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Candidates And Advisers

Candidates are not responsible for their employees, and certainly Hillary Clinton is not responsible for Mark Penn's obligations in his regular job. As it happens, he got paid (until Burston-Marsteller got fired by the Colombian government after he was fired by his candidate) for being pro-free trade. Had it been the labor movement paying him, he would have been against free trade. This is how Washington, D.C. works. It's ugly. But it's not on anyone's agenda for change.

It's a little more complicated with campaign advisors, who are mostly hangers-on. Some desperate hangers-on. It's not even cut-and-dry with surrogate speakers for the candidate. I read in today's Globe that John Kerry is one of these, and it makes me wonder how he will add to the Obama vote. (Of course, I should admit, he did win Pennsylvania in 2004). In fact, he repeated at a Cumberland County Democratic rally one of the biggest mistakes of his own campaign by confiding to the crowd that foreign heads of state in Africa and Asia wanted Obama. And is this really a compliment?

Almost everybody (including his approving supporters) thinks that Obama is soft on Iraq and tough on the American presence there. One of Samantha Power's sins was to point out that he was not.

And now comes Eli Lake in Friday's New York Sun reporting that Colin Kahl, "the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq," a very responsible pose, has written a paper for the leftish Center for a New American Security arguing for a flexible policy of leaving up to 80,000 U.S. troops in the country until at least 2010. General Petraeus could live with that.

As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal, Obama will disappoint some of his supporters and surprise some of his detractors:

I have no doubt that this id