Clinton: Sleeping with the Enemy To Mess Up Obama's Bed?

| Wed Mar. 26, 2008 12:26 PM EDT

The Clinton campaign keeps insisting that Hillary Clinton is the victim of a sleazy Obama campaign--though it engages in nasty tactics to denigrate Barack Obama. The Clintonites, it now seems, will even make common cause with the rightwing Hilary-haters to do so.

As Marc Ambinder reports, the Clinton campaign has distributed an American Spectator article that claims that retired General Merrill McPeak, an Obama foreign policy adviser, is an anti-Semite and a drunk. An anti-Semite? Supposedly because he has noted that the Israel lobby in America influences Mideast policy and because he advocates Israel withdrawing to its pre-1967 borders. Of course, that definition of anti-Semitism is absurd. But for the Clinton campaign to turn to the American Spectator, a rightwing publication that led the Clinton witch-hunts of the 1990s (and which published stories by David Brock and others regarding Bill Clinton's personal life), shows a certain desperation--or a damn-history opportunism. The article argues that Obama is bad for the Jews. The Clintonites are disseminating it. That would be ugly enough. The source renders the episode damn ugly.

Meanwhile, Clinton herself cozied up to the Richard Mellon Scaife--the man who funded the "vast rightwing conspiracy" (which included the American Spectator) that tried to destroy the Clintons in the 1990s--in order to take a swipe at Obama. On Tuesday, Clinton met with editors and reporters of the archly conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which Scaife owns. At that session, she did what she could to keep the Jeremiah Wright controversy alive by saying, "He would not have been my pastor. You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend." In attendance was Scaife. ("Hell has officially frozen over," rightwing journalist Byron York commented.) So has Clinton no shame? No pride? Or merely a sharp sense of political calculation? Did she ponder the irony of using Scaife's platform (in the key state of Pennsylvania) to discredit a fellow Democrat?

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All's fair in love, war, and hotly contested primaries? Maybe. But that doesn't make it right. Clinton might be willing to put aside her grudge against the American Spectator and Scaife because doing so helps her politically. But in the 1990s this band of Clinton-haters were out to ruin not merely her and her hubby but the entire progressive agenda. (They always believed the Clintons to be far more left than Bill and Hillary actually were.) But now, for Hillary Clinton, they're good enough to use against Obama.

On Monday, during a conference call with reporters, Phil Singer, a senior Clinton aide, expressed tremendous outrage that a Clinton supporter in Iowa had blogged that a Bill Clinton remark (which may have been a poke at Obama's patriotism) was "a stain on [Bill Clinton's] legacy much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica's blue dress." Singer went on about how this was proof the Obama camp was running a tawdry campaign reviving the rightwing Clinton hatred of the past. That was hyperbole, of course. But it was hypocritical hyperbole. If Clintonites can use an over-the-top American Spectator article to try to whip up trouble between Obama and Jewish voters and if she can sit politely next to Scaife because doing so affords her a good media opportunity for slamming Obama, her campaign has no basis for comparing criticism from the Obama camp to the misdeeds of Kenneth Starr and the Clinton pursuers of the 1990s. By legitimizing the "vast rightwing conspiracy" so she can put down Obama, Hillary Clinton may be confirming one of the Klinton Krazies perennial talking points about her and her husband: they will do anyting--anything!--to win.

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