Someone had to do it—and we can all thank David Geffen for being the first. The Hollywood mogul, formerly a major Clinton donor, expounded at length to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd about his support for Barack Obama. Here’s Geffen on the Clintons: “Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease it’s troubling.” And on Hillary’s chances: “I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is—and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?—can bring the country together.”
Hillary’s reaction to Geffen’s words opened the floodgates. By the weekend, a host of critics on the Left had moved into place. (As Daniel Casse noted yesterday, the Democrats have an institutional tendency to pile on early front-runners.)
The always sharp, center-Left Slate blogger Mickey Kaus points out that Hillary’s response—”this is the politics of personal destruction”—just confirms her critics’ fear that she is a dictator-in-waiting. “Does Hillary realize that this taboo-enforcing strategy plays into the worst aspect of her public image—the dogmatic PC enforcer?” He continues: “Note to Hillary: your husband cheated on you and was fined $90,000 for lying to a federal judge about it. Everyone thinks he’s still cheating. . . . That isn’t ‘the politics of personal destruction.’ It’s due diligence.”
Washington Post writer Anne Kornblut makes the interesting argument that “Last week’s Hillary response was an effort to establish silence about her husband’s impeachment.” Kornblut then quotes a Democratic operative who asks why having the opposition mention Bill’s foibles should be out of bounds, given that Hillary is happy to use him to enhance her support. Why indeed?
New Republic editor Martin Peretz claims to be closer to Geffen than to either Clinton, having experienced “Clinton fatigue” early. Peretz, who is sensitive to class issues, reminds us to follow the money. The Clintons, he notes, have only very rich friends—perhaps because of the high cost of such friendship in campaign donations and contributions to legal defense funds.
But the unkindest cut comes from New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. Calling the Clintons “the Connivers,” he details his disgust at Hillary for her willingness to do whatever ruthless thing it takes to tarnish Obama. “There would be no Obama phenomenon if an awful lot of people weren’t fed up with just the sort of mean-spirited, take-no-prisoners politics that the Clintons . . . represent.” Hillary, he claims, is “chasing yesterday’s dawn.” Herbert’s column is almost as tedious as his usual fare, but his vehement dislike of Clinton may count as actual news.