Can He Crush Hillary?
By MAUREEN DOWD
The busty brunette wriggles around in her pink bikini beside a picture of Barack Obama frolicking in the Hawaiian surf. She continues undulating in red underwear emblazoned with the word “Obama.” And, next to a picture of the senator in a suit, she stands proudly, wearing her own dark suit and a political-helpmate smile.
“Does Barack Obama’s wife have something to worry about?” John Gibson teased on Fox News.
Michelle doesn’t have to worry about “Obama Girl,” the model Amber Lee Ettinger, who stars in the music video sweeping the Web, in which she lip-syncs a song called “I Got a Crush on Obama.” The sultry-catchy lyrics include “You’re into border security/let’s break this border between you and me/universal health care reform/it makes me warm.”
But Obama may have to worry about Obama Girl. For one thing, Amber — whose résumé boasts that she was a “featured cage dancer” in the movie “Uptown Girls” — isn’t even sure she’s going to vote for her video dreamboy. “We’ll see,” she told ABC’s Jake Tapper. “Maybe.”
And for another, Obama has been trying to beef up his image for months — including writing a platitudinous manifesto in the new Foreign Affairs — but the buzz is still about his beefcake side. The Democrat who’s so afraid of looking like a pretty boy is once more drawing attention for his more superficial charms.
When I stopped in a Ralph Lauren shop the other day, the sales staff had just sent off some clothes for an Obama photo shoot for a GQ cover.
At his first news conference after he announced last February, Obama chastised reporters for writing about how good he looked in a swimsuit, and he defended hiring oppo-researchers, saying that it was “essential to democracy” to compare and contrast the candidates on the issues.
So why would his aides send two sneering memos about the Clintons’ finances to reporters this week, on a not-for-attribution condition?
That’s not sleazy so much as stupid.
First of all, they didn’t need to do anything. Other Democratic campaigns were already pelting reporters with e-mail pointing out the possible juicy conflicts in the Clinton filings.
If the Obama Boys were determined to whack the Clintons on greed, they should have done so openly. Their clumsy attempt at cloak-and-dagger was bound to fail.
A reporter gave their “classified” memos to the Clinton camp, and the Clinton camp gleefully spread them around to other reporters.
The Obama Boys’ inept leaking was compounded by over-the-top writing. They angered Indian-Americans, who accused them of stereotyping, and the campaign had to apologize. Under a flippant headline referring to “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab),” one memo reported that Bill Clinton collected $300,000 for two speeches from Cisco in 2006 and Hillary accepted almost $60,000 in contributions from Cisco employees, even though the company was outsourcing jobs to India.
The critique also stressed how rich Bill Clinton has grown from his friendship with the California supermarket mogul Ron Burkle. Ron lets his pal Bill fly on his plane and brought him into his Yucaipa fund, which, the Obama memo tut-tuts, has investments in astrological software and the distribution of Playboy.
One question I’d like to ask the Leo who would be First Lad: When you rake in $10 million a year from speeches, do you really need that $150,000 for speaking to the Boys and Girls Club of L.A.?
Hillaryland was panting for an opportunity to paint Obama as a hypocrite for saying he was different and above it all, while acting the same. And its best ally in undermining Obama is Obama, who hoists his pedestal so high he’s bound to fall off. He seems more intent on proving he’s pure than proving he’s tough.
The Clintons act high-minded and do-gooding, while employing a staff of hit men. Obama is tangled in contradictions of high and low, saint and killer, while Hillary moves like a shark.
“She’d lean over and bite his ear off if that’s what it takes,” says Charlie Cook, the political analyst. “The question is, will he do what it takes to win? This is a guy who did not have to deal with a single negative ad being run against him in the primary and general campaigns for the Senate. It was almost an immaculate conception.”
Obama is too busy modeling to make this point, but the Clinton financial disclosures raise a big question: Do we want the country run again by a couple who get so easily wrapped around the fingers of anyone who is rich? As long as a guy was willing to give them millions, would it matter if his name were Al Capone?