As it should, it started with (quoting William Kristol here) "the perennially needy former president" claiming he'd always been against the war, a claim so grand and so easy to prove wrong. (OK, that was Nov. 28, but stick with me here.)
Then the attempted trouncing of Obama for wanting to be president since kindergarten, a display of the old Clinton strategy of accusing someone of what you're guilty of, and dangling participles while you're at it. I can see the staff hard at work:
Hillary is an ambitious bitch.In the process, Hillary's campaign revealed again the vicious reach of its relentless research operation -- this time reaching all the way to Indonesia for dope on the opposition.
Yeah, so let's accuse Obama of being, if not as ambitious a bastard, at least ambitious for longer.
And speaking of dope, there was the seeming stumble of the campaign -- actually rather masterfully orchestrated, if you look at it through Clintonian specs -- when it raised the question of Obama's drug use (a claim the Clintons are certainly familiar with). Here's Kristol on the coke-crazed campaigning:
The following week, the national co-chairman of the Clinton campaign, Bill Shaheen, raised the issue of Obama's youthful drug use. Shaheen's wife, Jeanne, is the former governor of New Hampshire and is running for the Senate next year. Bill Shaheen is an experienced operative. This was no young volunteer shooting his mouth off.Let me just say this about the Clintons raising the drug issue. Look at Hillary's paisleys and polka-dots and the half-open eyes in the picture. Remember "did not inhale."
Shaheen wondered aloud to a reporter how vulnerable Obama would be to Republican attacks over Obama's long-acknowledged youthful drug use: "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" An outcry forced Shaheen to apologize, and to step down as campaign co-chairman the next day. But that evening, on Hardball, Clinton strategist Mark Penn pulled a classic Clinton gambit, raising the issue again while denying he was doing so: "The issue related to cocaine use is not something that the campaign was in any way raising," he assured one and all. Penn has been under pressure from critics within Hillary-land who've been trying to mount a coup against him. With this low blow, he presumably was trying to prove to Hillary and her long-time apparatchik Sidney Blumenthal his willingness to go the extra mile. We'll see if throwing personal decency overboard for the sake of the cause saves his job.
And then last night on Charlie Rose, ol' Mr. Perennially Needy went on a tear against Obama's lack of experience. As most of us recall, Clinton was a small state governor, young as Obama, when he pulled off the not too difficult a trick of appearing more energetic than George H.W. Bush, aided by Ross Perot's bleeding of Bush supporters. It twarn't experience that got the Clintons in the White House.
I didn't see the Rose interview, but I understand from E&P and the Atlantic that a red-in-the-face Clinton was rolling along pretty robustly as Hillary operatives were in the control room trying to get the producers to do the PBS version of cutting to a commercial break.
All this when we've heard that Hillary's asked the campaign to tone back on the Barack-attacks. Isn't that perfect? At the front of the campaign, the now regal Hillary says "Play fair, boys," while behind her, and no doubt with her full knowledge, the 55 gallon drums of smear are being poured into the political machine.