Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Zip It, Bill!"

Karen Russell (Huffington Post):
Senator Obama nailed it during the South Carolina debate when he mentioned Bill Clinton, "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes."
Don't get me wrong. I love Bill Clinton. I always have. I hope I always will. But lately, not so much.

In the 90's President Clinton's slickness was just sad and creepy. I remember "slick" Clinton when he fibbed that he "didn't inhale". I cringed when Clinton wagged his finger at America insisting that he did not "have sexual relations with that woman." I was downright embarrassed when, with a straight-face, Clinton declared "that depends on the definition of what "is" is.

Well, "slick" Clinton is back. Frankly, I'm disappointed.

Before Iowa, "Hillary the Inevitable" had the numbers, the machine and the name on her side in this race. Despite being the clear and unequivocal underdog, Obama built a grassroots campaign, brought in independents and got disillusioned Republicans to cross the aisle.

Obama starting gaining ground and closing the gap. That's when the "fun" started. That's when Hillary told reporters about her plans to attack Obama.

For months, we saw "the inevitable frontrunner" running a tight and disciplined campaign. Then as Obama rose in the polls, suddenly Hillary and her surrogates started dropping a series of "misunderstood" slurs. They fit a familiar pattern, "smear, play dumb, own up and apologize". Rinse, lather and repeat.

We are supposed to believe that as Obama gained ground on Clinton that it's just mere coincidence that Clinton surrogates painted Obama as a risky "shucking and jiving", "roll of the dice", "cocaine-loving", "drug-dealing", "Reagan-loving", "closet-Muslim" , "fairytale-living", "establishment", "less black than President Clinton" "rookie"?

We are supposed to believe that these are isolated "mistakes". Remember these are the people who went after Senator Obama's kindergarten record and then tried play it off as a joke.

Now it appears that "Trasher-in-Chief" Bill is in charge of keeping the "fun" going. Apparently, the Clinton campaign figured out that having Hillary taking the cheap shots at her opponents made her less "likable".

It started with Clinton trashing Obama on the war. When a red-faced and angry Clinton twisted Obama's anti-war record calling it a "fairytale". However, according to the New York Times, " a review of Mr. Obama's statements on Iraq since 2002 shows that he has opposed the war against Saddam Hussein consistently, calling it ''dumb'' and ''rash.'' "

All of the Clinton's huffing and puffing won't change the fact that Hillary Clinton voted for the war and that Obama has always been against it.

Then in Nevada, Clinton claimed that Obama was running ads "telling Republicans that they ought to just register as Democrats for a day so they can beat Hillary and go out and be Republicans next week and vote in the primary. Doesn't sound like the new politics to me."

This simply isn't true. Those ads don't exist. To many, the idea of getting Republicans to cross the aisle and become "Obama Republicans" is appealing. Remind me again, what is wrong with trying to woo independents and Republicans? Taylor Marsh seems to think there's something wrong with that.

Ms. Marsh, also ran with the Clinton exaggeration of voter intimidation, "New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign had a story it wanted to tell this week, so it turned to a friendly blogger. Taylor Marsh, who in the past has been paid by a union now backing Clinton, quickly ran with the story: Members of the Culinary Union were being intimidated to vote for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whom the union endorsed last week. Under scrutiny, the story didn't exactly pan out. But no matter."

President Clinton went on to claim Obama said Republicans had all the good ideas, "Her principal opponent said that since 1992, the Republicans have had all the good ideas...I can't imagine any Democrat seeking the presidency would say they were the party of new ideas for the last 15 years. But it sounded good in Reno I guess...So now it turns out you can choose between somebody who thinks our ideas or better or the Republicans had all the good ideas."

The Clinton assertion that Obama said Republicans had "all the good ideas" just isn't true. Obama said the Republican challenged "conventional wisdom" and moved the country in a fundamentally different direction and that we Democrats can learn from that strategy. That people wanted optimism, clarity and to talk differently about issues and values. Obama pointed out that the unfortunately the Republican ideas promoted by this strategy were bad and wrong.

When Obama was asked how his being the nominee would help other Democrats get elected he said,

"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating and he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is, people wanted clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamic and entrepreneurship that had been missing, alright? I think Kennedy, twenty years earlier, moved the country in a fundamentally different direction. So I think a lot of it just has to do with the times. I think we're in one of those times right now. Where people feel like things as they are going aren't working. We're bogged down in the same arguments that we've been having, and they're not useful. And, you know, the Republican approach, I think, has played itself out. I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last ten, fifteen years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they're being debated among the Presidential candidates and it's all tax cuts. Well, you know, we've done that, we tried it. That's not really going to solve our energy problems, for example. So, some of it's the times. And some of it's, I think, there's maybe a generation element to this, partly. In the sense that there's a, I didn't did come of age in the battles of the 60s. I'm not as invested in them. And so I think I talk differently about issues. And I think I talk differently about values. And that's why, I think we've been resonating with the American people."

Senator Clinton continued "the twist" of Obama's words during the debate. Why is Team Billary twisting the facts on Senator Obama? They are playing to win, truth be damned. Campaigning for his wife is one thing but continuing to trash Obama with misrepresentations is frankly disappointing. Daddy Bush didn't trash John McCain when McCain was running against Shrub. Clinton needs to rein it in. If Hillary can't control Bill or her surrogates, why do we believe she's ready to lead on day one?

Think about how the Clinton campaign responded to Bob Johnson's smear. When she was caught between a rock and a big donor, look how she responded.

First, they denied it was a smear and "took him on his word". Yeah, right. Unlike less powerful surrogates, they couldn't get Johnson to walk the plank. Finally, after Johnson was rightfully shamed into apologizing, Clinton conveniently flip-flopped claiming Johnson was "out of bounds". Hillary was for the smear before she was against it. It's familiar territory for her.

And, if it's true that Hillary is not campaigning in South Carolina, this is just the Clintons lowering expectations.

That despite Clinton LEADING in South Carolina for months, if she loses there, it is no big whoop because she stopped campaigning there and lots and lots of those voters are black! Lots!

Well, as recently as October, African-Americans favored Clinton over Obama 57 percent to 33 percent. Now, only after months of campaigning against "Hillary the Inevitable" and proving that he is electable, Obama has flipped those numbers.

I do have to hand it to the Clintons, they are the masters of lowering expectations.
Howie P.S.: In case you don't know, Karen Russell lives in Seattle and is the daughter of basketball great Bill Russell.

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