CLINTON: I was fighting against those [Republican] ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.
A lot of virtual ink has been spilled on the subject of “experience”, and while Barack Obama’s resume is fairly straight-forward (one of the only advantages of it being shorter), there’s been some back-and-forth about Hillary’s. Should her years as First Lady count? Or should Hillary’s experience be measured by what she’s accomplished in her own right?
People can debate that until the cows come home, but she’s been adamant about her 35 years — and those decades are filled to the brim with Rezko-like problems. In context last night, her hit was both fair and relevant (though I don’t think it will gain much traction)… but an important barrier was broken, leaving a gap so wide, Obama should be able to drive a truck through it.
So will he? Hard to know, frankly. It depends on whether Obama intends to use his rule book, or theirs.
The Clinton camp has embraced Bill’s deep involvement in Hillary’s campaign, and I don’t see Obama winning in this contest without radically changing his approach. Their machine is vast, and utterly ruthless.
To play the game on their terms, Barack Obama will have to bring up the past. He’ll need to open the Clinton Closet and shine the light into its darker corners — a tactic which suits neither his personality, nor his core message and appeal. Not only that, but he’ll be hit instantly with “right wing talking point” accusations, and the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” charge.
He won’t come out of that looking good. But Hillary’s massive negatives have little or nothing to do with her gender, and Obama’s going to have to go “there”.
When it comes to the Clinton Presidency, most folks only remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Prior to this campaign, in fact, that’s been true of me, too — and there’s a reason for that: I thought the entire episode was over the top, and when all was said and done, my sympathy lay with Bill and Hillary — a husband and wife whose marital problems had become kitchen-table fodder all over America.
The scandal was so personally invasive that I, like millions of others, was offended to the core of my being, and I firmly believe that the topic of Bill’s infidelity should stay off-limits, no matter how far he injects himself into his wife’s campaign.
But if Barack Obama gets to explain Rezko (and he should), then there are any number of questions for Hillary… because frankly, I’ve forgotten more scandals than I remember, stretching all the way back to Arkansas.
In thirty-five years, a closet can become pretty full… and Hillary has opened the door.