They had to do it.

You know how those Republicans are with their dirty tricks.

“The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight … and one of the things they’re certainly going to jump on is his drug use,” said Shaheen, the husband of former N.H. governor Jeanne Shaheen, who is planning to run for the Senate next year. Billy Shaheen contrasted Obama’s openness about his past drug use — which Obama mentioned again at a recent campaign appearance in New Hampshire — with the approach taken by George W. Bush in 1999 and 2000, when he ruled out questions about his behavior when he was “young and irresponsible.”

Shaheen said Obama’s candor on the subject would “open the door” to further questions. “It’ll be, ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'” Shaheen said. “There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It’s hard to overcome.”

Obama’s drug use as a kid, which elicited such widespread indifference in the righty blogosphere that I noted it when the story first broke, will be a bigger liability for him than Hillary’s glacial unlikeability and myriad Clintonian scandals will be for her? Really? Ace is in mourning at the possibility that we might not get to run against her. Is there a Democrat alive so stupid that they don’t see this for the feeble, desperate gambit that it is?

I’m tempting fate, but the more the race wears on the more eager I am to see her humiliated spectacularly in the primary. Yeah, it’d be gratifying if we were the ones to smite the Clinton machine, but seeing them rejected by their own fellow travelers, with no vast right-wing conspiracy to blame for Hillary’s awfulness, has a sweetness all its own. The rebuke to Billy Jeff, in particular, would be irresistible, as he’d be replaced as head of the party by a guy just like he was in 1992 but even more so: More exciting, more charismatic, vastly more historically significant, with much, much, much less personal baggage. The beauty of this new attack is how transparently nervous it makes them look. Is this what the titans of the Democratic Party have been reduced to? Attacks about youthful drug use from the people who made the words “But I didn’t inhale” famous?

Look at it this way. We’re almost certainly going to have to contend with Obama as the Democratic nominee someday. Why not now?

Update: Politico makes a good point, though.

Update: Imagine.

Imagine the sheer petulance that would be on display. Imagine watching Bill Clinton have to speak at the Democratic National Convention on the merits of electing the guy who trounced his wife in the primaries.

Update: Like See-Dub says, Hillary’s drug history is eminently fair game now. Not that any reporter will have the balls to go digging, but Obama’s campaign might. Let’s find out just how many bowls she smoked during her college days in late 1960s Massachusetts.