(Update: I missed this yesterday. Read “Hillary Clinton’s Dirty Campaign Tricks” at Alternet.)
Why do I have a sudden hankering to watch “Primary Colors” again?
In truth, I kind of like Hillary Clinton. I think she’s incredibly smart, effective, thinks well on her feet, has a decent sense of humor, and seems to hold public service in high regard. In the past, I’ve brushed off as simple sore-loserism the suggestions that the Clintons are political opportunists who will do or say anything to stay in power. There is a vast difference, for example, between negotiating compromises, and pandering. Bill Clinton – and to the extent we can evaluate her (because congressional deal-making is less visible), Hillary – always struck me as a master of constructive compromise, which is not such a bad thing. We can hold our respective hard lines and not move at all, or we can find a way to inch forward and maybe accomplish some good in the process. BC and HC (eventually; perhaps not during the Health Plan debacle) seemed to grasp that.
As assembled here, here, here and here, it’s hard to dispute that there is a pattern to the taunts and smears now issuing from the Clinton campaign. We expect this kind of vile race-baiting from Republicans; indeed, they’re the undisputed masters of divisive race politics. But how incredibly disappointing to see crap like this on “our side.” Wise words from Matt Bai in the NY Times yesterday (via Truthout):
I wrote last week about how Mr. Obama was facing a perilous moment in his campaign. It seems to me that the same is true of the Clintons, and they may need to step back and briefly reflect. Both Clintons now find themselves in an unfamiliar reality, the kind of all-out war for the nomination that Bill Clinton twice managed to avoid. They will get all kinds of advice from people whose career opportunities are at stake and who will do or say anything to win. They are surrounded by overzealous politicians and interest groups willing do whatever it takes to shut down Barack Obama and deliver their states to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It must be a kind of nightmare for both Clintons to be running, at this moment, against a talented black man, to be caught in an existential choice between losing their mythical status in the black community or possibly losing to a candidate they feel certain does not deserve to win. But only they can afford to be concerned right now with their own historical legacy, about seeing all that they have accomplished on behalf of their party and its commitment to fairness and equality blown away in the space of a few months. No one else is going to protect all that for them. No one around them is going to take the long view, because that’s not the way supporters think.
No one expects Mrs. Clinton to stand down and let Mr. Obama make his case unchallenged. She could, however, send a clear message to the cogs in the machinery she’s built that there is a line she will not cross. She could tell her Nevada allies that the job of the Democratic Party she grew up in is to make it easier for people to caucus, not harder. She could tell Robert Johnson that he needs to apologize, the same way she forced Bill Shaheen, her New Hampshire co-chairman, to resign last month. She can make it plain to all those people trying to get jobs in the next Clinton Administration that there is way to win-a rough and combative way, even-that nonetheless won’t destroy all the good that the Clintons, at least for a lot of Democrats, have come to represent.
As the particularly despicable (or as Tapped put it, “nasty, racist, and thoroughly contemptible”) column by Richard Cohen today demonstrates (Rove is also getting an early start, as Josh Marshall points out), establishment Washington finds the prospect of an Obama candidacy terribly threatening and things will only get less civilized as the campaign progresses. Let us hope and pray the Democrats maintain the truce they appear to have struck tonight and leave the divisive filth to the Republicans.
(Well, I’m multi-tasking and peeking at some blogs and headlines as I finish this up. And it appears that, deprived of the race card, HRC is trying out the Terror card. Way to seek the high road, Hill…)