More on Clinton/Obama

Two interesting counterpoints today. The first comes from a Paul Krugman Op-Ed article, a certified Hillary supporter:

"I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again."
He then goes on to cite examples of Obama supporting "venom:"
"During the current campaign, Mrs. Clinton’s entirely reasonable remark that it took L.B.J.’s political courage and skills to bring Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to fruition was cast as some kind of outrageous denigration of Dr. King.

And the latest prominent example came when David Shuster of MSNBC, after pointing out that Chelsea Clinton was working for her mother’s campaign — as adult children of presidential aspirants often do — asked, “doesn’t it seem like Chelsea’s sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?” Mr. Shuster has been suspended, but as the Clinton campaign rightly points out, his remark was part of a broader pattern at the network."

In response, many of his readers responded, ostensibly citing examples of anti-Obama rhetoric coming from the Clinton camp. This is Krugman's response in his blog:
"[Krugman quoting Clive Crook]

Some commentators accused Bill of playing the race card when he called Obama’s account of his position on the Iraq war a “fairy tale”. How so? What did that have to do with race? And does Hillary’s comment about King, the only instance Morris bothers to offer, even qualify? She merely said that getting the job done required a can-do president as well as an inspiring and visionary champion. And so it did. I cannot see that this subtracts anything from King’s stature, or that it was intended to. Whatever its merits, this is the Clintons’ old theme, not a sinister new one: if elected, she would hit the ground running, whereas the inexperienced Obama would be out of his depth. It took a hyper-sensitive press to turn that comment into a racial slur.


I think the press played the race card, not the Clintons.

It really makes me sad to see so many people get played by the media on this. If you prefer Obama, fine — but the evil, race-card-playing Clinton campaign is no more real than Al Gore’s claim that he invented the Internet.

And to Obama supporters, just remember: these people are not your friends. After they take down Hillary Clinton, if they can, your man will be next...

Folks, you’ve been played like a fiddle by people in the media who just plain hate the Clintons. They tried to take Hillary down over her clothes, her voice, her tears. When none of that worked, they invented a race war."
Generally, I'm a fan of Krugman's and find his analyses to be dead on target. But I think in this case, he's making several key mistakes.

The first is that his argument about rabid, venom-spewing Obama supporters just doesn't seem to wash with me. The instances that Krugman cites as being evidence of rabid anti-Clinton rhetoric from Obama fans are also being perpetrated by the media. In fact, the second instance that he cited is purely about the actions of MSNBC and has nothing to do with any of Obama's supporters. If he thinks that the Clinton's should not be held accountable for the media's spinning of their commentary, then he should extend the same courtesy to Obama and his supporters.

Secondly, I'm in agreement that a lot of the anti-Clinton rhetoric is the result of media hypin, but it is simply not the case that Hillary's Rovean style tactics are purely the creation of the media outlets. There are clear cases in which Senator Clinton has willfully distorted facts in order to cast doubt upon Barack's record. For instance, she and her husband tried to dismiss his record on the Iraq war by saying that he took his speech off of his website and that he continuously voted to fund the war. The first statement is simply false, the second one completely misleading (as you can be against a war, but still vote to give your troops money for armor and supplies, given that they are already at war and will need these things to survive).

In another instance, she took comments made by Obama about how Reagan's transformational status and the GOP's status as the "party of ideas," and then distorted that in a debate, reframing his comments as support for those ideas.

Thirdly, I think Krugman needs to step back a bit. It's fine if he supports Hillary and thinks that she has a better plan for universal healthcare. That's a valid point and one that I will take into account when thinking about who to support. But I think that he's doing a disservice to his camp and to the party by casting Obama supporters as saps for a cult of personality, or marionettes dancing to the press's puppeteering. How can anyone reasonably insult supporters of a differing candidate (which is more highly educated, according to the polls) and then expect them to just turn around and switch? If anything, his rhetoric is merely going to carve out divisions all the more clearly between the two sides.



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