How can Barack Obama’s candor be a ‘huge error?’

Published 1:32 pm Monday, November 26, 2007

By Staff
Are we so accustomed to politicians not telling us the truth that when one does we react like Mitt Romney?
From a profession known for spinning and fudging facts, we are unaccustomed to candor by a candidate.
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama was recently asked by the principal of a New Hampshire high school where the Democratic Illinois senator was campaigning about his own academic career.
Obama confessed that he had been "kind of a goof-off in high school," made "some bad decisions" and "got into drinking and experimented with drugs."
That admission wouldn't shock anyone who read his memoir, "Dreams From My Father," where Obama acknowledged drinking, smoking marijuana and even snorting cocaine.
But it gave Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and a Mormon who eschews such indiscretions, an opening to retort indignantly that Obama's comments were a "huge error."
"It's just not a good idea for people running for president of the United States, who potentially could be the role model for a lot of people, to talk about their personal failings when they were kids, because it opens the doorway to other kids thinking, 'Well, I can do that, too,' " Romney said.
Had Obama denied his actions, only to have them exposed later, Romney and his other political opponents would make hay about how he misled voters.
Bill Clinton's contortions answering such a question, that he didn't inhale, mockingly follow him to this day.
Kids inclined to get drunk or stoned are not being led astray by Obama.
And the overachieving student council types aiming for political careers of their own are even less likely to be undone by something a middle-aged senator tried in his youth – though they notably heard something believable from a politician who admits he wasn't an angelic adolescent.
Romney saw an opportunity to remind Republican voters that there will be a wholesome family man with an unblemished past on their ballot – especially against divorced GOP rivals Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson.
For a rare moment, Giuliani sided with Obama, saying "we are all human beings" and should avoid any "pretense of perfection."
Obama's campaign launched like a rock tour.
Since then, he's fallen to 20 points or more behind U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. Lately, though, as the time for actual votes in Iowa nears, he's rebounded by going on the attack.
He is drawing ever sharper distinctions between his own positions and those of the former first lady.
In Iowa Saturday, Obama needled Clinton by alluding to her campaign recently getting caught staging questions from audiences. "These questions are not prearranged," he said during an evening stop in Harlan.
Republicans, from Ronald Reagan's former speechwriter Peggy Noonan, in a Wall Street Journal column, to Karl Rove himself on C-SPAN, have taken to comparing Obama to another orating Illinoisan, Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic standard-bearer in two losing presidential campaigns.
What is that supposed to mean? Obama's too smart and too articulate to be president?
Presidential politics could use more big ideas like the era before 1952, when the GOP began airing TV commercials.
Small solutions given us by the plutocratic primary-driven process which rendered open conventions scripted ceremonies are not going to solve our big problems.