I was watching Anderson Cooper's attempt at political discourse on CNN last night. It involved a panel of three: Clinton supporter and former Clinton lawyer Lanny Davis, who was shilling for Hillary Clinton; Obama supporter Jamal Simmons, who was shilling for Barack Obama; and former Clinton novelizer Joe Klein, who was playing some strange, genial and unconvincing sort of devil's advocate, mostly by sniping happily with Davis. They were all discussing Hillary Clinton's attempt to change the subject, away from her false suggestion that she'd come under sniper fire during a visit to Iraq and toward, once again, the impolitic sermonizing of Obama's minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The desperation of the Clinton camp to paint Obama and his minister as wild-eyed fanatics seemed fairly overt. Davis blithely repeated the most impolitic of Wright's various statements at every turn, despite Klein's good-natured observation that he was doing so to deflect from the sniper-fire faux pas/fib. Even the seldom-confrontationial Cooper called Davis on his sly attempts to slime Obama via Wright. I'm not saying the show was one-sided or anything; Simmons was throwing Obama's tax returns at Hillary's head, too. It was just pretty typical fare of late for the network that's addicted to telling you it has "the best political team on television," meaning that the segment was a pathetic, endless rehash of the essentially meaningless squabbles that the Clinton and Obama forces are attempting to push into the foreground during the political interregnum before the Pennsylvania primary.
But before I could write down any "pox on both their houses" conclusions, I ran across this item in James Fallows' blog for the Atlantic, pointing at a blog posting by his Atlantic colleague Marc Armbinder that reveals what certainly seems to be a new low in this Democratic presidential campaign:
The Clinton campaign is distributing an article in the
American Spectator (!) about Obama foreign policy adviser Merrill
McPeak and his penchant for.. well, the article accuses him of being an anti-Semite and a drunk.
Of course, the exclamation point is in there because (as both Armbinder and Fallows attest) McPeak is no anti-Semite — and because the American Spectator is the slanted and frequently untruthful "magazine" that kept the phony Clinton "scandals" going through the 1990s (!). I've included links to both the Armbinder and Fallows blogs because I think each has important points to make about just how far below the political belt this punch was thrown, and how desperate Hillary (of the vast right-wing conspiracy) must be to throw it. And because I continue to be pleasantly suprised by the Atlantic's blogs (including, especially, Matthew Yglesias's), which are often as smart as the magazine, but almost always less (let me gently note about a magazine I genuinely enjoy) tweedy. Yes, these blogs wear no tweed, and that is good.