Monday, March 10, 2008

Andrew Sullivan: Clintons: Comfortable with Polarisation

The Sunday TimesMarch 9, 2008
The Clintons, a horror film that never ends
Andrew Sullivan

...Consider: the Clintons could have prepared for primaries and caucuses after February 5 – so-called Super Tuesday, when 24 states held their presidential nomination vote – as any careful candidate would. They chose not to do any of these things. Not because they are incompetent. But because they live to risk.

Politics is also their life. They know nothing else. Most halfway normal people in politics could at some point walk away. Reagan seemed happy to. Not the Clintons. In the words of the American-based British writer Christo-pher Hitchens, these are the kind of people who never want the meeting to end. Hillary Clinton will never concede the race so long as there is even the faintest chance that she can somehow win.

They endure all sorts of humiliation – remember the taped Clinton deposition in the Ken Starr investigation (in which Clinton admitted to the inquiry headed by the far-right prosecutor that he had had an “improper physical relationship” with Monica Lewinsky)? Hillary’s dismissal of the Lewinsky matter as an invention of the right-wing conspiracy? – because they know no other way to live. They have been thinking of this moment since they were in college and being a senator or an ex-president or having two terms in the White House are not sufficient to satiate their sense of entitlement. Even if they have to put their own party through a divisive, bitter, possibly fatal death match, they will never give up. Their country, their party . . . none of this matters compared with them.

The patterns are staggeringly unaltered. Last Thursday The Washing-ton Post ran an article reporting on the almost comic divisions within the Clinton camp: how chaotic the planning had been, how much chief pollster Mark Penn hated all the other advisers, how even in the wake of a sudden victory most of the Clintonites were eager to score rancid points off each other.

The secrecy and paranoia endure too. Releasing tax returns is routine for a presidential candidate. Barack Obama did it some time back. The Clintons still haven’t – and say they won’t for more than another month. Why? They have no explanation. They seem affronted by the question.

When you look at the electoral map if the Clintons run again, you also see a reversion to the old patterns of the 1990s – the patterns that cynical political strategists such as Karl Rove and Dick Morris have been exploiting for two decades. The country – scrambled by the post-baby-boomer pragmatism of Obama – snaps back into classic red-blue mode, with the blue areas denoting Democratic-leaning states around the edge and true red Republican states in the heartlands.

The Clintons are comfortable with this polarisation. They need it. Even when running against a fellow Democrat, they instinctively reach for it. Last week, in response to the Obama camp’s request that they release their tax returns, Clinton’s spokesman called Obama a new Ken Starr. For the Clintons, all Democrats who oppose them are . . . Republicans. And all Republicans are evil.

And evil means that anything the Clintons do in self-defence is excusable – even playing the race card, and the Muslim card, and the gender card, and every sleazy gambit that the politics of fear can come up with. This is how they have arrested the Obama juggernaut. It’s the only game they know how to play.



...While Hillary takes aim at Obama's buddy, Tony Rezko, the Obama people need to explore the dimensions of Hillary's relationship with con artist Norman Hsu, who donated almost a million dollars to her campaign, money he'd scammed from gullible investors.

Obama needs to enlist the likes of Ted Kennedy and his other supporters in making the case against Hillary.

After her victories in Texas and Ohio, Hillary is once again in play. Negatives about her matter. A full frontal assault on her integrity and on Bill's conflicts of interest (remember they have joint finances) will work and will stop the bleeding in the Obama campaign.


Naftagate? Clinton-wise.

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