December 3, 2007

Hillary Will Assail Obama's Character, Laughter Abounds

In what would qualify as satire, the Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton's new strategy in Iowa will focus on Obama's character rather than his policy positions. Hillary has fallen behind Obama in recent polling in Iowa, and has decided to campaign against him more aggressively. However, given the track record of the Clintons, character hardly appears to be a winning forum for the national frontrunner:

With a new poll showing her losing ground in the Iowa caucus race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) mounted a new, more aggressive attack against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Sunday, raising direct questions about his character, challenging his integrity and forecasting a sharp debate over those subjects in the days ahead.

Clinton has hammered Obama recently over his health-care proposal, arguing that he is misleading voters because it omits millions of people and would not lower costs. But Sunday, in a dramatic shift, she made it clear that her goal is to challenge Obama not just on policy but also on one of his strongest selling points: his reputation for honesty.

"There's a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we're willing to fight for," Clinton told reporters here. She said voters in Iowa will have a choice "between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who's walked the walk."

Asked directly whether she intended to raise questions about Obama's character, she replied: "It's beginning to look a lot like that."

Obama may have a skeleton or two in the closet with his Chicago connections to Tony Rezko, but the Clintons have a figurative graveyard in theirs. Obama can start with the Travel Office firings and the trumped-up criminal case that attempted to cover it up, to the 900 raw FBI files the White House illegally held, pass up Monica Lewinsky and go straight to the records that Hillary and Bill refuse to release from his administration. If Hillary wants to make character an issue, then she legitimizes all of that debate, and plenty more besides.

Obama may or may not decide to take advantage of the bounty Hillary just provided him, at least not personally, but the Republicans just heard the bugle call for this particular horse race. Not that they needed any prompting, but Hillary has now endorsed their vast right-wing conspira -- er, their opposition research efforts. If she wins the nomination, this particular quote will be offered over and over again to show her endorsement for character as a legitimate election issue.

One has to wonder who made this decision. Obama's main problem is his inexperience and his inability to inspire much confidence in his executive abilities on the stump. He has been weak and vacillating, shifting positions less dramatically than Hillary at the debate but nonetheless shifting just the same. Hillary and her team should focus on that rather than going negative with character attacks. That just reinforces her already substantial negatives in the polling, and makes her look even more Nixonian.

In the end, Hillary can afford to lose Iowa a lot more than she can afford to make character an issue in the campaign, especially with her "I was against Iraq after I was for it" husband making his own character deficiencies painfully obvious on the trail. If she thinks she can win a character debate in the general election, she is getting very, very bad advice. (via Power Line)


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