In one of his stronger moments at last night's Jefferson Jackson dinner, Barack Obama said:

Not answering questions because we’re afraid our answers won’t be popular just won’t do it... Telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear... Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we’re worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won’t do it.

I thought of that passage during this exchange during Obama's "Meet the Press" appearance today

MR. RUSSERT:  You were not in the Senate in October of 2002.  You did give a speech opposing the war.  But Senator Clinton’s campaign will say since you’ve been a senator there’s been no difference in your record.  And other critics will say that you’ve not been a leader against the war, and they point to this:  In July of ‘04, Barack Obama, “I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports.  What would I have done?  I don’t know,” in terms of how you would have voted on the war....

SEN. OBAMA:  Now, Tim, that first quote was made with an interview with a guy named Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" during the convention when we had a nominee for the presidency and a vice president, both of whom had voted for the war.  And so it, it probably was the wrong time for me to be making a strong case against our party’s nominees’ decisions when it came to Iraq.

Obama might argue that there's a difference between speaking as a nominee and speaking about the nominee. Still, even by his own account, this episode hardly seems to live up to the tough standards he set last night. 

Generally speaking, Obama turned in a subdued and largely newsless performance, and avoided any new attacks on Hillary Clinton. But the show aired at 8 a.m. in Des Moines and Obama didn't even finish speaking until around midnight, so he must've been draggy.   

--Michael Crowley