Starting Gate: Not Easy Being Green

It's not always so easy to run for president as a different kind of politician. Both Barack Obama and John McCain are immersed in the kind of economic debate the country has heard for decades, pitting supply-side tax cuts against government programs and tax hikes on the more prosperous as the cures for what most people consider a recession.

Policy aside though, both candidates are discovering the hazards of associations now that they have consolidated leadership of the country's two mammoth parties. McCain's effort was rocked several weeks ago with a rash of resignations and disassociations with lobbyists on the campaign. The fact that some of McCain's remaining high command have lobbying pasts remains a target for Democrats.

Now, Barack Obama is coming under fire from the GOP for questionable mortgage loans received by Jim Johnson, the Democratic Party's professional vice presidential vetter. This is a new experience for a candidate who in many ways ran against the system. Now that he's become the leader of the party, Obama's campaign by necessity inherits many of its elements that conflict with his basic message. It's not all that different from candidates who rail about the evils of Washington yet never fail to find a Congressman or Senator to praise on the campaign trail.

While Obama indicated that scrutiny of those associated with his campaign amounts to little more than a political game, he sort of admitted that it could be a problem. "This is a game that can be played, everybody who is anybody who is tangentially related to our campaign I think is going to have a whole host of relationships," Obama told reporters yesterday. "I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters."

As the presumptive nominee, the entire Democrat party and infrastructure becomes "tangentially related" to the Obama campaign and there are a "whole host of relationships" involved there. Not all of those elements will be a problem for Obama. But as he embarks upon a very important and serious process of choosing a running mate, seasoned hands like Johnson are a necessary part of that. And this almost certainly won't be the last time that the campaign finds they must take some of the baggage that comes along with such necessities.

Around The Track

  • Ron Paul and his loyal supporters are tentatively planning to hold a daylong rally just miles away from the GOP convention this August – sort of a counter-convention. "We plan on having a large rally," said Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. "We want it to be a celebration of Republican values and what the Republican Party has traditionally stood for."
  • Democratic Rep. Dan Boren yesterday said he would not endorse Obama and called him the "most liberal" member of the Senate. (Boren did say he would vote for Obama at the convention and in the general election). The Obama campaign responded: "Unfortunately, Congressman Boren has his facts wrong. Barack Obama has a long history of working across the aisle to get things done…in the U.S. Senate he's worked with some of the most conservative members—including Congressman Boren's Republican colleague from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn — to restore accountability and openness to our government and crack down on the special interests."
  • Does the Clinton camp have an "enemies list?" The New York Times examines.
  • The Politico looks at Virginia Sen. Jim Webb's "affinity" for the confederacy.