You Can't Talk With a Fist in Your Mouth

With the constant threat of jihadist attack on the United States and the question of what to do in Iraq looming large, I tend to think that the Hillary-Obama-David Geffen unpleasantness is only slightly more important than global warming and Anna Nicole Smith.

But Peggy Noonan reminds me why we really, really don’t want the Clintons back in the White House. She also takes aim at Hillary hit-man Howard Wolfson who makes Karl Rove look like St. Francis of Assisi:

Mr. [David] Geffen should be braced for a lot of bad personal box office–negative press, searching profiles, strained relations. We’re probably about to see if the Clinton Machine can flatten him. Little doubt it will try. John Dickerson wrote in Slate this week of Bill Clinton’s generously sharing his campaign wisdom: “Your opponent can’t talk when he has your fist in his mouth.” Among some Democratic political professionals this kind of talk is considered tough and knowing, as opposed to, say, startlingly belligerent and crude.

But the outcome of the Geffen-Clinton episode is worthy of watching because it is going to determine whether it is remembered as the moment in the 2008 campaign when it became clear you are allowed to criticize Hillary–or as the moment it became clear you are not.

Howard Wolfson, Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman and an emerging dark prince among political operatives–he is, in the strange way of Washington, admired by journalists for his ability to mislead them–quickly responded with a challenge: If Mr. Obama is a good man, he’ll renounce Mr. Geffen and give back the money he contributed in his famous Hollywood fund-raiser. This was widely considered a brilliant move. Is it? Now everyone who follows politics even cursorily will have to have an opinion on whether Mr. Obama should apologize, which means they’ll have to know exactly what Mr. Geffen said, which, again, boiled down, is: I’ve known them intimately for almost 20 years, and they’re bad people and bringers of trouble. It’s good for Mrs. Clinton that America is going to spend the weekend discussing this? It’s good that Mr. Geffen’s comments, which focused on the area on which she is most touchy and most vulnerable–the character issue–will be aired over and over again? Mr. Wolfson might have been better off with, “We’re sorry to hear it, as Mrs. Clinton thinks the world of David.”

…What Mrs. Clinton is trying to establish is this: to criticize her–to speak of her critically as a human being, as a person with a record and a history and a style and attitudes–is, ipso facto, to be dirty, and low, and destructive. To air and raise questions about who she is, how she operates, and what can be inferred from her past actions is by definition an unjust act.

I think that an overwhelming majority of the American people would support the idea that there be no more Bush and no more Clinton presidencies.

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