Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Inside The Kitchen Sink

From the NYT:

After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a “kitchen sink” fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum.

Let's see what has been tossed inside the kitchen sink:

-A vicious email smear campaign falsely portrays Obama as a Muslim. He has been a devout Christian for 20 years. The Clinton camp has the opportunity to firmly decry such tactics, or to sow the seeds of doubt. Clinton on 60 minutes: If he says that he is a Muslim "I'll take him at his word";

- A picture of Obama dressed in traditional Somali garb mysteriously arises and is splashed across the front page of the Drudge Report, designed, like the above, to inflame the most base and simplistic prejudices. Again, the Clinton campaign has the opportunity to refuse to use prejudice and stereotype to political advantage. Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams responds: "If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed";

-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a Conservative. His Chief of Staff Ian Brodie leaks supposed minutes of statements by an Obama aide. The statement is not by the Obama aide, and the minutes were not taken by the Obama aide, they were taken by a Canadian official. Liberal Canadian parties vehemently protest the attempt by the Conservative Party to influence the U.S. election. The Clinton camp accepts this specious account as valid--and throws it in the kitchen sink as well;

-The Clinton camp, in Drudge-like fashion, insinuates dark misdoings regarding Antoin Rezko--despite the fact that there have been absolutely no allegations of wrongdoing by Obama--hoping perhaps that the mere association will stick--and despite the questions that have been raised about Clinton fundraising during the years of her own "experience";

-The Clinton campaign rolls out the hackneyed "red phone" advertisement, dating to Walter Mondale's 1984 campaign, to suggest that she, unlike Obama, has greater experience for such "3 A.M. moments". When asked to name a single crisis situation that she has actually had to deal with, she is unable to name one.

-Mark Penn, the Clinton campaign's chief strategist, in the weekend panic, emails the L.A. Times to state that he had "'no direct authority in the campaign,' describing himself as merely 'an outside message advisor with no campaign staff reporting to me.'"

This sink is filled with the type of fear-based politics that we have come to know so well over these past 8 years. It is fundamentally defensive, and is all-too-willing to use the familiar tools of dishonesty and distortion in pursuit of victory. It indicates how a Clinton Administration would respond to adversity--with a tactical fusillade of presentations, followed by distortion and attack.

It's time to clean the dishes. Don't allow yourself to be misled by misrepresentation, insinuation and division. Leave this kind of politics behind.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman