Hillary Clinton's Polish Pander

03/28/2008 02:46 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

On March 5, 1940, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered the execution of more than 20,000 Polish POWs in what became known as the Katyn massacre. Fifty years after the tragedy, the USSR - then led by President Mikhail Gorbachev - finally acknowledged its complicity in the matter. And 18 years after that, Katyn unexpectedly emerged as an issue on the Democratic 2008 campaign trail.

On Monday evening, Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign sent out a statement from the senator solemnly marking Katyn's upcoming anniversary. "The crimes were committed long ago," the statement read, "but we cannot and we shall not forget."

Why, two days before the 68th anniversary, would the Senator offer her condolences?

Perhaps it was a genuine sense of sorrow. Or perhaps it was because Ohio, which votes on Tuesday, happens to have two of the most Polish-populated cities in the country. Indeed, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are more than 31,000 Polish-Americans in Toledo and nearly 23,000 in Cleveland.

Before questioning the Clinton campaign's motives, it should be noted that every politician panders. Moreover, in her statement, the senator condemned President Vladimir Putin's current lack of cooperation in investigating Katyn.

But for all the righteous indignation, there was also a fairly transparent wink-and-nod.

"I have profound respect for the Polish nation," Clinton's statement ends, "and for all the peoples of Eastern Europe who have emerged from the darkness of the 20th century. I am proud that in our time the United States has been their partner and ally."