Watching from 12 time zones away, I've tried to stay out of campaign blow-by-blow.

But if, as I assume is true based on Marc Ambinder's report, the Hillary Clinton campaign is circulating a hit job from the American Spectator, this is simply disgusting. (Marc has just confirmed to me that indeed the article came in an on-the-record email from Phil Singer, the Clinton campaign spokesman.)

That the Clinton family would dignify the American Spectator, of all publications, is astonishing to anyone who was alive in the 1990s.

That they would bless this attempt to paint Merrill McPeak as an anti-Semite is grotesque.

I doubt that the author of the hit job ever bothered to speak with or interview McPeak. I have done so many times, during and after his days as Air Force chief of staff (which he was during the first Gulf War). People can agree or disagree with McPeak's foreign policy or his record at the Pentagon -- but that's not what we're talking about here. Any attempt to fish out a quote that will banish him as a bigot is exactly as fair and accurate as depicting Bill Clinton as being personally a racist based on his "fairy tale" and "Jesse Jackson" comments around the time of the South Carolina primary. I say this having heard McPeak lay out his views, starting while the Gulf War was underway 17 years ago, about how to maintain general stability, US interests, and Israeli security in the Middle East.

McPeak may have gone too far in saying that Bill Clinton's earlier comments (that it would be "a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country" -- namely, Hillary Clinton and John McCain) amounted to "McCarthyism." But that's a pretty fair description of this latest round. I don't like attempts to stifle argument when they occur in China, and I don't like this in the United States.

I can easily believe that the Spectator would publish such an article. That the Clinton team would circulate it I'm still trying to deal with.