I’d Rather Be Obama’s Friend

This is not about likability.  It is, instead, a post about friendship, and the difference between a good friend and a bad one, and in the end intended to be something of a friendly warning to Mrs. Clinton and the campaign that continues to do her a great disservice.

We all have friends that are great fun to be around, who you watch ball games with whilst downing bears and scarfing chicken wings.  They’re the kind of friends that you want at your side in a party, or when you go out to a bar.  But because a friend is great at bringing the fun, that’s not necessarily a measure of being a good friend.  You may want to spend more time around this person when things are going okay, but what matters most is what happens when things get tough.  That same friend that is the life of every party you go to could turn around and sell you down the river without batting an eye.

Jeremiah Wright did what so few seemed able to do after over a year of hard campaigning in the presidential race.  He poked a hole in the seemingly impenetrable Teflon armor that had served Senator Obama so well up until that point.  Given the stakes of the race at hand, and Wright’s destructive role in that race, no one would expect even a good friend not to lash out, to “throw him under the bus.”  Indeed, many called for Obama to ditch this guy, distance himself from him, and ultimately turn his back on twenty years of friendship.

He did not.  At a moment when it seemed all of America was begging for Obama to be a bad friend, he went on stage and defended his friendship to the man.  That is the definition of being a solid friend.  Yes, he disagreed with some of the things that Wright had to say, and did so vehemently.  He came out and in no unclear terms condemned the hateful side of Jeremiah Wright, but recognized that friendship is friendship, family is family, and we are all flawed.

I wish I had just one friend as loyal and honest as that.

Bill Richardson is supposedly a close family friend of the Clintons.  He owes quite a bit of his political career to them, having been appointed Energy Secretary during Bill Clinton’s administration.  Indeed, one would think the bond between Richardson and the former president and former first lady was decently tight given that Mr. Clinton and Mr. Richardson watched the Super Bowl together.

But for whatever reason, Bill Richardson chose to back a different horse in the presidential race.  At a time when Hillary Clinton needs every single chip to fall her way in order to win the nomination, this comes as a pretty heavy setback.  Still, was it unreasonable of a good friend to pick someone else for the presidency?  I think not.  I think Richardson was doing his party membership duty, and was probably being ultimately honest with the Clintons.  Being a loyal friend does not necessarily mean unconditionally falling lock step with what your friend desires.  Indeed sometimes it means bucking the trends and disagreeing and being brutally honest.

I think that’s what Richardson was doing when he chose to endorse Obama.  It was as much a show of support for Obama’s presidency as it was an honest critique of Clinton’s continued existence in the race.

But what has been Team Clinton’s reaction?

Mark Penn, being Mark Penn, called Richardson’s endorsement insignificant, shamelessly playing down an endorsement the Clinton’s have been lusting after since he dropped out of the race.  But this is mild compared to James Carville who likened Richardson to Judas Escariot.

And keep in mind, the threat of Richardson’s endorsement going the wrong way in no way put in jeopardy Hillary Clinton’s campaign the way Wright’s sermons (which we’re going to discuss in a later post) did for Obama.

I mention all of this as yet more constructive criticism for Hillary Clinton and her campaign.  While close friends describe her as being warm, funny, and intelligent, Americans still hold a wide view that Hillary is evil, a triangulator, a cutthroat politician that will do anything and step on anybody to win.  That’s not the kind of image that is going to get her the nomination, and if somehow it miraculously does, it most definitely will fail against McCain.

This band of buffoons that continues to run Clinton’s campaign, however, have done little to correct this image.  Part of it, I think, is because they want to continue with the image of Hillary Clinton as a fighter, but part of it seems to be that they only have one mode of operation; ugly and clumsy invective.

Again, the correct way to have dealt with Bill Richardson’s endorsement:

We certainly respect Mr. Richardson’s endorsement.  We realize that this is a difficult decision between two candidates both of which Democrats would love to see represent our party in the General Election.  He believes Senator Obama will best represent the party and ultimately be a better leader for this country, we obviously have to respectfully disagree.

We think that we have the right take on health care and restoring jobs to Americans who have watched them go overseas.  Mrs. Clinton is the Democratic candidate that has the right take on foreign policy, one that focuses more on diplomacy and less on tossing military might around as though that is diplomacy…

You see?  Easy as pie.  You respect the decision, you disagree with it on respectful terms, and you use that to talk about the issues.  Instead, the flying monkeys are at it again, and now Mr. Richardson has taken to having to defend his own friendship and loyalty to the Clintons.

Mrs. Clinton, these people are destroying you.  It is far too late for you to fire them all now, but please, if that last glimmer of hope should actually come true and you do become the Democratic nominee, please, please, please, fire these people  immediately.

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