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Monday, February 25, 2008

Clinton's Press Team Thinks You're Stupid


Patriotboy in for the General again.

As I noted with a link in the update to the post below, the Clinton campaign got even sleazier over the weekend when they sent an email to the media featuring a picture of Obama dressed in the traditional regalia of a Somali elder he had donned during an official visit to Africa. The email had its desired effect--it's already feeding into the right's "Obama is a secret Muslim" attacks. Rush Limbaugh was ranting about the "Obama dressed like a Muslim photo" earlier today.

How did the Clinton campaign respond when asked about it? Well, lets look at the statement issued by Clinton spokesperson Maggie Williams:

If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed.

Yes, she really blamed it on Obama. You see, the Clinton press team thinks you are stupid.

I'm still giving Sen. Clinton the benefit of the doubt on this. She can prove that she doesn't support this kind of sleazy swiftboating by issuing an apology and by firing Phil Singer, Maggie Williams, and anyone else who was involved in this.

The Clinton Campaign is feeling the heat. Keep calling, keep writing and keep asking other bloggers to join in. As I said in my earlier post, this is where we learn whether all of Sen. Clinton's talk about character is more than just talk.

You can call the campaign at:

National HQ: 703.469.2008
Ohio HQ: 614.221.8600
Texas HQ: 512.383.0318

And email them at:

Campaign Chair Terry McAuliffe:

Clinton Campaign HQ

You may want to copy Phil Singer and Maggie Williams. Maybe they will do the right thing.



I've received a lot of feedback from commenters and others whom I respect about this post. As always, I take your comments seriously and I've given the post a lot of thought, frequently changing my mind during the process. In a comment this (Tuesday) morning, I said that I was going to do a partial retraction, and I will, but only very narrowly. The best I can do is say I don't know if the Drudge story is correct. I know that will not satisfy anyone, but it's an honest assessment of my thinking. I simply don't know.

I'm laying out my thoughts on this below. Take from it what you will.

The story I cited--that Clinton staffers were peddling a picture of Obama in the traditional dress of a Somali elder-was first published by Drudge. A few of you pointed out that since it's from Drudge, it can't be trusted. I think that's a fairly compelling counter argument. He's certainly not known for his objectivity.

The wording of his post is also suspicious. He says " an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT" The phasing suggest that he received the email from a third party. If that's the case, why not name the author? I suppose it is possible that Drudge's source was the recipient of the email was concerned that he or she could be identified if the source was identified and therefore provided the email to Drudge on the condition that the sender not be named, but if that was the case, Drudge doesn't say so.

On the other hand, it looks like the campaign has used Drudge before to disseminate information.

Some have suggested that the fact that the picture was once posted to the Free Republic somehow exculpates the Clinton campaign. One has nothing do with the other. No one is claiming the Clinton campaign created the photo, only that they were marketing it to the press.

Unlike many Obama supporters, I don't see Clinton's failure to declaratively state that staffers didn't send the email to be particularly damning. It may have very well been a rogue staffer. But that level of uncertainty points out a huge issue I've always had with her campaign. It's staffed with some of the sleaziest people the party has to offer--people like Mark Penn whose company represents Blackwater and touts union busting as a specialty and Terry McAuliffe, the man most responsible for selling the party to corporate interests. It's no wonder she can't say whether the email originated from her campaign. With people like that in the top positions, the campaign's culture is undoubtedly morally bankrupt.

They've also engaged in this kind of sleazy tactic before. just last Friday, they sent an email to the press that insinuated that Obama was sympathetic to terrorists--see my post Sen. Clinton, fire Phil Singer. This time there was a name attached, Phil singer.

I called the campaign on Monday, and they did not deny that Singer sent the email. I thought about that as I watched the debate that night and heard Mrs. Clinton say she would fire anyone who participated in such tactics. Why hasn't Singer been fired? they were aware it was a problem. They expressed their unhappiness with your letters when I spoke to them. tally another stroke for campaign culture.

I also still disgusted Maggie Williams responded to the Somali picture. It was offensive to portray the flap as evidence that Obama somehow hares other cultures. She assumed her audience, including you and me, are stupid. Those are my thoughts.

I want to thank everyone who's discussed this with me either by email or in the comments. It's been fascinating to see people who've I've always considered to my philosophical peers attack me as if I had just come out for David Duke. All I can say is it won't be the end of the world if your candidate, Clinton or Obama, loses the primary. The important thing is that one of them wins in November.

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