I do try to stay away from domestic politics here, but this has been eating at me. So... On the eve of the Maryland primary, I said that despite my strong support for Obama I had no problem with Hillary Clinton and thought she would be a fine President were she to win the nomination. I no longer believe that. After her performance the last few weeks, I no longer consider her an acceptable President.
I won't bore people with my personal conversion narrative, the accumulation of outrages minor and major, which probably mirrors that of many other people (certainly the ones I talk to). What pushed me over the brink was the Clinton campaign's treatment of Samantha Power. Not because she's a personal friend - I've never met her - but because of the deeply ugly implications of Clinton's decision to burn a well-respected, decent, intelligent Democratic Party foreign policy advocate to secure a momentary political advantage.
For those who thought that the Samantha Power story began with the avalanche of criticism from right wing bloggers over her attitudes towards Israel and ended with her resignation for calling Clinton's campaign monstrous, here's what pushed me over the brink. In a BBC interview last week, Power made a perfectly reasonable comment to the effect that as President, Obama would respond to events on the ground and not rely on a plan crafted in advance. This is the position any reasonable person would take - and one which a respectable Clinton campaign would have welcomed, since it is obviously her position as well. Instead, on Friday two Clinton surrogates did a conference call (see David Corn for the ugly details) twisting her words into an insinuation that this meant that Obama wasn't to be trusted on Iraq. This happened several hours after Power had quit Obama's campaign. Clinton piled on, drawing a sharply effective response from Obama. And then today, they did it again.
It's a small thing, but sometimes it's the small things which tell. The Clinton campaign burned one of our own, one of what you'd think would be their own - all to gain momentary advantage over one or two news cycles. When you start throwing your teammates to the wolves for personal gain, you aren't on the team anymore. When you buy into and reinforce the other team's arguments, narratives, innuendoes and slanders, you've crossed over the line. Clinton and her surrogates should be ashamed... but shame is not an emotion which seems to have much purchase in her campaign.
I hope that her team enjoys whatever momentary blip of advantage they got from their despicable behavior. I suspect that I'm not the only one recoiling in disgust. She has crossed many lines in the last few weeks. This was one too many, at least for me. I don't think that Obama should respond in kind, because he's better than that and because he understands that these methods are ultimately self-defeating. He should push back hard and expose her campaign's tactics for what they are - something he's already starting to do. But for the rest of us, well, Power rules are now in effect.
Now back to regularly scheduled Middle East politics blogging.
UPDATE: what does it say that Max Boot, a McCain supporter writing for Commentary, outclasses the entire Hillary Clinton campaign on Samantha Power?