Sen. Hillary Clinton spent the last two weeks - in her own words - "throwing the kitchen sink" at Sen. Barack Obama, trying to cast doubt about his abilities to be commander-in-chief. In the last few days, both Hillary and Bill Clinton have switched tactics. While they haven't stopped criticising Obama and praising Sen. John McCain, they have started telling voters they may be able to have both Clinton and Obama on the Democratic ticket - with Obama as vice-president! Oh, the rich irony in their latest ploy for votes! Well, time for a reality check.
In a speech Monday, Sen. Obama responded:
“I do not believe Senator Clinton is about change, because in fact, this kind of gamesmanship — talking about me as vice president, but maybe he’s not ready for commander in chief—that’s exactly the kind of double-speak, double-talk that Washington is very good at.”
"With all due respect, I’ve won twice as many states as Sen. Clinton. I’ve won more of the popular vote than Sen. Clinton. I have more delegates than Sen. Clinton. So, I don’t know how somebody who’s in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who’s in first place.
"But there’s a second point. This is an interesting point -- I want you guys to follow me on this. You know President Bill Clinton, back in 1992, when he was being asked about his selection for vice president, he said, “The only criteria, the most important criteria for vice president, is that that person is ready, if I fell out in the first week, that he or she would be ready to be the commander-in-chief.” That was his criteria.
"Now, they have been spending the last two, three weeks -- you remember that advertisement with the phone call, telling everybody, getting all the generals to say well we’re not sure he’s ready, “I’m ready on day one, he may not be ready yet.”
"But I don’t understand. If I’m not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president? Do you understand that?
"See, I was trying to explain to someone the “okay-doke.” Y’all know the okay-doke? It’s when someone’s trying to bamboozle you, when they’re trying to hoodwink you. They are trying to hoodwink you. You can’t say that he’s not ready on day one, unless he’s willing to be your vice president and then he’s ready on day one.
"I’m running for president of the United States of America. I’m running to be commander-in-chief. And the reason I’m running to be commander-in-chief is because I believe that the most important thing when you answer that phone call at 3 in the morning is: What kind of judgment do you have?
"So I don’t want anybody here thinking that somehow, “Maybe I can get both.” Don’t think that way. You have to make a choice in this election. Are you going along with the past, or are you going towards the future? Are you going to do the same old thing, or are you going to try something new?"
On Monday, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reporters on a conference call that Clinton would not pick a running mate who has not met the “national security threshold,” but that "it is possible Obama could meet that threshold by this summer's Democratic convention." And from Clinton strategist Mark Penn: "Independent and Republican support is diminishing as they find out he’s (Sen. Obama) the most liberal Democratic senator ... As they get more of a sense that he’s not ready to be Commander-in-Chief, a lot of Independents who were supporting him are disappearing." So politics as usual then...doublespeak at every turn.
Clinton's commander-in-chief readiness strongly disputed
Update Tuesday afternoon: Greg Craig, a former Clinton administration official and foreign policy advisor to Sen. Obama today released a detailed statement countering Clinton's claims to foreign policy experience and her readiness to be commander-in-chief. An excerpt:
"There is no reason to believe...that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis...
"The Clinton campaign’s argument is nothing more than mere assertion, dramatized in a scary television commercial with a telephone ringing in the middle of the night. There is no support for or substance in the claim that Senator Clinton has passed “the Commander-in-Chief test.” That claim – as the TV ad – consists of nothing more than making the assertion, repeating it frequently to the voters and hoping that they will believe it."
Read the full report here, which disputes Clinton's claims about her roles in Northern Island, Bosnia, Kosovo, China and Rwanda.
In case you missed the New York Times story about the Clinton campaign, go here.
"Meanwhile, for voters in the great state of Mississippi it's primary day. I'm hoping they turn out in record numbers to make their voices count.