Words Mean Things
The brigade began two weeks ago when aspiring Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden "complimented" fellow contender and party member Senator Barack Obama by calling him "clean" in comparison to former African-American candidates. He issued an immediate apology, and later made fun of himself on the Daily Show, but the damage was done. Biden's story ran on the front page of the New York Times, and his campaign may have effectively ended on the same day it started, setting a record for brevity.
Obama accepted Biden's apology immediately, brushing aside any ill intentions, but later moved away from this position as other African-American leaders rose in opposition.
President Bush also "complimented" Obama in an exlcusive interview granted to the Fox News Channel. By describing him as "articulate" the President ignited a firestorm of his own as some took the description to mean that this trait was rare among African-Americans.
Obama proved equally adept at stepping on his own foot. One day after officially entering the race he claimed that the more than 3,000 U.S troops who have died in Iraq "wasted" their lives. Although he read from a scripted speech, he has since recanted his remark and claimed that he spoke in error.
The blogosphere was the site of the most recent controversy. Former Senator John Edwards, another Democratic contender for his party's presidential nomination, employed two bloggers who posted anti-Christian and anti-Catholic rants on their own personal blogs in months past. Edwards refused to fire them, although he did admit to being offended by their content. In the end, both bloggers resigned, but only after the story became a national scandal.
The Democratic frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton, in perhaps the biggest of ironies, is drawing scrutiny in New Hampshire and Iowa for what she refuses to say. While Obama has opposed the Iraq War since its inception and Edwards has since labeled his vote to authorize the war a "mistake," Clinton refuses to do the same. She admits that if confronted with the evidence as it currently exists, she would have voted against the war.
In the end, Democratic primary voters will sift through this littany of gaffes and omissions, but their compilation is evidence of a profoundly changed political landscape where minor stumbles can lead to great falls with the cameras always shining, keyboards in perpetual motion, and a million pundits ready to weigh in. Only 629 days to go...