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January 26, 2008

It Wasn't Derangement After All (Update: Trailer Trash?)

Earlier this morning, I noted that some Democrats have discovered that the Clintonian Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy meme may actually have been drizzly pap. In the Los Angeles Times today, Jonathan Chait reluctantly comes to that conclusion. He writes that the conservatives who have long railed against the lies and dirty tactics of the Clintons have been somewhat vindicated by the primary campaign tactics of Bill and Hillary:

Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational. We're not frothing Clinton haters like ... well, name pretty much any conservative. We just really wish they'd go away.

The big turning point seems to be this week, when the Clintons slammed Obama for acknowledging that Ronald Reagan changed the country. Everyone knows Reagan changed the country. Bill and Hillary have said he changed the country. But they falsely claimed that Obama praised Reagan's ideas, saying he was a better president than Clinton -- something he didn't say and surely does not believe.

This might have been the most egregious case, but it wasn't the first. Before the New Hampshire primaries, Clinton supporters e-mailed pro-choice voters claiming that Obama was suspect on abortion rights because he had voted "present" instead of "no" on some votes. (In fact, the president of the Illinois chapter of Planned Parenthood said she had coordinated strategy with Obama and wanted him to vote "present.") Recently, there have been waves of robocalls in South Carolina repeatedly attacking "Barack Hussein Obama."

I crossed the Clinton Rubicon a couple of weeks ago when, in the course of introducing Hillary, Clinton supporter and Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson invoked Obama's youthful drug use. This was disgusting on its own terms, but worse still if you know anything about Johnson. I do -- I once wrote a long profile of him. He has a sleazy habit of appropriating the logic of civil rights for his own financial gain. He also has a habit of aiding conservative crusades to eliminate the estate tax and privatize Social Security by falsely claiming they redistribute wealth from African Americans to whites. The episode reminded me of the Clintons' habit of surrounding themselves with the most egregious characters: Dick Morris, Marc Rich and so on.

The Clinton campaign is trying to make it seem as if the complaint is about negativity, and it is pointing out that Obama has criticized Hillary as well. That's what politicians are supposed to do when they compete for votes. But criticism isn't the same thing as lying and sleaze-mongering.

Lying. Sleaze-mongering. False claims. Well, no one can say that conservatives didn't warn everyone -- repeatedly -- about these Clinton characteristics. Chait still wants to shrug it off by claiming that the Republicans are somehow worse, and does so by calling Paula Jones "trailer trash", and then justifying it in the next paragraph.

Somehow, that doesn't amount to a stirring repudiation of sleaze-mongering and character assassination, Jonathan.

This does show that the Clintons have started becoming a liability among the elites. That could drive better coverage of their deceptions and smears from the media and expose them in a way that never happened during their years in power. It might force the Democrats to come to terms with the gutter politics they've cheered from this crowd and finally put an end to the Clinton machine.

UPDATE: The more I think about Chait's repeated assertions of Jones as "trailer trash", the more revealing it gets. How exactly does Jones qualify? She turned down Bill's awkward pass, but didn't take any action against him until someone claimed she'd acquiesced. She took the same exact action Democrats hailed when they rolled out sexual-harassment legislation in The Year of the Woman -- 1992, just after Anita Hill's accusations that sprang out of 10 years of silence and her following the alleged perpetrator to a new job elsewhere.

Remember when Democrats accused Republicans of not "getting it" during Clarence Thomas' testimony? We "got it" just fine. Women who accuse Republicans of sexual impropriety are heroes of the Left, while women who do the same to Democrats -- in a lot more timely manner and with actual evidence of wrongdoing -- are "trailer trash", unworthy of respect. In fact, for elites like Chait, these women are nothing more than commodities for his partisan rancor.


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