Interesting thing happened this week. Somebody in the mainstream media (MSM) actually asked President-elect Barack Obama a good question. It concerned how Obama could square his campaign attacks on Hillary Clinton's foreign policy with his selecting her as secretary of state. Let's just say Obama didn't much like this new experience.
But besides making history as a bout of insubordination against the praetorian guardlike duties of the Obamedia, the question was also newsworthy enough to kick off a column by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. Milbank set it up this way:
"Peter Baker of the New York Times pointed out to Obama that he once held a different view of his nominee to be secretary of state. 'You belittled her travels around the world, equating it to having teas with foreign leaders,' Baker recalled. 'And your new White House counsel said that her resume was grossly exaggerated when it came to foreign policy. I'm wondering whether you can talk about the evolution of your views of your credentials since the spring.'"
Baker would ultimately buff the edges of the resulting give-and-take with Obama in his article -- this was, after all, the New Obama Times -- but Milbank, thankfully, retained the verbatim sharpness:
"'Well, I mean, I think --' Obama began. 'This is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign.'
"'They're your quotes, sir,' Baker pointed out.
"'No, I understand. And you're having fun,' Obama continued. 'And there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not faulting that.'"
Milbank placed this exchange in the context of the return on the Clintonistas, who, at last count, will hold nine key positions in the Obama White House. "Obama," Milbank wrote, "who campaigned against the Clinton way of doing things is now engaged in the veritable restoration of the Clinton administration."
But something deeper and more serious than personnel decisions is on display here. What is revealed is Obama's tactical denigration of a basic, legitimate and even screamingly obvious question as so much "fun" that he, the serious new president, may disregard and deride as frivolous.
The roll-the-tape, clip-file fact is, however, candidate Obama belittled candidate Clinton's foreign policy judgment and experience throughout the primary season. Any reporter with the minimal moxie to ask the president-elect why he would now decide to make Clinton the face of American foreign policy is simply (barely) doing his job.
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