Obama Learns to Punch Back


It’s entirely legitimate to wonder if Barack Obama’s lack of Washington experience would keep him from effectively working the levers of power as president. It’s legitimate to wonder if he would be able to create and pass major policy proposals, or handle international incidents with the right touch. But it is looking less and less legitimate to question whether his lack of Washington experience will keep him from successfully executing the political jujitsu of the general election.

Hillary Clinton has been hammering Obama with attacks of late: on the fact that Karl Rove is giving him (unsolicited) advice, on his health care plan, and on his claims that he is not running for president to fulfill long-held ambition.

And Obama has expertly fought back. His campaign has started a “Hillary Attacks” website that points out that Clinton said “I’m not interested in attacking my opponents” just days before her offensive against Obama began. The campaign has also set up a “Factcheck” website that gives the Obama side of things in rapid fashion. There are also extremely thorough pages devoted to debunking the most persistent rumors about Obama.

Admittedly, the Republican smear machine will hit Obama harder (and with dirtier material) than the Clinton camp has. But the possibility of a Swift Boat attack that goes uncontested and eventually sinks the Obama campaign is looking more like a Republican fantasy and less like a realistic possibility.

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