As many pundits have noted the past 2-3 days, Barack Obama is in a bind. Hillary Clinton is distracting the ref ("the press is unfair to me!") and then throwing punches below the belt when they’re not looking, or after they’ve been made too timid to respond.
And Barack Obama, having pledged to fight fairly, would look like a hypocrite if he too started throwing punches below the belt. Or biting off her ear, to torture the analogy further.
But a totally fair — and appropriate, and perhaps winning — response is to point out to the world (and to the refs) that she is throwing punches below the belt. And to ask: "What does that say about her character?"
And: "Haven’t we had enough these past eight years of politicians (Bush, Cheney, Rove, Delay) who will do anything to win, including not playing by the rules?"
It’s totally fair to ask voters to declare where they stand on this — do they really support a candidate who will do anything it takes, even if unfair or wrong, to win the election?
It’s totally fair to suggest: a vote for a boxer who hits below the belt is also a test of your character.
For even if you think Senator Clinton is marginally better prepared to be President (despite the lack of evidence to support that view), do you really want a person of her character occupying the White House?
Happily, Senator Obama seems to be doing this today.
Finally, I’d note this: if Obama played by the Clinton rules, he’d ask people this:
"I’ve proven through a lifetime and experience that I have the good character necessary to be a good President. Senator McCain has proven that he has the good character necessary to be a good President. Senator Clinton? You’ll need to be the judge of that."
Of course, Obama won’t say this. But it kind of proves the point, doesn’t it?