Bubba bumbles in criticism of Hillary’s competition

As the debate continues over Hillary’s playing the victim card after facing intense scrutiny and cracking under pressure at last week’s Democratic candidates’ debate, her hubby Bubba, desperate to get the Clinton paws on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue again, rallied to her defense yesterday by invoking the “swift boating” argument against her opponents (emphasis added):

“‘We listened to people make snide comments about whether Vice President Gore was too stiff,’ [he] said. ‘And when they made dishonest claims about the things that he said that he’d done in his life. When that scandalous swift boat ad was run against Senator Kerry. When there was an ad that defeated Max Cleland in Georgia, a man that left half his body in Vietnam.'”

In essence, Bill Clinton is accusing Barack Obama and John Edwards, and anyone else who criticized his wife at the Dem debate of “swift boating” her. For Democrats, that is a serious accusation, considering how they feel about the Swift Boat Vets. In fact, I think it was the far left who invented the term “swiftboating” which they characterize as vicious, unfair, made-up attacks against a political opponent.

Obama responded to Clinton’s comments today:

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama said Tuesday that former President Clinton is making a leap to compare treatment of his wife in the presidential race to the “swift boat” criticism of John Kerry in 2004.

The former president had encouraged an audience in Nevada Monday not to let “trivial matters” take away the election from the Democrats as they have in the past. He cited the television ads during the 2004 presidential campaign that questioned Kerry’s patriotism and campaign commercials in 2002 suggesting that Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga. was soft on terrorism.

Both Kerry and Cleland won medals for their service in Vietnam, during which Kerry commanded a Navy “swift boat” and Cleland lost three limbs. Both were defeated after the ads aired.

Sidenote: Note the subtle bit of bias in that last sentence. Both were defeated “after” the ads aired. Well, anyone who has lost an election has done so after negative ads/attacks have been run against them. The article makes it sound like it was because of those ads/attacks specifically that Cleland and Kerry lost. But I digress.

Continuing with Obama’s response:

“I was pretty stunned by that statement,” Obama said with a chuckle when asked about the former president’s comment in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

He said that when debating last week whether illegal immigrants should be given driver’s licenses, Hillary Rodham Clinton “seemed to contradict what she said previously.”

Both Obama and John Edwards have criticized her repeatedly on that score, but Obama said in the interview: “How you would then draw an analogy to distorting somebody’s military record is a reach.”

Sen. Chris Dodd, another candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, called the Clintons’ response to the debate “outrageous.”

“To have the former president come out and suggest this is a form of swiftboating … is way over the top in my view,” Dodd said in a telephone interview.

“If elected to the presidency, there will be a lot of tough questions and if you can’t handle it in a debate without accusing everybody who has an issue with you of piling on or a sexist attack, somehow, first of all that’s unwise and, secondly, it’s false,” Dodd said.

While it’s somewhat amusing to see all this Dem infighting going on, I have to admit I’m surprised that 1) Hillary’s victim card playing backfired and 2) the Clintons are using tactics on members of their own party that I figured they’d wait to use after the primaries (assuming she gets the nomination) against the Republican nominee. Them using these tactics so soon gives the eventual Republican pick a chance to study the reactions the comments receive from other Democrats, comments that that Republican can, in turn, use on Hillary when the campaign season kicks into high gear next year.

Yuval Levin at NRO’s The Corner is on a similar wavelength:

But since then [the debate] she, her husband, and her campaign team have been in a kind of panicked stupor about it which has not abated much in a week and has continued (needlessly) to draw the worst kind of attention to the candidate and provide fodder for her opposition. Potential Republican candidates are certainly taking notes on this. When (or rather, if) she faces a Republican in the fall, she’ll get pushed around a lot more frequently and forcefully than this (I hope), and she and her team seem terribly ill-equipped for it at the moment.

BillaryThe Clintons, if nothing else, are two of the savviest political animals out there, and to see them throwing some of their cards out on the table this early in the game to me suggests that there’s some worry within the campaign that Clinton’s high poll numbers betray what may turn out to be the real story, which is that Hillary’s popularity perhaps has a lot more to do with primarily name recognition more so than substance, and that with a couple of months to go til Iowa, the other candidates still have a chance to zero in on Hillary’s weaknesses and turn her into the Howard Dean of the 2008 campaign season, which has team Hillary running scared.

By the way, her supposedly clarified stance on Gov. Spitzer’s order to legalize illegals in NY with driver’s licenses? Not so clear. Again. And if polls are any indication, Hillary’s on the wrong side of this issue by simply not coming right out and saying she’s against Spitzer’s plan.


The blogosphere reax to this story are rolling in at Memeorandum.

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