Why Carol Moseley Braun Can't Apologize

Carol Moseley Braun is self-destructing, right before our eyes.

When you're one of four front-running candidates, it doesn't help to flatten an also-ran candidate by calling her a crack addict.

Now, Patricia Watkins demands an apology. Welcome to your no-win scenario, Ambassador.

Last night on Fox Chicago, Moseley Braun said she had to lash out. She said she was "assaulted." And she said that being a woman means there's a double-edged sword to contend with. Say nothing and you look weak. Lash out and you're seen as shrill.

Call it the Hillary Conundrum.

While in Africa last year, the Secretary of State crushed a student who asked her a muddled question that was lost in translation (literally). Clinton thought the young man was asking what former President Clinton thought about an issue. Hillary's eyes got big and she bulldozed the kid for disrespecting her.

Mrs. Clinton could have played it cool, sidestepping an embarrassment and answering calmly.  Instead, World War III erupted from her eyeballs. And that moment became immortalized.

Mosely Braun could have stayed relaxed on the charge that she was AWOL in Chicago. Polls show she is ahead of Watkins. But Moseley Braun chose to dig deep and whip out the crack remark.

Bad gamble.

You don't see established candidates rolling around in the mud with lesser challengers. Watch this clip in which a future president deals with looney toon wingnut Mike Gravel. "Who do you want to nuke, Barack?" Obama stays cool. He sidesteps the charge. Moseley Braun might have accused Gravel of huffing paint.

A successful politician knows when to use the carrot and when to use the stick. Moseley Braun just revealed herself as someone who sold her carrot to buy a death ray. You've got to wonder if she plans on plowing her motorcade over any conspiracy theorists who may circle City Hall with protest signs.

Now, does Moseley Braun apologize? If so, she risks looking weak and legitimizing Watkins' fringe campaign. If not, she risks looking like a short-tempered crank. Either way, this may have been the moment the Moseley Braun campaign hit a brick wall.

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