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Gary Hart Takes a Few More Swings

By Alec MacGillis
Gary Hart stepped squarely into the Democratic primary fray 10 days ago when he fired off a broadside against Hillary Clinton accusing her of disloyalty to the Democratic cause for suggesting that John McCain is better qualified to be commander in chief than is Barack Obama, Hart's chosen candidate.

Clinton, Hart charged, had broken the hard and fast rule to "not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee," and had instead "essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her."

Much has happened since then, some of it linked to Hart's unsuccessful 1984 challenge of Walter Mondale, to which the Obama-Clinton battle has so often been compared. Mondale running mate Geraldine Ferraro declared last week that Obama was doing as well as he was because he was black, and then responded to the ensuing firestorm by charging the Obama campaign with oversensitivity that amounted to its own brand of racism. And Harvard's Orlando Patterson penned a controversial op-ed arguing that Clinton's "3 a.m." ad, a clear echo of a scare ad that Mondale used against Hart, was reminiscent of a "racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan" because it included images of sleeping white children (unlike the Mondale ad, which zeroed in on a ringing telephone, sans sleeping angels).

In an interview this afternoon, Hart remained upset about Clinton's attacks on Obama's national security credentials, which have continued since the former Colorado senator's March 7 missive. He predicted big trouble if Clinton's attacks succeeded in persuading superdelegates to pick her instead of Obama, in the event that he preserves a lead in pledged delegates.

"If he wins a majority of votes and majority of states and pledged delegates and doesn't get the nomination, then that nomination may not be worth much," Hart said. "You can triumph in the party and not triumph in the country. Mondale got the nomination and he lost 49 states. The means they are using to get the nomination, they may pay for it later on."

But Hart also had some thoughts on the most recent developments. He said he had not seen a racial message in the Clinton ad, but said that might just be a question of perspective. "You'd have to be black and have a black experience to understand how African Americans experience statements and events," he said. Patterson, he said, viewed the ad as presenting "a white child sleeping in a bed and in effect saying, 'Do you want this black man making her secure,' which is very subtle racism. Now, I didn't think that. But if your skin is a different color, maybe you do."

Last week the Clinton campaign responded to Patterson's statement, in his op-ed, that "[t]he ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father" by pointing out that the ad did, in fact, include an African American child.

Hart said he wasn't sure how much impact the ad had on Obama's narrow loss of the popular vote in Texas, where the ad ran, just as he wasn't sure what the effect of the Mondale "red phone" ad was in 1984. "I don't know whether it worked or not -- I didn't get the nomination," he said.

At the very least, he said, Clinton's ad had focused undecided voters on the question of Obama's preparation to be commander in chief, a question that was due to arise at some point. He predicted Obama would be doing more in the coming weeks to try to get across that threshold. "You'll see him make some very important speeches, you'll be seeing him listening to retired military officers, maybe even some retired intelligence officers, not just seeing him posing on stage with him, but really listening to them," Hart said. "I hope he visits some military installations, not just for an hour, but spends half a day at one of them."

Hart said he was surprised by Ferraro's comments, and in particular by her decision to press on with a high-visibility defense of them. "That didn't sound to me like who she is," he said of the initial statement. "Now, the heat of combat will do that, people will say stupid things. The interesting thing to me was that she didn't cut her losses and just say, 'That was dumb and stupid.'"

Hart was relatively sanguine about the latest explosion on Obama's side of the line, reports of incendiary comments from the past few years by Obama's Chicago pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "It's got to run its course," Hart said. "If another Wall Street firm collapses, it'll move it off the front page."

But, he joked, he may be available to step in to fill Wright's shoes if necessary: "I'm a graduate from Yale Divinity School, so I'm going to offer to be [Obama's] spiritual adviser."

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 17, 2008; 7:47 PM ET
 
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Comments

As an Obama supporter, I found Orlando Patterson's op-ed to be completely ridiculous, as well as counterproductive. I don't think the Clinton campaign has been totally innocent of injecting race into the dialogue, but that ad was completely free of racist undertones as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: HowardsJohnson | March 18, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Now that former senator Hart has endorsed Senator Obama, please let him explain to us ignorant white folk exactly why we should trust Obama to be a good president when just this morning he lied to us about never having attended one of the numerous hate-filled sermons by the Rev. Wright.

Seems also like Senators Kennedy, Kerry et al. have some explaining to do as well.

Now that's what I'm looking forward to hear from these obviously very astute politicos.

Posted by: dyend | March 18, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama's stance on Iraq. I am against the war but here is the check book. I will continue to keep voting with the rest of my Democrats and pay for this war, as long as I can use it as a talking point. I will hold Clinton personally responsible for the war as long as people don't mind me saying one thing but voting another way. My good judgment allowed me to be against the war in 2002 but to make a shady land deal with Tony Rezko and attend my anti American Church. America should look at my good judgments....

The emperor is not wearing new clothes.

Posted by: sdonna | March 18, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I am so tired of those who are so threatened by Hillary Clinton. It is time in the history of this country for a woman to be elected - a qualified woman and she most certainly is. Obama is still an adolescent in my book and he will have his turn but it is not his time now - he has barely served and thinks he is ready to be president-how presumptous. And yes, I will be willing to vote for Obama but not now and not this election - it is time for a woman to serve in the highest office and Hillery is more than qualified. Its like the old saying women have to be twice as good and able to dance backwards...she is all of that and more - so go to your room Obama, you can't have your way everytime you stamp your feet no matter how brilliant you think you might be it is not your time.

Posted by: jeri.rasmussen1 | March 18, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Gary Hart identifies himself with Obama, because he lost the nomination running against Mondale. (who was a vice president). If Obama would have taken care of these things at the beginning of the campaign, he would have survived these attacks much better. He did not. I guess he did not think it could happen to him.

You can speak of change and hope, but you need to be able to do battle with the issues. You cannot point fingers at those and not expect to have some pointed back.

Posted by: cyberaim | March 18, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

People are looking for one thing or the other to bring Obama down. We need to realize the Obama goes to Church to worship. He did not go there to worship Rev Wright. How many of directly to their pastor and tell them that what he has said is wrong at the end of a service. I believe very few. I believe Obama respects this pastor who had made statements that are not good for the society. We should not hold him for the action of another. It is difficult to abandon your church because the pastor said what does not sit well with others. Bishop Heage (not sure of spelling) of San Antonio says things that are so out of the place. Members of the his church have not abondoned the church. Let us treat Obama as the only one who has what it takes to bring the country together. McCain want to continue with the fail Bush regime and Hilary wants to continue where Bill ended. Both are not the best for the country at this time. Obama was the only one that spoke against the war in Iraq from the begining and is the only one I see putting the country in its place in the world. If Mccain where to become the president of this country our economic situation will not improve. Let us give Barack the chance for change irrespective of his race. America do not make the mistake we made by putting Bush in office. Of all the presidents I have know he is the worse in both foregn and domestics policies. I like him for only two things- his being funny and his dance. May God bless America- elect Obama

Posted by: realtylab2000 | March 18, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I share Gary Jart's position on Hillary's willingness to throw another Democrat under the bus to help an enemy. What if Obama had supported McCain over Clinton? The howling by the MSM and the DNC would be loud and long! Clinton needs to be taken to task on her lack of party loyalty in order to get what she wants!!

Posted by: meldupree | March 18, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"He said he had not seen a racial message in the Clinton ad, but said that might just be a question of perspective"
==========

This is reckless bomb throwing. Why is the Obama campaign suddenly sounding desperate?

Posted by: zukermand | March 18, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Really??????????

Who cares about what Hart has to say, even politically?

Irrelevant!!!!!

Posted by: seedobecome | March 18, 2008 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Gary Hart like Mitt Romney is a bit full of himself.
He's spent to much time looking at himself in the mirror. There a reason why he wasnt elected.

Posted by: hhkeller | March 18, 2008 6:38 AM | Report abuse

"To the robotic detractors who post the same "why should we care what Hart says..." in comment forums such as these, ask yourself whether you are equally willing to discount the life's work of all American statesman who have ever had an extramarital affair. The list is long and includes in the 20th Century alone FDR, Eisenhower and JFK. The nation would be a shadow of itself (and may even have lost the Second World War since Eisenhower was in command on D-Day) were such men -- and so far is only men -- disqualified from public service.

Americans should be grateful for Hart's perspicacity and continued involvement in the nation's civic life. We should also wish Gary and his wife Lee well on their upcoming 50th wedding anniversay.

Eric C. Jacobson
Public Interest Lawyer
Culver City, California"

Posted by: ecjla | March 17, 2008 10:12 PM

LOL, I am a Coloradan who witnessed the whole Hart debacle and saw Lee's face when all this came out. You are just a man willing to shrug off another man's infidelities as trivial. It amazes me that you compare Gary Hart to JFK, etc. They did indeed accomplish something despite their weaknesses. And thank god, they were not stupid enough to get their pictures taken with their mistresses and have them plastered all over the Inquirer. Gary Hart tried to blame the media for picking on him, for god sakes..... and then went on to make a fool of himself by 'letting the voters decide'. Which they did. What a disappointment. In my opinion, he is not qualified to be speaking out about character in this or any campaign. He should just stay buried in private life. I think many Coloradans agree with me on Gary Hart. I am truly glad if Lee has managed some happiness/forgiveness out of all this; she certainly didn't deserve the hand she was dealt.

So I agree with the OP, why do we care what this guy says?

Posted by: redhiker | March 18, 2008 2:57 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to the information on Hillary's own "Fact Hub" fake fact check page, that particular child is not African American by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by: KrisB9 | March 18, 2008 1:40 AM | Report abuse

There doesn't have to be a Florida or Michigan re vote.

The super delegates can look at the official numbers and then add the Florida and Michigan popular vote numbers and figure it out for themselves who is the best candidate to beat McCain.

That is the whole point - beating McCain.

Dean can be as stubborn as he wants and as uncompromising as he wants - the super delegates can make it right for the voters in Florida and Michigan.

Nancy Pelosi can quit trying to "fix" the election to suit herself. Her only interest is the election of reps for her self-interest.

Nancy Pelosi is not thinking about the kind of president we need right now - someone, totally unlike Obama, who can stabilize this country after all that Bush has done to ruin our country. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | March 17, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

When the Rev. Wright videos first surfaced, Obama was saying he hadn't seen those while he was in the pew. But he didn't let Wright speak when he announced his run for the presidency.

Obama, at first, defended Wright. Then, Obama, said his (Wright's words) were inflammatory. Obama rejected the words.

Then, Obama said, well I didn't do anything about it because Wright was retiring anyway. Then, when Obama was criticized because Wright was on his religious board, Wright all of a sudden quit his post as a religious mentor for the campaigne.

Then, Obama, again renounced Wright's inflammatory words, "God Damn America," and that the U.S. gave the black people Aids to kill them all of, or something like that.

Obama again denounced Wright's words.

But, last night the word got out that the Black Churches were angry with Obama because he hadn't defended Wright.

Then, Obama came out and said that the media was mischaracterizing Wright.

This morning, Obama was scheduled to go on two of the cable networks to again denounce and reject Wright's inspirational and "charismatic" rhetoric to his congregation.

But, Obama was still reeling from the black churches admonishing him for not defending Wright, so Obama did not show up at the two cable networks for an interview and to make a statement.

Now, tomorrow, Obama is going to finally make a statement - probably about race. And, no matter what Obama says, he won't be able to pander to everyone, because everyone is mad and disappointed at him. And, Obama was supposed to be the "uniter," and "transcend race."

Obama and Michelle and Oprah have taken this country back two decades as far as civil rights and unifying the country.

This country and the Democratic party have never been so fractured and divided, both racially and politically.

Obama has learned about election "fixing" tactics from the corrupted politicians in Illinois. And he is still trying to work his deals. Obama tried the "divide and conquer" style of politics and it has back-fired on him. At least 50% of the people will definitely be very angry if he becomes the democratic nominee. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | March 17, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Gary Hart, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, Ted Kennedy, Clyburne and Lewis, et al., are old news. Along with Wolf Blitzer, Carl Bernstein, Big Dick Morris, Andrea Mitchell, Norah ODonnell, Tim Russert, Chris Matthews.

Nobody believes them any more, and now with Obama's alignment with Rev. Wright and Antoin Rezko and Kadhmi Auchi, it is obvious Obama should have stayed with his mother's teachings and stayed away from the Chicago corruption bunch.

Obama can't win against McCain in November. All these dark/murky associations as well as Michelle declaring she has never been proud of this country her whole, entire adult life, will be running 24/7 by the "Swiftboat group," and the GOP.

Obama is not in the winning column now. He cannot win. People who want to keep McCain out of the White House better start realizing that. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | March 17, 2008 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Gary Hart is just trying to restore his credibility after he lost the 84 primary to Mondale and then was caught in his own sex scandal. It is not only completely appropriate, but necessary that Clinton raise preparedness to deal with national security issues as a condition for choosing a president. what, we're not supposed to discuss serious issues in the primary lest what the candidates say hurt their opponent in the general election? that is a preposterous proposition. If obama is unprepared by lack of experience, then Clinton owes it to the nation to raise this as an issue. gary hart may prefer obama, but it's disingenuous to pretend that clinton has done anything untoward in raising the issue of qualifications to deal with national security issues during the primaries. the obama camp knows it is past its peak and people are catching on that there is no beef there. so gary hart's flash of irrational indignance has poetic resonance.

Posted by: roger321 | March 17, 2008 11:20 PM | Report abuse

why should obama have to give a speech about race if he "transcends" race? is it because the emperor has been revealed to have no clothes? he has played the race card at every turn--accusing of racism Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro and anyone else who criticizes him or his lack of experience or points out that part of what makes him attractive is the historic nature of his candidacy as the first African American candidate with a legitimate chance of winning. It's beyond ironic. It is the height of hypocrisy. Now we have to hear a speech about how race really DOES matter, despite what the Obama campaign has been saying, only because Obama realizes that he cannot pretend to have been ignorant for 17 years of what his pastor has been saying all along. now he is going to explain how we have to understand Wright's words in context, how blacks view things differently and speak differently about race because of their historical experience. well, duh. we know that. you should have said that in the first place. if obama were really so different, so transcendant, so smart, he would have spoken honestly about these issues from the git-go rather than immediately jettisoning his own pastor--who "brought him to Christ," who married him, who baptized his children, who gave him the title for his successful book. Nice loyalty, huh? and totally hypocrtical, cynical politics. i guess obama is just another ambitious politician willing to do anything to win office. so why should we vote for him? forget it. not this disenchanted democrat. I'll take Hillary for all her faults. at least she is real--and smart, capable, and experienced.

Posted by: roger321 | March 17, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

To the robotic detractors who post the same "why should we care what Hart says..." in comment forums such as these, ask yourself whether you are equally willing to discount the life's work of all American statesman who have ever had an extramarital affair. The list is long and includes in the 20th Century alone FDR, Eisenhower and JFK. The nation would be a shadow of itself (and may even have lost the Second World War since Eisenhower was in command on D-Day) were such men -- and so far is only men -- disqualified from public service.

Americans should be grateful for Hart's perspicacity and continued involvement in the nation's civic life. We should also wish Gary and his wife Lee well on their upcoming 50th wedding anniversay.

Eric C. Jacobson
Public Interest Lawyer
Culver City, California

Posted by: ecjla | March 17, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

This campaign should not be about race or gender. It should be about the best candidate and this involves trustworthiness determined by the records. If angry feminists want to vote for Hillary because she is a woman, fine. But they should not be angry because people want to look at Hillary's records.

Posted by: Logan6 | March 17, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

If Hillary is free of scandals, then she should cooperate to release her records (tax returns, White House records, list of big donors to their foundation). The current facts seem to be speaking against her.

Posted by: Logan6 | March 17, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

What is it with all the hatred for Hillary?
The left is mad at her even though her positions are closer to theirs than Barak's

The "center" is mad at her for personal scandals mostly that have been proved to be false or inconsequential

The right has an insane compulsive obsession with hating her.

She really has done very little to merit this type of emotion

I think you all need to work out your female issues/relationships with mothers in therapy.

NYCLeon

Posted by: nycLeon | March 17, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Hillary must stop the diversion tactics and she must be pressured to release her records whether or not she likes it (tax returns, White House records, list of big donors to their foundation). These records play a central role with facts that are very suspicious including:

(1) Hillary self-proclaimed experience as commander in chief and that can only be backed up by the White House records

(2) Facts involving pardons from president Clinton given to convicts in exchange of money... For example, shortly after beeing pardonned by President Clinton, fugitive financier Marc Rich had his ex-wife giving $400 000 to the Clintons library foundation: Source:
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/...56,00.html

(3) Facts involving big donations in exchange of lobbying from the Clintons that seem not ethical. For example, the Clinton's foundation received recently a $31.3 million donation after Bill expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader's, undercuting both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan's poor human rights: Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/us/pol...ref=slogin

(4) Too many facts from the past that do not pass the smell test. See the list of "democraticvoter":

- The only president ever impeached on grounds of personal malfeasance
- Most number of convictions and guilty pleas by friends and associates*
- Most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation
- Most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify
- Most number of witnesses to die suddenly
- First president sued for sexual harassment.
- First president accused of rape.
- First first lady to come under criminal investigation
- Largest criminal plea agreement in an illegal campaign contribution case
- First president to establish a legal defense fund.
- First president to be held in contempt of court
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad
- First president disbarred from the US Supreme Court and a state court

Posted by: Logan6 | March 17, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

A series of polls released today shows that Obama's position has been weakening since Thursday's Wright controversy, both in primary polls (Gallup, Rasmussen) and in general election surveys (Rasmussen, USA Today, ...). Roundup: http://www.campaigndiaries.com/2008/03/monday-polls-obama-weakens-in-some.html

Posted by: campaigndiaries | March 17, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Gary Hart is a smart guy. I always liked him. But he better is careful in attacking presidential candidates giving his own track record.
As far as I am concerned, if Senator Obama wins his party's nomination, it will mean that Senator McCain will be the next president.'
Rightly or wrongly, Obama's close association to his church's pastor and the pastor's racial statements will provide Republicans and John McCain with all the ammunition needed to defeat Obama.
Read on this, also:
http://www.reflectivepundit.com/reflectivepundit/2008/03/obama-pastor-wr.html

Posted by: bn1123 | March 17, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Hart have a credibility issue of his own? Who cares if Hart is upset? He should increase his meds.

Posted by: thejaner | March 17, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with Gary Hart's remarks. I would add that when Hillary Clinton will agree to release her White House records, her self-proclaimed experience as commander in chief will come up as pure rhetorics. Hillary is ready to say anything for money and power.

Let's pressure her to release her records (tax returns, White House records, list of big donors to their foundation) so that we know the extension of the scandals surrounding them.

Facts speak for themselves... The Clinton foundation received recently a $31.3 million donation after Bill expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader's, undercuting both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan's poor human rights:

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/us/politics/31donor.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

What are the extension of the scandals. Let's Clintons' records speak for themselves.

Posted by: Logan6 | March 17, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to give a speech on "race and politics". He needs to discuss his views and beliefs. He may need to apologize to anyone who found offense to Rev. Wright's words, but at the same time he needs to tell his audience the true story of Rev. Wright and the good Wright has done in his community and beyond. He needs to openly discuss how race and politics have historically been an issue for Americans to deal with, and how his own story is a story that transcended race. In a sense he has to re-introduce Barack Obama to the nation, not based on who his pastor is but who Barack Obama is.

Obama in 08!

Posted by: ajtiger92 | March 17, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

- The only president ever impeached on grounds of personal malfeasance
- Most number of convictions and guilty pleas by friends and associates*
- Most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation
- Most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify
- Most number of witnesses to die suddenly
- First president sued for sexual harassment.
- First president accused of rape.
- First first lady to come under criminal investigation
- Largest criminal plea agreement in an illegal campaign contribution case
- First president to establish a legal defense fund.
- First president to be held in contempt of court
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions
- Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad
- First president disbarred from the US Supreme Court and a state court

Posted by: democraticvoter | March 17, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

And why exactly should we care what Gary Hart says? This is the guy who derailed his own chances for the oval office by getting caught fooling around with Donna Rice on the 'Monkey Business'. He disgraced himself, his family and his supporters in Colorado. And he now has the poor taste to joke about becoming Obama's spiritual advisor. I couldn't care less what this guy says.

Posted by: jcmdstep1 | March 17, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

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