements that are made by such high-profile surrogates as the candidate's husband, who also happens to be the former President of the United States of America. I don't think you can distance yourself from comments that he made."
And after Obama answered what was deemed as Communications Director Robert Gibbs' last question, someone yelled out, "Do you think Bill Clinton is coming unglued?"
Obama kept walking - smiled, gestured to Gibbs, and said, "I think he said last question
NOTHING about Obama and his position on any issues - the press coverage seems to be all about the Clintons. The press aren't looking for answers, they're looking for controversy.
Bill Clinton was right. The press is NOT holding Obama accountable for his candidacy except to the extent that it relates to the Clintons.
Looks like we still won't know where Obama stands or what he intends to do, and that's playing to Obama's advantage. As long as his press opportunities are filled with questions about the Clintons, Barack doesn't have to explain why his Universal Health Plan isn't universal, or why he's involved in shady dealings with slumlords.
Sure looks to me like the free ride is continuing after all.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!