Joe Conason, "Crossing the Line"

I mentioned several days ago that I was surprised to see -- ok, "disgusted" was the term -- that Hillary Clinton's campaign spokesman had emailed reporters an article from the American Spectator accusing one of Barack Obama's advisors of being an anti-Semite.

This was surprising because the Spectator had, during Bill Clinton's term of office, relentlessly accused him and his wife of crimes starting with the death of Vince Foster and moving downward from there.

It also struck me as simple malice, a try-anything attempt to injure someone near Obama with the false but always damaging claim that he was bigoted.

I see now that Joe Conason, in Salon, has had a similar strongly negative reaction to the same episode. This strikes me as a very significant reaction; if I were in the Clinton organization I would take his article very seriously indeed.

Conason is a formidable reporter in general. But in particular, anyone familiar with what The American Spectator's name implied in the 1990s remembers how redoubtable and relentless Joe Conason was in rebutting its spurious attacks on both Clintons. He and my long-time friend Gene Lyons even wrote a book, The Hunting of the President, about the Spectator-Starr-Scaife crusade to do whatever it took to bring the Clintons down. If this Joe Conason now thinks that the Hillary Clinton campaign is the one doing the disreputable attacking, that means something. His article's final words:

This incident offers Hillary Clinton an opportunity to consider how she wants this campaign to end. If she beats the odds and wins, this kind of behavior will taint her victory. And if she loses, as seems more likely now, is this how she wants her historic campaign to be remembered?