Barack, why can’t you be more like that nice George W.?

This is the musical question posed by Andrew Sullivan with respect to the coming accusation by the clearly-feeling-the-heat Hillary coronation committee presidential campaign that… wait for it… Barack Obama had best be prepared for attacks on the candor he has shown with respect to his drug use! (Specifically, the rollout of this attack comes from Hillary’s New Hampshire campaign.) The suggestion– noted by Sully– is that George W. (unlike Barack) had the “good taste” to bury his drug use under the category of of his youthful indiscretions (kind of like his drunk driving conviction, and his mutilation of small animals).
This smear is, of course, a trial balloon at this stage, but an interesting one, coming from the spouse of Bill “I did not inhale… or have sex with that woman” Clinton. It’s certainly understandable why Hillary Clinton– who is in a dead heat with my college classmate Barack (no, I didn’t know him then, and indeed, no one I know knew him, which makes it somewhat difficult for me to comment on his drug use from 1981 to 1983, anyway)– would feel the need to try and go dirty at this stage. We are around 3 weeks from the Iowa caucus with all-important New Hampshire right after. Both are states where Sen. Clinton has not only failed to put away Obama, but she is actually slightly behind him, to the extent that the current polling means anything (though, the two are within margins of error), but the momentum is the wrong way for her. (Blame it on Oprah!)
Even worse for the Clinton team, should Obama manage to pull off wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire, his early-and-often fundraising prowess means that he will not only have momentum going into larger states (and “Tsunami Tuesday”), he will have the money to follow up hard and fast. More important still, he will have shattered Hillary’s one and only political asset (besides Bill, of course): her inevitability. It would be very, very difficult for her to project “smug and condescending” were she reduced to the status of “frontrunner who has gotten her ass kicked by a Black man in two of the Whitest states in this country”.
Which means, from the standpoint of saving her campaign, Hillary had better do something. Yes, she might consider some crazy new bold policy initiatives near and dear to actual alleged Democrats (well, me, anyway), such as proposing shutting down GTMO (and the rest of our gulag network), or suggesting she will not only not condone it but prosecute those responsible for waterboarding, or spearheading a campaign promise to restore habeas corpus or to sign a bill restoring FISA accountability and undoing the other affronts to our Constitution put forth by the Bushmen… but since she doesn’t believe in doing any of those things, then it’s best to do what she does sincerely believe in: dirty politics, and the good old “politics of personal destruction.” (Yes, I am well aware that Sen. Clinton has often been on the receiving end of it; but that just makes her willingness to engage in it about as galling as Senator McCain’s cave-in on the legalization of torture. Further, I am not really taking sides, as I can live with either as the Dem nominee, though I am slightly more likely to vote for Obama over Clinton in my own state’s primary in February for the worst of all reasons: I simply like him better on both style and substance, I cannot and will not forgive Sen. Clinton (or Sen. Edwards, or Sen.Kerry) for the Iraq war vote (or, in her case, the Iran warmongering vote), and ultimately I fear that Sen. Clinton is the only Democrat who can conceivably lose to the Republicans next year– not that she would. But I digress.)
Anyway, go ahead, Senator Clinton, and attack Senator Obama on his drug use… that’ll be bound to score points in the “Live Free or Die” state. (To quote Dick Cheney… “big time”.)
Update: The early returns are that this trial balloon didn’t fly… Bill Shaheen, who made the drug-related remark about Obama, has resigned from the Clinton campaign, and the candidate herself apologized to Senator Obama. Certainly, if the Clinton campaign wanted quick results… it got them. If the Clinton campaign learns from this experience that good old Rovian mudslinging (followed by less than credible deniability) is not the way to play with fellow Democrats, then she has a good chance to recover, and should hold on to her frontrunner position, in which case in just 404 days, we will have our first female president (a graduate of all-girl Wellesley College.) If her campaign doesn’t learn this lesson, then we will probably have our first Black president, who will (like your talking dog) have graduated from Columbia College’s last all-boy class.