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Stay Focused On The Economy, Barack!

John Heilemann's New York magazine column this week had the following nugget: 

But from what I can glean from people in Obama’s orbit, this was not their thinking. “Obama is really confident on foreign policy, doesn’t see it as a weakness at all,” says one friend of his. “He wants this debate, and thinks he can win it big.”

Obama’s confidence owes much to his experience in the Democratic nomination contest, when following his instincts, even when they seemed dubious to some of his advisers, proved to be politically advantageous.

Okay, I suppose, but one concern for Obama supporters is that their candidate too often turns the spotlight away from the economy. Just a few minutes ago, this hit the wires: 

The Land of Lincolner issues a tough response to the Iranian President’s statements in New York Tuesday, says he’s “disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views.”

Urges McCain to join him in calling for states, private companies to divest from doing business with the nation.

“Once again, I call upon Senator McCain to join me in supporting a bipartisan bill to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by allowing states and private companies to divest from companies doing business in Iran. The security of our ally Israel is too important to play partisan politics, and it is deeply disappointing that Senator McCain and a few of his allies in Congress feel otherwise,” said Senator Barack Obama.

Nothing wrong here per se, but do these gambits do Obama any good? McCain will respond accordingly and the campaigns will take it from there (not that anyone is going to forget about the economy anytime soon, but still). It seems clear that Obama's best chance to win is to spend every day he can hammering away at the economic problems confronting the country. Statements like these, especially now, are a distraction from that goal.

--Isaac Chotiner