It's Shadow War time again in politics. Barack Obama's campaign has indirectly accused the Clintons of plotting to establish a political dynasty. TPM Election Central carries the lurid details:
Barack Obama has unveiled a new line of criticism against Hillary: In speeches he's started to point to the allegation made in Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta's Hillary book that the Clintons secretly formulated a 20-year-plan to deliver the presidency first to Bill, and then to Hillary.
Obama was immediately accused of trading on rumor.
"I'm not in this race to fulfill some long-held plan or because it was owed to me," Obama said the other day.
Asked if that were a reference to the Gerth allegation, an Obama spokesperson left virtually no doubt that it was, telling Newsday: "Barack Obama has not been mapping out his run for president from Washington for the last 20 years like some of his opponents."
But the source that Gerth and Van Natta cited with supposed first-hand knowledge of this plan -- historian Taylor Branch -- has since vehemently denied that any such pact existed. "The story is preposterous," Branch told The Washington Post, adding: "I never heard either Clinton talk about a 'plan' for them both to become president."
The media frenzy has become so charged that the rumors about rumors have become news. For example, Bob Novak's article about "dirt", "Obama" and "Hillary" set the two camps to fighting.
Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.
Novak has been accused of throwing the Apple of Discord into the Democrat Olympus. Whoever of the two candidates you think is Athena or Aphrodite is academic, but as David Freddoso at National Review points out, Novak's argument is technically about possibilities, not actualities. But maybe in this game possibilities eventually become actualities.
Novak is not reporting that Hillary has dirt on Obama. He's reporting that her people are spreading the rumor that they have dirt on Obama. And this is a real story.
Novak makes no judgement on whether such dirt actually exists, but he notes that this rumor comes at a pretty convenient time for Clinton's people. If they are spreading rumors, it is so that they can gain a political advantage using a dirty trick behind the scenes to dissuade undecided Democrats from backing Obama. Novak is not playing along with dirty tricks about phantom rumors: he is exposing the rumor-mongerers for using Nixon-style dirty tricks.
Uh-huh. Of course neither side would be reacting to the feints so violently if they didn't suspect the other party actually had a knife in their hands. The two candidates continue to circle each other. My guess is that one day the real knives will appear.