They may have paid their electric bill on time, but the Obama campaign has been hit by back to back Power failures -- as in Barack Obama's former senior policy adviser Samantha Power messing up big time in the media. Nonetheless, the gaffes that led to the resignation of a high-profile campaign figure say more about the state of the race than they do about the Obama camp itself. This latest phase of the Democratic primary race has become incredibly tense that the slightest mistake can send shock waves through the campaign -- a dynamic that tripped up the Obama campaign this week, but is bound to send the Clinton camp faltering as well in the weeks ahead.
Having already resigned as Obama's Senior Policy adviser for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster" in a recent interview with The Scottsman, Time magazine now reports a second gaffe by Samantha Power.
According to Time, during a recent BBC interview, Power hedged on Obama's oft-spoken commitment to begin an immediate, albeit careful withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. According to Power:
You can't make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009...So to think -- it would be the height of ideology to sort of say, 'Well, I said it, therefore I'm going to impose it on whatever reality greets me. (link)
The statement by Power is, in fact, little more than a clumsy reiteration of an oft-used refrain in the Obama message on Iraq: that Obama is opposed to ideologically driven foreign policy. Nonetheless, Power's comment gave the impression -- however inadvertent -- that Obama's commitment to immediate withdrawal from Iraq was rhetorical, not real.
News of a second Power misstep in as many days comes at a time when Obama's campaign is working hard to cut off an attack from the Clinton camp, wherein Clinton contends that Obama is not ready to be Commander-in-Chief.
More than revealing anything new about the Obama campaign and its position on foreign policy or any significant shift in the delegate spread that divides Obama and Clinton, the back-to-back media gaffes by Power suggest that the 'Obama-camp-in-crisis' narrative has taken root, at least for the moment, in the media.
While retaining its solid lead in the delegate standings, the Obama camp seems to have suffered a temporary setback, nonetheless, as media attention shifts away from his large rallies and string of primary victories to the endgame for the nomination.
As much as anything else in the never-ending Democratic primary contest, the Power gaffes reveal how close the contest remains, as well as the unprecedented level of media attention it commands.
Such focused media pressure, combined with such high electoral stakes, suggests that the next few weeks will give rise to even more high-profile media mistakes from both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
Cross-posted from Frameshop