Hillary Clinton’s “Ben Tre” Strategy?

By Jaketapper

Mar 8, 2008 12:03pm

She’s destroying the party in order to save it….that seems to be the conclusion of a some opinion writers this week…

Obama-backing former Sen. Gary Hary writes: "It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. Most of those rules are unwritten and are based on common understandings, acceptable practices, and the best interest of the political party a candidate seeks to lead. One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party’s nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.

"By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party’s nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her."

Jonathan Chait notes that "Pennsylvania is a swing state that Democrats will almost certainly need to win in November, and Clinton will spend seven weeks and millions of dollars there making the case that Obama is unfit to set foot in the White House. You couldn’t create a more damaging scenario if you tried.

"Imagine in 2000, or 2004, that George W. Bush faced a primary fight that came down to Florida (his November must-win state). Imagine his opponent decided to spend seven weeks pounding home the theme that Bush had a dangerous plan to privatize Social Security. Would this have improved Bush’s chances of defeating the Democrats? Would his party have stood for it?"

And Peggy Noonan looks at the subject that dare-not-speak-its-name in the Democratic primaries — but will be screamed in the general election should Clinton be the nominee:

"it has long been agreed in the Democratic Party that one must not, one cannot, ever, refer to the long caravan of scandals that have followed the Clintons for 15 years. "We don’t speak of the Clintons that way."

"But why not? Everyone else does. Yes, the Obama sages will respond, that’s the point: Everyone knows about cattle futures, etc. Everyone knows that if you Yahoo "Clintons" and "scandals" you get 4,430,000 hits….But voicing the facts would violate party politesse. So he loses the No. 1 case against her. But by losing the No. 1 case, he loses the No. 2 case: that she is the most divisive figure in the country, and that this is true because people have reason to view her as dark, dissembling, thuggish…

"(T)he Clinton campaign, which has always been more vicious than clever, this week did a very clever thing. They pre-empted any criticism of past scandals by pushing a Democratic Party button called . . . the Monica story. Mr. Obama is ‘imitating Ken Starr’ by speaking of Mrs. Clinton’s record, said Howard Wolfson. But Ken Starr documented malfeasance. Mr. Obama can’t even mention it."

Obviously, not a balanced group of op-eds. But they touch on some interesting dynamics — thoughts?

- jpt

UPDATE: I originally misattributed the infamous "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" sentence to My Lai… As an astute (and no doubt smarter) reader points out, that phrase actually dealt with the destruction of the villege Ben Tre. I have since changed the headline. My error, and my apologies.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus