As I discussed here, yesterday's clash between Hillary and Barack Obama was perhaps the most bitter and open infighting between Dem presidential candidates in many an election cycle. Particularly given that it was comments by David Geffen quoted in a column by the New York Times' own Maureen Dowd that touched off the fracas, you would have thought the Times would have gone out of it way to highlight the intra-Dem battle. So . . . how did the New York Times portray the matter in its headline this morning? In Both Parties, 2008 Politeness Falls to Infighting.
That's right, this isn't a problem unique to Dems. "Both parties" have suffered a failure of "politeness." Now it's true that over the last couple days, John McCain has taken verbal shots at Vice-President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and also criticized the Bush administration on the environment. But those were substantive critiques of policy. In contrast, Geffen's comments, with which Obama pointedly chose not to disassociate himself, could not have been more personal, calling the Clinton couple liars and Bill "reckless."
The Times furthered the moral equivalency with this helpful chart, documenting the barbs aimed by the respective Dems and Republicans.
There is of course another, more important, way in which the two situations differ. Last time I looked, Pres. Bush can't, and Cheney and Rumsfeld aren't . . . running for president. It's one thing for a candidate in McCain's position to stake out his independence from an administration. Quite another for two candidates within the same party to attack each in bitter, personal terms.
But the Times decided to cast a pox on both political parties for their breach of politesse. Was this the Gray Lady's attempt to dilute the way in which the Hillary-Obama spat is tarnishing two of its own?
Contact Mark at email@example.com