Did any of you ever have the misfortune to be punished in high school by being sent to detention? I did once. I don’t even remember what I did. You remember the kind of kids who frequented detention? The cut ups, the clowns, the bored, the anti-social. It seems that right about now in the presidential campaign all those types are coming into their own. They’ve graduated from high school detention to managing dirty tricks for presidential campaigns. We know all of this because of Matt Drudge who, I’m guessing, spent a lot of time in detention himself.
Through TPM Election Central, I learned that Drudge claims someone in the Clinton campaign forwarded a photo of Barack Obama dressed in the garb of a Somali tribal elder during his 2006 five nation Africa tour. Since the image will be spread across the internet anyway, I figure displaying it here isn’t going to do any more damage than it may already have done. But another reason to do so is to drain any pus that may ooze out of this wound. The pus I refer to isn’t anything to do with Obama, but rather with the juvenile dirty trickster who thought this would hurt Obama–and with any American hoodwinked by this photo into believing that Obama IS that Muslim jihadist the right-wing smearmongers want you to believe he is.
The thinking behind the leaker is that seeing Obama dressed as an African elder will reinforce the worst stereotypes about him which have been circulating for the past year: he’s Muslim, he’s foreign, he’s alien, he’s Black. You name it. But what this picture should show voters is that Barack Obama respects the beliefs and rituals of those with whom he comes into contact. We already have a president who doesn’t respect anyone unless they’re white, male rich and Anglo-Saxon. You’d think Americans would’ve grown tired of this sort of exceptionalism. This picture isn’t the same as kissing Suha Arafat but some people want it to appear to be. Politicians have been dressing in such garb probably going back to ancient Greece. Certainly American politicians are known for doing precisely this sort of thing. Clinton herself, in an attempt to defuse the furor, has noted this. Unfortunately, she didn’t say this to the leaker before he or she leaked it.
Clinton herself has not denied it may’ve come from her campaign:
During a Monday interview with ABC’s Dallas affiliate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., did not flatly deny the DrudgeReport’s charge that her campaign forwarded a photo of rival Barack Obama in traditional African dress.
…”I know nothing about it,” Clinton told ABC affiliate WFAA. “This is in the public domain.”
Howard Wolfson tried to distance the campaign from the shenanigan, but couldn’t manage to fully do so:
During a Monday conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said that the former first lady’s campaign “did not sanction” the leaking of the photo. But he stopped short of denying whether a Clinton aide may have passed it to the DrudgeReport.
“I’m not in a position to ask 700 people to come in,” said Wolfson.
Of course, these partial denials aren’t helped by the fact that earlier in the campaign Clinton noted with pride in the NY Times that one of her staffers had been specifically designated to provide sources to Drudge. Sometimes chickens do come home to roost.
I hope this may begin to persuade Hillary Clinton that the usefulness of her campaign is rapidly vanishing. If this is what the debate has become, why continue having a primary? Desperation makes people do strange things. But why must some Democrats be that desperate? We have much more to gain than to lose as long as we control this sort of bilge. Does Hillary want to fight this thing to the death and leave no one standing?
I’m being sanguine about this. If Hillary’s staff didn’t do this sort of thing then for sure McCain’s will later on. That’s why I said above it’s a good thing to drain the pus out of the wound. Let anything the other side could use come out now when the stakes are slightly lower than they will be in October. No doubt there will be some sort of October surprise. But let’s deny the other side as many of these options as possible by throwing open the windows now to air out the dark places in America’s soul.
Bill Pearlman says
You’ve been out in Seattle too long. Not everything is life and death. It’s funny.
liberal white boy says
Yes Drudge has long been known for his great sense of humor.
OMG, and Hillary is Iranian, and so is…Nancy Pelosi and Bush is….Jewish! And so is Hillary’s husband!
Its a conspiracy!
Richard Silverstein says
Bill: I’m glad you got the joke. But this story is all over the web and MSM. So a lot of people are taking it very seriously. I wish we could take it merely as a joke. But unfortunately crap like this has been known to sink candidacies before.
I sometimes wonder where my intractable hostility to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy comes from given that there are many admirable things about her. She’s a tenacious fighter (which we progressives desperately need). She does have a solid command of the issues. I actually like her health-care plan better than Obama’s. Yet the nasty under-handedness of her campaign really gets to me and serves to disqualify her. Hilary’s sense of entitlement and seeming willingness to do anything to get the nomination is antithetical to progressive principles; there’s just an undemocratic undercurrent to her whole approach to the nomination. With her recent talk of ‘risk’ and untrustworthiness when it comes to Obama’s foreign policy orientation coupled with the Clinton camp’s promulgation of this photo, they’re clearly trying to Otherize, Islamize, foreignize Obama in a way that’s just plain sad. This is straight-up Fox News Bush-Rove world. Happily, it doesn’t seem to be working. But these kind of Image Scare-Tactics ought to have no place on the progressive/liberal end of the dial or in the Democratic Party. We glumly expect slimeball Republicans and Neo-Cons to do this sort of stuff, but not the supposed good guys/girls.