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During a conversation about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) presidential bid and the impact that husband Bill Clinton will have on her run, Republican strategist Karen Hanretty asserted on the February 26 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, "David Geffen really, I think, signified the frustration that Democrats have with the recklessness of her husband, and there is plenty of time for him to be caught with his pants down between now and the primary election year." Hanretty was referring to Hollywood mogul David Geffen's reported comments in a New York Times interview (subscription required) with columnist Maureen Dowd, in which Geffen maintained: "Yet another time when the Clintons were unwilling to stand for the things that they genuinely believe in. Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling."
Hanretty also claimed that Sen. Clinton "can be Swift Boated. She can -- 527s can go attack her, and Republicans can keep their hands clean of it," a reference to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), a 527 nonprofit group -- now known as Swift Vets and POWs for Truth -- that led a smear campaign against then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (MA). Hanretty's statement that Sen. Clinton can be "Swift Boated" without Republican fingerprints highlights a pattern of the media's depiction of Republicans -- and, in the case of the SBVT, the Bush/Cheney campaign -- as remaining above the fray, without the media's noting that they nonetheless derive the benefit of surrogates' smears of their opponents. Regarding the SVBT itself, the media covered Bush and Cheney's repeated assertions of their admiration for Kerry's service in Vietnam, while the SBVT inflicted damage on Kerry with smears and falsehoods, which the media aired and reported, often uncritically.
From the February 26 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Boy, I think Hillary -- Jacob, I think Hillary as victim is her most successful posture. I mean, as Margaret Carlson once said, nobody has ever benefited more from sexual favors she herself did not dispense than Hillary Clinton. When her husband cheated on her, her numbers -- this is provable -- went straight up. Why wouldn't she want to talk about the pain she suffered as a female -- as a cuckold, basically, someone whose spouse cheated on her?
JACOB WEISBERG (Slate editor): Well, that's certainly not her political style, and it's hard to see that as a winning political strategy. But I think she's making a mistake here, and I think Democrats would be making a big mistake to listen to her. Because whatever they take off the table in the primaries is going to be a land mine waiting for her if she gets the nomination. And that includes whatever we find out about Bill's extracurricular activities, that includes talk of impeachment, just dealing with the whole issue of him being back in the White House.
And, as a political matter, I would say the Democrats would be much better off, and Hillary would probably be better off, lancing the boil. She is going to have to deal with it sooner or later, so better to deal with it sooner.
HANRETTY: And it's not Republicans, necessarily, who have to go after her in a general, if, in fact, she wins the primary. She can be Swift Boated. She can -- 527s can go attack her, and Republicans can keep their hands clean of it. So, one way or another, this will come up. But David Geffen really, I think, signified the frustration that Democrats have with the recklessness of her husband. And, look, there's plenty of time for him to be caught with his pants down between now and the primary election next year.