Bloggers ding the Clinton campaign for raising Obama's drug use.

Bloggers ding the Clinton campaign for raising Obama's drug use.

Bloggers ding the Clinton campaign for raising Obama's drug use.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Dec. 14 2007 6:06 PM

Powder Keg

Bloggers discuss Bill Shaheen's resignation from the Clinton camp. Also, the House passes a bill that would outlaw water-boarding.

Powder keg: Bill Shaheen, the co-chair of Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign, has quit after raising a stink about Barack Obama's self-professed drug use as a teenager. Shaheen claims Clinton had no knowledge of his smear tactic and didn't endorse it. Still, her head strategist, Mark Penn, appeared on MSNBC's Hardball Thursday and, in answer to a question about the dust-up, replied: "The issue related to cocaine use is not something the campaign is in any way raising," which Joe Trippi, John Edwards' adviser, was quick to pounce on as a shameless ditto of the Shaheen line.

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Liberal Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake writes: "While it's possible that Shaheen was just an operative who went too far of his own accord, it's also true that it probably doesn't hurt Clinton in the long run to have the suggestion planted -- in 2004 the percentage of caucus goers who were over 55 was 64% in Iowa and over 50% in New Hampshire. Likewise, I'm sure her embrace of Slummy Joe Lieberman and his dire warnings about Iran video games had nothing to do with pandering to oldsters." That might make for the only time that Hamsher has ever agreed with conservative Matt Margolis at Blogs for Victory, who, for his part, sees no harm in Shaheen's tactics: "If Democrats want to pretend that Obama can turn anything shady in his life or his record into a positive by being 'honest' about it, then by all means they should continue thinking that. ... Because no matter how you try to dress it up, past issues with drug and alcohol won't help you in a general election. President Bush's past problems with alcohol was not only seen as a liability from the left, but it was something they exploited and tied to endless jokes at Bush's expense during his first run for president."

Steve Kornacki at the New York Observer's Politicker thinks Shaheen's departure "makes it a more complicated proposition for Clinton to campaign more aggressively against Obama -- something they have been preparing to do -- in the days ahead, since Obama can now defend himself by framing any attacks as an extension of this incident, and of the style of politics he has been suggesting Clinton represents."

Liberal Kyle E. Moore at Talking From Left Field also isn't buying Hillary's "I had no idea" line: "I go even odds that Clinton knew about Shaheen's original remarks before hand.  Slightly worse but still respectable odds that it was mapped out.  I wouldn't be surprised if the desired effect was kind of like when you whatch tv court dramas where the witness says something condemning, opposing lawyers object, the judge strikes from the record, but… ooops… too late, the jury has already heard it, you can't take it back."

BarbinMD at DailyKos tries to decide what's the most egregious aspect of this affair: "Perhaps that [Shaheen] ignores that it was Obama himself who opened the door when he wrote his autobiography, and that he has used that chapter in his life to convince young people that drugs are a waste of time…Or perhaps it's that Shaheen talks about Republican dirty tricks as he himself is engaging in them.  Or maybe it's the implication that Obama should follow George Bush's lead and be secretive and dishonest. Does a Clinton co-chair really want to stay that course?"

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"[G]ag me with a coke spoon!" criesRoger L. Simon. "If this doesn't win the hypocrisy sweepstakes, what does? All they are doing is reminding us of one of Bill's most famous myriad howlers - 'I tried it but I didn't inhale' .... right up there with 'I didn't have sex with that woman.' " And the Moderate Voice's Joe Gandelman suggests that "after this episode, it will be difficult for Ms. Clinton or her husband Bill Clinton to ever denounce 'the politics of personal destruction' that occurred during Bill Clinton's term as president, or any other instances in the future."

Water-boarding is torture: The House voted Thursday to outlaw severe interrogation methods of suspected terrorists, notably water-boarding. The White House, which maintains it does not condone or allow the CIA to torture, nevertheless threatens to veto the bill.

The Bear at Absurd Report is in the pro-water-boarding camp: "Is it a pleasant sensation? By all accounts, no. Is it a necessary component in our wartime toolkit? That depends upon whom you ask. Leftists automatically say (loudly and emphatically) 'no' because the comfort and happiness of terror detainees appears to be more important than getting the information out of them that might protect the lives of Americans and her allies."  Stop the ACLU agrees: "The bottom line is would one rather have blood on their hands because they failed to get the information needed to save lives, or offend some moronic moral code and save lives. The ACLU would go with the moral absolutist idea. Looks like that is the way the House went too. Of course they were just following what was politically popular."

But Darts & Laurels, the blog of Armed Forces Journal, is vehemently opposed to the technique: "Waterboarding inflicts on its victims the terror of imminent death. And as with all torture techniques, it is, therefore, an inherently flawed method for gaining reliable information. In short, it doesn't work. That blunt truth means all U.S. leaders, present and future, should be clear on the issue."

Meanwhile, conservative Bryan at Hot Air is curious about another purpose of the anti-water-boarding bill: "Why did the House vote to block 70% of our own intelligence budget until the intel committees get briefed on the Israeli raid on Syria? There's a cutting off one's nose to spite one's face quality about that move that strikes me as stunningly stupid. While I'd like to find out what happened in that September raid as much as anyone, handcuffing our own intelligence agencies in the middle of a war is not the right way to go about getting that information."

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.