Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hillary's unleashes 'kitchen sink' strategy against Obama

And no, that's not my phrasing. It's hers.

After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a “kitchen sink” fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum.

The effort underscores not only Mrs. Clinton’s recognition that the next round of primaries — in Ohio and Texas on March 4 — are must-win contests for her. It also reflects her advisers’ belief that they can persuade many undecided voters to embrace her at the last minute by finally drawing sharply worded, attention-grabbing contrasts with Mr. Obama.

After denouncing Mr. Obama over the weekend for an anti-Clinton flier about the Nafta trade treaty, and then sarcastically portraying his message of hope Sunday as naïve, Mrs. Clinton delivered a blistering speech on Monday that compared Mr. Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience to that of the candidate George W. Bush.
I must admit that after the rave reviews she received for her warmth and graciousness in the debate last week, I was surprised to see that "the sky will open" clip yesterday. I was shocked by how over-the-top nasty she was with those broad gestures and voice dripping with contempt. And the cable news channels flogged that statement like a mule. On MSNBC alone, I saw it four times in one hour.

I thought, how could she have failed to notice what worked in the debate, and what didn't?

We're going to be fine. Yaaayyy!

Change you can Xerox. Booooo!

Her inability to appreciate the difference between scorn and decency is bad enough. But it's another matter entirely to have a surrogate go out and admit to the New York Times that you have literally resorted to throwing everything you can think of at your opponent in the hope (ahem) that something, anything, will stick.

With a crucial debate on Tuesday night in Ohio, both Mrs. Clinton’s advisers and independent political analysts said that, by going negative against Mr. Obama at a time when polls in Texas and Ohio show a tightening race, Mrs. Clinton risked alienating voters. Mrs. Clinton has always been more popular with voters when she appeared sympathetic and a fighter; her hard-edged instinct for negative politics has usually turned off the public.

“There’s a general rule in politics: A legitimate distinction which could be effective when drawn early in the campaign often backfires and could seem desperate when it happens in the final hours of a campaign,” said Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist working for neither candidate.
If nastiness = bad, it follows that desperation = terrible. That's not a winning message.