Monday, May 19, 2008

Collateral Damage

The Post reports on the politics of "guilt by association" and uncovers some aging Communists who are apparently fed up with the Clinton hypocrisy.

When Hillary Rodham Clinton questioned rival Barack Obama's ties to 1960s radicals, her comments baffled two retired Bay Area lawyers who knew Clinton in the summer of 1971 when she worked as an intern at a left-wing law firm in Oakland, Calif., that defended communists and Black Panthers.

"She's a hypocrite," Doris B. Walker, 89, who was a member of the American Communist Party, said in an interview last week. "She had to know who we were and what kinds of cases we were handling. We had a very left-wing reputation, including civil rights, constitutional law, racist problems."

Malcolm Burnstein, 74, a partner at the firm who worked closely with Clinton during her internship, said he was traveling in Pennsylvania in April when Clinton attacked Obama for his past interactions with William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, members of Students for a Democratic Society who went on to found the bomb-making Weather Underground. "Given her background, it was quite hypocritical," Burnstein said. "I almost called the Philadelphia Inquirer. I saw what she and her campaign were saying about Ayers and I thought, 'Well, if you're going to talk about that totally bit of irrelevant nonsense, I'll talk about your career with us.' "

But her decision to target Obama's radical connections has spurred criticism from some former protest movement leaders who say she has opened her own associations to scrutiny. "The very things she's accusing Barack of could be said of her with much greater evidence," said Tom Hayden, a leading anti-Vietnam War activist, author and self-described friend of the Clintons.
And around we go… Without engaging in a tit for tat, it is interesting to note the lack of press attention on some of these dubious Clinton (“the fully vetted candidate”) associations/dealings. But you have to wonder how long the ridiculous “guilt by association” tactics of this campaign will continue. After all, they are distracting from the real issues before the American people and ultimately will splatter mud on everyone involved.

Robert Reich, who went to Yale Law School with Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton and later served in the Clinton administration, called Hillary Clinton's attack on Obama "absurd," adding: "That carries guilt by association to a new level of absurdity. Where does guilt by association stop? I mean, she was a partner of Jim McDougal in the 1980s, for crying out loud." Reich is now an Obama supporter.

"Once you introduce the concept of guilt by association, everyone is in trouble because there is no end to it," he said. "The goal is to render Barack so unelectable that the party has to turn to her. Because the goal is so narrow and obsessive, she's not aware that she's also going to be collateral damage."

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