Further proof that the Clinton campaign intends to make an issue out of Obama’s admission that he experimented with drugs as a teenager. From the NYT’s Caucus blog:
Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, who is campaigning today in South Carolina with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, just made a suggestion that raised the specter of Barack Obama’s past drug use. He also compared Mr. Obama to Sidney Poitier, the black actor, in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
At a rally here for Mrs. Clinton at Columbia College, Mr. Johnson was defending recent comments that Mrs. Clinton made regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She did not mean to take any credit away from him, Mr. Johnson said, when she said that it took President Johnson to sign the civil rights legislation he fought for.
Dr. King had led a “moral crusade,” Mr. Johnson said, but such crusades have to be “written into law.”
“That is the way the legislative process works in this nation and that takes political leadership,” he said. “That’s all Hillary was saying.”
He then added: “And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood – and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book – when they have been involved.”
Moments later, he added: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.”
I stand by what I wrote in mid-December, when this issue first came up: “As a voter, I’m more drawn to a candidate who can quickly and effectively bat such attacks away (neither Kerry nor Gore could do it) than one who’s increasingly eager to launch them. And I admire a candidate who not only admits that he inhaled but identifies with, inspires and actively sets himself as a role model for a younger generation of not-so-perfect but not-yet-lost inhalers.”
The Clinton campaign caught some flak for slinging that mud the first time around, and Hillary was quick to respond; a day after Clinton adviser Bill Shaheen suggested that Republicans would pounce on Obama for owning up to drug use as a teen, he resigned. Now that it’s back in the air, there should be less doubt: Shaheen’s comments were not unsanctioned or off-the-cuff; rather, this is a card the Clinton campaign is willing to play.