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January 18, 2008

Politicizing The Office?

The Bush administration has taken plenty of heat over their alleged politicization of the White House, especially in the roles Karl Rove has played in the past two terms. The release of the memos from the 1993 Health Care Task Force might put that in some perspective. The HCTF anticipated a tough debate over its proposal to nationalize American health care, and it proposed some specific remedies -- including using the DNC to conduct intelligence operations.

A February 1993 memo to Hillary Clinton from Alexis Herman and Mike Lux proposes that the HCTF -- a White House policy group -- enlist the DNC for several purposes, discussed on page 5:

C. The DNC Role

The DNC clearly has a critically important role to play in the campaign. I would suggest the following roles ...

3. The DNC can be instrumental for us in intelligence gathering and opposition research. Their staff will hear talk about things that may never reach us inside these walls

In other words, the White House would basically run their sales pitch through the offices of the Democratic National Committee. The federal government, rather than making its case through the normal legislative process, would instead deputize the DNC to run its publicity campaign, further politicizing the entire process. They would also use the DNC to "help keep the Democratic base groups pumped up and excited", which gives readers an insight into the purpose of the entire program.

All of that falls into the category of "politicizing" the White House, and much more than having Karl Rove as deputy chief of staff. But this goes beyond mere politicization. The HCTF foresaw using the DNC to "gather intelligence" on political opposition -- a way to gain information to intimidate or extort their critics. It's bad enough when electoral campaigns do this, but having the White House use the DNC for these purposes doesn't border on abuse of power but invades it with a vengeance.

And this memo came to Hillary Clinton a mere two weeks after her husband's inauguration. The impetus for this kind of political warfare existed within the Clinton administration within the first hours of its birth.

Hillary Clinton needs to answer for her response to this and to the Rockefeller memo that suggested much the same approach a few months later. She needs to get the rest of the records out in public in order to allow the electorate to see exactly what kind of administration we can expect from a Hillary victory. Just in the records that have been released, we're already seeing a much darker picture than any reported by the media over the past 15 years.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more thoughts on these memos.


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