Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama supporters get carried away

March 22, 2008 |  6:34 pm

Credit Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with having the good sense to each take a respite from grueling, enervating struggle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, someone needs to advise a couple of their most ardent backers to chill.

James Carville -- apparently feeling the need to offer a reminder of how he earned his "Ragin' Cajun" nickname -- responded to Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama by comparing it to the most infamous betrayal in the history of the Western world.

“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” Carville told the New York Times.

What strikes us as odd -- if not quite ironic -- is that Carville's superheated reaction came as Mark Penn, the Clinton campaign's chief strategist, was doing his best to dismiss the impact of Richardson's move. "I don't think it is a significant endorsement," Penn said in a widely disseminated quote. "The time when he could have been most effective is long since passed."

Carville was giving vent to the widespread attitude within the world of the Clintons that Richardson owes more gratitude than he's displayed to the former first family. Undoubtedly, Richardson's political stature was elevated when Bill Clinton, during his presidency, named him to serve as ambassador to the U.N. and later appointed him secretary of Energy.

But that latter job proved a ...   

mixed blessing for Richardson, since he inherited the messy Wen Ho Lee spying case. And even without his tenure in the Clinton administration, he was on a track to eventually win the job he now holds -- governor of New Mexico. And that's the perch he needed to launch his run for the presidency last year.

Carville's comment is going to be hard to top for most overheated rhetoric of the week, but an Obama aide, retired Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, gave him some competition.

Reacting Friday to yet another remark by Bill Clinton that may or may not have been a barb directed at Obama, McPeak likened the ex-president to the notorious Red-baiter of the 1950s, Sen. Joe McCarthy.

Clinton's words -- referring to his wife and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, he said, "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people (competing in the general election) who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country" -- raised eyebrows because of the obvious omission of Obama from the equation.

But the Clinton camp moved quickly to insist that the ex-president meant no offense. True, Bill Clinton's track record in this campaign leaves that open to interpretation. Still, by invoking McCarthy's name, McPeak opened the door for Hillary Clinton's chief spokesman, Howard Wolfson, to send out an e-mail Saturday to "interested parties" (that includes us) noting that the general, during an interview with L.A. Times reporter Peter Wallsten earlier this year, offered intemperate remarks about Hillary Clinton that he has yet to live down (though he retracted them).

As we said, it seems some vacation time is in order for more than just the candidates themselves.

-- Don Frederick

Comments 

Advertisement










Video