Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Unguarded and Unfocused

The blogosphere, as well as the world of journalists that don't wear pajamas to work, is alive with discussion of Barack Obama's pig with lipstick joke yesterday in Virginia. Today, Sen. Obama, without any hint of understanding the hyperbole in his complaint, accused those of crying "sexism" of "Swift-boat politics."

Did Sen. Obama intentionally refer to Gov. Palin as a made up pig? Certainly, the joke has a long history contextually distinct from the Alaskan governor, especially in the south, as is demonstrated by this posting outlining its frequent use by former Texas governor Ann Richards. One wonders, however, if Sen. Obama ever heard it used while laboring as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago or while growing up in Hawaii. Was it a common insult at Harvard Law? One is guessing here, but probably not on all counts.

Besides, it is really difficult to imagine that the Senator really did not realize that its use would be considered to allude to Gov. Palin in the aftermath of her self-deprecating joke about the distinction between a pit bull and a hockey mom.

The best guess from this quarter is that someone in Sen. Obama's speechwriting corp or travelling team thought that it was a clever and subtle put down, so the candidate used it. If so, it was a foolish error. Sen. Obama complains that the media is overly focused on this trivial matter, but, really, he has no one to blame for himself. That his campaign was caught off guard by the selection of Gov. Palin nearly two weeks ago is perhaps understandable. That his campaign remains completely off balance and unfocused, and that the candidate seems to have become obsessed with the person at the bottom of the opposing ticket, is not.


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