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Geffen's Folly

The media playing field is tilted in Obama's favor right now, so the David Geffen flap is spinning in his favor, but if the media would take its mind off the thrill of the tit-for-tat and actually examine what's being said, a different picture emerges.

It all started with Geffen's comments to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Let's take a look.

Geffen: "I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is -- and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? -- can bring the country together."

Comment: What's all this about how polarizing Hillary is? Even Republicans in New York like her. Her Senate approval rating is a healthy 56 percent; she has a 58 percent rating nationally. Were the Clintons ever polarizing? Or was it the right-wing nutjobs manufacturing tales of murder and kidnapping, and lesser "scandals" lapped up by the media that never came to be?

Besides, right now David Geffen is the most polarizing person in the campaign.

Geffen: "Obama is inspirational, and he's not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I'm tired of hearing James Carville on television."

Comment: You can hardly call the Clintons a royal family. Please. Maybe Geffen should ask Obama about the Daleys and Strogers, though.

But he is right about Carville.

Geffen: "I don't think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person." Dowd also writes: "Mr. Geffen says, adding that if Republicans are digging up dirt, they'll wait until Hillary's the nominee to use it."

Comment: Is Bill Clinton running? Too bad he isn't. He's one of the most popular people on the planet. He'd win. And don't you think all the dirt that could possibly be dug up about Hillary has been dug up? I don't recall any "scandals" during her Senate tenure.

Geffen: "It's not a very big thing to say, 'I made a mistake' on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can't. She's so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms."

Comment: Maybe she doesn't think she made a mistake on the war. I do. But I'm not comforted by John Edwards's apology about how he realized he made a mistake when he finally had time to think about it (third item). You didn't take enough time to think about going to war when you were a frickin' United States senator? And now you want to be president?

Now, Geffen's smoke-filled rooms comment is inexplicable. Maybe he knows Obama's Chicago Machine connections better than he lets on, but what in the world is he talking about? He wants to get together with his pals and choose Obama in a smoke-filled room instead of drag through a campaign with Hillary & Co.?

Geffen: Dowd writes: "They fell out in 2001, when Mr. Clinton gave a pardon to Marc Rich after rebuffing Mr. Geffen's request for one for Leonard Peltier. 'Marc Rich getting pardoned? An oil-profiteer expatriate who left the country rather than pay taxes or face justice?' Mr. Geffen says. 'Yet another time when the Clintons were unwilling to stand for the things that they genuinely believe in. Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling.'

Comment: So . . . is Obama promising to pardon Leonard Peltier? Because that'd be news. Someone should ask him.

What Hillary Said
"By refusing to disavow the personal attacks from his biggest fundraiser against Senator Clinton and President Clinton, Senator Obama has called into serious question whether he really believes his own rhetoric," said her campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson. "How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash & burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?

"When one of Senator Clinton's supporters made an inappropriate statement, her campaign disavowed it immediately and the supporter apologized for his words. Why won't Senator Obama do the same?"

Hillary: "I want to run a very positive campaign, and I sure don't want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction . . . I believe Bill Clinton was a good president."

What Obama Said
"We aren't going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters," said his campaign spokesman, Robert Gibbs. "It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because 'he's black.'"

This makes no sense whatsoever. Why would the Clintons have had a problem with Geffen when he was raising money for them and lavishing them with praise? It's not like he was slagging Obama on the side.

Now, here's the sleazy part. What the Obama campaign does is raise the right-wing specter of the Clinton White House whoring out the Lincoln Bedroom - a tiresome old canard to this day.

Then there's the Obama campaign asking Hillary to renounce Sen. Robert Ford's support, even as Obama was saying: "It's not clear to me why I would be apologizing for someone else's remarks."

Besides the fact that the Clinton campaign had already denounced Ford's remarks.

From another news report: "When asked whether he was proud of Mr. Geffen's support, the senator declared: 'He hosted an event for me yesterday. Absolutely.'"

What Haim Saban Said
"Responding to Geffen's comments, media mogul and Clinton supporter Haim Saban said: 'David is allowing his emotions to cloud his better judgment, and I'm frankly surprised, to say the least, at the venom in his statement,' the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Saban, who made a fortune on the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, wrote in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times that Geffen 'knows in his heart of heart, that Hillary is the most qualified person to be the next president of the USA. Why would he lie to himself?'"

What Else Geffen Has Said
"Geffen's comments this week marked the completion of his transformation from leading Clinton patron to vocal critic - a change that was foreshadowed two years ago when he told a New York audience that Sen. Clinton was so polarizing a figure that she could not win the presidential election. 'Ambition is just not a good enough reason,' Geffen said at the time."

Right. You need experience, too.


For more Beachwood Obama coverage, see the Obamathon file.


Posted on February 22, 2007

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