Compromising Truth in Pictures and Mailers

26 02 2008

Of course, you had to expect it. After Barack Obama’s mailer in Ohio on Hillary Clinton’s position on NAFTA and health care got her riled up and knowing she is fading fast in the polls, a 2006 picture of Obama in traditional Somalia dress suddenly surfaces on the web.

What a coinkydink.

The Clinton campaign denies leaking the photo to the press and curiously accuses the Obama campaign for trying to “distract” the voters from the real issues in pointing the finger at them. That’s an interesting response.

But this is not the first time the Clinton campaign has been associated with fear mongering or race and ethnic baiting against Obama. A Clinton staffer was fired in Iowa after forwarding patently false emails about him growing up in a Madrassa. Another Clinton staffer brought up Obama’s drug use as a young person to persuade New Hampshire voters that he would be more vulnerable to Republican attacks than say the baggage burdened Madame Inevitable.

Andrew Cuomo, who endorsed Clinton, accused Obama of shucking and jiving on the campaign trial. Former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Clinton supporter, tried to revive the already discredited notion that Obama grew up in a secular madrassa in Indonesia. Black Clinton surrogates, such as Ambassador Andrew Young and Robert Johnson have respectively raised questions about Obama’s blackness and again his drug use.

While it is true that because the Clinton campaign have a history of making ad hominem attacks, does not mean that they are responsible for releasing the picture in an effort to imply Obama is Muslim. But patterns are difficult to ignore.

Such mailers appearing just before an election are not new for the Clinton campaign. On the eve of New Hampshire primary the Clinton campaign circulated a mailer suggesting that Obama had a questionable voting record on choice issues despite receiving high ratings from several prominent choice groups.

These are the types of attacks Democrats usually received from Republicans, not Democrats on one another.

But this new pic is another new low in a campaign where so many Democratic voters seem to be so energized about picking a new nominee.

By the same token, however, the Obama campaign’s new mailer in Ohio attacking Clinton for supporting NAFTA and her position on health care doesn’t exactly live up to Obama’s rhetoric of a new politics. The mailer claims that Hillary Clinton said NAFTA was a boon to the American economy when in fact it was New York Newsday who characterized her position that way, not the New York Senator herself. For what its worth, claims that Clinton’s biographer wrote that she was against it. Obviously, Bill Clinton aggressively lobbied Congress to push the trade deal through over the objections of labor, but to my mind there is still no definitive proof that Madame Inevitable was offered full throated support for it. Spouses do disagree.

But that’s small potatoes compared to the Obama campaign mailer that misrepresents the Clinton’s health care plan as forcing the poor to buy into a plan that they could not afford. It is indeed reminiscent of the Republican attacks on so-called Hillarycare back in 1994. As notes the mailer fails to mention that both the Clinton and Obama plan, “would subsidize the cost of insurance for many, making it more affordable.” Some experts have also pointed out that despite the similarity of both plans, neither one are that specific enough to in who gets covered to definitively say who will be left uninsured and why.

Obviously, the pictures of Obama in Somalia, and other forms of implied defamation, are not the same type of attacks as the Ohio mailers, but they both may turn off voters. Ultimately, the politics of slander and demagoguery, and the politics of truth shaving will have lasting affects.

Those emails about Obama growing up in a madrassing are still floating around. Such personal attacks could divide the base and weaken either candidate heading into the general. And these negative attacks on Clinton’s position could very well undermine any real attempt to achieve any thing resembling universal health care. A Republican could just say even Obama does not support mandates and subsides for the poor. Plus, it only reinforces the belief among many skeptics that Obama is not really serious about health care if he is willing to play cheap politics with it.

There is no justice in compromising truth for political gain.

Correction: Its seems as if Clinton clearly said she supported NAFTA. In a 2002 speech before the Democratic Leadership Council she said: “The economic recovery plan stands first and foremost as a testament to both good ideas and political courage. National service. The Brady Bill. Family Leave. NAFTA.

H/T: David Sirota

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One response

26 02 2008
Presidential election 2008 |Republicans Vs. Democrats » Compromising Truth in Pictures and Mailers

[…] decaturguy wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAfter Barack Obama’s mailer in Ohio on Hillary Clinton’s position on NAFTA and health care got her riled up and knowing she is fading fast in the polls, a 2006 picture of Obama in traditional Somalia dress suddenly surfaces on the web. … Read the rest of this great post here Posted by […]

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