The Clinton attack machine

Dick Morris:

...

How will they do it?

Their favored method of getting out negative material about their foes is to hire private investigators to dig up dirt, which they then release through feeds to friendly journalists.

Consider the Lewinsky scandal. When Linda Tripp got to be a danger, the Clinton people released her Pentagon personnel file to Jane Mayer (then a reporter for The New Yorker). A federal judge later reprimanded two Clinton operatives for this violation, and the government had to pay Tripp more than $600,000 - but the damage was still done.

Meanwhile, Clinton staffer (and Hil- lary favorite) Sidney Blumenthal peddled the line that Monica was a stalker to journalist Christopher Hitchens. And White House operatives told ABC News' Linda Douglas of incoming House Speaker Bob Livingstone's infidelity scandal before it was made public.

In the '92 presidential campaign, the Clintons openly disclosed their use of private detectives to dig up ammunition on women who had accused the presidential candidate of having affairs with them, disclosing that they paid detective Richard Palladino over $100,000 in campaign funds. But, of late, they avoid such embarrassing disclosures by hiding their detective bills in their legal expenses.

The likeliest theme of the Clinton attack will be Obama's inexperience. They'll seek to portray him as naive and way over his head in a world of terrorists and threats. But the risk here is that a woman is normally seen as weakest in the military/national security arena, so Hillary might find it difficult to make the issue work for her.

A better choice might be to argue that her political experience (i.e. in defeating the GOP "attack machine") makes her the better candidate for the November election. With the Democrats anxious for victory, using Obama's politeness and gentility against him could be an effective strategy.

She would, in effect, suggest that he is too nice to beat the Republicans - an accusation she can be confident nobody will ever make about her.


The Clintons have achieved political success because they are completely ruthless in a campaign. Hillary will try to make that an asset in this one, but the fact is their ruthlessness does not extend beyond those who threaten their political viability. Bin Laden would have little to worry about from her.

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