I THINK my breaking point came yesterday morning when I received an email from the Clinton campaign criticising Barack Obama for not releasing his tax returns for 1997, 1998 and 1999. Notes like that should come with a little kitchen-sink icon pinned to them. Included in the missive was the obligatory reference to Tony Rezko—again this should be an automatic attachment. They can even label it "Obama’s Whitewater" if they like. I’d appreciate the irony. This was followed by a virtual flood of emails in which Clinton-supporting politicians (not one of whom I had heard of) expressed eerily similar outrage over Mr Obama’s “bitter” comments. Mrs Clinton herself, of course, has spent the past five days harping on the same subject.
Or perhaps my breaking point came today, when Bill Clinton, the most poll-driven president in history, claimed to have told his wife to forget about "the shifting polls and the daily back-and-forth" and focus on promoting her values.
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but my will has been broken. I’ve realised that covering Mrs Clinton's campaign without explicitly stating that it has turned into a win-at-all-costs operation fueled by phony outrage, hypocritical proclamations and absurd notions of who is electable and who is not is an exercise in deliberate deception, and I can't do that. Perhaps I am weaker than my colleagues, but a certain fatigue sets in when trying to sort through it all. Mrs Clinton does have substance, and some well-thought-out policy prescriptions, but did you know Barack Obama is an elitist? Never mind that the Clintons largely agree with what Mr Obama said, or meant to say.
Perhaps it is because Mrs Clinton is the underdog that the tone of her campaign is so different from Mr Obama’s. Her efforts to connect with different voting blocs have not worked—one day she’s a sniper-dodging commander-in-chief, the next she’s a gun-shooting woman of the people. Most of the time she simply looks like a caricature of the voters she’s trying to lure. And when it comes down to policy, there are simply not enough big differences between the two candidates to allow her to catch up. So she must make Mr Obama look unelectable. She must go negative. And she has.
That’s fine, but let’s be forthright about it. This is no longer a campaign based on ideas. It is a campaign focused on tearing down Mr Obama. We all know that’s her only shot at the nomination. I’m tired of pretending otherwise.By The Mean Mr. Mustard
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