Campaign 2008

Are The Claws Coming Out?

Robert Novak writes on the rumors flying around Washington that Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has “scandalous information” about Sen. Barack Obama. Allegedly, the Clinton campaign is holding on to the information for now and won’t be releasing it.

It’s a classic Clintonian strategy—and it probably has to do with Hillary’s sagging poll numbers in Iowa. Instead of the story being about how Obama is catching up to Hillary in Iowa, now the story is about what sort of dirt she has on the Illinois senator. In fact, she may be bluffing, but it doesn’t matter politically. The story is already making the rounds, and in the chance there is some dirt to be dug up (and there always is), the oppo people from all the other campaigns are going to be combing Obama’s record in order to find it. If there is something, Hillary can sit on it and look above the fray and let another candidate like Edwards discover it independently and leak it. She gets the benefit of getting the damaging information out without the trouble of doing it herself. It’s the sort of Machiavellian politics that the Clintons just love to play.

As for Obama, it was a mistake for him to run in this cycle. He had plenty of time to build up a national name for himself, running either in 2012 or 2016. Instead, he got too ambitious, and now a man who has never once had to run in a competitive local race is plunging himself into national politics against a well-oiled and vicious political machine. By the end of all of this, Obama will end up being such damaged goods that it may keep him out of national politics for the rest of his career. He still has a chance to beat Hillary, but only a slim one, and even then she’ll end up destroying him in the process. Hillary feels entitled to be President, and if she can’t have it, she’ll make sure that no other Democrat does.

While the Clinton camp is naturally saying this is all a Republican dirty trick, it’s the sort of political maneuver she’s famous for. Hillary’s claws are coming out, and the more Obama threatens her ascendancy, the more likely she will be to use them.