The Corner

Comstock Race Resurrects the Clinton Wars

The race for a vacant swing Congressional seat in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. looks both forward and backward. GOP candidate Barbara Comstock, who became a conservative after reading an issue of National Review, is running on her record in the state legislature as a problem-solver. John Foust, a Fairfax County supervisor, pledges to bring home the bacon for a district chock full of federal employees. 

But Democrats, finding it hard to run against the personable Comstock, have resurrected the Clinton Wars of the 1990s, when a GOP Congress locked horns with a White House intent on blocking scandal investigations ranging from Travelgate to Filegate to Whitewater. Comstock was a chief investigator for the House Government Oversight Committee, the committee now chaired by Representative Darrell Issa. Politico has a delicious recounting of the ancient Clinton political struggles playing out in this year’s campaign:

Clinton allies, however, are convinced that Comstock would quickly return to the warpath if she makes it to Congress — and are bent on stopping her.

[Virginia governor Terry] McAuliffe will soon host a fundraiser for Foust and “plans to do everything he can” to help the Democrat, an aide said. “His brush with Comstock came in February 1997 when, working late one evening, she uncovered a McAuliffe memo that seemed to suggest that the president have donors over for White House sleepovers. The revelation sent the Clinton White House into damage control mode.

Comstock so bedeviled the Clinton White House that the wounds from that era clearly haven’t healed. The Politico article also quotes Paul Begala, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, who has now assumed the role of attack dog against Comstock.

“If she wins, she will no doubt practice the same politics of personal destruction she and her ilk practiced in the Clinton days,” he said. He accuses her of having a “really almost sick, sort of stalker-like obsession with President Clinton.”  Hmm . . . Comstock has rarely brought up her investigative past during the campaign. As for the Democrats, one of her allies resurrects an old campaign line of President Clinton, saying, “We have crossed the bridge to the 21st Century; they have not.”

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