Leading into the Texas and Ohio primaries, The New York Times reported
that "the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton is unleashing what one Clinton aide called a 'kitchen sink' fusillade against Obama." Meanwhile, the Clinton camp was busy working the refs: leveraging a Saturday Night Live sketch that ridiculed the media for alleged favoritism of Sen. Obama, Hillary Clinton cried foul as she and her campaign were simultaneously in the process of heaving said sink.
Clinton and her inner circle fueled the worst kind of xenophobia: "No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know," Clinton told
60 Minute's Steve Kroft, when asked if she thought Obama was a Muslim. And while the source of The Drudge Report's well-timed photo of Obama in traditional Somali garb (flaming those Muslim rumors) officially remains unconfirmed, the Clinton camp's history of leaking information to Drudge has been documented
. To this day, the campaign has never issued a flat, unequivocal denial that the photo was sent by one of its members. (Mission accomplished: a December 2007 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that 8% of Americans thought Obama was a Muslim; a new WSJ/NBC poll
reveals that the number of Americans who believe this falsehood has risen to 13%.) Concurrently, as the media failed to effectively challenge Clinton on her refusal to release her tax forms, it featured story after story on Clinton's unrelated and obfuscating counter-punch to any inquire into her tax records: Obama's connection to indicted businessman Antoin Rezko, about which after extensive digging by every major media outlet, not one has confirmed any legal wrongdoing on the part of Sen. Obama. (Welcome to Obama's Whitewater.)
The strategy worked like a charm. The Clinton camp is nothing if not schooled in such politics. With a cowed media focusing lopsided scrutiny on Obama days before the March 4 primary, Clinton's camp landed one shot below the belt after another. Effective and politically shrewd? Sure. Cheap, cynical and sleazy? You bet.
Since the March 4 primaries alone, Clinton press secretary Howard Wolfson has absurdly compared Obama to Ken Starr; Sen. Clinton has done Sen. McCain's bidding, breaking an unofficial rule among same-party candidates by asserting
she and Sen. McCain have crossed the "commander-in-chief threshold" while Obama has not; and, of course, this past week one of Clinton's chief fundraisers, Geraldine Ferraro, said, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," then claimed reverse racism when people objected to her racist or, at bare minimum, intentionally racially divisive and factually ignorant comments. And if anyone thinks Ferraro's statements weren't tactical salvos - part of Hillary's "Archie Bunker strategy for PA," to quote my consistently straight-shooting friend, Will Bunch
- then they're not paying attention or are willfully ignorant of her campaign's modus operandi.
The worst you can say for the Obama camp during the same period is that then foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, jet-lagged and upset right after the results in Ohio and having witnessed firsthand how Clinton won the state, called her a "monster" during an interview, screwing up by then attempting to keep the comment off the record without having stated that request beforehand. She resigned immediately, publicly and profusely apologizing to Sen. Clinton. Moreover, the media failed to address what drove Power's comment: Clinton's self-evident willingness to do anything to win in Ohio, but also, taking into account Power's expertise on foreign policy and human rights, quite likely her knowledge of Clinton's egregious record on war and innocent civilian lives as well. >>>contLinkHere