Slate: Obama the Do-as-I-say candidate

John Dickerson got an opportunity to take a train ride with Barack Obama, but Obama’s supporters might run Dickerson out of town on a rail if they read his column at Slate. Instead of fawning all over the candidate of Hope and Change, Dickerson instead reported on the Audacity of Hypocrisy. Dickerson quickly tired of hearing complaints about tit-for-tat politics from a campaign enthusiastically participating in it (via Memeorandum):

At the next train stop, I’m going to stand behind Senator Obama when he speaks. When he’s decrying the trivial distractions in politics, I think he may be crossing his fingers behind his back.

As the Senator’s campaign train wound from one speech where he denounced tit-for-tat politics to the next speech where he denounced tit-for-tat politics, his campaign hosted a conference call to engage in the practice the candidate was busy denouncing. I suppose it would have been an even greater act of chutzpah for the Obama campaign to host the conference call while Sen. Obama was denouncing that kind of behavior, but not much more of one.

Obama campaign aides scheduled the call to talk about Hillary Clinton’s fantastical story about her breakneck race to shelter under sniper fire during a visit to Bosnia. You might think this would be the last story the Obama campaign would be pushing, because in Wednesday’s debate the Senator mistakenly suggested his campaign had only discussed the issue because reporters had brought it up, not because they were trying to take advantage of Clinton’s extended work of fiction. To push the story again now would make Obama look even more insincere about that claim. …

While the candidate was denouncing the distractions, his aides were promoting them. Three veterans of the Bosnia conflict joined for a conference call to explain just how crucial this particular distraction was, and why we should ignore Senator Obama’s guidance and get obsessed with this issue.

So what was Team Obama’s excuse for having a retired general claim that Hillary couldn’t be President because she couldn’t lay the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? It can’t be a What Will Karl Do scenario, because the Obama campaign doesn’t even account for the possibility that Hillary could win the nomination. I guess they like the politics of distraction as much as the next candidate, especially when their poll numbers begin to slip.

Of course, the Tuzla Dash is a perfectly legitimate point to raise on the campaign trail, since Hillary created the problem by lying about it as a means to argue for her broader experience for the presidency. Similarly, questions about Obama’s political allies and advisers are legitimate issues to question for a candidate who has argued that his superior judgment makes experience and voting records irrelevant. If Obama wants to play in this league, then he and his team need to quit whining about being asked tough questions, especially if they play the same game themselves.

Maybe that will start today; it certainly didn’t start yesterday. As soon as the conference call questioning Hillary’s right to lay a wreath on the grave of a soldier who “probably” died from sniper fire, Obama stepped off the train — to denounce “the scourge of petty distracting attack politics.”