So What About Those Issues?

Perhaps the greatest irony of the Democratic race this primary season comes from the charges that Obama lacks in substance, yet while the the Clinton camp is the greatest mouthpiece for this argument, the last things they seem to want to talk about are the issues at hand.

I had hoped that with Obama’s rise to prominence this election season would result in some great debates, some serious talk about the challenges that face our nation, but as his rise to the frontrunner solidified, the Clinton campaign claims to be the campaign of that oh so elusive substance, yet the attacks they launch upon the Obama campaign are not based upon the foundation of ideas and solutions, but instead upon the politics-of-old style attacks; attacks that have grown increasingly personal and deranged.

For instance, the Clinton campaign has launched a massive ad buy in Wisconsin taking Obama to task for not agreeing to debate with her.  This would be a valid point except, they’ve already shared the stage in well over twenty debates during the primary season.  This is not an attack of substance, this is the Clinton camp’s way of calling Obama a scaredy cat.

There is the plagiarism attack, one that has been proven to be outright false.  Obama borrowed a few lines from his long time friend Deval Patrick, lines he was expressly authorized to use without creditation.  The Clinton camp has leveled these charges upon the Obama campaign while at the same time communications director for the Clinton camp, Howard Wolfson, has refused to deny the Clinton camp has done the very same thing.  This is not an argument of substance, this is a flailing personal attack, and a false one at that.

The Clinton’s have played the race card, most notably former President Bill Clinton when he likened Barack Obama’s campaign to Jesse Jackson’s down in South Carolina.  High level surrogates and officials have brought up Obama’s drug use several times, going so far as to paint him as a drug dealer, when the man has written about the experience in a book published ten years ago and has used his experience in a good way to address younger people and the follies of drug use.  This in the face of the infamous “Did not inhale” defense that former President Clinton used and few people actually believe.

They have even attacked the fact that Obama has not been attacked enough; that Hillary Clinton alone has stood up to the Republican Attack Machine and survived to tell the tale.  Not only does this have absolutely nothing to do with the substantive argument that the Clinton team so desperately craves, it is at its heart dishonest.  Hillary Clinton has never beaten the Republican Attack Machine.  Not once.  She’s only won two elections, both of those in New York where the infamous Republican Attack Machine is notably not very powerful.  Aside from that, someone tell me where she has “battled” the Republican Attack Machine and won?  Was it in her record?  The same record that had her voting for the bankruptcy bill she hoped wouldn’t pass?  Or the Iraq War vote that she refuses to say was a mistake?  Was it her championing of Universal Health Care as First Lady (or was that simply her own failings that sunk that project)?  Or did she successfully beat the Republicans back on the IRG vote?  So someone please show me where this woman has successfully beaten the back in just one fight.

By contrast, sure, Obama’s not had much experience with the Republican machine, but thus far he’s taken an equally formidable opponent, the Clinton Attack Machine, and gone toe to toe with it; reason enough to believe he’s touch enough to stand up to John McCain.

The Clinton campaign attack Obama’s oratory skills, knowing that they do so only because Hillary lacks them.  They also know that style has the potential to be substance, that a President’s ability to rally the spirit of the American people can mean the difference between winning or losing a battle with congress.

She has attacked him for his “present” votes in the Illinios state senate even after it was revealed that those were parliamentary maneuvers he ran to provide political cover for other Democratic senators in less safe districts, and those present votes have earned him the praise of women’s rights groups.  She’s attacked him over campaign public funding when she herself refuses to commit.

The Clinton campaign claims to be this great, substantive, campaign that is for you and me, the people, yet they are the ones that have ignored caucus states and small states only until it became clear that they were doing so at their own peril.  They ignored Texas until it became clear that Texas would have to be a vital win for Hillary, and it wasn’t until then that they learned that the Texas system of delegate selection was complex and not to their benefit.  They claim to be for the people of America, but they have long sought to overrule the voice of said people by strong arming super delegates and now going after pledged delegates in Obama’s corner.  The Clinton campaign has claimed to be for the people of America, but have shown nothing but an interest in themselves, more than occasionally letting slip a little of that character so adequately portrayed by the sitting president when he said, “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

There has been scarce substantive in the way the Clinton camp has behaved.  They cry foul and claim to want to be about the issues, but all we have seen from them is one trick dirtier than the last.  So let’s have it.  Let’s have a talk about those issues.

How about the economy EducationForeign Policy?  How about the whole shootin’ match?

The really funny thing is the Clinton campaign has been hitting Obama hard on talking about substance, so when he went to Wisconsin and did just that, what were they left with?  Playing dirty.

Again, I ask you, how on Earth does Hillary Clinton seem like a good idea as the nominee of our party?

2 Responses to “So What About Those Issues?”

  1. DrGail says:

    I share your frustration. . .

    It seems to be that, after seeing the Democrats vanquished by the dirty politics of Karl Rove (and his ilk) — with willing complicity from the media as well as some not-terribly-astute other Democrats — Hillary’s campaign has decided to emulate his tactics.

    While I found those tactics infuriating when practiced by the Republicans, it’s downright embarrassing to see a Democrat use them. If it comes down to Hillary vs McCain, things will get dirty but I will obviously back the Democratic candidate and reassure myself that, if forced to choose, the ends justify the means. But I would rather we take the high ground on the “means” as well. . .

  2. mick says:

    1) Matt Taibbi writing in Rolling Stone a couple of weeks ago compared Hillary’s campaign style with Nixon’s. It’s an apt comparison, more apt than a comparison with Rove. She hasn’t sunk that low. Yet….

    2) Obama’s problem isn’t a lack of substance but a lack of honor. He says one thing and does another, orating like a progressive, then voting like a Pub and supporting GOP initiatives. From that standpoint, there’s little to choose between TweedleBam and TweedleShe.

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