Friday :: Apr 18, 2008

The Hypocrisy of Hope, Change and Unity*

by eriposte

*UPDATE: Post title updated - see this post for an explanation.

In an earlier post "Campaign Fairy Tales", I addressed the outright lies about the alleged nature of Sen. Clinton's and Sen. Obama's campaigns from a couple of "top" bloggers with a severe case of CDS. Now, after Sen. Obama performed underwhelmingly in the ABC debate (see Boehlert's Revenge Part II - and, as a relevant aside, also check out Eric Boehlert's latest column for Media Matters), some of Sen. Obama's supporters have taken to rending their garments about Sen. Clinton using Republican style talking-points against Sen. Obama and one of the "top" bloggers severely afflicted with CDS has come to the Very Serious Conclusion that Sen. Clinton is therefore Not a Democrat. (Don't you just love all these Very Serious People!)

Now, Sen. Clinton is no fairy and I do agree that she has perpetuated some Republican style talking points against Sen. Obama - something that I disagree with. However, if that is now the key criterion for inclusion in the Democratic party (according to the Crown Prince of CDS), let's just say that Sen. Obama would have had to be expelled from the party quite a while ago. (To be clear, I believe Sen. Obama is a Democrat who requires no expulsion of any kind, but I'm pointing out what would have had to happen if we followed the illogic of the Crown Prince of CDS).  All I can say is, if the Crown Prince of CDS and his like-thinking friends keep this up, Sen. Obama's already tenuous support amongst a significant chunk of Sen. Clinton's base (which is roughly half of the Democratic party) will start depleting even further and become problematic if Sen. Obama becomes the nominee. Their behavior is certainly not the kind that fosters any kind of hope, change or unity and it is sad that fact-free, irrational, hate-filled, blog posts - something that used to be the domain of Little Green Fascists and other lower life forms on the Right - have become part of the mainstream of Sen. Obama's blogger base on the internets (also see Turkana's post on this).

Sadly, Sen. Obama is also doing himself few favors with behaviors (see this update) - see video, also here, here and here - not particularly befitting a Presidential candidate (unless you are Matthew Yglesias in which case this is the Change We Can Believe InTM - merely a page from the, um, book of Compassionate ConservatismTM). Taking it up a notch from here and here while pretending to be Troubled by his opponent for behaviors that have long been the defining characteristic of his own campaign is pretty silly. After all, not only does Sen. Obama have an impressive record of repeatedly attacking Sen. Clinton using classic, offensive and usually false Republican talking points, prior to Sen. Edwards' withdrawal from the race it used to be widely known among some of the same people who are now his supporters that Sen. Obama had an impressive record of using false right-wing talking-points against fellow Democrats. I have pointed this out many times previously on a variety of topics and for the record, I am going to point this out again, given the latest outburst of crocodile tears and false indignation from his campaign and some of his supporters in the blogosphere. Here is just a sample of the large number of Republican-style attacks from Sen. Obama or his campaign against Sen. Clinton (and sometimes President Clinton) just in the past 8-10 months:

1. Attacks on President Clinton's sex life (a longtime staple of Republican politics and the corporate media) and attempts to tie that to Sen. Clinton's electability

Summer 2007: Obama campaign urges press to look into Bill Clinton's "post-presidential" sex life (quite a favorite topic of Republicans, as we saw even recently)

December 2007: Obama surrogate once again raises Bill Clinton's sex life and ties it to Sen. Clinton's electability

2. Attacks on Sen. Clinton for the crookedness of a fundraiser (who also happened to be Sen. Obama's fundraiser) - another staple of Republican politics and the corporate media

August 2007: Obama campaign urges the media to tie crooked fundraiser Norman Hsu to Sen. Clinton - even though Hsu was a donor and fundraiser to/for Sen. Obama as well (especially for one of his PACs)

3. Caricaturing and Attacking Sen. Clinton using the standard right-wing attack memes: Her "Negatives", "Divisiveness", Alleged Inability to Work with Republicans

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. In using this tactic, Sen. Obama effectively adopted a longtime Republican and corporate media talking point used against Sen. Clinton - one that will be particularly damaging to her in a general election setting, coming from a fellow Democrat.

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"

4. Attacks on Sen. Clinton Using False or Unsubstantiated Stories from Right Wing Fraudsters Matt Drudge and Robert Novak

June 2007: Obama campaign peddles false story posted on Drudge Report that the Clintons were trying to profit from 9/11

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

February 2008 [also see here]: Obama campaign falsely attacks Sen. Clinton as being a race-baiter based on a completely unsubstantiated story posted by Matt Drudge

5. Borderline Racist Attack Against Sen. Clinton

June 2007: Obama campaign circulates borderline racist "D-Punjab" attack against Sen. Clinton

6. Borderline Sexist Attacks Against Sen. Clinton - long a comfort zone for Republicans and their surrogates in the media

January/February 2008: Sen. Obama makes repeated comments about Sen. Clinton that are borderline sexist

7. False Portrayal of Sen. Clinton as a liar on Social Security using the talking point that the GOP used against Al Gore in 2000

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. 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. (Interestingly, in December 2007, the Obama campaign also mimicked the corporate media's and GOP's fraudulent attacks on Al Gore in 2000 - in their attack on Sen. Clinton. Now of course his supporters and surrogates complain about the media.)

8. False Attacks on Sen. Clinton's stance on Social Security using Right-wing "Crisis" Rhetoric

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).

9. False Attacks on Sen. Clinton's Healthcare plan using GOP/Harry-and-Louise-Type Rhetoric and Ads

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. 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.

10. Despicable Smear Attacks Against Sen. Clinton and President Clinton Portraying Them as Race-Baiters or Racists - perhaps their biggest gift to the corporate media and GOP

January/February 2008 [and beyond]: Obama campaign and surrogates participate in one of the ugliest smear campaigns against a fellow Democrat in modern history - 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)

11. Attacking via Caricature, Sen. Clinton's Role of First Lady, another GOP favorite

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 (funny how in the 1990s, the view was that First Lady Clinton was meddling too much in the day to day affairs of running the country - and now the view is that she was sipping tea and attending cultural events)

12. Attacking Sen. Clinton as Unprincipled and Calculating, another GOP favorite

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

13. Attacking Sen. Clinton as Someone who would Say or Do Anything to get Elected, another massive gift to the GOP

January/February 2008: Obama campaign paints Sen. Clinton as someone who would say or do anything to get elected. Indeed, Sen. Obama's positions and claims (some of which are linked to here) have made it clear he is very much guilty of exactly what he has accused Sen. Clinton of.

14. Falsely Attacking Sen. Clinton as One of the Most Secretive Politicians Ever - another GOP favorite

March 2008: The Obama campaign repeatedly uses a long-time, false Republican talking-point accusing Sen. Clinton of being one of the most secretive politicians

15. Attacks on the Clinton Presidency Sometimes Using Completely False Claims

February 2008: Obama campaign repeatedly attacks Clinton Presidency (and even 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)

April 2008 [and here]: Obama falsely attacks Clinton presidency by painting a false picture of the prosperity of the Clinton years

Needless to say, this is not a complete list. As I have also discussed at some length previously, Sen. Obama has accumulated an extensive record of using often false, right-wing/GOP talking points to criticize progressives and fellow Democrats in general. So, I find it more than hypocritical for his campaign to accuse Sen. Clinton of advancing Republican talking points against him, and I find it even more offensive that some of his surrogates and supporters attack Sen. Clinton in the same manner by ignoring just about everything that Sen. Obama has done to destroy Sen. Clinton's reputation. If all of this utterly fake rending of garments - in response to Sen. Clinton - continues any further, I will be forced to ask rather pointedly what was finally and deservedly asked of a long-time friend of the Kennedy family in the mid-20th century: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?  Have you left no sense of decency?"

Tom Watson hits the right notes:

But in the some of the high emotion of this long campaign, I have noticed on the part of Obama supporters a disturbing notion that Hillary Clinton and her followers shouldn't be considered real Democrats - that the Clinton campaign is somehow working a wild, long-range bank shot that includes taking Obama down now, living through four years of McCain, and then challenging the incumbent in 2012. In reality, she's playing out the string in aggressive fashion, trailing decidedly by not hopelessly, and doing her best to win the nomination and reward her supporters now.


And some of that thinking manifests itself in shouts of "real Democrat" and the like. But in my view, suggesting that only Barack Obama and his backers are the "real Democrats," and that the party would best be served by the leave-taking of Clinton and her base, is so much whistling past the graveyard. If she does, you become a third party overnight. If the electoral map shows you anything, it shows in hues of blues and red and purple the continued need for a Democratic coalition based on economic common cause.

I may be more liberal than much of the pro-Hillary crowd in the Democratic Party, and yeah, I spend much of my time with the so-called "creative class," but I know that the only way to advance the cause of more progressive policy in the United States is through a big-tent party.

As the well-named Big Tent Democrat asks in a post questioning Markos: "I wonder who the real Dems are. The ones who say they will unify the Party or the ones intent on destroying Hillary Clinton?"

UPDATE: BTD (an Obama supporter, I might note) adds an insightful kicker: "In a way, there is a certain clarity that is being reached in the Obama blogworld - they want the Clinton part of the Democratic Party and the Clinton legacy demolished and destroyed. I personally think that leads to political suicide for the Democratic Party. But the Unity Schtick does not appear to extend to fellow Dems from the Obama blogs. Their hatred of Bill and Hillary Clinton has become more important to them than Obama's chances of winning in November."

UPDATE II: Anglachel has an eloquent post on the Democratic purge that some in the progressive blogosphere would like to see: "What the hell is up with my party? Disenfranchising voters to throw an election? Declaring vast swaths of party loyalists to be racists? Deriding party stalwarts as "Republican-lite"? Dismissing the economic successes of a previous Democratic administration? Just why are the self-described progressives so frantic to remove Bill Clinton from the company of Democratic presidents?"

UPDATE III: Jerome Armstrong calls out the "tiny tent democrats" and notes: "This, in the context of a discussion about how Clinton is no longer considered a Democrat by many Obama supporters, because she dares to wage a hard-nosed campaign against Obama. The irony being that Clinton leads among Democratic voters in this nomination battle." Also, dig Batman's chest over at Shakesville. See Riverdaughter and Pamela Leavey.

Coming up soon - the suicidally depressing 90s that caused many people to cling to certain things (cue Paul Krugman).

eriposte :: 6:30 AM :: Comments (178) :: Digg It!