Clinton supporters say the darndest things.
Here's Sen. Evan Bayh, commenting on the political firestorm surrounding Barack Obama's remarks -- broken here on HuffPost's OffTheBus -- about economically-depressed small town voters: "The far right wing has a very good track record of using things like this relentlessly against our candidates, whether it's Al Gore or John Kerry. I'm afraid this is the kind of fodder they might use to harm him."
They? They? It's not the far right wing relentlessly using these comments for political gain, Senator. It's your candidate, Hillary Clinton, adopting the frames, lies, stereotypes and destructive clichés long embraced by the likes of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. She has clearly decided that the road to victory runs through scorched earth.
The question is, if she succeeds, what kind of Party will she be left to lead? She's burning down the village to save it -- or to prove that she would make the best fire chief. But the village won't be saved; only one house will be left standing. A house with room for just two occupants. Hill and Bill.
Clinton's cynical distortion of Obama's remarks is in keeping with her campaign's modus operandi. On the foreign policy front, we've been fed a steady diet of her RNC-patented attacks: No Democrat can be trusted with national security -- except her. Obama hasn't crossed the threshold to be commander-in-chief. Etc.
Now she's turned to the domestic policy section of the RNC playbook, twisting Obama's words in a way that confirms every right-wing demagogic caricature of her own Party.
Yes, as Obama himself admits, he certainly could have chosen his words more artfully. Perhaps he should have borrowed Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign riff about "economically insecure white people who are scared to death." Maybe "scared to death" is less "elitist" than "bitter." But telling the truth, however inartfully, makes you "out of touch"? Give. Me. A. Break.
It has been an article of faith in the Democratic Party over the last twenty years that when small town, working class whites vote for Republicans they're voting against their economic self-interest. And why do they do that? Because every four years the Republican Party comes into those small towns and, to distract folks from the worsening economic situation, trots out a bunch of divisive, hot button social issues: "Let's not talk about why you don't have a job, can't afford health care, or can't send your kids to college; let's talk about gay marriage, school prayer, illegal immigration, and flag burning amendments." And Hillary is following the blueprint.
John McCain may as well take the next six months off, raise some money, maybe take a vacation -- because Hillary Clinton is out there doing his work for him.
This weekend she tried to paint herself as a good old boy, the kind of gal you'd want to have a beer with -- not like that "elitist" Barack Obama: "You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl." After she said this, she took a shot of whiskey. What's next, ads of Obama windsurfing? At 3 a.m.
But before Hillary Oakley runs out and bags her a few more ducks, Andrew Sullivan points out that of the top ten gun-owning states in the country, Obama has won six -- Hillary has won one. Cling to that.
But, of course, this isn't about guns or religion or fear of foreigners. It's about, as David Axelrod says, the (pardon the expression) bitterness and mistrust that stem from voters being "tired of politicians who come around at election time and express their solicitude as part of a tactic and don't follow through on it."
Jumping on the GOP talking points bandwagon, Clinton's new Mark Penn, Geoff Garin said: "These are the kinds of attitudes that have created a gulf between Democrats and lots of small-town and heartland voters that we've been working very, very hard to bridge." Karl Rove, who has devoted his life to making people believe that such a gulf exists, couldn't have scripted it better himself.
If Clinton's Rovian stoop-to-anything tactics succeed -- not at beating Obama but at making him an easier target for McCain -- the price will be paid by the very small-town Americans she is now pandering to. Americans already banished to economic oblivion by the same cynical tactics she's employing will be rewarded with four more years of downward economic mobility.
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