Thursday, February 28, 2008

02.28.08 ENOUGH

This article originally appeared in the 2.28.o8 issue of Metroland.

Up until about a month ago, I was happily ambivalent about the Democratic presidential race. Either Hillary or Obama would be fine presidents, wonderfully historic, and a vast improvement to the embarrassment we now have. That’s over now.

As Obama’s meteoric rise took hold, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated that she represents simply the worst of American politics. The pits. There had been a couple things early, odd whisper campaigns coming from Clinton “advisors” about Obama being Muslim, his drug use in his youth (which he’s written about in his books), even statements he made in kindergarten, and a couple of Clinton aides got fired for some of these, which of course caused the silly innuendos to make the news.

But then nonsense became the front and center of her campaign. The dissembling, the lies, the parsing, the spinning. As Hillary lost the support of blacks, the college educated and those under 50, she and her minions set out on a series of disgusting ploys to reel in the uninformed, the ignorant, the bigoted, and her shrinking base of “identity voters,” older white women whose vote is less for Hillary than it is for themselves.

Fortunately, this kind of Rovian strategy, which worked so well with evangelicals for George W., just hasn’t flown with Democrats, and Hillary’s campaign has sunk like a stone, and along with it, whatever’s left of the Clinton legacy, which had seen considerable rehabilitation over the past few years.

Her clownish advisors like Harold Ickes and Howard Wolfson have been dropping hints about going after Obama’s pledged delegates and are trying to certify the de-certified Florida and Michigan delegates, which Hillary cheated to get. These folks have been burning up the phone lines trying to strong-arm the superdelegates. Nobody’s buying it.

There have been the day-before-the-debate bombs. Last week it was the phony plagiarism accusation. The Hillary advisors who dropped this one knew that this was a lie, but hey, it made the news cycle, and Obama had to respond. This week it was the digging up and sending of the picture of Obama in traditional African garb to Matt Drudge, followed quickly by insidious claims by Clinton toady Maggie Williams that Obama’s protests about the pictures showed he was ashamed of his heritage. This isn’t politics, it’s swift-boating.

In the past week, Hillary has careened oddly out of control, bouncing from one absurd pose to the next, recalling nothing so much as the recent Britney Spears lunacy. Except people seem to still care about Britney Spears, and Hillary fatigue, for whatever reason, sprouts early. After her bizarre sweetness and light routine at last week’s Texas debate, Hillary turned attack dog on Saturday, with a foaming-at-the-mouth hysterical and shrill complaint about some Obama mailings. (And yes, if she were a man, I’d be using the words “hysterical” and “shrill.” Don’t even think about playing the gender card this time.) She even went so far as to compare Obama to Karl Rove, and ended the tirade with a silly, Gary Cooper-like “meet me in Ohio” dare. It was all a charade, and it was all scripted, and it was all fake. The mailings she claimed “had just been handed to me” had in fact been in circulation for weeks. They were very old news. Hillary and her people certainly knew about them the day they were first mailed. Her invoking the name Karl Rove was utterly disingenuous, considering her subterranean attempts at character assassination over the previous couple of weeks.

It’s all been terribly sad, and it verifies many of the things Hillary’s detractors have been saying for years, digs that once seemed cruel and now look prescient. The Clinton campaign has been tilting at windmills for weeks now, and has been playing increasingly dirty with each passing day. And the shameful thing is that it undermines Obama’s upcoming campaign, the campaigns of every Democrat running for office this November who are relying on Obama’s coattails, and it threatens to dismantle the waking-up of an entire generation of Americans to the importance of who is running the country. Every pathetic lie and distortion Hillary pushes out there lessens the likelihood we’ll have a bullet-proof majority in both houses of Congress, and a Supreme Court that is at least balanced.

I caught a Clinton speech in South Texas last week, and she was reminiscing about helping with a voter registration drive there in 1972, when she and Bill were young Democratic activists and working for George McGovern. It struck me that if Hillary and Bill Clinton were young idealists working the political fields today, they sure as hell wouldn’t be working for Hillary Clinton. They’d be much to smart to buy in to her transparent and divisive crap.

Hopefully she’ll pack it in soon and stop making a fool of herself. Hopefully the voters of New York will remember her shameful behavior when her number comes around in the Senate in four years. We deserve so much better than this.


At 7:59 PM, Blogger Katie said...

As a Democrat, I am happy to participate in discussions and listen to opposing arguments about NAFTA, healthcare, Iraq and a number of other issues. These are matters that should be argued about, and if they create contention at times, I accept that, since differing views on important matters often do just that.

However, it is when politics descends into childish rants with no endgame other than to exacerbate rancor and ill will that I start to lose patience. Therefore, it is a tremendous irony that while Paul Papp's piece "Don't Go Away Mad" catalogs a number of stereotypical "she plays dirty" claims against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, he is doing little more than exhibiting his own prowess at dirty politics.

While I will offer Mr. Rapp credit for his use of adjectives -- he describes her advisors as "clownish," comments by her campaign director as "insidious" and her campaign as a whole as "pathetic" -- he fails to offer evidence of the specific things he is describing. Instead the article reads like a spoon-fed, cut and pasted collage of the claims known detractors have been repeating for years. These critiques of Senator Clinton are unconstructive, untrue, and void of any substance.

Mr. Rapp would do well to remember that a disclaimer that his comments are not gender-based does not mean that they are not, in fact, gender-based. "After her bizarre sweetness-and-light routine at last week's Texas debate, Hillary turned attack dog on Saturday, with a foaming-at-the-mouth hysterical and shrill complaint about some Obama mailings. (And yes, if she were a man, I'd be using the words "hysterical" and "shrill." Don't even think about playing the gender card this time.)," he writes. Lawyers tend to suggest the use of disclaimers when they know there is something wrong for the client. "Sweet" and "shrill" are not words men use to describe other men.

But the clearest evidence that Mr. Rapp is reaching to make his case is the comparison of Senator Clinton to Britney Spears. A woman who received an Ivy League Law degree, raised a well-adjusted child, and has served as First Lady and Senator to her country is in no way comparable to a mentally ill pop star who has descended into drugs and was restrained by the courts from seeing her children.

I appreciate reading Metroland as the alternative source of news it claims to be. However, collecting questionable claims from unnamed news sources and pundits and organizing them into paragraphs does not make effective news analysis in the mainstream media or in the alternative. It just makes more bad journalism.

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous paul said...

I’m not sure how this could be “a collage known detractors have been repeating for years” or “void of substance” when I’ve referenced numerous specific instances of misbehavior, and most of them have occurred in the last month. Are you saying Hillary or her campaign didn’t try to plant a story about Obama’s kindergarden ambitions or his drug use? That they haven’t floated the possibility of going after pledged delegates or trying to certify the Florida or Michigan votes? That they didn’t cheat in Michigan and Florida? That they didn’t raise the phony plagiarism allegation or plant the picture of Obama in Kenya, or make the statement that Obama should be ashamed to complain about it?

How much more substance to you want? The only way I could have supplied more substance was to annotate my facts; none of these things are unsubstantiated.

And don’t pretend to know what words I use to describe men or women. “Sweetness and light” is a colloquial phrase used to describe situations of ostensible amiability, and is gender neutral. And go listen to Hillary’s outburst last Saturday and give me a better descriptor than shrill. Other than phony and staged.

The fact is that Hillary has engaged in exactly the sort of behavior that the neocons have been subjecting the Clintons, John Kerry, and other liberals to for years. And the ends don’t justify the means, especially when Hillary’s duplicitous politics of personal destruction are aimed at Barack Obama. And no amount of hiding behind a twisted, sophist variant of feminist theory will change that.

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez Paul, for a guy who was ambivalent about the race until a month ago, you certainly have built up a lot of venom towards Senator Clinton. Seems to me this race has been remarkably substantive, that is if you watched the debates or listened to the candiates speak. But if you just listen to the punditocracy or one sided columns it would be easy to be turned off.

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you Paul - Hilary has acted like a drowning victim stuggling for a life raft while slinging mud.. meanwhile, Obama has kept his composure and has avoided personal attacks. Its time for a new generation and BO is our man.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Matt said...

As a lawyer. Mr. Rapp must know well there that are few things more encouraging to a case than when, upon cross examination, a witness helps to illustrate exactly the point the cross examiner is trying to make. His reponse post to a comment on his piece "Don't Go Away Mad" does just that.

By continuing to engage in the sophomoric pursuit of allegations about campiagn misbehavior Mr Rapp demonstrates why so many have always resorted to such tactics against Senator Clinton -- an inability to engage the actual issues of governance as effectively as she does. Instead of addressing the issues this nation so badly needs articulated by the press and acted upon by its leaders, Mr. Rapp falls down the foxhole of the negativity he claims to despise. The fact that he views any argument in favor of Senator clinton as "feminist" exhibits his own latent prejudices.

There are additional questions regarding Mr, Rapp's abilities as both a lawyer and pseudo-journalist in what he determines is substantial evidence. Senator Obama himself discussed his drug use in his bestselling book, an isse that the Clinton campaign has pursued very little, if at all, considering the national kerfluffles over former President Clinton's use of marijuana and the current President Bush's alleged use of cocaine. The picture of Senator Obama he refers to is a file photo available to anyone with basic research abilities, and whether the Michigan and Florida delegates should be seated at the debate are a matter of constitutional election law that will be pursed in its proper legal forum, most likely by representatives of the state parties themselves.

That he offers substantial evidence of the Clinton campaign's supposed crimes is not a claim that would hold up in a legal court, or the court of public opinion.

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous paul said...

To the extent Matt makes any sense at all, I guess it comes down to this:

one can't criticize Hillary's campaign tactics or strange behavior, because that is somehow the same thing as that which is criticized;

since there are hypothetical alternatives to her campaign's documented dirty tricks, she's somehow off the hook; and

"I know you are so what am I?"

And who said any argument in favor of Hillary "is feminist"? Not me.

And now she's resorting to fear-mongering.


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