Desperation is never pretty.
It's becoming ever more apparent that the increasingly erratic statements and bizarre antics of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband in the last days of the Democratic presidential nomination process threaten to harm her reputation and destroy what's left of his legacy.
Although the media dust-up over Hillary’s poorly chosen comments last week about Robert F. Kennedy were overblown, the underlying point she was trying to make about staying in the primary contests doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Sen. Clinton reminded people that Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968 while the nomination process was ongoing. She also claimed her husband, Bill Clinton, didn’t wrap up his nomination until June 1992. Having the process continue until that month, she insisted, is nothing unusual.
As I’m sure a student of history as astute as Sen. Clinton knows, the Democratic nomination process was much different 40 years ago. The primaries didn’t even begin until March 12, and only 13 states held primaries at that time.
Also, Sen. Clinton’s reference to her husband’s first presidential campaign is simply disingenuous, although technically accurate. As Bill Clinton wrote in his autobiographical book, My Life, “On April 9, Paul Tsongas announced that he would not reenter the race. The fight for the nomination was effectively over.”
To make matters worse, the irascible former president once again drew unwelcome attention to his wife’s campaign by stating at a campaign stop Sunday in South Dakota, “the people, they want her,” before quickly adding, “she is winning the general election, and (Barack Obama) is not.” For good measure, Bill accused the media of engaging in a “cover-up” on Obama’s behalf. The senator herself repeated this argument later by telling a crowd that she is leading Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain in “every poll” about the November election.
While it’s true Sen. Clinton did fare better in one recent poll, there are as many if not more polls that give the advantage to Obama. Of course, both Clintons kept their accusations vague to avoid too many follow-up questions. Maybe it’s all the fault of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that dogs them.
Such distortions merely reinforce the long-held notion in some political quarters that the Clintons will say almost anything and do almost anything to win elections. The danger for the political power couple, however, is that belief is beginning to spread among many Democrats including former supporters.
Blaming their problems on others is an old Clintonian tactic. Hillary’s recent whining about alleged gender bias among the electorate is a disservice to female politicians everywhere, and one that is expertly dissected by Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.
MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann aptly pegged Hillary’s strategy in a segment shortly after the RFK comment, stating that the senator was reverting to her “now traditional position of offended victim.”
The Clintons’ ever-changing rationale for Hillary’s campaign now focuses on the meeting this weekend of the Democratic National Committee’s rules committee and whether the Michigan and Florida delegates should be seated. Depending on the outcome, expect yet another rationale from the duo next week to keep Hillary’s longshot dream alive.
Facts are such pesky things for the Clintons.
— Kevin Osborne