Jujitsu at Its Finest

A campaign blog.
April 9 2008 6:39 PM

Jujitsu at Its Finest

Now that Hillary Clinton has called for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics—something British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced he will do—she’s pressuring her opponents to do the same.

Obama is resisting. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to look like he’s caving to her demand. Maybe it’s because Chicago is competing to host the games in 2016. Or maybe it’s that he doesn’t think the United States should jeopardize its economic relationship with China.

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Whatever the reason, he does a pretty spanking job of turning the subject from a vulnerability—boycotting the Olympics—to an attack on deficit spending and foreign debt. Here’s the end of a long, circuitous answer he gave today in Malvern, Pennsylvania on the subject of the Olympics, as reported by First Read:

We have to take a stronger stance. We have to take a stronger stance and it's got to be more consistent over time. Let me make one last point about China: It's very hard to tell your banker that he's wrong, all right? And if we are running huge deficits and big national debts and we're borrowing money constantly from China, that gives us less leverage. It give us less leverage to talk about human rights, it also is giving us less leverage to talk about the uneven trading relationship that we have with China.

Impressive! This is the same guy thought to be slow on his feet in the first few debates. Now if only he can segue into a conversation about NAFTA, snipers, and Hillary's laugh, the nomination is his.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.