The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Broder on 2008 And the Cubs

The Washington Post's David Broder took your questions on the race for the White House and his beloved Chicago Cubs. Click here for the full transcript. Here are some excerpts:

Detroit: Why is that so many political analysts seem to be insisting that Obama in particular has to create fights with Clinton in order to win? When he doesn't go for the much-hoped-for-and-hyped knock-out in debates, etc., it's treated as a major disappointment. Obama's less-hostile and more-productive way of dealing with people and issues is what his supporters would consider a much needed strength, not a weakness as so many in the press imply. Personally I'd like to see him conduct any future (hopefully presidential) debates with the same thoughtful and direct manner. I think he'd win with the public, if not the press! Thank you.

David S. Broder: Thank you for your comment. I have not recommended any tactics to Senator Obama--I'm not in the business of advising any candidate, nor do I think I have the wisdom to be a campaign manager. Senator Obama is campaigning as he chooses, and that is as it should be. Reporters should cover campaigns, not try to stage-manage them, in my view.

Rochester, N.Y.: Glad you're back! I enjoyed your piece on the Cubs yesterday, but you neglected to mention the cruelest part of the story: Although the Cubs had a better record than the Padres, that year the Padres got homefield advantage so the networks could squeeze in another night game (this is when Wrigley still had no lights). The Cubs won both games at Wrigley and lost all three in San Diego. Talk about injustice.

Okay, now for my question ... you've been very critical of MoveOn and others for making what you regard as personal attacks. How are these attacks different from your own criticism of the Clintons, which often takes on a personal tone? You've used words like "dodgy" and "disgusting" here and in your column, describing Bill and Hillary. How is that different than MoveOn suggesting that Petraeus would betray soldiers by lobbying for more of a surge? Is an extramarital affair and or a bit of evasiveness at a debate really so much worse than misleading the public about a war?

David S. Broder: First, thanks for adding to my knowledge of that 1984 fiasco; I didn't know that's why we were stuck in San Diego for three final games. Damn.
Now, as to your question. I think my comment on Senator Clinton's debate performance as dodgy" was clearly a judgment about a particular event--a judgment, by the way, shared by many others. (But I must say, there's no evidence it hurt her standing with the public.) The comment about her husband's affair with a White House intern "disgusting" was, I would still say, well warranted b7y the circumstances. I think it costr Clinton two years of his presidendy; it cost the country the best chance we ever had to fix Social Security and Medicare; and it also helped defeat Al Gore and elect George Bush. The ad accusing General Petraeus of "betraying" the country was a dreadful exaggeration of a policy argument into a personal assault on a man for whom I have, on the bais of trwo meetings, developed genuine admiration--a soldier doing hisn duty as he sees it under very difficult circumstances.

Washington: David -- I have long admired your work. Couldn't someone make a somehwat clever campaign ad in which Clinton's answer to the question of whether she would root for the Cubs or the Yankees would figure prominently? To me that "answer" -- I would alternate rooting interests -- typifies her careful, calculating and ultimately "convictionless" posture. If she does not have the "courage" to say what team she roots for -- most likely because of some political calculation -- she really comes off as just another politician who is afraid to say anything. The folks I know in Iowa would probably respond very strongly if her feckless answer were broadcast repeatedly in an ad.

David S. Broder: I shared your incredulity at thjat non-answer, but somehow I doubt that baseball will be the driving force in this election.

Posted at 2:20 PM ET on Oct 5, 2007
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