Clinton and his surrogates worked to tie together the GOP, extremism and the violence in Oklahoma City. It was a big success; years later, both Clinton and his GOP adversaries regarded Oklahoma City as a turning point, one in which Clinton did serious damage to his political opposition…

Obama’s approach repulsed more than a few Republicans. “Craven and offensive” was how one senior Senate aide described it. “Totally inappropriate,” said another. Yet another declined to comment because his words would be unprintable. But veterans on Capitol Hill have seen the tactic before.

Is it exploitation for Obama to use the Newtown killings to push for gun control measures? No. Those measures, whether wise or not, are a direct and legitimate reaction to what happened in Connecticut.

But the fiscal cliff, taxes, stimulus and a whole range of issues that have nothing to do with Newtown and everything to do with Obama’s political fortunes? That is classic exploitation, Clinton-style — and now Obama-style.