GOP talking points dep’t

The HRC campaign, desperate, is going to attack Obama is too liberal on gun control, crime, and health care. Did you know he used to be a community organizer and that he has left-wing intellectual friends? Not only that, he used to be for single-payer health care and opposes torture by the police. Obviously a member of the “loony left.” Is it any wonder some of us seem to suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome?

Just when some of my friends start to convince me that my distaste for the Clintons and the Clintonistas might be just a tad exaggerated, Mark Penn is standing there to remind me where that distaste comes from:

Obama faces the prospect of severe and hostile vetting from his primary opponents, however. Upon her arrival in New Hampshire this morning, Hillary Clinton signaled that she intends to play on Obama’s as yet unexploited political weaknesses: “Who will be able to stand up to the Republican attack machine?” she asked at an appearance in Nashua.

Hillary’s aides point to Obama’s extremely progressive record as a community organizer, state senator and candidate for Congress, his alliances with “left-wing” intellectuals in Chicago’s Hyde Park community, and his liberal voting record on criminal defendants’ rights as subjects for examination.

Along the same lines, ABC reported that Clinton aides gave the network various examples, of Obama’s controversial stands. The aides cited Obama’s past assertion that he would support ending mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes, pointing to a 2004 statement at an NAACP-sponsored debate: “Mandatory minimums take too much discretion away from judges.”

It has also be reported that the Clinton forces are planning to attack Obama for his support of gun control and his previous support of single-payer health care.

These, of course, are the very same Clintonistas who have been criticizing Obama for “promoting Republican talking points” by mentioning that a personal health insurance mandate might be unpopular and difficult to enforce and by admitting that sometimes the interests of unions aren’t identical with the national interest.

Now, as it happens I think Obama is substantively wrong about gun control; there’s very little evidence that reducing handgun access by people without criminal records is either necessary or useful to the project of reducing homicide. But surely that’s not a debate we want to start up now? As to mandatory sentences, of course Obama is mostly right; if the “defendants’ rights” issue is videotaped interrogations, on that one Obama was not merely right but courageous and effective.

There’s still a substantial pro-Hillary contingent among pundits and bloggers. I hope that those who were most ready to criticize Obama for his occasional lapses from orthodoxy will make it clear to the Clinton campaign that it needs to back off, fast, and I’m glad to see both Matt Yglesias and Duncan Black are already on the case. Can Paul Krugman be far behind?

The good news, I think, is that there isn’t enough time between now and Tuesday for a full-throated negative campaign. But the bad news is that the HRC campaign is already financed through Hyper Tuesday. That gives the Clintons, their handlers, and their enablers one more chance to vindicate, or refute, the victims of CDS.

Update Kos sums it up:

So suddenly, we have a situation in which the best interests of the Democratic Party is at odds with [HRC’s] short-term interests.

Precisely! And when has either Clinton, or any Clinton strategist, hesitated more than a nanosecond before making such a choice?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: