Clintons Target The Gullible And Less Educated In Their Smear Campaign

In looking at the Clinton smears one thing is clear. The Clintons sure do not think that the American voters are very intelligent. You either have to be pretty stupid, or willing to buy anything the Clintons say regardless of how absurd, to fall for their smear campaign. You have to be pretty stupid to hear all the Clinton surrogates bring race into the campaign and believe their denials that this was intentional. You have to be pretty stupid to listen to Obama’s interview and interpret the comments on Ronald Reagan the way the Clintons claim. You have to be pretty stupid, or uninformed as to Obama’s positions, to believe their attacks on issues such as Iraq, Social Security, and abortion rights. You really have to be stupid to believe it when the Clintons complain about being the victims of the attack after Obama began to defend himself.

Jonathan Alter essentially makes this argument in an column entitled The Clintons’ Patronizing Strategy:The latest attacks on Obama insult voters’ intelligence

Obama’s best hope is that Democratic voters aren’t as dumb as Hillary and Bill Clinton think they are. The outcome of the primaries depends on whether, amid their busy lives, voters can get a general fix on who is more often telling the truth about the barrage of charges and countercharges.

This is ironic, because the way Bill Clinton survived impeachment was by betting on the intelligence of the American public. Now he’s betting against it.

In South Carolina, Hillary is airing a radio ad that goes back to a theme she pushed in the debate there Monday night: that Obama liked Republican ideas. As Obama pointed out in his response ad, this is “demonstrably false,” as referees from ABC News to the Washington Post to have established. (The Obama response ad ends with a new tag line that Hillary will “say anything and change nothing.”)

The Republican story goes back to an interview Obama did with a Nevada newspaper in which he praised the way Ronald Reagan communicated with the public and changed “the trajectory of American politics.” He added that, unfortunately, the Republicans had some fresher ideas than the Democrats in recent decades.

These are completely ordinary comments. In fact, as Obama pointed out in the Myrtle Beach debate, Hillary is considerably more effusive about Reagan in Tom Brokaw’s new book, “Boom.” Bill has also made many statements over the years that were much more complimentary toward Reagan. Nobody paying attention thinks either Obama or the Clintons likes Reagan’s right-wing politics.

But instead of moving on to another line of attack with more grounding in what Bill Clinton called “indisputable facts,” the Clinton campaign decided to bet that this Reagan horse could be flogged for more votes among less educated voters in South Carolina who might be inclined to believe Hillary’s preposterous version.

Less educated? Yes, downscale voters are their target group. Obama is stronger among well-educated Democrats, according to polls. So the Clintons figure that maybe their base among less educated white Democrats might be receptive to an argument that assumes they’re dumb. Less well-educated equals gullible in the face of bogus attack ads. That’s the logic, and the Clintons are testing it in South Carolina before trying it in Super Tuesday states. They are also road-testing major distortions of Obama’s positions on abortion, Social Security and the minimum wage.

I’m all for aggressive, even negative, campaigning, but I’m not so sure this patronizing approach will work for Hillary down the stretch. Let’s take the battle in New Jersey, a delegate-rich state that votes on Feb. 5. Hillary will almost certainly win there, in her backyard, but the question is by how much. New Jersey delegates are awarded proportionally, which means that if Obama can come within five or ten points, he’s ahead of the game in the national delegate hunt.

As the Reagan ad aired in South Carolina, Hillary was campaigning in New Jersey. That gave the Obama campaign an excuse to assemble a rapid response team to create a little backlash in the Garden State.

Cory Booker, the inspiring mayor of Newark, is especially popular with white liberals in the suburbs. Here’s what he said about the Clinton ads, beyond calling them “outrageous” and “dishonest”:

“We’re trying to offer an alternative to the Republicans’ fear and smear campaigns, and now we’re being dragged down to their level by the Clintons.”

Worth Rewatching


This video really captures the campaign. I’ve posted this before but the meaning is now so much clearer.

Posted in Hillary Clinton. 2 Comments »

Robert Reich on Bill Clinton’s Smear Campaign

Former Clintonite Robert Reich weighs in on Bill Clinton’s smears against Barack Obama:

Bill Clinton’s Old Politics

I write this more out of sadness than anger. Bill Clinton’s ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks on Barack Obama are doing no credit to the former President, his legacy, or his wife’s campaign. Nor are they helping the Democratic party. While it may be that all is fair in love, war, and politics, it’s not fair – indeed, it’s demeaning – for a former President to say things that are patently untrue (such as Obama’s anti-war position is a “fairy tale”) or to insinuate that Obama is injecting race into the race when the former President is himself doing it. Meanwhile, the attack ads being run in South Carolina by the Clinton camp which quote Obama as saying Republicans had all the ideas under Reagan, is disingenuous. For years, Bill Clinton and many other leading Democrats have made precisely the same point – that starting in the Reagan administration, Republicans put forth a range of new ideas while the Democrats sat on their hands. Many of these ideas were wrong-headed and dangerous, such as supply-side economics. But for too long Democrats failed counter with new ideas of their own; they wrongly assumed that the old Democratic positions and visions would be enough. Clinton’s 1992 campaign – indeed, the entire “New Democratic” message of the 1990s – was premised on the importance of taking back the initiative from the Republicans and offering Americans a new set of ideas and principles. Now, sadly, we’re witnessing a smear campaign against Obama that employs some of the worst aspects of the old politics.

Clinton Loses Supporter to Obama In Response To Clinton Smear Campaign


The Democratic primary campaign might come down to whether voters believe the lies and smears being spread by the Clinton campaign or whether there is a backlash against such activity. Here is an example of one person who has switched her support from Clinton to Obama as a consequence of the Clinton smear campaign. Lorna Brett Howard, the former President of Chicago NOW (National Organization of Women), supported Clinton until she found that Hillary Clinton was lying about Obama’s record on choice.

In a second video, Howard describes how Obama is one hundred percent pro-choice and one hundred percent honest.


In the third video below, Lorna Brett Howard describes how Obama has been a critical advocate in the fight to preserve choice.


Related Stories:

Robert Reich on Bill Clinton’s Smear Campaign
The Clinton Circus Act

Slick Willie Rides Again

The Clintons, Race, And Smearing Obama

Hillary Clinton, The Republican Democrat
There She Goes Again (Hillary Clinton vs. the Truth)
Eric Zorn Exposes Clinton Lies

Why Bill Clinton Has Spent The Last Several Days Spreading Lies Verifies Obama Side of the Reagan Controversy
Fact Checking The South Carolina Debate

Democrats Show Concern Over Clinton Smear Campaign

For the past week the major story of the campaign has been the nature of the smear campaign launched by the Clintons following their loss in Iowa. If the meaning of Barack Obama’s call for change was ever unclear the need for change has become painfully obvious as the Clintons have showed they are no better than the Republican President we have been so critical of. Seeing how easily both Bill and Hillary Clinton lie, the election of Hillary Clinton would represent not only Bill Clinton’s third term but in a sense a third term for George Bush as well.

For a long time I have criticized all Republicans who have remained silent as one of their leaders has caused immeasurable harm to our country. The same applies to Democrats who will look the other way at the dishonest tactics of Bill and Hillary Clinton because they are members of their party. If this type of dishonesty in government is to be eliminated we must refuse to vote for those who practice it regardless of party affiliation. The Washington Post reports today on a number of Democrats who are concerned with the manner in which the Clintons are conducting their smear campaign:

Responding to the negative ad, Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, accused the Clintons of using the “politics of deception,” and he compared the former president to the late Lee Atwater, a Republican operative from South Carolina who was known for his tough tactics…

In Washington, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who endorsed Obama last week, castigated the former president for what he called his “glib cheap shots” at Obama, saying both sides should settle down but placing the blame predominantly on Clinton.

“That’s beneath the dignity of a former president,” Leahy told reporters, adding: “He is not helping anyone, and certainly not helping the Democratic Party.”

That concern was also voiced by some neutral Democrats, who said that the former president’s aggressive role, along with the couple’s harsh approach recently, threatens to divide the party in the general election.

A few prominent Democrats, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), have spoken to the former president about the force of his Obama critiques. There is some fear within the party that if Obama becomes the nominee, he could emerge personally battered and politically compromised. And there is concern that a Clinton victory could come at a cost — particularly a loss of black voters, who could blame her for Obama’s defeat and stay home in November.

“I’m not underestimating that this could be divisive, but I think both camps know how important this is, that it doesn’t go beyond repair,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.), the most vulnerable Democrat up for reelection next year, who is unaligned…

Harpootlian, a prominent voice in South Carolina politics and a onetime Clinton supporter, said the Clintons’ recent tactics have been “all about deceit.”

“This is harmful to the party, it’s harmful to the state. And I understand they want to win, but this is about — should be about — a competition of ideas, not who can pull the hammer harder,” he said.

For some rank-and-file Democrats, the tack against Obama is prompting a reevaluation of Clinton and her husband. Bill Clinton gained enormous popularity among Democrats in the 1990s partly because of his ability to achieve tactical triumphs over Republicans. Now, watching the use of rough-edged tactics against a fellow Democrat, some of those who supported him then are having second thoughts.

“They’re obvious distortions,” said Ralph Byrd, a retired electrical engineer in Greenville, S.C., who voted for Clinton in 1992 and 1996. “We’ve had enough spin in the White House the last eight years, and we don’t need any more. It’s deliberate distortion that we don’t need.”

For Bill Clinton it is all or nothing. If he wins he gets another term in the White House. In order to accomplish this he is risking his own legacy as it is becoming difficult to argue that the Republicans were not right about him all along.

The Clinton Circus Act

The Clinton strategy after losing Iowa has been to distract from the issues by launching a smear campaign on Obama. The first act was to inject race into the campaign. The second act was to distort Obama’s statements. It didn’t really matter what they said as long as Bill Clinton could suck all the air out of the campaign and distract from any real discussion of the issues. When Obama responded to the lies from Bill and Hillary Clinton they went on to attack Obama for discussing such issues, and to attack the press for covering them. Of course what the Clintons really want is for this circus to dominate the coverage. I’ve already quoted several columnists who have exposed the Clinton strategy. Joe Klein is the latest:

Let me get this straight: Obama wins Iowa. In a desperate move–unprecedented for an ex-President in American politics–Bill Clinton decides to impede Obama’s momentum by inserting himself into the campaign. He attacks Obama on an almost daily basis, sometimes falsely. He makes a spectacle of himself. And then he blames the press for not covering the substance of the campaign?

I can’t believe that Hillary Clinton wants the world to think that whenever she gets into political trouble, she’s going to have her husband come roaring about, breaking furniture, sucking up oxygen, spewing carbon dioxide. My impression is that she’s strong enough to defend herself–she certainly showed that in the recent Democratic debate. But apparently she’s not strong enough to control Mr. Bill…and if that’s the case, any sane voter would have to think twice before enabling this sort of circus act in the White House.

No, such an act should not be allowed in the White House. If they lie this easily during the campaign, they will lie this easily in office.

Slick Willie Rides Again

Everyone expects a political campaign to become tough, but there is a line between criticizing one’s opponent and outright lying. For many observers of this year’s race, the Clintons have crossed this line as their campaign has become based upon lying about what Obama has said and about his positions. William Greider, writing in The Nation differentiates between tough fights which educate us about the candidates, and dishonest campaigns which do the opposite. A tough campaign where the Clintons demonstrated real policy differences with Obama would be educational. In running a campaign based upon lying about what Obama has said we learn nothing of substance about their differences on policy. What we do learn is a disturbing lesson on the lack of ethics of the Clintons. Greider writes:

Slick Willie Rides Again

The Clintons play dirty when they feel threatened. But we knew that, didn’t we?

The recent roughing-up of Barack Obama was in the trademark style of the Clinton years in the White House. High-minded and self-important on the surface, smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard to the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four more years. The thought makes me queasy.

The problem is not Hillary Clinton per se or the sharp exchanges and personal accusations that squeamish political reporters deplore. That’s what politics is always about. Tough, even nasty conflict is educational, also entertaining. Politics ain’t beanbag, as Mark Shields likes to say.

The one-two style of Clintons, however, is as informative as low-life street fighters. Mr. Bill punches Obama in the kidney and from the rear. When Obama whirls around to strike back, there stands Mrs. Clinton, looking like a prim Sunday School teacher and citing goody-goody lessons she learned from her 135 years in government.

I thought Obama did quite well in response, looked strong and stayed in character. But we shall see. He was compelled to play defense and to hope the audience recognized foul play. It’s possible the Clintons won on points, simply by making Obama look like a confused young man who had to keep repeating what he had actually said.

The style is very familiar to official Washington, not just among the Clintons’ partisan adversaries, but among their supporters. The man lied to his friends. All the time. They got used to it. They came expect it. I observe a good many old hands among the Senate Democrats are getting behind Obama. It would be good to know more about why they declined to make the more obvious choice of endorsing the power couple.

We are sure to see more of Mr. Bill’s intrusions because the former president is pathological about preserving his own place in the spotlight. He can’t stand it when he is not the story and, one way or another, he will make himself the story. I used to be sympathetic toward Mrs. Clinton on this point. No longer.

She is using her egocentric husband to do the low-road hits for her campaign. He is good at it–a real charmer if you’ve never seen his act before. Or is Mrs. Clinton’s husband using her? People can ask that question without disturbing the principles of feminism.

Evidently, many of the mainstream party faithful want the Clinton team as their presidential nominee. It’s their choice, of course. But does the rest of the country really deserve this?

No, the country does not deserve this. Voters deserve to be able to choose a candidate based upon an honest comparison of the views of the candidates. Even more importantly, the country does not deserve this because a candidate who campaigns this dishonestly is bound to be similarly dishonest when governing. We will only have honest government if the voters demand honesty from their leaders, and not when they look the other way when the dishonesty comes from their own party. We can hardly condemn the Republicans for what they have done to this country while supporting a candidate who is ethically no better than George Bush.

The Clintons, Race, And Smearing Obama

The classic example of chutzpah is for someone to murder their parents and then throw themselves upon the mercy of the court because they are an orphan. Bill Clinton might not be going that far, but he is certainly showing quite a bit of chutzpah in his attacks on Barack Obama. After stooping to inject race into the campaign, he how has the chutzpah to accuse Obama of stirring the race issue.

Raising race was the last thing Barack Obama really wanted to do as it only works to his disadvantage. The Clinton’s goal is to downplay a loss in South Carolina as a racial fight with Obama winning the black vote. The Clintons next hope that this will increase Hillary’s share of the white vote in subsequent primaries. Bill and Hillary Clinton had everything to gain by making this election about race, even if it means retroactively losing Bill’s title as the unofficial first black president.

Whether the Clintons succeed in their strategy of smears depends largely upon whether enough people see thorough them. As just one example, The Hill’s Pundit Blog summarizes how the Clintons have brought race to the campaign:

I have found myself more and more troubled as the Clinton Machine seeks to derail the candidacy of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Sure, politics is a vicious game and the Clintons are well seasoned in the art of hand-to-hand combat.

No, what disturbs me most about the Clintons is the manner in which they have targeted the senator and initiated a disingenuous campaign where they claim they would never focus on race — all the while focusing on race in the campaign.

I first took stock of this when the husband of former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen alluded to Obama’s drug use and then noted it would be the Republicans who would make an issue of it, not the Democrats. Hmm … I wonder who brought that up in the first place? Team Clinton.

Then we had the former president’s comments regarding Obama’s stance on the Iraq war as being nothing more than a fairy tale. Was Bill really talking about the war, or was he alluding to the fact that a black junior senator’s candidacy was nothing more than a fairy tale?

And the most recent flap, of course, was over the assertion by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) that it took a president (white, Southern LBJ) to actualize the dream that Martin Luther King was seeking to achieve by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The implicit question being, Do voters want a junior black senator in the Oval Office when they could have the seasoned, white Clintons calling the shots? All this, mind you, came during the week in which we take time to reflect on the contributions and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m sick of this — and I’m sick of the Clintons doing one thing and claiming, till they’re blue (or in his case, red) in the face, that they haven’t done what they just did. For the supposed “first black president” to throw everything including the kitchen sink at a candidate is one thing. For the Clintons to play the race card against Sen. Obama is sick, in my opinion.