Campaign Fairy Tales
Since James Wolcott took on "The Sorrow and Pity Party", I'll just focus on the fairy tales. I'm talking about the latest round of laughably farcical and delusional anti-Clinton talking points making the rounds in segments of the, um, Reality Based CommunityTM. (NOTE: All emphasis in this post is mine).
A great example is this one from Americablog's John Aravosis:
You will notice that neither Obama's campaign nor Obama's official, or unofficial, surrogates are talking about the Clintons' past or present scandals, the Clintons' negatives, what a Clinton run for the presidency will to Democratic congressional races and governor races across the country. The Clintons are counting on the fact that none of us will write about their negatives, because we're too nice. So they can get as dirty as they want, with impunity.
There was of course this beauty from Markos (Daily Kos) from last week:
For one, Obama may finally have to go negative. I've never seen him do that. He's never had to do that.
Another great example is from Gary Hart who is Deeply Shocked and TroubledTM by the Eeeeeeeevil Hillary Clinton who has apparently uniquely crossed the line so badly, unlike SaintTM Obama. Here is the BrilliantTM Hart at the Huffington Post:
It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. Most of those rules are unwritten and are based on common understandings, acceptable practices, and the best interest of the political party a candidate seeks to lead. One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.
By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party's nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power.
Hart failed to point out that it is Sen. Obama's own studied opinion that he himself does not have the "experience" to answer a crisis call - only "judgment" (more on that here), but no matter. I just have to ask: are there prominent internet "pundits" who are more grossly misinformed or laughably ignorant than these fine people above? (I'm giving Hart, Markos and Aravosis huge benefit of the doubt here).
The reason for the question should be obvious to readers of TLC. I'm the last person to claim that Sen. Clinton has run a perfect and non-negative campaign (she hasn't), but to paint her and Sen. Obama the way Aravosis, Markos and Hart have constitutes nothing short of an egregious rewriting of history. The fact is that Sen. Obama and his campaign have used numerous, often false, talking points and negative attacks against Sen. Clinton for many months. Some of these attacks easily cross the line that Hart has drawn and some are exactly along the lines of what Markos and Aravosis claim the Obama campaign has not done. I simply don't have the time to chronicle it all (one could easily write an entire book about it) - so here's just a sample list and an approximate timeline of such attacks - with URLs added to the dates providing backup details. These are clear examples illustrating the fundamental driving force that has characterized the Obama campaign since at least late Fall 2007: say or do anything to get elected. In some of these cases, Obama subsequently withdrew, apologized for or distanced himself from the attacks, but I don't have time to note all the details in this post (you can find such details in my previous coverage).
I. A few examples of attacks that John Aravosis claims the Obama campaign never indulged in
"Past or Present Scandals"
- Summer 2007: Obama campaign urges press to look into Bill Clinton's "post-presidential" sex life (a favorite topic of Republicans)
- August 2007: I'm not sure if Aravosis considers this a "present scandal" (I don't), but the Obama campaign contacted the press to tie Norman Hsu to Sen. Clinton - even though Hsu was a donor and fundraiser to/for Sen. Obama as well
- December 2007: Obama surrogate once again raises Bill Clinton's sex life and ties it to Sen. Clinton's electability
- December 2007: Sen. Obama explicitly questions Sen. Clinton's electability using approval ratings and her negatives (he's of course done this on many occasions)
- January 2008: Sen. Obama paints Sen. Clinton as divisive and questions whether people who vote for him will vote for her in the general election
- February 2008: Sen. Obama talks up Sen. Clinton's negatives by falsely caricaturing her as a person whose "natural inclination is to draw a picture of Republicans as people who need to be crushed and defeated" and then adds about himself "I'm not a person who believes any one party has a monopoly on wisdom".
"What a Clinton run for the presidency will do to Democratic congressional races and governor races across the country"
- December 2007: Sen. Obama unfavorably compares Clinton and Bush eras
- February 2008: Obama campaign repeatedly attacks Clinton Presidency and paints Clintons as harbingers of Congressional losses in elections (The latter was a particularly deceptive and amusing attack - almost like they were asking for George Bush to remain in office since Bush was instrumental in Democrats taking over Congress in 2006).
II. A few examples of attacks that Gary Hart described as providing "ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee"
February 2007 onwards: Obama repeatedly claims Sen. Clinton lacks judgment when it comes to national security and foreign policy (this is really no different from Clinton claiming he is short on experience).
June 2007: Obama campaign peddles false story that the Clintons were trying to profit from 9/11
June 2007: Obama campaign circulates borderline racist "D-Punjab" attack against Sen. Clinton
October 2007: Due to a flagging campaign, Sen. Obama and his campaign/surrogates falsely paint Sen. Clinton as a liar, basically adopting the fraudulent words that Bill Bradley used to trash Al Gore in 2000 - words that were subsequently picked up by George Bush and the GOP and used very effectively against Al Gore in the 2000 general election. This is one of the classic examples of "providing ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee" - after all, these words were used by Bush and the GOP to significantly tarnish Gore. Even more audacious, if you will: Sen. Obama's character attack on Sen. Clinton was over a stance she took that was essentially identical to the stance Sen. Obama took in his own book.
November 2007: Sen. Obama uses GOP "crisis" rhetoric on social security to bolster his false attacks on Clinton and gets called on it by Paul Krugman and many in the blogosphere. His response? "So the notion that somehow because George Bush was trying to drum up fear in order to execute [his] agenda means that Democrats shouldn't talk about it at all I think is a mistake." (I expect that this argument or defense will likely never be offered by Sen. Obama or his surrogates as a defense of Sen. Clinton's positions).
November/December 2007: Obama campaign uncritically pushes baseless smear story by right-wing fraudster Bob Novak alleging that the Clinton campaign was about to peddle some below-the-belt story about Sen. Obama
December 2007: Obama campaign mimicks media's (and GOP's) fraudulent attacks on Al Gore (in 2000) - in order to attack Sen. Clinton.
December 2007 onwards: Obama campaign launches false attacks on Sen. Clinton's healthcare plan using the worst kind of Republican talking points - and by borrowing Harry and Louise type ads from the 1990s. This is another one of the many classic examples of "providing ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee". In using this tactic yet again, the Obama campaign effectively borrowed the tactics used by the GOP that helped defeat the Clinton healthcare plan and partly led to the defeat of Democrats in Congress in 1994.
January 2008: Sen. Obama paints Sen. Clinton as divisive and questions whether people who vote for him will vote for her in the general election. This is another one of the many classic examples of "providing ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee". In using this tactic yet again, Sen. Obama effectively adopted a longtime Republican talking point used against Sen. Clinton by the GOP - one that will be particularly damaging to her in a general election setting, coming from a fellow Democrat.
January/February 2008: Obama campaign and surrogates break Gary Hart's cardinal rule yet again by participating in one of the ugliest smear campaigns against a fellow Democrat ever - by falsely painting the Clintons as race-baiters or racists (NOTE: Also see this post about whether Sen. Obama's advisors and surrogates speak for him).
November 2007: Obama mocks and minimizes Clinton's experience as First Lady - a standard right-wing attack that we can expect even more now if Clinton becomes the nominee.
November 2007/ January/February 2008: Sen. Obama paints Sen. Clinton as being unprincipled, poll-driven and calculating (very effective lines of attack used by the GOP) while he himself out-spent Clinton on polling and demonstrated enough "calculation" and "lack of principle" to keep us busy.
January / February 2008: Obama campaign paints Sen. Clinton as someone who would say or do anything to get elected - another one of the many classic examples of "providing ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee". Indeed, Sen. Obama's positions and claims (some of which are linked to here) have made it clear he was very much guilty of exactly what he accused Sen. Clinton of.
February 2008: Sen. Obama falsely caricatures Sen. Clinton as a person whose "natural inclination is to draw a picture of Republicans as people who need to be crushed and defeated" and then adds about himself "I'm not a person who believes any one party has a monopoly on wisdom".
March 2008: Sen. Obama claims that although he does not measure experience using longevity, if longevity is the metric to judge experience McCain would win on experience (undermining Sen. Clinton's statements about her years of experience). Obama campaign also puts out a memo in which they refer to McCain's history of "straight talk and independent thinking", which, along with Obama's character attacks on Clinton, will no doubt be used by McCain and the GOP against Clinton if she becomes the nominee.
March 2008: An Obama advisor refers to Sen. Clinton as a "monster" and is forced to resign.
(If the above list is not enough to show that Markos' statement was also false and delusional, then nothing is.)
Suggestion to Markos, Aravosis and Hart - I'm happy to see you passionately defend the candidate you are supporting but please don't continue to propagate deeply offensive myths about this campaign.
P.S. The above list is only partial due to time limitations and I am not focusing on numerous other incidents and examples, including the many occasions where Sen. Obama repeatedly distorted Sen. Clinton's claims or made false statements about her positions, and his borderline sexist comments about Sen. Clinton. As an aside, one of the things that I find ridiculous is the sentiment of some Obama supporters who believe that the Democrats are bound to lose in Nov 2008 if he is not crowned king, er, nominee, even before everyone who wants to vote has voted in the close Democratic primary. That is simply anti-Democratic and anti-progressive, is opposed by a majority of the Democratic voting population and is largely no different from the Republican efforts to shut down the Florida recount in 2000 and the Ohio recount in 2004.