By John Mulvey of Portland, Oregon. John is a progressive Democrat who supports Hillary Clinton for President.
There’s a lot of discussion in the press about “going negative.” The storyline today is that Clinton’s wins in the Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas primaries were a result of her going negative, and Obama will now be forced into going negative himself.
A couple of things should be said, I think.
First, Sen. Clinton has been accused of quite a bit in this campaign. In the last several days at Blue Oregon it’s been alleged, without substantiation, that she has had photos doctored in order to make Obama look “more black”; that she was responsible for his blunder with the Canadian government and NAFTA; and that she leaked the photo of Obama in Kenyan dress; that she’s questioned whether Obama is a Muslim; that she’s been colluding with the McCain campaign, that she’s “endorsed” McCain…
There’s not a shred of basis for any of this, and in fact it sounds more like a Roswell convention than a political debate.
What we did see was a tv commercial that ran in Texas. The ad doesn’t mention Obama, but merely presents Sen. Clinton as being the person you would want in charge in a crisis. This ad is the sum total of what Obama is calling “slash and burn” tactics, and a “kitchen sink” strategy. (That is, she’s been throwing everything she can find at him.)
All this has come after six months of debate about Sen. Clinton’s laugh, her suits, whether she’s a bitch, whether she’s “pimping out” her daughter… She’s routinely called a racist, a corporate shill and an enabler of George Bush. She’s been accused of trying to steal the election via superdelegates (although the conversation always goes strangely silent whenever a superdelegate pledges to Obama).
But as the media has been reporting today, Sen. Obama is now going to give Clinton some “slash and burn” of her own. Obama is now pushing two talking points: first, that Clinton hasn’t released her tax returns, and second, that she doesn’t have the foreign policy experience she claims to have.
Even apart from being substantively dubious, these two things just seem lame. Is this the best dirt they can find? If so, it seems that Clinton’s claim of being already vetted may be true. I don’t know if Obama’s people expect to find something new in the tax returns, but I can’t imagine there’s anything useful there. And a failure to find anything will just make him look more petty. As for experience in foreign policy, does he really want to have that debate?
Nobody can deny that Obama’s record deserves more scrutiny than it’s gotten so far, and every voter will benefit as more becomes known about him. He needs to answer questions about his record, just like everybody else.
There is a candidate who has felt the full force of the kitchen sink, and he’s not it.