Way back in February 2006, Barack Obama and John McCain got into quite a dust-up over a lobbying reform measure. McCain wanted a task force, Obama preferred using standing committees, and McCain lost his cool. (It's a long story
Yesterday, as you've probably heard, their rivalry grew considerably more intense. McCain took a shot
at Obama over his war-funding vote; Obama responded
in kind. McCain took another shot
, highlighting a typo in an Obama transcript that the media finds fascinating, followed by a cheap shot
by a McCain campaign aide to the Politico.
Now, it's possible this became fascinating to the political world because it was a slow news day, but I think we know better. We're talking about two of the most powerful personalities in American politics, both of whom are top-tier candidates for the presidency, and both of whom seemed to revel in trading shots yesterday.
There are plenty of opinions available about which of the two came out on top as a result of the scuffle, but one thing I noticed yesterday, watching Obama
deliver his response to McCain's initial shot, was that he seemed to enjoy
mixing it up a little bit. Obama is running a campaign in which he frequently talks about changing the way politics is done. His stump speech emphasizes above-the-fray concepts and bipartisanship. It's led plenty of Democrats to wonder if Obama is aggressive enough to swing a few elbows when he has to.
Indeed, the conventional wisdom suggests one of the central questions about Obama is whether he can take a punch. My question has always been the opposite: can he deliver
That was what made yesterday's back-and-forth interesting to me. Obama almost smiled calling McCain out, by name. It was one of the first, if not the very first, direct shots he took at the Republicans' top tier. It was almost as if Obama was delivering an underlying message to Dems: "Don't worry, I'm not nice all
Good for him.