It’s always interesting when a politician slips up and then tries to cover his or her derriere. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama experienced this phenomenon first hand when someone from his camp leaked a memo labeling Hillary Clinton as “D-Punjab” instead of “D-New York” – a scathing comment about campaign contributions Clinton received from companies with offices in India.
And as usual, Obama later issued a heartfelt apology and confessed having no knowledge of the memo’s existence. Surely enough, this incident is disappearing as fast as it arrived and will be nothing but a smidgen on Obama’s reputation and a mere blip in the 2008 presidential election race.
So what now?
I can understand the motive behind the “D-Punjab” memo, but why did Obama have to stoop so low? Especially after presenting himself as a politician who’s above political attacks. Obama shocked not only the Indian-American community, but the greater American population. Sure, it was only a small insult that faded away quickly, but it definitely questions the integrity of not only the Obama camp, but also of the electoral process. If the sniping and the name-calling is beginning so early, who knows what’s going to happen as we approach the primaries.
Here’s my take on the Obama camp’s rationale for releasing the memo: I know that job outsourcing is a major problem in America, and it makes sense that the Obama camp would object to this. But I can’t wrap my mind around the reason why it seemed imperative to write down on paper an attack on outsourcing with a nasty dig at India and worse, circulate it. Apparently, the memo was sent to a few newspaper reporters and was supposed to be anonymous. What? How did Senator Obama not know this was happening? He may have been busy rallying votes in Republican Iowa, but not being sufficiently informed of his own camp’s doings hurt him more. Ultimately, many pro-Obama Indian-American supporters lost faith in him after this incident.
Although I’m not old enough to vote yet, I was rooting for Obama. I don’t know if I still am. He made some pretty solid promises and shared many of the opinions of those here in the Bay Area. But this whole memo business, coupled with the MySpace debacle (look it up!) has forced me to rethink my choice in candidates.
I do give Obama props for bouncing back from the memo ordeal gracefully, but that doesn’t really excuse his behavior. I guess time will tell how America will vote, but until then, I’m sure we’ll see more political blunders and snarky remarks.
And heck, that’s what we love, right?
-Ankitha Bharadwaj, Oakland, California