The Clinton campaign has put out a last-minute attack mailing against Obama in New Hampshire, and the content really pisses me off:
Barack Obama’s campaign fought back Sunday against rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in an under-the-radar dispute over who would best protect abortion rights.
Obama’s campaign made automated phone calls to New Hampshire voters accusing Clinton of “last-minute smears.”
The recorded message came in response to a Clinton mailing that said Obama failed to stand up for the right to choose abortion. The mailing said that while serving in the state Senate in Illinois, Obama voted “present” seven times on abortion legislation instead of taking a yes or no position.
In the Obama call, Wendy Frosh, of Planned Parenthood in Northern New England, said Obama “has a 100 percent pro-choice record and has always been a champion for women’s rights.”
Yes, this does look very bad on paper. But here are the facts: Obama’s “present” votes were Planned Parenthoods’ idea.
Pam Sutherland, president of Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, said Mr. Obama was one of the senators with a strong stand for abortion rights whom the organization approached about using the strategy. Ms. Sutherland said the Republicans were trying to force Democrats from conservative districts to register politically controversial no votes.
Ms. Sutherland said Mr. Obama had initially resisted the strategy because he wanted to vote against the anti-abortion measures.
“He said, ‘I’m opposed to this,’” she recalled.
But the organization argued that a present vote would be difficult for Republicans to use in campaign literature against Democrats from moderate and conservative districts who favored abortion rights.
Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general who was in the Illinois Senate with Mr. Obama from 1998 through 2002, said she and Mr. Obama voted present on the anti-abortion bills.
“It’s just plain wrong to imply that voting present reflected a lack of leadership,” Ms. Madigan said. “In fact, it was the exact opposite.”
I recommend reading the full article, because it explains some of the weirdness of the “present” vote culture in Illinois. I find it to be odd, too, but Obama didn’t make the rules. As for the rest of his “present” votes, I think that he has given adequate explanations for most of them. Others, not so much. But then again, Clinton doesn’t exactly have a perfect voting record, either. What pisses me off is that Clinton and her campaign are smart enough to know better. They know that the ads are huge manipulations of the truth and that Obama is actually an incredibly strong pro-choice candidate. In fact, it’s probably my favorite thing about the guy. So I call bullshit very loudly and indignantly.
The upside, I realized, after the burst of anger subsided, is that there really must be parts of this country where abortion rights are a winning issue. Otherwise, the mailing never would have seen the light of day.
I also can’t bring myself to pick on Clinton too greatly. Earlier today, during a Q&A session, she teared up while answering a question about “how she does it.” The video is after the jump.
I think that all of us have been anticipating for some time that if this ever happened — if Hillary dared to shed a tear — she would be torn apart by the masses and get quite the opposite reaction to what her husband’s tears received. But you know who I didn’t think was going to be the first to jump at the opportunity to call Clinton weak? My candidate John Edwards:
ABC News’ David Muir, Raelyn Johnson and Sunlen Miller Report: Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., on the tail end of his 36-hour campaigning marathon in New Hampshire on day before the primary vote, reacted to rival Sen. Hillary Clinton’s emotional moment Monday.
Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton’s ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.
“I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business,” Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.
Seriously. Edwards. Go fuck yourself.
No, I don’t believe that he would have made the same remarks if Obama got choked up talking about missing his daughters or something like that. And not only because Edwards seems to be running for Obama’s VP right now, but because it would be considered a mean and low blow. It still is unnecessarily cruel and pointless. I also think that he’s capitalizing on misogyny, which makes the statement itself misogynist.
Certainly, Edwards has pissed me off before. And certainly, he has never taken my advice. But I give him 24 hours to issue an apology. Which I don’t see coming. And then, I think I’m going to have to hitch a ride on the Obama bandwagon. At this point, I can’t really say that any of the candidates have the levels of personal integrity I would like. That includes Obama. He has launched some attacks that I absolutely can’t get behind.
And yet, he has also managed to go several weeks now without making me want to punch him in the nose. Which is more than I can say for the rest of the candidates. And sadly, probably the best that I can hope for.
UPDATE: Edwards has backed off of his remarks about Clinton. It’s about halfway through the video. The problem? It’s more of a denial than an apology. The remarks he makes here are the remarks he should have been in the first place, and I can’t help but feel that he’s being a tad disingenuous that his remarks not referring to Clinton.
On the other hand, fuck, the guy is likable. This is indeed the Edwards dilemma. He absolutely infuriates me over something that it’s totally justifiable to get pissed about. And then he goes and acts like a great guy and an awesome candidate and makes me remember why I liked him in the first place. *grumbles*