Prominent lefty bloggers are criticizing Hillary Clinton for "reinforcing right-wing charges" against Barack Obama. Josh Marshall writes that Clinton's recent conduct "makes me want to cry," while Arianna Huffington complains, "John McCain should go on vacation, Hillary Clinton is doing his job for him." Clinton's decision to denounce Obama's remarks about small-town Pennsylvanians as "elitist and out of touch" marks the second time in the past month that she has attacked Obama with GOP-sounding rhetoric (the first time was when she declared that Obama, unlike herself and McCain, had yet to cross the "Commander-in-Chief threshold"). In both instances, the netroots sharply criticized Clinton's conduct, which they perceived as harmful to the likely Dem nominee (i.e., Obama).
Meanwhile, conservative bloggers continue their onslaught against Obama, decrying the IL senator's "elitism," "snobbishness," and "disdain for regular people". Clinton may be right about one thing: should Obama emerge as the Dem nominee, the GOP will almost certainly use many of the same attacks against him that they used against John Kerry.
CLINTON: Whose Side Are You On, Hillary?
Liberal bloggers are slamming Clinton for reinforcing conservative attacks on Obama:
•Arianna Huffington: "John McCain should go on vacation, Hillary Clinton is doing his job for him. [...] Clinton's cynical distortion of Obama's remarks is in keeping with her campaign's modus operandi. On the foreign policy front, we've been fed a steady diet of her RNC-patented attacks: No Democrat can be trusted with national security -- except her. Obama hasn't crossed the threshold to be commander-in-chief. Etc. Now she's turned to the domestic policy section of the RNC playbook, twisting Obama's words in a way that confirms every right-wing demagogic caricature of her own Party."
•Open Left's Matt Stoller: "While I find the whole 'don't repeat right-wing frames' kind of tired if useful, Hillary Clinton's charges of elitism are explicitly reinforcing right-wing charges. How do we know this? Well, because right-wingers are attacking [Obama] with her rhetoric."
•TPM's Marshall: "With the [Jeremiah] Wright business and now with this, the more nuanced version of the Clinton line has been that what 'we' think is not really the point. It's what Republicans will do with it in the fall. And that's a real concern that I definitely have. I won't deny it. I've never thought Obama was a perfect candidate. But as we get deeper into the primary calendar, increasingly so, this 'what the Republicans will do' line has become more of a simulacrum, or a license, if you will, to do what Republicans actually do do. That is to say, to grab for political advantage by peddling stereotypes about Democrats and liberals that are really no less offensive than the ones we're talking about about Americans from small town and rural America."
•Marshall continues: "And seeing Hillary go on about how Obama has contempt for folks in small town America, how he's elitist, well...no, it's not because I think she's either. I never have. But after seeing her hit unfairly with just the same stuff for years, it just encapsulates the last three-plus months of her campaign which I can only describe as a furious descent into nonsense and self-parody. Part of it makes me want to cry. But at this point all I can really do is laugh."
Meanwhile, Balloon Juice's John Cole unloads on Clinton: "I am well aware that I am beyond the point where I can discuss Hillary rationally, but I really can not stress enough how much I have grown to hate her. [...] This past week-end was just the final boiling point for me, as I watched her run to every microphone with a zeal that would impress Chuck Schumer to claim that America's blue collar workers are under assault from a San Francisco effete liberal latte-sipping out-of-touch Obama. [...] This would merely be stupid and offensive if she actually believed that Obama doesn't like or looks down on average Americans, but she knows that isn't true. As it is, though, it is far more than offensive and stupid, as she just thinks she has an angle where she can score some political points. Dutifully and methodically, in an effort to save us from ourselves, she seeks out the nearest microphone and with robotic and unemotional precision invokes San Francisco and gets in on some of that class warfare loving the Republicans have used so well in the past few elections. [...] The woman is a moral black hole -- soulless, empty, calculating and nasty all the way to her core."
CLINTON II: Doesn't She Want Gore's Endorsement?
Several liberal bloggers are criticizing Clinton for suggesting that Obama, like former Dem nominees John Kerry and Al Gore, could be viewed as out of touch with religious voters:
"'The characterization of people in a way that really seemed to be elitist and out of touch is really something that we have to overcome,' [Clinton] said, turning to the Democratic Party's problem with religious voters in the past. [...]
'[Obama's comments] did seem so much in line with what often we are charged with -- someone goes to a closed door fundraiser in San Francisco and makes comments' that, she said, could be seen as 'patronizing.'
Clinton then repeated her suggestion that John Kerry and Al Gore had failed to be seen as respecting people of faith, said Obama is 'a good man and a man of faith.'
'We had two very good men, and men of faith, run for president in 2000 and 2004,' she said. 'Large segments of the electorate concluded that they did not really understand, or relate to, or respect their ways of life.'"
•Daily Kos' DHinMI: "Clinton and her surrogates are obviously trying to insinuate that Obama can't win. Of course, Clinton can't win the nomination, and the only way she'll become the nominee is if Obama collapses because he's deemed by pretty much all Democrats as unelectable. So to do that, they're saying he'll lose, just like John Kerry and Al Gore (never mind that Gore actually won the election, and would probably have won by enough that the Supreme Court wouldn't have gotten the chance to overturn it had it not been for the residual 'Clinton fatigue'). Also, Hillary Clinton is the wife of an ex-president, with whom she's made $109 million in the last few years...I'm sure glad Hillary Clinton [is] around to tell us hoi polloi about elitism."
•MyDD's Jonathan Singer: "I think there could be an argument made that Al Gore and John Kerry didn't connect with voters, that they were out of touch. [...] But to the 51+ million Americans who voted for Gore in 2000 (more than had voted for any previous Democrat in history) and the 59+ million Americans who voted for Kerry in 2004 (again, more than had voted for any previous Democrat in history) -- the tens of millions of Americans who thought that both Gore and Kerry were very much in touch with them -- these comments could come off as at least a little condescending (in sort of the same manner that Obama's comments could come off as a little condescending). To narrow in a bit more, Gore and Kerry certainly spoke for me. They were in touch with the things that I, as an American and as a voter (at least in 2004), cared about. And I don't think I'm alone there."
CLINTON III: Pot, Meet Kettle
"If [Republicans] could cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment, middle-class Americans would see fewer benefits from their tax dollars, feel more resentful paying taxes, and become even more receptive to their appeals for tax cuts and their strategy of waging campaigns on divisive social and cultural issues like abortion, gay rights, and guns."
•AMERICAblog's John Aravosis: "With all the talk about Obama noting, correctly, that Americans are bitter about politics and their overall economic situation (and thus turning to divisive issues like guns), it's interesting to note how Bill Clinton has repeatedly said the same thing. Will the mainstream media hold Hillary as accountable as Obama for this kind of talk?"
•TAPPED's Kate Sheppard: "I do think Obama's words were poorly chosen, but I don't think they merit 'Bittergate' as we're seeing it play out. Especially since this sort of sentiment isn't unknown to the Clintons, either."
OBAMA: Classy, Congressman
Liberal bloggers are slamming Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) for referring to Obama as "that boy":
"Congressman Geoff Davis, took the criticisms of Mr. Obama a few steps further, likening the change slogan to the pitch of a 'snake oil salesman.' He then relayed to the audience that he had taken party in a 'highly classified, national security simulation' with Obama.
'I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button,' Mr. Davis said. 'He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country.'"
•Aravosis: "You don't call a black man a 'boy' when you're from the south, unless you're intending to harken back to the racist language of slavery, and then segregation, when all black men were called 'boy' as a prejudiced pejorative."
•The Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen: "Far-right efforts to define Barack Obama as The Other have been relatively subtle over the last couple of months. A little emphasis on Obama's middle name here, a little talk about flag lapel pins there. We know what was coming, but we could also tell the Republican efforts hadn't started in earnest. It appears conservatives are starting to forgo the subtleties."
•Singer: "If the Republicans believe that they can get away with playing a nod-nod, wink-wink game over the issue of Barack Obama's race in a general election, they are going to be sorely mistaken. The American people simply will not stand for a situation in which a candidate is attacked or called names on the basis of his color of skin, or even if an attempt is made to caricature a candidate's race as an attempt at a joke (calling him 'Tiger Woods' or the like). What's more, we the people will ensure that the worst offenders will not be allowed to act as such with impunity. This is not playing the race card; this is ensuring that we don't take ten steps back as we attempt to take one or two more steps forward in trying to make a more perfect union."
•DHinMI thinks Davis' words will push swing voters toward Obama: "Geoff Davis' outburst showed that there's still a lot of racism in America. But it also showed that a lot of it is concentrated within the Republican party and its electoral base. [...] Their racism will repeatedly ooze out of them, and the racism that has divided America for so long might finally be used against itself, and in what to the racists will seem a paradox, their racism will help elect Barack Obama."
Liberal bloggers were not satisfied by Davis' apology, in which he wrote a letter to Obama saying, "My poor choice of words is regrettable and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity":
•The Atlantic's Matthew Yglesias: "As Marc Ambinder observes, Davis can't seem to apologize for what he actually did wrong. [...] Nobody impugned Obama's integrity here, the issue is that only racist white people refer to grown-up black men as 'boy.' Obama and Davis are both in their fourties so it's not even as if some much older member of congress engaged in the 'poor choice of words' here. Meanwhile, it's very difficult to infer anything about a person's motives or general sentiments from a single incident, but it's certainly not reassuring that Davis seems unwilling to grasp what the nature of the problem is here."
•Firedoglake's David Neiwert: "Davis never apologizes for what was most egregiously offensive about the remark -- that it referred to Obama the way an old Confederate slaveholder would refer to his holdings, the way old segregationists referred to civil-rights workers. It wasn't simply that it was offensive, it was that it was classic race-baiting."
OBAMA II: An Effete, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating...Community Organizer?
Conservative bloggers continue to accuse Obama of elitism:
•Townhall's Mary Katharine Ham: "The distinct advantage Republicans have had for the last several election cycles over Democrats is that the presidential candidate fielded doesn't have to pretend to like normal, American people. While, yes, all presidential candidates are more affluent, sometimes more educated, and steeped in Washington perks and fancy dinners, Republicans are much more natural at expressing respect for life outside the Beltway and its traditions than Democrats. Hence, the contrast between Obama's and McCain's thoughts on small-town America."
•see-dubya: "Michelle [Malkin] had [Obama] pegged over a week ago...when he was nibbling fancy ham in an upscale Philly deli instead of chowing on a cheesesteak. Several commenters at the time scoffed that this was nothing deeply significant, and if it went no deeper than a preference for fancy food and a bit of a tin ear about how it was received, they would have been right. But Obama's words showed that that fundamental discomfort -- and even disdain -- for regular people that his menu had suggested was not just some little flub, but rather a product of a deeply-held belief. The elitism charge has legs."
•Townhall's Matt Lewis: "Obama's politics, in my view, are fundamentally little removed from the typical attitude of 'I'm privileged and feel guilty about it, but because I'm smarter than you (and have a Harvard degree to prove it) I know everything about your pathetic little life and what is required to fix it.' It's not just snobby, it's nanny-statist...and it's not just conservatives or hardcore libertarians who hate that. Normal people -- moderates and independents -- hate that. That's a lot of why they hated [Michael] Dukakis (and only somewhat less) John Kerry."
AmSpec Blog's James Antle urges GOPers not to overestimate McCain's chances: "We're starting to see Barack Obama come down from the stratosphere and be defined as a standard liberal Democrat. Jeremiah Wright and the bitter Keystone Staters are the two incidents that have played the biggest role so far. While this is good for Republicans, there are two reasons for them to be cautious in their growing 2008 optimism: 1.) A pretty standard-issue liberal Democrat came within three points, and thousands of votes in Ohio, of beating an incumbent wartime president three years after 9/11 and during a period of economic growth; 2.) When the Democrats finally settle on a nominee, they will work at bringing John McCain down from the stratosphere and defining him as a standard George W. Bush Republican."
OBAMA III: A Clintonian Marxist, Or A Marxist Clintonian?
•RedState's Erick Erickson examines Obama's "Marxist underpinnings": "Consider who [Obama] surrounds himself with: Michelle Obama thinks this is a mean spirited nation that she's only just decided to be proud of. [...] Then of course there is Reverend Wright, his 'spiritual adviser' who loathes what this country represents. He preaches a black liberation theology born of marxist roots. There is also Frank Marshall Davis, Obama's self described childhood mentor. Davis was not only an open communist, but took Obama along to 'socialist conferences' as Obama describes them. And let's not forget Obama's friendship with Bill Ayers. [...] This is the man who tried to blow up the Capitol and Pentagon on his way toward his communist vision for America. When Obama says people take comfort in their faith when times are tough, I don't really think he was thinking of Pslam 46, 'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' [...] He was speaking of Karl Marx. And is it any wonder? The people he was surrounded himself with and grew up around all drank the kool-aid long ago."
•Commentary's Jennifer Rubin describes Obama as "Clintonian": "Obama's billing as the post-racial, post-partisan Agent of Change seems to have lost its punch somewhere between Reverend Wright's sermons and Obama's dishing the dirt on rural folk with the in-crowd in San Francisco. The problem with being all things to all people (liberation theology congregant to black Chicago, erudite sociologist to Bay Area liberals, and Great Uniter to the rest of the country) is that, in the age of new media, anyone can all put the pieces together and reach a fairly obvious conclusion: Obama is telling everyone a different story. [...] How old school. How -- dare I say it? -- Clintonian."
MCCAIN: So Sue Me
Liberal bloggers are pleased that the DNC has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to compell the FEC to investigate McCain's public financing issues:
•Crooks and Liars' Nicole Belle: "Amazing. The DNC has to go to court to get McCain to abide by his word on public financing. The man who chalks up campaign finance reform as one of his accomplishments doesn't want it to apply to him."
•Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher: "As we all know by now, John McCain applied for -- and was accepted into -- the public financing system for the primary. With that acceptance came certain requirements, one of those being that he can't spend more than $56,757,500 million during the primary. As of February 29, 2008 McCain has -- by his own admission -- exceeded that amount. The FEC Chairman David Mason says McCain can't leave the public financing system without permission of the FEC, but John McCain is thumbing his nose at that. [...] His commitment to campaign finance reform is a sham, and the DNC's actions go straight to the heart of exposing this deceit and hypocrisy. Let's see if the press picks it up."
•Benen: "Today's suit is about compelling the FEC to investigate McCain's transgression, except the FEC can't investigate because it doesn't have a functioning panel of members. The DNC, in turn, wants to go after McCain directly, since the FEC can't. This is pretty important, especially given McCain's rhetoric about Obama and the public-financing system. McCain, who used to present himself as something of a reformer, is the one flouting the rules and counting on a feckless FEC to get away with it."
•AMERICAblog's Joe Sudbay: "When John McCain filed his February FEC report on March 20, 2008, it became evident he had busted the FEC's public finance spending cap. Every dollar McCain spends is an illegal act."
MCCAIN II: Right Said Fred
The netroots are also blasting Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt for criticizing Obama's shift on public financing while not mentioning McCain's problems:
•Sudbay: "McCain opted in to the [public financing] system when he thought he'd get more money that way, then opted out (illegally) when he 'realized' he'd make more money on the outside, and now he may opt back in again because the public is refusing to give him the big bucks he expected. But Obama is the one who the Washington Post editorial board has a problem with. Right."
•Hamsher: "John McCain is already in the public financing system, and has exceeded the spending limits. Because the FEC has no quorum and no ability to enforce the law, McCain is just ignoring them. How stupid would Obama have to be to enter into an agreement to abide by regulations with someone who has already shown he has no intention of honoring them? And yet the media drumbeat continues apace."
THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Arianna Huffington, Torn Between Two Worlds
NRO's Jim Geraghty:
"How, exactly, can Arianna Huffingtonbrag that Obama's description of what ails 'bitter' small town Pennsylvanians were 'broken here on HuffPost's OffTheBus' and then moments later attack Hillary for 'relentlessly using these comments for political gain'?
Isn't she basically arguing, 'Obama's comments are really big news...that are completely inappropriate for her to comment on!'
Nonetheless, when she andJay Rosen announced OffTheBus, I was among the skeptics who expected nothing but relentless cheerleading for the Democratic candidate from the left. But by showcasing a comment that reinforces all kinds of negative memes about Obama, that batters him in small-town Pennsylvania, and that will make valuable fodder for McCain in the general election, I have to admit...nice job, Arianna."
LEST WE FORGET: Mass E-Mail Only Has 4 Recipients
From The Onion:
"TALLAHASSEE, FL -- A self-described mass e-mail containing the subject line 'URGENT: Please help!' was sent from Jerrod32@gmail.com to only four different in-boxes, the handful of recipients reported Wednesday. 'Dear friends, family, and everybody else,' the message, which did not use the bcc feature and was clearly sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com, read in part. 'Sorry for the mass e-mail, but this is important, and time is of the essence.' As of press time, none of those who received the e-mail had, as requested, Dugg the sender's comment on the 'Top 7 Most Annoying Video Game Enemies,' since they all immediately deleted the message."
This article appears in the April 15, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.