The Clinton campaign is trying to make it seem as if the complaint is about negativity, and it is pointing out that Obama has criticized Hillary as well. That's what politicians are supposed to do when they compete for votes. But criticism isn't the same thing as lying and sleaze-mongering.
Am I starting to sound like a Clinton hater? It's a scary thought. Of course, to conservatives, it's a delicious thought. The Wall Street Journal published a gloating editorial noting that liberals had suddenly learned "what everyone else already knows about the Clintons." (By "everyone," it means Republicans.)
It made me wonder: Were the conservatives right about Bill Clinton all along? Maybe not right to set up a perjury trap so they could impeach him, but right about the Clintons' essential nature?
Not to worry, though: Chait reassures his readers that the nineties wasn't bad at all, no sirree:
Fortunately, the Journal's attempt to convince us that the Clintons have always been unscrupulous liars seemed to prove the opposite. Its examples of Clintonian lies were their claims that Bob Dole wanted to cut Medicare, that there was a vast right-wing conspiracy, that Paula Jones was "trailer trash" and that Kenneth Starr was a partisan.
Except Dole did vote to cut Medicare, there was a vast right-wing conspiracy and Starr was and is a rabid partisan. ("Trailer trash" is, of course, a matter of opinion, and it's a cruel thing to say, but as far as whether it's a lie -- well, it's not like they called William F. Buckley "trailer trash.")
So maybe the answer is that the Clintons would have smeared their opponents in the 1990s, but lying is unnecessary when the other party is doing things such as voting to slash Medicare to pay for a big tax cut for the rich.
So, first, maybe they would have lied, but they didn't (insofar as "slashing" Medicare, by Chaits's rights, is defined as voting for a reduction in the increase); and smearing an Arkansas woman is far less egregious than smearing a wealthy right-wing columnist far-better equipped to defend himself.
With this piece, Chait joins the ranks of feminists who disgraced themselves in the nineties by trashing not only Paula Jones, but also Kathleen Willey and Juannita Broderick, and who would have piled on Monica Lewinksy had their been any gain for Clinton at all.
Hey, Obama supporters: are the Clintons playing rough with you? Put a little ice on it, baby.