Trailing Hillary Clinton markedly in both national and state polls, Barack Obama is finally playing offense against the New York senator. On the stump in Des Moines, Iowa, Obama lit into Clinton for what he sees as her evasive position on Social Security, saying "[y]ou should hedge, dodge and spin, but at all costs, don't answer." His remarks are aimed at identifying what his campaign sees a weakness in Senator Clinton's armor: her consistency and transparency on big issues. Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod is making said yesterday that "[t]here's a whole range of issues she has been less than forthcoming, and she's made a judgment that this is a good political strategy."
The media is all over this dust up between the campaigns, the first since the debate over diplomacy that occurred during and after the CNN/YouTube debate. So far, the front runners in the race for the Democratic nomination in 2008 have waged pretty civil campaigns, leaving the media with little to report on other than Senator Clinton's "inevitability." The media knows that the public is more interested in the Democratic nomination than the Republican one, but so far the Dems race has been polite and somewhat dull. So even though this story has mostly occurred over the weekend, the media is playing it up for all it's worth.
Mark Halperin, former lead author of ABC's daily tip sheet The Note and beltway media icon, features Alexrod on the front of his Time website.
And what about Matt Drudge, the man Mark Halperin says rules beltway journalists' world.
As loathe as I am to agree with the Beltway media over Democratic infighting, I do think that it is healthy for Clinton and Obama to spar a little more. Clinton has played the role of the front runner, as Axelrod noted, very effectively so far, but in order for both candidates to define their positions on Social Security and other issues, as well as to hone their rapid response teams, it is probably good to have them mix it up a little bit. Senator Clinton's health care plan is, in my opinion, very detailed and strong, as his her plan for universal 401(k)s as a means to bolster retirement security. With that said, I wish she would be a little more detailed with regard to how to address Social Security's solvency. This is what primaries are for, so here's hoping this turns into a battle of ideas and not into just another politics-driven news cycle.