Carol Platt Liebau: Commandment Breaking?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Commandment Breaking?

Writing for Bloomberg, former LA Times reporter Edwin Chen suggests that the Republican presidential candidates are violating Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment -- "thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."

For starters, President Reagan's words were not intended to suggest that any Republican's policy preferences were to be immune from criticism by any fellow Republican. If he had, his race against Gerald Ford for the presidential nomination in 1976 might have been a good deal shorter and less successful.

Second, it's amusing that Chen quotes Democrat strategist (and former Clinton flack) Chris Lehane, among others, for the proposition that the Republicans this year are uniquely nasty. No doubt there will always be tut-tutters among the political consultant set, but asking Scott Reed -- Dole's campaign chairman -- for his opinion is a laugh. No, his candidate never got tough with President Clinton . . . and has the defeat to prove it.

Finally, the idea that the Democratic field is, for some reason, simply nicer than the Republican is a joke. The Clintons are among the nastiest (and most dishonest) campaigners in recent history -- and if Obama's numbers continue strong in Iowa, the gloves will come off again. We've seen so little from her because, up til now, she's been seen as an invulnerable frontrunner. We've seen so few attacks directed against her until the Philadelphia debate both because the male candidates have been reluctant to attack a woman, and also -- I suspect -- becqause they are afraid of the wrath of the Clinton machine.

Most of the attack strategies are simply a function of timing. As primaries and caucuses near, they'll become more intense. And for another piece rebutting Chen's thesis, check out this from AFP: "Democrat fury mounts in '08 race".


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