It’s now getting close to the point where even people who sympathize with and admire certain attributes have to wonder if her campaign has “jumped the shark” — when we learn that a campaign worker was involved with reprehensible bilge such as this:
A day after the Hillary campaign hit the Obama camp for bullying voters in nasty phone calls, the Hillary crew has just acknowledged that an Iowa county chair volunteering for the campaign passed along the now-notorious email that smears Obama as a Muslim by repeating the false claim that he attended a madrassa as a child.
The Hillary campaign confirms that they are asking the county chair to step down from the campaign.
The charge was made by a Daily Kos diarist who identified himself as planning to “caucus” for Chris Dodd, suggesting that this happened in Iowa.
Read the entire post on TPM yourself for the details. But it quotes Clinton’s respected internet media coordinator Peter Dao (we’ve linked to his stuff for years and he is a solid pro) as confirming, yes, it came from a Clinton campaign worker. This does NOT mean, by the way, that it was a decision from high-up in the Hillary Clinton camp.
Remember: this is the smear that was picked up by right wing talk show hosts and some (but NOT all) conservative bloggers. Some Democrats at the time blamed it on Karl Rove or Republican operatives.
(1) If this indeed came from a worker and not higher-up somewhere, then the campaign will need to exert better quality control. All of this politics-of-personal-destruction stuff is imploding the Clinton camp’s carefully constructed imagery.
(2) So how does this differ from the smelly, nose-picking reprehensible tactics used by Karl Rove & Co over the years? Just what kind of pleasant option does this present voters who want to cast votes in 2008 against the way political campaigns have been conducted recently? This, in fact, smacks of the racist appeals to bigotry that Rove & Co instigated in 2000 against Arizona Senator John McCain in South Carolina.
(3) WARNING TO HILLARY CLINTON: The press will now leap on stories about your campaign’s ruthlessness and Obama will come across as more issue-oriented and dignified. The narrative of a campaign that perceives itself to be in trouble will be confirmed and fed by this. You need to reverse this or it could sink your candidacy (Press narratives: The Candidate Rises, The Candidate Near Triumph, The Candidate Suddenly Falls…then The Candidate Rises Again)
Meanwhile, Robert Novak has a piece that has good news and bad news for Ms. Clinton.
First, the good news:
Despite a slip in the polls by front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Republican confidence about winning the presidency actually has declined. The reason is the dispiriting performance put on by the Republican candidates in last Wednesday’s debate in St. Petersburg, Fla. We have had several Republicans tell us that after watching that affair, they wondered not only about the outcome of the ’08 presidential election but also the long-range future of the GOP.
And now the bad news:
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has gone on the attack against Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), and she has not reacted well. Clinton’s poor reaction last month to a series of attacks in a debate, and her attack on Obama’s “ambition” for wanting to be President in grade school draw out one concern among many Democrats—that she is creepy. Along those lines, she told CBS’s Katie Couric that she “never considered” the possibility she could lose the election.
Obama leads in the latest Iowa polls, and a victory there would set up a legitimate one-on-one between him and Hillary. It’s will be difficult for Hillary to recover in the last month. The question now is: Will she beat former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) for second place in the caucuses.
In other words: Clinton could still win the nomination — it’s easy to be sucked into the latest Flavor Of The Week Conventional Wisdom narrative — but most assuredly a lot of the image of inevitability of Clinton and the seeming early dignity of her camp’s political campaign have evaporated.
UPDATE: A new poll says Hillary Clinton may well be inevitable in terms of the Democratic nomination.l