Tuesday, January 29, 2008



(Jan.28, Washington, DC) In a political maneuver that may not have much significant among actual voters in the general election, the endorsement of Barak Obama by Ted Kennedy was, nonetheless, a potent campaign moment. In the hotly contested Democratic primary where NY Senator, former First lady, Hillary Clinton has been engaged in an increasingly bitter struggle with her nearest competitor, Illinois Senator Barak Obama. In the last few weeks alone, this particular match up has devolved into a nasty, venomous political gutter fight where everything from race, gender, honesty and integrity has been thrown into the roiling mix. The candidates themselves have become more aggressive on the trail and during debates however, the surrogates of both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have been the most prolific mudslingers with many of their tosses clearly below the belt.

Hillary Clinton was soundly beaten last weekend in the South Carolina primary by Mr. Obama. The voting last Saturday capped a week that began with memorial ceremonies honoring Dr. Martin Luther King and ending with racial comments from both sides, particularly the Clinton’s, that apparently turned the tide for the Illinois Senator. Even in the aftermath of Obama’s substantial electoral victory in the Palmetto State, the former President, Bill Clinton, continued his war of words against Mr. Obama. Notably, Bill Clinton sought to dismiss Obama’s win by drawing to primary victories in South Carolina by Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. Many saw this as an overt attempt by Bill Clinton to get one extra jab at Obama as the campaign now swings towards Super Tuesday when 22 states will conduct primaries or caucuses.

In a sometimes raucous rally held on the campus of American University, Obama appeared with the Democratic ‘Liberal Lion” of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, brother to slain leaders of the 1960’s John F. and Robert F., with JFK’s daughter, Caroline and one of RFK’s son’s, Patrick.

In a highly charged, passionate, sometimes angry speech, Ted Kennedy went through a detailed list of qualifications, traits, achievements and characteristics mirroring, at times verbatim, remarks from the Clinton’s directly assailing Obama’s ability to serve as president. It was an ardent display of political theatre not often seen in its most sincere form. The pictures alone were worth more to the Obama camp than the actual endorsement.

Insiders have reported that Ted Kennedy, perhaps the most famous “Liberal Democrat” and the former President had exchanged harsh words over some of Bill Clinton’s remarks and tactics while he serves as his wife’s chief surrogate. Mr. Clinton has been largely held responsible for injecting the level of invective, venom and racially charged rhetoric into what was already shaping up to be a major intramural confrontation.

Perhaps no one will ever know the origin or depth of the apparent divide between the Kennedy’s and the Clinton’s but, based on Ted’s emotional endorsement speech yesterday, one can speculate that divide to be vast.

The overall benefit of this endorsement of Barak Obama remains to be seen however, for the immediate moment, it has dramatically altered the political landscape.

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