Monday, December 17, 2007

Is Hillary Clinton "Kilgoring" herself?

to Kilgore: /kɪl'goʊr/ - verb
  1. To self-destruct as the result of overusing negative advertising.
  2. To wantonly destroy one's own political campaign as the result of negative campaigning.
  3. To inappropriately invoke Hitler in the course of a political campaign resulting in the failure of one's own political campaign.
Example: Boy, George Allen really Kilgored himself when he attacked Jim Webb after the "Macaca" incident.
Anyone even remotely involved with Virginia politics remembers the ads accusing Tim Kaine of being so weak on the death penalty that he wouldn't even execute Hitler if given the chance. The negative ads rebounded on Kilgore so badly that he lost a double digit lead and ended by losing the election to Kaine by six points. The scenario repeated itself a year later when George Allen, imploding after being caught on tape using a racial epithet, launched an insanely nasty series of attacks against challenger Jim Webb's books about his experiences in the Vietnam War. These attacks were the final nail in Allen's coffin, as the press decisively turned against him in the last weeks of the campaign.

Now Hillary Clinton, who until recently seemed to have a commanding lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, has launched a series of attacks against the surging campaign of Barack Obama. Sensing the evaporation of her lead in key states, Clinton's campaign has begun launching negative attacks in Obama's direction, hoping to derail his progress. There's a problem with these attacks: they appear to be boomeranging against her.

Clinton's attacks are following a pattern. Every few days a volunteer, staffer, or advisor to Clinton is "caught" spreading some negative rumor about Obama. The mainstream media rushes to cover the "scandal" and the negative story about Obama gets as much air time as the fact that it was someone in the Clinton camp spreading it. Clinton then expresses "disappointment" and the volunteer, staffer, or adviser exits her campaign. These incidents serve Clinton's agenda of getting a negative story about Obama out while she denies responsibility; even when she apologizes you cannot, as the saying goes, "unring the bell."

But now it appears that Clinton may have played this game three or four times too many. Increasingly her thinly veiled attacks are drawing criticism and pushback from bloggers. If the mainstream media picks up on this pushback it could be disastrous for Clinton. Americans are sick of the negativity of the Bush administration: the petty retaliations, the vicious leaks, and the transparent denials.

Americans do not want a Democratic version of Karl Rove.

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