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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

If Hillary Won the Geffen Fight, Why Do Clintonites Want It To End?



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I notice an observation at Slate that doesn’t quite add up from Bruce Reed, who was President Clinton’s domestic policy adviser, and is president of the Democratic Leadership Council:

Gravel Pit: For the political press, this week’s shootout between the Clinton and Obama campaigns was as intoxicating as a hunter’s first whiff of gunpowder on Opening Day. The Hotline dubbed it “Slash Wednesday.” The tabloids went Postal. The only way to make Roger Ailes happier would have been to let Maureen Dowd referee a Mark Penn/David Axelrod Jello-wrestling match on pay-per-view.

As a card-carrying Clintonite, I tend to agree with John Dickerson that Round 1 went to Clinton. But there’s an easy way for everyone in the field to come away a winner: Don’t bother having a Round 2.

Hm. If the fight was such a win for Hillary and such a loss for Obama, why the strong desire to see it stop?

Reed argues that the fight serves none of the candidates well, that they’re better off discussing the issues, etc. But Geffen’s charge hit at a couple of issues — who President Clinton chose to pardon and who he didn’t; when the Clintons are willing to do what’s unpopular if they believe it is right; and the character issue. As another Slate writer put it:

Note to Hillary: Your husband cheated on you and was fined $90,000 for lying about it to a federal judge. [Insert by Jim: And he had his law license suspended for several years, didn't he?] Everybody thinks he’s still cheating on you. Your fellow Democrats are tolerant, but they wonder what the deal is. That isn’t the “politics of personal destruction.” It’s due diligence.

This sort of issue is going to come up again and again. For Edwards, making the pitch to the party’s base, the line of criticism is going to be “You can’t trust Hillary, she compromises too much, she supports whatever is popular, even conservatie proposals like banning violent video games and flag burning.” For Obama, a potentially powerful line of criticism will be, “Weren’t you tired of politics as it was practiced by the Clintons during the 1990s? Wasn’t it ugly, needlessly divisive, arrogant, and exhausting? Didn’t the Clintons repeatedly put you in the position of defending the indefensible? Wouldn’t we all prefer a break from the tired fights of the past?”


Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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