Barack Obama may regret targeting Geraldine Ferraro in the primaries. Today she went after Wes Clark and ripped the Democratic strategy of attacking John McCain’s military service in an appearance on Fox & Friends. While managing to get the Swift Boat Vets history completely wrong, Ferraro implicitly accused Clark and Obama of conducting a smear campaign:
FERRARO: I don’t know this details about whether or not he signed up [as a campaign surrogate], but I have to tell you, I did say, I’m not obviously a McCain supporter, but I was rather stunned by the comment because I think maybe somebody was — General Clark was thinking he could do that — the Swift Boat thing on McCain, and it doesn’t work. Did you see there was an article in the New York Times the other day about the Swift Boat veterans, and these guys were all heroes, and actually they said that this was all — that the ads against John Kerry were wrong. It’s a done deal, it’s over. You can’t do anything about it. and Boone Pickens who had funded this whole thing said I’ll pay you $1 million if you can find me. When you turn around and you say oh, my goodness, what are you trying to do, this is wrong, and to be quite frank with McCain, it’s not only the time he spent in prison, but it’s the military service, his kid is in the service, he’s been on the armed services committee. [Crosstalk] It doesn’t make much sense to me.
Speaking of John Kerry, this is what Clark had to say about him in 2004, courtesy of our friends at Eyeblast:
Ferraro doesn’t show any signs of reconciliation with Obama yet, does she? She may have adjusted the tone of her criticisms since hitting back at accusations of playing the race card, but she still delivers a deft blow at the core of Obama’s pretense at New Politics. She skewers Clark, who has served as the premiere Democratic voice on military matters since his disastrous run at the Presidency in 2004, and reduces him to the status of a smear artist.
Note, however, that she does that by attacking Clark on his current rhetoric. Some on the Right have allowed their vituperation to spread beyond Clark’s obvious hypocrisies this week to an attack on Clark’s overall service. That’s a mistake. Clark’s competence as a military commander was fair game when he ran for President based on that experience, but it’s a lot less relevant to his commentary now as a campaign surrogate. He’s not the candidate, and Clark’s attack on McCain offers plenty of fodder for derision and criticism without demeaning his lifetime of service to the nation.
Ferraro has the right approach — a sort of exasperated surprise at how low Obama will go to win an election. It targets his core strength with obvious truth, and it serves notice to the Democratic Party that she will not fall in blindly behind a man she believes to approve smears against his political opponents. She says she’s not a McCain supporter, but that may change — and if it does, Obama and the Democrats may have a real problem in the general election.