There was an interesting behind-the-scenes drama playing out yesterday as the Clinton campaign announced that Bill and Hillary Clinton were liquidating their blind trust, converting stocks into cash.
Some of Mrs. Clinton’s rivals, including the campaign of Senator Barack Obama, went through the list of the Clinton’s financial holdings that Mrs. Clinton filed with the Senate and released a very detailed and critical analysis about where the Clinton’s had gotten and invested their money.
Mr. Obama’s aides circulated its memorandum to news organizations on the condition that news organizations not say where they obtained the information.
There is nothing unusual – and, most reporters and ethics experts will say, unethical – about this practice. Most of the major presidential campaigns this year have repeatedly sought to circulate information – typically, a record of past votes, public statements, campaign contributions or biographical information on campaign contributors – designed to undercut opponents. (In the vernacular, these are known as “quotes and votes.”)
Campaign aides try to persuade news organization to accept the information on a not-for-attribution basis. A news organization can refuse the condition or accept it. ...
Yuk. Barack, you'll have to figure out what your campaign is about. Let's talk when we get together for our dinner...
UPDATE: So I read the two memos, and some of the commentary.
I'm not a political operative, don't want to be one, and wouldn't be a good one.
Thinking back to JFK/LBJ political/election maneuvers, Nixon's dirty tricks, some Clinton hard ball, etc., this doesn't strike me as big stuff in and of itself (although I can understand and sympathize with repugnance in the Indian-American community). I can't imagine that Obama himself (as opposed to mid-level campaign staff) was involved in the decisions to release this drek. That said, it is not worth risking Obama's image (which I hope is more than just that) for the marginal benefits of this kind of stuff. I think Obama himself should make this an issue, repudiate the behavior, fire some folks, and proclaim his commitment to running a different kind of campaign--and call on his opponents in the Democratic primaries to do the same. (Note: my Wisconsin Senator is Russ Feingold, and I've been influenced by his example on campaign issues.) After all the George Allen stuff in 2006, and disappointment with the Congressional Dems falling way short on promised ethical reforms, I think Obama has a chance to claim this issue, and should take it, "big time." Now.