Out With It, Senator

As Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont head to the polls today in Democratic primaries, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet reports that Senator Barack Obama was “thrown seriously off message being asked about influence peddler Tony Rezko and why his campaign at first denied his economic adviser Austan Goolsbee met the Canadian consul in Chicago and talked about NAFTA, some reporters — me included — wanted him to take more questions.”

Sweet and other top Chicago journalists took Obama to task, and Barack did not handle this one well.

“You may still have questions, which I am happy to answer,” Obama said to Marin, adding it is not fair to “suggest somehow” he has been trying to hide something.

Soon after he said, “If there is a specific question that you have, Carol, I’ll be happy to respond to it.”

Obama added as the press conference progressed, “If there are specific requests in terms of information that you feel that you don’t yet have, we will be happy to talk about that.”

And then there was the fourth happy. “If there is a specific question that you have, I am happy to respond to it.”

For all the happy talk, nothing was forthcoming on Monday.

So Sweet concludes her column.

While I personally support Barack Obama for President, the journalist in me is wanting more from him on this matter. Too much is at stake, and if the Senator from Illinois does get the nod today, the questioning will only intensify. As many times as I have heard Obama speak, and in the personal conversations I’ve had with him, I’ve been impressed. But he has to do more on this matter.

Perhaps Sweet and her colleagues were over the top with their questions. But the others she mentions are not sensationalist. Carol Marin, for one, is at the top of her game as a journalist.

It was just Obama’s luck that by coincidence on this particular day he had a contingent of Chicago journalists to deal with who are not, well, shy because we have covered Obama for years. I was there, as well as Sun-Times political columnist Carol Marin and CBS2 political reporter Mike Flannery.

I was impressed during Obama’s run for the senate that he ran a clean campaign. But he will be confronted by many who do not play clean at all. He has to be ready for the worst dirt the right, center or left throw. And right now he’s raising more questions on this matter than he’s answering.

It’s hard to focus on a dream while denying the nightmares.