Bloggers on Clinton and Obama's latest spat.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 24 2008 5:49 PM

The Newest McCarthyism

The newest McCarthyism:In the latest name-calling volleys between Democratic campaigns, Bill Clinton sparked angry reactions from Barack Obama's camp when he said Friday that he hoped for a general election between "two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interests of this country." Construing the statement as suggesting that Obama is unpatriotic, retired Air Force Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, an Obama adviser, compared the sentiments akin to McCarthyism.

Not everyone agrees that the former president meant to disparage Obama's patriotism, as the Huffington Post's Sam Stein notes: "Recently on the campaign, the former president has made remarks that have been a bit unpredictable. Days ago, he complimented McCain as bipartisan, a war hero, and a tough general election foe. No 'but's' included. Days before that, he was touting a Sen. Hillary Clinton-Obama pairing as an electoral 'dream ticket,' even though his wife's own campaign was making the case that Obama was not ready to serve as commander-in-chief."

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For the most part, though, bloggers appear to be fed up with the name calling. New York magazine's Daily Intel declares that the primary race is "sapping the Democrats as never before," also citing strategist James Carville's remarks comparing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama to Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Ari Savitzky at Providence Daily Dose foresees damage control from the Obama campaign: "No doubt Obama will distance himself from the McCarthy reference a bit. That said, Bill's comment on its face seems pretty reprehensible in its implications, namely that Obama doesn't love his country. So, ya know, if the shoe fits."

Ernie at Transformed Consciousness sees evidence that Bill Clinton is weighing down Hillary Clinton's campaign. "When the dust settles on this primary election cycle I think pundits and historians will mostly all agree that Bill Clinton was Hillary's undoing. His game worked when it was him attacking them, when it was Bill versus the right wing conspiracy; however, when it is Bill versus 'other Democrats' it is an abject failure." Over at the Swamp, the Tribune Co.'s Washington bureau blog, Don Frederick suggests advisers take the lead from their respective candidates: "Credit Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with having the good sense to each take an Easter respite from a grueling, enervating struggle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, someone needs to advise a couple of their most ardent backers to chill."

Kel at theleft-wing Osterley Times is just disgusted. "It is simply unthinkable that a Democrat could be attacking another Democrat as lacking in patriotism, but that does appear to be the gist of what Bill is saying, it's certainly the inference that is being read into this by the Obama camp," Kel writes. Meanwhile, rightie Mary at Freedom Eden sounds hopeless in her assessment of the campaign tenor: "The presidential election of 2008 seems to be an endless series of explanations and clarifications and apologies, unrelated to the issues. One of the campaigns always seems to be in the midst of some sort of lame controversy, requiring some sort of lame explanation, and sometimes a lame apology. In short, Election 2008 is lame."

Read more about Clinton's comments.

John McCain, D-Ariz.? The New York Times recalls two moments in the last eight years when Sen. John McCain allegedly flirted with the idea of switching parties.

Many bloggers were unimpressed with the Times. Nate at You Decide 2008 didn't find much new in the piece. "The intent here can clearly be one of two things. Either the Times is hoping to prevent McCain from winning over conservatives, or they're trying to say he's lying about his account of these events since he denies much of what is alleged in this article," he writes. "Unfortunately this is a he said/they said situation, so who knows the real truth?" CubbyChaser at Comedy Central's Indecision 2008 is equally unimpressed with the article: "The New York Times has some breaking news concerning things that they (and everybody else) reported on years and years ago." Beltway Snark piles on: "Not really much point in discussing this again, he already has the GOP nomination, and the Dems can't really use it against him. Maybe it's a slow news day over at the NYT."

Others saw it as further evidence that McCain is ill-suited to lead the Republicans. Steven Benen at the Carpetbagger Report says he's more inclined to believe the Democrats. "I'm pretty skeptical about the McCain camp's version of events, in large part because the Dems involved in the events have no reason to lie," he writes. No More Mister Nice Blog sees McCain's motive as opportunism: "So swing voters who think a McCain presidency would be an eclectic mix of conservatism and moderation need to take note: The moderation came when he was ticked off at Bush and other Republicans. Right now, by contrast, there's no powerful right-wing force in the party thwarting him. He's the GOP Alpha Dog. So what reason is there to believe he's going to deviate from his usual right-wing orthodoxy in the future?"

Rightwingsparkle, meanwhile, doubts that news of possible defections will make a tremendous difference. "What does this matter? McCain is our nominee. This will only remind moderates that McCain is well, more moderate. Let's be honest. The more we know about Obama, the more Republicans who have been angry with McCain will rush to vote for him anyway. Nice try though to the NYT."

Read more about the NYT article.

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.

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