Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hillary and the politics of personal destruction

Liberal columnist Richard Cohen takes after Hillary Clinton and her failure to denounce the Moveon ad. She missed the chance to have her own moment demonstrating that she is more than a personification of political ambition. Cohen notes how the Clintons have often trotted out their denunciations of the "politics of personal destruction" whenever anyone criticized them. But when it came to the man whose commander in chief she is campaigning to become, she couldn't be bothered.
When Clinton was asked about the ad, she avoided answering.

It may seem unfair to single out Clinton in this matter when the bunker in which she took shelter was crowded with her fellow quivering candidates. But Clinton is the front-runner, quite possibly the next president of the United States, and so it is reasonable to focus on her and wonder if, as some allege, she indeed does have a spine. In this instance, it was nowhere to be found.

It is an odd standard Clinton has when it comes to smears. When the entertainment mogul David Geffen, once a Clinton supporter, called both Bill and Hillary liars, Hillary not only decried the remark as a particularly vivid example of the "politics of personal destruction," but she demanded that Barack Obama do the same -- and return a $2,300 donation Geffen had given him. Yet when Clinton herself was asked to repudiate the abuse of Petraeus, she either saw no reason to do so or, much more likely, was afraid to alienate an important constituency, the 3.3 million members of MoveOn.org, who stand symbolically at the frontiers of New Hampshire and Iowa. She would, it seems, rather be president than right.
She just can't afford to offend that Moveon crowd who doesn't like her all that much anyway due to their perceptions that she hasn't sufficiently abased herself for her vote for military in Iraq. And then there is all that lovely Moveon cash. No way was Hillary going to kiss off such a resource.