Guilt-By-Association Update: The Optics

Item: Conservative activists create and begin to spread a video calling on Obama to fire adviser Greg Craig for representing -- as a lawyer, not a lobbyist -- a Panamanian accused of murdering a U.S. soldier.

Comment: Craig is not a peripheral figure in the Obama campaign. He was among the earliest senior Washington figures urging Obama to run, and he participates fairly regularly in the planning and strategizing about major events, including the campaign's decisions to accept debates. He has also served as an on-and-off camera surrogate for McCain at propitious moments. Yes, there's a difference between being a lawyer and being a lobbyist; lobbyists represent a real or preceived conflict of interest. But Obama's campaign holds itself to a higher standard: why doesn't it make sense to make sure that senior campaign advisers are also not, for their dayjobs, representing (alleged) U.S. soldier killers?

Item: McCain adviser Charlie Black claims that campaign manager Rick Davis hasn't been a lobbyist for five years.

Comment: Uh, not true, apparently. Davis and deputy campaign manager Christian Ferry were registered to lobby for Preserve Luke AFB, LLC during the 2005 round of BRAC closings. Still, three years... five years... the point isn't when Davis or Black stopped lobbying; it's about, mainly, appearances: McCain doesn't have a problem with their former professions or any non-negotiable reservations about their former clients. That's a political decision, one that is open to praise or criticism.