Prime Time for Oppo Dumps

{Jon Henke]

It's getting down to desperation crunch time in the Democratic primary, so the oppo researchers are unloading the good stuff press is really beginning to scrutinize the candidates more carefully. While the "oops" moments they've uncovered probably are not campaign-ending disasters, they seem like the kind of narrative slips that could be problematic for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. A parade of the recent troubles...

Hillary Clinton is running on her competence and determination to insure everybody. But she hasn't paid her staff's medical bills in a couple months.

Barack Obama is running as a new kind of candidate with a new kind of campaign. But his campaign is spreading good old-fashioned, er, misinformation. Oddly, they seem to think that hey, he amended the document and signed it himself, but that doesn't mean he actually read the thing is a good defense. [NOTE: yes, staffers do fill out questionnaires, and it is entirely plausible that Obama didn't read it the first time. It's even plausible that he didn't really read it thoroughly the second time, though one wonders why he filed an amended version if he or his policy people hadn't checked it closely enough to detect errors. But it's pretty implausible that a questionnaire was filled out and sent without ever being checked by the policy people who knew his positions well.]

Hillary Clinton is running on her experience. But it turns out she might not be quite so eager to discuss some of that experience, such as the meeting she had with a fellow who was apparently, illegally lobbying for Saddam Hussein, and who says Hillary Clinton "passed a message to the State Department" about the need to implement the oil-for-food deal..."

Barack Obama is running as the sort of Uniter-Not-Divider politician who can bring us all together in rapturous harmony. But he keeps finding himself having to explain his choice in spiritual advisors and campaign committee members. The most recent story points out Obama's "connection to another racially divisive public figure—the stridently homophobic Rev. James T. Meeks", who was named by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the "10 leading black religious voices in the anti-gay movement". Incidentally, James Meeks was also behind the Halloween "hell house" which "housed a few denizens of "hell," including a pedophile trolling the Internet for a young victim, a meditating Buddhist, and two mincing young men wearing body glitter who were supposed to be homosexuals." Considering how the Progressives reacted to Obama's association with Donnie McClurkin, I would imagine this won't make people happy.

Hillary Clinton is running on her experience. But she found herself on the wrong side of Factcheck.org after she inserted herself into more foreign hot spots than Where in the Hell is Matt, and it turned out her foreign policy experience didn't resemble the Red Baron so much as Baron Von Munchausen.

Barack Obama is running on his unwillingness to take money from oil companies. But he's also been factcheck.org'd, since it turns out that no candidate has taken money from oil companies, and Obama has "accepted more than $213,000 from individuals who work for companies in the oil and gas industry and their spouses."

Hillary Clinton is running on her competence. But she has had to back down from her claims about experiencing sniper fire in Bosnia, claiming she was merely "sleep-deprived" and had "misspoke". ("Tired" is the politician's equivalent of the "flu" excuse that movie stars use when they need to spend a bit of time in rehab; it's transparently false, but they seem to think people buy it) But she had been "repeating this whopper for nearly three months" and the "Bosnia anecdote was part of her prepared remarks, scripted and vetted with her staff."

She must have been very tired.

Imagine what she might do if - to pick a potential Presidential situation entirely at random - there is a phone in the White House and it's ringing because something is happening in the world. It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. What do you suppose she might say if she was sleepy?

It's been a difficult week for both of them, but they have only themselves to blame. Well, themselves, their opponents research departments and a few well-fed reporters.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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