- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hillary’s fall

“How did things look on the inside, as they unraveled?” Joshua Green writes in the Atlantic magazine, referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failure to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

“To find out, I approached a number of current and former Clinton staffers and outside consultants and asked them to share memos, e-mails, meeting minutes, diaries — anything that would offer a contemporaneous account. The result demonstrates that paranoid dysfunction breeds the impulse to hoard. Everything from major strategic plans to [catty] staff e-mail feuds was handed over. (See for yourself: much of it is posted online at www.theatlantic.com/clinton),” Mr. Green said.

“Two things struck me right away. The first was that, outward appearances notwithstanding, the campaign prepared a clear strategy and did considerable planning. …

“The second was the thought: Wow, it was even worse than I’d imagined! The anger and toxic obsessions overwhelmed even the most reserved Beltway wise men. Surprisingly, Clinton herself, when pressed, was her own shrewdest strategist, a role that had never been her strong suit in the White House. But her advisers couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution. Major decisions would be put off for weeks until suddenly she would erupt, driving her staff to panic and misfire.

“Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence — on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to ‘do the job from Day One.’ In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

Clooney and Obama

The London Daily Mail reports that Hollywood actor George Clooney communicates with Barack Obama almost every day by phone or e-mail, and is advising the Democratic presidential candidate on Mideast policy and on honing his image.

The newspaper cited unnamed “Democratic Party insiders” and anonymous friends of Mr. Clooney.

The newspaper quoted one party insider as saying, “George has been giving him advice on things such as presentation, public speaking and body language and he also e-mails him constantly about policy, especially the Middle East. George is pushing him to be more ‘balanced’ on issues such as U.S. relations with Israel. George is pro-Palestinian. And he is also urging Barack to withdraw unconditionally from Iraq if he wins.”

The source said they “text and e-mail each other almost every day and speak on the phone at least a couple of times a week, often more.”

Mr. Clooney last week announced that he is making a movie about the lawyer who defended Osama bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan, on terrorism charges.

Campaign coverage

“So much for John McCain’s hope that remaining on the campaign trail this week while Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii would lead to more or friendlier coverage,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“At least not on Monday night when Katie Couric highlighted how ‘Obama put out a tongue-in-cheek response to Senator McCain’s celebrity ad’ and she helpfully pointed out: ‘The ad also features six different shots of Senator McCain next to President Bush.’

“Later, CBS allocated more than three minutes to a ‘CBS News Exclusive’ interview and profile by Couric of ‘Barack Obama’s brain,’ Valerie Jarrett, who ‘just may be the most powerful woman in Chicago besides Oprah.’

“ABC centered an entire piece around revelations Hillary Clinton campaign operatives planned to ‘question Obama’s authenticity as an American. She rejected that strategy,’ yet ABC managed to twist the story into Obama victimization as anchor Charles Gibson fretted: ‘There are indications that John McCain may be adopting it now.’

“Reporter Jake Tapper warned ‘some say that John McCain has tried to subtly portray Obama as not quite American enough, playing up Obama’s popularity abroad.’ Tapper ominously concluded: ‘ABC News has learned that an independent conservative group has been filming in Indonesia where Obama spent a few years during his childhood. So even if Senator McCain does not draw attention to that unusual quality of Obama’s youth, someone will.’”

Senate showdown

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, “is ready for a showdown with the Senate ethics committee,” Betsy Newmark writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“At issue is his practice as an obstetrician. When he became senator he had to give up charging for delivering babies because senators are not allowed outside income. But Coburn has continued and is just not charging the women. He is paying his own malpractice insurance himself,” said the writer, who blogs at betsyspage.blogspot.com.

“The problem that the ethics committee has is that the hospital where he delivers the babies is a for-profit hospital and Senate rules forbid such potential conflicts of interest. Coburn, who is one tough guy, is willing to bring the whole issue out into the public and force a vote on whether he should be penalized for delivering babies for free even if the hospital he does it at is trying to make a profit.”

Without a prayer

Focus on the Family Action pulled a video from its Web site Monday that asked people to pray for “rain of biblical proportions” during Barack Obama’s Aug. 28 appearance at Denver’s Invesco Field at Mile High to accept the Democratic nomination for president, the Rocky Mountain News reports.

Stuart Shepard, director of digital media at Focus Action, the political arm of Focus on the Family, wrote and starred in the video. He said it was meant to be “mildly humorous.”

But complaints from about a dozen Focus members persuaded the organization to pull the video, said Tom Minnery, Focus Action vice president of public policy.

“If people took it seriously, we regret it,” Mr. Minnery said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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