Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Obama to Clinton: I came to play

The Barack Obama campaign is showing itself to be equal to the patented Clinton rapid-response machine, by quickly slapping back at Hillary’s challenge that Obama distance himself from Hollywood mogul David Geffen’s criticisms of the Clintons at an Obama fundraiser last night.

Geffen made some highly critical comments about the Clintons, which were reported by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. From Editor & Publisher:

"Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it’s troubling,” Geffen said.

Among other things, Hollywood and music mogul Geffen told Dowd, "God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?" and "Obama is inspirational, and he’s not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I’m tired of hearing James Carville on television.”

More from Dowd:

-- "I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person,” Mr. Geffen says, adding that if Republicans are digging up dirt, they’ll wait until Hillary’s the nominee to use it. “I think they believe she’s the easiest to defeat.”

-- She is overproduced and overscripted. “It’s not a very big thing to say, ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t,” Mr. Geffen says. “She’s so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.”

-- Once, David Geffen and Bill Clinton were tight as ticks. Mr. Geffen helped raise some $18 million for Bill and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom twice. Bill chilled at Chateau Geffen. Now, the Dreamworks co-chairman calls the former president “a reckless guy” who “gave his enemies a lot of ammunition to hurt him and to distract the country.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson released this statement this morning:

"While Senator Obama was denouncing slash and burn politics yesterday, his campaign's finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Senator Clinton and her husband.

"If Senator Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return his money.

"While Democrats should engage in a vigorous debate on the issues, there is no place in our party or our politics for the kind of personal insults made by Senator Obama's principal fundraiser."

But Obama was having none of it. From The Hotline blog:

The Obama camp has responded to Howard Wolfson's demands. From spokesperson Robert Gibbs: "We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because ’he's black.’"

Zing. This ain’t 1992, and Obama appears to be no chump, to be intimidated by phoney indignation over Hillary being on the business end of “the politics of personal destruction” for a change. (Is anyone unconvinced that, had Monica Lewinsky not saved the Dress, the Clintons and their proxies would still be calling her a liar, a nut and a slut to this day?)

This skirmish underlines the fatuousness of Hillary’s claim that she intended all along to announce when she did. Frontrunners never want to announce early, much less be forced into it by the threat of a fresh underdog as Clinton was.

With his “royal family” allusions, Geffen has touched on a looming negative for Hillary: after two decades of Bush-Clinton-Bush, are the voters going to view electing another Clinton as progress? The long campaign and Hillary’s early entry will likely only enhance this issue in voters’ minds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for Obama. If forced at gunpoint to choose one of them for President, I'm taking Barry in a heartbeat. (Given the full spectrum of choices, however, I'm voting for Guiliani. :-) ) I will be fun to watch the supposedly "unbeatable" Hillary slowly losing air on the campaign trail. At this rate, she'll be out faster than Gary Hart was in '88.