Friday, March 07, 2008

Will Hillary Win A Knife Fight, Disgracefully?

A federal judge who is a friend of mine (I do have some respectable friends) worries that if Barack Obama takes on Hillary Clinton on her own disreputable terms, going on the attack, he may lose his aura as a reformer. He would look bad as a man beating up on a woman.

But a contest with a viper is always a nasty business. As I've said in another context, you can't defeat Al-Qaeda using Marquis of Queensberry rules.

In this vein, while a Clinton aide yesterday compared Obama to Clinton persecutor Ken Starr, an Obama aide was quoted in a Scottish newspaper interview as calling Hillary a monster.

The Obama aide, foreign policy guru Samantha Power, has now apologized and resigned (despite the fact she may have been closer on the mark, than the Clinton aide, Howard Wolfson).

But, in any event, this is the way the campaign for the Democratic nomination seems to be going.

The New York Times columnist, David Brooks, one of the most prescient of all observers in predicting last summer that John McCain could make a comeback in the battle for the Republican nomination, at a time he seemed down and out, writes, notably in the NYT today:

"Clinton can't compete on personality, but a knife fight is her only real hope of victory. She has nothing to lose because she never promised to purify America. Her campaign doesn't depend on the enthusiasm of opper-middle-class goo-goos. On Thursday, a Clinton aide likened Obama to Ken Starr just to badger them on."

Also, I was impressed with an article in the London Times today by Gerard Baker, who has been writing profoundly about the American campaign.

"The danger, I think, for Mr. Obama," he writes, "is that the 'kitchen sink' volley of the last week has revealed a central truth about the Democratic contest: she wants it more. In politics, it's not necessarily the better person who gets to the top job, but the one who is really, really desperate for and willing to go to any lengths to get it."

Of course, the Clintons are more desperate. They've undertaken this grab for power and money, with no other ulterior motives. They've gotten rich off the first Clinton presidency. Now, they hope to pad their fortune with a second. (And they hope to conceal this truth by refusing to reveal their tax returns).

As columns go, incidentally, we have another example this morning, in the Los Angeles Times, of inferior political commentary by Ronald Brownstein, who like the Clintons never seems to go away, no matter how desirable might be a retreat to Kasakhstan.

Brownstein writes in glowing terms about the Clinton candidacy, without ever mentioning her sleazy tactics in both Texas and Ohio.

In Ohio, it's now been revealed in the Toronto Globe and Mail, it was not only an Obama campaign advisor who foolishly reassured the Canadian government that it need not take the anti-NAFTA rhetoric in Ohio seriously, but the Clinton side as well. Yet Clinton screamed at Obama for doing what she was doing herself.

In Texas, in the low moment of the campaign so far, Clinton ran an ad suggesting, as Al Campanis once did about African-American baseball players being manager, that Obama was not ready for the presidency, despite the fact that he is brighter, more honorable, and, in terms of organizing experience, more experienced than she is.

Well, the federal judge, Brooks and Baker may be right, and the unscrupulous Clinton may prevail.

But idealistic nice guys with moral authority do sometimes win -- as Kennedy did over Nixon, as Lincoln did over Douglas. I think it's too early to start counting Obama out.

I do believe in democracy, and I believe the people seek the best candidates for public office. Any rational analysis of the present situation, I believe, argues for an Obama-McCain contest as better than a Clinton-McCain one.

Two of the three candidates left standing for president are honorable. Clinton is not.

McCain too could be tagged as a man beating up on a woman. But beating up on Lady Macbeth is not all bad, is it?


The good news comes today that Sonni Efron, writer of foreign affairs editorials for the L.A. Times from the Washington Bureau, has received the Scripps Howard national award for editorial writing. Sonni is an unussually talented writer who I've suggested many times should really be a columnist for the Op Ed page to adequately showcase her talents.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Reich wrote: ''But idealistic nice guys with moral authority do sometimes win -- as Kennedy did over Nixon...''

And sometimes the candidate who unabashedly sticks up for common folk, with all the prognosticators in the media against him, prevails -- as Truman did over the Dewey.

Sen. Arthur Vandenberg said of Truman, ''You've got to give the little man credit. There he was flat on his back. Everybody had counted him out but he came up fighting and won the battle. That's the kind of courage the American people admire.''

The longer Hillary stays in this still very close race and keeps coming back after being declared politically dead, the more likely it is she will prevail. Time is on her side.

3/07/2008 8:40 PM  
Anonymous USpace said...

Great post. Obama’s aide was right. Hillary is a monster. Of course not the same kind of monster as Hitler, Mao or Stalin, but a monster nonetheless.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
claim to care for people

call yourself progressive
your policies hurt poor folk

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
elect women presidents

who cover for their husbands
who rape other women

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
vote for any woman

better than any man
none could make things any worse

if you’re MAD
punish your country
VOTE for Hillary


Go here and watch ‘The Hillary Show’ with Howard Dean. It’s Hillarious!


3/08/2008 2:20 PM  

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