Hillary Clinton, The NYT, the "tone of the campaign" and Tony Rezko Posted by: McQ
on Friday, January 25, 2008
Hillary Clinton got the endorsement of the New York Times today (big surprise) and was on all three broadcast TV morning shows to talk about it. On all three, the fact that the NYT had cautioned her to tone down the divisive rhetoric was the question of the day.
[Robin] ROBERTS: And that's what you are saying was part of a ringing endorsement. Part of it was asking you to step forward or change the tone. They said, in part, Bill Clinton's overheated comments are feeding those resentments and could do long-term damage to her candidacy if he continue this way. Do you believe that could happen?
SEN. CLINTON: He obviously is a passionate advocate for my cause as are the wives of my two major opponents. I think all of us need to take a deep breath here. Obviously we know we'll have a united Democratic party once this nomination is determined. We'll go united into the fall election and take on whoever the Republicans decide to nominate. I think for someone who has worked for 35 years starting out on behalf of children, and civil rights and human rights and women's rights, this election is both an extraordinary opportunity, and really a celebration of how far we've come as a nation. And it's also a great chance for each of us individually to represent our views, to draw the contrasts and comparisons that are totally fair, but to be really focused on the differences the Democrats will make, compared to what we've had for e last seven years. I think that's what Americans want to hear about.
Take a "deep breath" time? Anyone notice that she's again engaged in apologizing for her husband?
[Matt] LAUER: "The New York Times," a major, major newspaper, announced its endorsements this morning on the Democratic and Republican side. John McCain gets it on the Republican side. You, congratulations, get it on the Democratic side. In making the endorsement, though, the editorial board says the following. "As strongly as we back her candidacy, we urge Mrs. Clinton to take the lead in changing the tone of this campaign. It's not good for the country, the Democratic party or Mrs. Clinton, who is often tagged as divisive." Will you make a promise right now and say you'll stop using attacks on Senat Obama to make your own case to the American people?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I agreed with what the editorial said. And of course I'm very honored It means a lot to me because it was a very thorough analysis of each of our positions and our qualifications and experiences. But I have tried to make it clear that this election has to be about the future. It is perfectly legitimate to draw comparisons and contrasts. And I think both Senator Obama and I have made it clear that we do want to focus on what we each would do for our country. It has been obviously an I think it's cause for celebration that we have an African-American, a woman running for the highest position in our country, the toughest job in the world.
LAUER: Right, but —
SEN. CLINTON: but I do want to make it clear that our campaigns have to stay focused on what, you know, the legitimate differences are, so we can give voters information that will enable them to make the right decision.
The short answer to Lauer's question is "no". However, he should realize the new word for "attack" is "contrast", used interchangeably with "legitimate differences".
[Harry] SMITH: Senator Clinton, do you take responsibility for the ugly tone that has turned here in the last couple of weeks? Especially on black talk radio, on blogs? There is even — it's gotten to the point where there's almost a black backlash against this, especially your husband's tactics.
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think that there's been a lot that has been said on both sides. And some of it has been, you know, kind of generated and certainly stoked, and that all needs to just calm down, and everybody needs to take a deep breath. We are proud of the fact that the democratic party has an African-American and a woman vying for the nomination for the toughest job in the world. And I know that my husband has spent a lifetime bringing people together, working across a lot of the divides that sometimes set us against one another. And, you know, obviously, you know, he gets excited. He gets really passionate about making the case for me. He said several times yesterday that maybe he got a little bit carried away. So we're all going to, on both sides, I think, you know, try to bring this debate and this campaign back to the issues that are most important.
SMITH: We just showed some pictures of Michelle Obama in a fund-raising appeal, she put it this way. Quote, what we didn't expect are the win-at-all-cost tactics we've seen recently. We didn't expect misleading accusations that willfully distort Barack's record. This also goes to a radio ad that your campaign was running that purposefully distorted Barack Obama's remarks about Ronald Reagan. Now, that ad has subsequently been pulled. But why — why — why run a campaign like this?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, Harry, you know, first of all, I don't think that's what happened. I understand that when questions are raised about someone's record, it's natural to respond that you're distorting it, but I think that is just not what happened. But regardless of what has happened, let's go forward about the issues because the American people want this election to be about them. They want it to be about their families, about their jobs. We're in an economic meltdown in our country. We have a home mortgage crisis that is absolutely causing millions of families to worry about whether they're going to have their homes or whether they're going to maintain the value of their home. We've got to take quick action to stimulate the economy and deal with all these other costs at the gas pump and health care and college and everything that's coming down on middle-class families. I think that's what voters want to hear us talk about, and that is what I am talking about.
So it's "compare and contrast", not "attack", and "let's go forward about the issues", because some focus group liked the fact that John Edwards acted like the adult last debate, and she's now adopted that mantra. How surprising - a Clinton redefining and parsing the language to avoid responsibility for past actions.
I had a long day on the road yesterday and, as a SIRIUS satellite radio subscriber, I decided to listen to their talk channel "left". It was an entertaining day. Hardly a word about Republicans (well except the evil one - Bush) but full throttle about the Clinton/Obama "thing". Hour after hour of very heated rhetoric with one host calling Obama everything but a child of God and Ed Schultz calling Bill Clinton a "liar". Not stretching the truth, not distorting it, but purposely lying about the Obama record.
And Schultz interviewed Tom Daschle who was not at all complimentary of Bill Clinton and questioned whether Democrats and the country really wanted to go through another 4 to 8 years of a Clintons. And then there was John Kerry's rant. It was a rather revealing day.
The Clinton campaign pulled an Obama ad in SC thereby giving some validity to the charge it was inaccurate (and notice how Hillary side-stepped the question about the ad).
Last, but not least, Matt Lauer pulled a bit of a fast one on Hillary.
LAUER: On Monday night in South Carolina, it didn't always stay focused on that, Senator. I want to run a clip. This is where you were attacking Senator Obama in particular about his work connected to what was called the so-called slum lord in Chicago, a guy named Tony Rezko. Take a look at the clip.
SEN. CLINTON: I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor rezko in his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago.
LAUER: That was Monday night, Senator. I know you don't have video, you can't see what I'm about to put up on the screen right now. But I'm going to put up a picture right now that we've received. This is a picture of you and your husband, Bill Clinton, posing with that same man, Tony Rezko. It's undated... We know it's him. We don't know when it was taken. We think it was during your husband's presidency. I'm curious, do you know anything about the picture? Do you know when it was taken? Do you remember meeting this man?
SEN. CLINTON: No, I don't. You know, I probably have taken hundreds of thousands of pictures. But of course, Matt, you didn't show what preceded what I said, which was a direct attack, one of several that was leveled against me by Senator Obama.
LAUER: I understand. It was a counter punch, I understand that.
SEN. CLINTON: It was a counter punch. I try not to attack first, but I have to defend myself and I do have to counter punch. No, I don't know the man. I wouldn't know him if he walked in the door. I don't have a 17-year relationship with him. But I think with a we ought to be looking at is how we go forward talking about the issues. I do think, however, that this is a campaign, it's a contest. It's something that is very important to each of us running, to our supporters, to those who believe in us. And I took a lot of incoming fire for many, many months and I was happy to absorb it because obviously I felt that that was part of my responsibility.
LAUER: I guess what I'm saying, though —
SEN. CLINTON: As it gets toward the end of the campaign, you've got to set the record straight as I tried to.
LAUER: Right. But does it make sense to use someone like this, Tony Rezko, against Senator Obama, when there's really no such thing as political purt anymore? I know you stand at events and stood as first lady along with your president and they fired 200 people by you a night —
SEN. CLINTON: a thousand people.
LAUER: This man, he made a contribution to the DNC back in March of 2000. If there's no such thing as being able to fully vette who you come in contact with, is it appropriate to make this attack on your opponent?
SEN. CLINTON: I think you have to look at the facts. There's a big difference standing somewhere taking a picture with someone you don't know and haven't seen since and having a relationship that the newspapers in Chicago have been exploring.
Clinton's explanation, on this particular issue, is reasonable and for the most part I agree with her point. But then, if Obama's explanation of his relationship (5 hours on behalf of his law firm) you'd think another lawyer would understand that point as well.
The next debate should be interesting. We'll see how much of an effort she will make to cool the rhetoric with Obama. I doubt it will happen, and if I were Obama that night, I'd find ways to poke and prod her into going after him again. I think it is helping him much more than it is helping her.
Actually, Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko is a lot fishier than doing some legal work for him. When Obama wanted to buy a home in Chicago, the price was a bit high because it came with an adjoining lot, which was not being sold separately. (This is according to some local coverage of the matter linked by a pro-Clinton website which was cited by Peggy Noonan a couple weeks back.) Rezko bought the property and then, I believe, sold the house to Obama and kept the lot in, I think it was, his (Rezko’s) wife’s name.
That’s a typical big city machine deal. And the Clintons might not want to go directly there because that would re-open all of their similar cans of worms (all old news, don’t you know).
In any case, Clinton is right about Obama, and Obama is right about Clinton.
If you noticed the NYT endorsements Hil is "brilliant" Obama is "incandescent" Edwards has "his own brand of populism" and all the GOP candidates su*ck. Not a word about Mrs. Clinton like dishonest, glomming off husband, scandal plagued. They could at least be honest and say that they are just writing the column to campaign for the Dems, but like Mrs. Clinton honesty is not in their DNA.
If The New York Times had an honest day over its lifespan, that theoretical honest day came long in its past. It can’t even poke a finger through the veil of its own cognitive dissonance, and its endorsement of Hillary Clinton without reference to her life of scandal is pure proof of that.
And it’s not that the people who read that paper don’t pay enough attention to see right through it, it’s that they can’t pay attention. Like many other Americans, they either never had or have lost the capacity to pay attention, to read between the lines, to make up their own minds about anything.
When I was a kid my dear old Dad regularly repeated an old saw that a lot of you probably heard as a kid: "Don’t believe anything you read, and only half of what you see."
That’s not hard big "S" Skepticism, that’s the everyday arm’s-length skepticism that’s required to get the bloody BS out of the way. The New York Times, while a big "S" Skeptic’s paradise, which isn’t required or desirable in a newspaper, has about zero arm’s-length skepticism, which is all that one wants from a newspaper. The bottom line on that is found routinely on its editorial page and can be summed up for all time with that endorsement of Hillary Clinton.