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Is All Fair in Attacks on the Attacker?

Hillary Clinton's campaign was determined to respond to Barack Obama's insistence that, unlike some candidates, he had not been planning to run for president for years.

So the Clinton camp dug up a series of reported statements in which Obama had expressed interest in the White House. And it went way back--to the point that it invited ridicule. To wit:

"In third grade, Sen. Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.' "

And: "In kindergarten, Sen. Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.' "

"Our mistake was putting the early examples in, because they undermined the bottom line," Clinton communications chief Howard Wolfson told me. "He's been attacking her for being ambitious when his ambitions are far better documented." Clinton strategists were also miffed that Obama was alluding to what they consider a bogus report that Hillary and Bill had a 20-year plan to share the presidency.

When a candidate goes on the attack, the media reaction can go one of two ways. Either reporters seize on the criticism and demand a response from the target of the assault, or they raise questions about whether the attacker has gone too far.

In Hillary's case, it's definitely been the latter. And the Clinton camp thinks that's unfair.

"For months," Wolfson said, "some of your colleagues were explicitly urging Senator Obama to attack Senator Clinton more directly. When he attacked her character, this was seen as a good thing. For some time, we did not respond in kind. But at some point, you need to set the record straight."

--Howard Kurtz

By Washington Post editors  |  December 6, 2007; 10:34 AM ET
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To me Sen Clinton inspires confidence in her competence while Obama makes my skin crawl.

Here in Texas I watched W Bush run against the marvelous Ann Richards and then the 2000 campaign against Gore with keen interest. Obama is running Bush's 2000 campaign and I just hate it.

A 'reformer, with results', a 'uniter, not a divider' sound familiar. Compare that to Obama.

It seems to me that if Obama is elected we'll have another W from the other side. Inexperienced and incompetent but with a damnable sense of personal certitude. An absolute disaster for the country.

Posted by: baldwinrg | December 6, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama criticized Hillary on her policies, such as her Iraq and Iran vote, Healthcare and her double talk. Hillary on the other hadn attacked Obama himself, calling him naive and irresponsible, a fraud, a liar, questioned his character etc.

Wolfson needs to stop crying...the fact is the voters aren't buying what Hillary is selling. HRC just found out that Obama, despite his pleasant nature and his idealism and inspiring nature, can punch you in the mouth if you attack him personally. Apparently HRC cannot handle

Posted by: naijaman | December 6, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Presidential Candidate Ron Paul Bears Empty Pot For Americans
December 6, 2007
Carl Fiser

(Smithtown, N.Y.) Many contend that Ron Paul, although an honest, plain-talking man, comes to the 2008 presidential campaign podium without a lot of achievement. While in office, he hasn't steer-headed proposed legislation into law, or galvanized broad-based support for this national agenda or that, or even been on board with most post-911 bills and actions. For almost twenty years, he's been a dedicated representative for his Texas District and has not a potpourri of achievements about which to boast on the presidential campaign trail. Is this exactly true? How could someone serve for so long, and have so little to show for it?

At this time, I should share a story I heard from two entertainers at my son's grade school. The entertainers were turning books from different parts of the world into short, little plays, in order to spark the children's interest in reading. The following story took place centuries ago in the Far East.

The wise, old emperor was keenly aware that he was getting along in years, and he worried about finding a suitable replacement to lead the people. One day, he solicited the young people of his kingdom to gather, and he shocked them by telling them that he would be stepping down and that he would choose one of them to be his successor. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today, a very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor!"

One young man named Ling, a son of a farmer, was there that day, and he was certain that he could cultivate that seed better than anyone else. He got a pot, filled it with rich soil and watered it carefully. Day after day, he checked the pot. Weeks passed by, then months, and still nothing had grown. Other youths from the kingdom began to talk about their plants and flowers and trees, but Ling said nothing. He was sure that he somehow had killed the seed.

After a year had passed, all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling's first inclination was not to attend, but he showed up that day, sick to his stomach. He was amazed at the plants that the others had brought. They were of all different varieties and all so beautiful. Some of the others made fun of Ling's empty pot and others felt pity for him. Ling stood toward the back of the crowd.

The emperor looked over the vast array and seemed pleased. Then, he spotted Ling standing at the back of the room with his empty pot, and he ordered his guards to bring the young man to the front. Ling was led grudgingly, fearful that he may be punished for his utter failure. The emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. Now, all the youths were laughing and making fun. The emperor then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!"
The emperor continued,

One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. The rest of you substituted your own seeds for the one I gave you, but Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be your new emperor!

Ron Paul, like Ling, is a great truth-teller. His voting record is one of the most consistent
this writer has ever seen. No flip-flops are to be found. As well, he is a courageous and wise man, and a heck of an economist. Just ask the Wall Streeters. However, he bears to his fellow countrymen (and countrywomen), an empty pot. He can't claim to have brought you wars or higher taxes, which we now have. He never brought you an unbalanced budget, which is a perennial joke. He never voted himself a wage increase and, to this day, gives back part of his salary every year. He has always voted to preserve the Constitution, cut government spending, lower healthcare costs, end the war on drugs, secure our borders with immigration reform and protect our civil liberties. Sorrowfully, he was outvoted or shot down on all measures. The Constitution has been chiseled down, government spending is through the roof, healthcare costs are out of control, the war on drugs keeps getting less effective, immigration issues remain unresolved and our civil liberties have been crimped for our own safety. I'll just throw in that Ron Paul opposes regulation of the internet, which has been a revolution in the exchange of ideas, this article being a case in point.

The eye-popping reality of the situation is this. No longer can it be said that Ron Paul is running for President. Amazingly enough, his candidacy has been hijacked, and it appears now that the people are running for President. . . through Ron Paul! That's the true revolution about which your neighbors are speaking.

So, do you want the plants and flowers that your other government representatives have cultivated for you year after year, or do you want an open and honest effort at change, not for the powerful interests, but for you and for members of your family yet to arrive. If you want to see an unprecedented effort at change - starting with the only man on the campaign trail who is not afraid to tell you the truth - your action must start now. Get informed. Get angry. Get talking to your neighbors. Then, get to the voting booths!

Posted by: US-Citizen | December 6, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama "attacked" Hillary by calling her on policy differences.

Hillary attacked Obama by dragging up stuff he wrote in Grade school, called him "naive", "dishonest", said that he had a character problem, and has all around been an enormous hypocrite.

Stop crying, wolfson

Posted by: gobanana910 | December 6, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though many may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where assaulting, torturing and murdering people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
Do we want a President who sends a \"crime does pay\" message to society?
Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKKlan or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKKlan and Nazi Party.
We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you:

Posted by: avraamjack | December 6, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Howard, not terrible, but isn't "dug up" needlessly suggestive and uncalled for. I could google up the same statements in 5 minutes. It's not really digging anymore.

And Jade7243:"...the 20-year plan (which was reported on during the Bill Clinton campaign and throughout the Clinton presidency)..."

You're either a liar or a dupe. Which is it?

Posted by: zukermand | December 6, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Clinton should have "slipslidin' away" as her new campaign theme song....

Posted by: barnardj1 | December 6, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Hillary supporter, but please stop whining. I know it is unfair for Hillary, still please stop complaining, it will get you nowhere, only makes you look weak.

Posted by: kjlover46 | December 6, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Amazing. Kos himself in today's post acknowledges the media's hostility toward Hillary Clinton, and he's not presenting it as unethical journalism:

"What I can say with a certainty is that Hillary is in trouble, and her front-runner status has never been more precarious than today. Under assault from her opponents, from a hostile media, and from activists ..."

You'd think Howard Kurtz in Media Notes would have something to say about that. Here's the link:

Posted by: ichief | December 6, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Howard Kurtz, if the media would do its job. Hillary wouldn't have thought it reasonable to reach back and present Obama's kindergarten teacher as proof of some long harbored ambition. "Joke" or not, Clinton's desperation at her precipitous drop in the polls is what is fueling this storyline.

If the media was also doing its job, the 20-year plan (which was reported on during the Bill Clinton campaign and throughout the Clinton presidency) would also be shared with the voters as a counterpoint.

Factually, Hillary Clinton has been the only one delivering character attacks on anyone.

All of the other candidates, Obama and Edwards included, have avoided going after Hillary on the topics where she is most vulnerable: Scandal in Arkansas and the White House, each of which she played a promininent and direct role, down to and including the defense of her husband's infidelity with a young woman slightly older than Chelsea and the subsequent lies -- perjury -- that led to his impeachment.

When that tale resurfaces, and it will, Hillary will finally understand what character, honesty and integrity really mean, and why her lack of the three will prevent her from being elected.

Posted by: jade7243 | December 6, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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