Peter Wehner, "formerly deputy assistant to President Bush", says,
A second reason Republicans appreciate Obama is that he is pitted against a couple, the Clintons, whom many Republicans hold in contempt. Among the effects of the Obama-Clinton race is that it is forcing Democrats to come to grips with the mendacity and ruthlessness of the Clinton machine. Conservatives have long believed that the Clintons are an unprincipled pair who will destroy those who stand between them and power -- whether they are political opponents, women from Bill Clinton's past or independent counsels.So after all this time, Wehner's telling us that the real reason Republicans hate the Clintons is because they supposedly adopted a subset of the Republican book of dirty tricks? Sort of a Andrew Sullivanesque "Dick Morris was Karl Rove before Karl Rove was cool" argument?
When the Clintons were doing this in the 1990s, it was viewed by many Democrats as perfectly acceptable. Some even applauded them for their brass-knuckle tactics. But now that the Clintons are roughing up an inspiring young man who appears to represent the hope and future of the Democratic Party, the liberal establishment is reacting with outrage. "I think we've reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons," writes Jonathan Chait of the New Republic. Many conservatives respond: It's about time.
Not that Wehner has anything against Karl Rove. I'm sure his response would be an ever-so-reasoned, "That's different," roughly translating into, "But he was on our side." It's only dirty politics, after all, if the dirt gets into the eyes of Wehner's buddies.
Yet I'm sure Clinton's worst sin in Wehner's eyes wasn't that he kicked some dirt - it was that, no matter how much dirt was dumped onto him, he would shake it off. Kerry got hit by the smear machine once and, despite the absurdity of the accusations, never regained his footing. I can't even count how many times Clinton was hit with a scandal, fake or real, and they barely broke his stride.
Wehner on Obama: "Barack Obama is among the most impressive political talents of our lifetime."
Wehner on Rove - "Some day books will be written about what a phenomenon of nature this man is."
Make of it what you will.