Clintons Escalate Smear Campaign Against Obama, This Time Lying About Reagan Quote

After almost eight years of George Bush, it is disappointing to see that one of the front runners for the Democratic nomination is revealing herself to be just as dishonest. Ever since Hillary Clinton has been challenged for Barack Obama for the nomination, she has resorted to a series of attacks based upon intentionally distorting Obama’s record and statement. We’ve seen this in the “fairy tale” claims about his opposition to the Iraq war, the distortion of the meaning of voting “present” in the Illinois legislature, and his Social Security policy. Clinton is again lying about what Obama has said, this time about Ronald Reagan.

In a recent interview, Obama compared himself to presidents such as Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy who “changed the trajectory of America.” He has similarly used FDR as a similar example in other interviews. Obama spoke of how the Republicans “were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10 or 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.” What is significant is that Obama also criticized the Republican ideas and laid out a set of policies quite different from what Ronald Reagan would have approved of.

Many liberal bloggers have attacked Obama merely for mentioning Reagan. Clinton has now attacked by lying about what Obama said:

I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years. That’s not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years.

That is actually pretty much the opposite of what Obama was talking about. Bill Clinton also repeated the same lie as he said, “Her principal opponent said that since 1992, the Republicans have had all the good ideas.”

An Obama spokesman responded by noting that there was one bad Republican idea which Hillary Clinton did go along with:

It’s hard to take Hillary Clinton’s latest attack seriously when she’s the one who supported George Bush’s war in Iraq, the most damaging Republican idea of our generation. While others were triangulating and poll-testing their positions, Senator Obama has been fighting for progressive ideals for over two decades.

If one wanted to criticize Obama for what he actually said, as opposed to these gross distortions, one possible criticism would be to accuse him of a sort of hubris for believing he can have the effect that Reagan and John F. Kennedy had. Sam Stein discussed the comparisons between Obama and Reagan with former Reagan advisers. Charlie Black’s answer might best apply to the Clinton attacks as he said, “He is a very doctrinaire liberal and Reagan was the father of the conservative movement, so the differences are quite vast.”

Other Reagan advisers better understood that Obama’s comparison wasn’t over ideology and found some validity to his statement:

“If I understand what he was saying I can’t entirely disagree with it. They both came along at times when society was on the cusp of change and they are both agents of change,” Ron Reagan told the Huffington Post. “As far as Barack Obama being a similar agent of change, that remains to be seen. But what I do see him saying is that we are in a historical moment right now like the 60s and 80s. And I think he’s right. We are overdue for a cultural shift.”

Other Reagan aides grabbed onto the comparison, drawing historical similarities between the end of the Carter administration and the contemporary political landscape. The economic malaise and hangover from Vietnam of the late 1970s, they argued, are analogous in some ways to the middle class unrest and backlash to neo-conservatism today. And yet, for several Reaganites, it was the tone and tenor of Obama that best echoed the image of their former boss.

“Ronald Reagan was an inspirational leader who also was a uniter. There was never any vindictive stuff to the other side,” said Lawrence Korb, a former Reagan aide and current Obama supporter who serves as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “In 1983, when you had the commission to fix Social Security, which basically gave us 20 more years with the program, after it was over Reagan would not campaign against any [Democrat] who supported that. And the harshest thing he said against [Walter] Mondale was that he was too young. There was never any of this vindictiveness… I think Obama is trying to get us back to that pleasantness.”

Added Peter Robinson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institute and a speechwriter for Reagan’s White House: “I do believe Obama is right in looking back at the election of 1980 and saying that was a historical inflection point. Of course there is a certain amount of self-flattery involved in that statement, but he might be right.” Robinson added: “I do think Ronald Reagan would have found Barack Obama appealing.”

It is also surprising that so many Democrats overlook the value in mentioning Reagan in an interview in a red state, as well as the value of doing so if they want to get the Reagan Democrats to return to the Democratic Party. When Clinton and others on the left attack Obama over this interview, they are only demonstrating why we need a change.

Update: Hillary is flip flopping on Reagan. From her campaign website:

But no president can do it alone. She must break recent tradition, cast cronyism aside and fill her cabinet with the best people, not only the best Democrats, but the best Republicans as well.. We’re confident she will do that. Her list of favorite presidents – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, George H.W. Bush and Reagan – demonstrates how she thinks. As expected, Bill Clinton was also included on the aforementioned list.

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  1. 1
    Lou says:

    “When Clinton and others on the left attack Obama over this interview, they are only demonstrating why we need a change.”

    Amen to that!

    Did you hear Hillary has Reagan and Papa Bush listed as two of her favorite presidents….on her very own website?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, after posting this I checked other blog posts on the topic and read about that. We also can’t forget that Hillary was an old Goldwater Girl.

  3. 3
    beachmom says:

    Excellent post, Ron. I agree with every word.

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