Hillary Attacks Obama's Elementary School Record

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

I know I alluded to this earlier but Hillary Clinton's latest attack on Barack Obama is so foolish, it deserves a stand-alone piece.

Yesterday, I got an email from a regular reader noting that Clinton's campaign had referenced in a press release an essay Obama wrote when he was in kindergarten, titled, "I Want To Become President." In all sincerity, I assumed the email was a joke, parodying the intensity of the campaign season. There's simply no way, I thought, that Clinton would reference something Obama wrote before first grade. I didn't even make a note of it, because I assumed it was a joke.

It wasn't. Obama, apparently as a subtle dig at Clinton, told a Boston audience yesterday, "I'm not running to fulfill some long held plans or because I think it's open to me." The Clinton campaign tried to turn the tables, citing decades of examples, including these:
In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.' His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga "asked her class to write an essay titled 'My dream: What I want to be in the future.' Senator Obama wrote 'I want to be a President,' she said." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]
In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.' "Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said." [AP, 1/25/07 ]
This was, of course, completely serious. The press release included a quote from Clinton spokesman Phil Singer, who asked, "Senator Obama's relatives and friends say he has been talking about running for President for at least the last fifteen years. So who's not telling the truth, them or him?"

I have no idea what the campaign is thinking with something like this.

Ezra's analysis struck me as spot-on.
This actually strikes me as the Clinton campaign in full scramble. Till now, I've been immensely impressed with the discipline of their attacks. Everything -- everything -- was narrative based, dedicated to furthering impressions of Obama as inexperienced. Over the last week or two, however, the campaign has moved into a full-court press, attacking Obama on anything and everything, in the hopes that something will stick. The focus on the inexperienced narrative has dissipated, giving way to attacks on policy (Social Security and health care), ambition, etc. Some of these assaults are fair, some aren't, but the scattershot fusillade has certainly grown more desperate and less controlled, reflecting, I'd bet, the sentiments of the campaign.
When Obama talked about pursuing terrorists into Pakistan, Clinton said experienced candidates wouldn't make such a comment. When Bob Novak talked about behind the scenes rumor-mongering and Obama responded, Clinton said experienced candidates know to ignore right-wing hatchet-men like Novak.

Every story was a new opportunity to reinforce the narrative the Clinton campaign had helped create. Now, they're issuing press releases about essays Obama wrote before his ninth birthday. It's not a wise strategy.

Part of my disappointment stems from expectations. The Clinton campaign has always impressed me as the most professional and disciplined operation on either side of the aisle. They don't flail around wildly; they're methodical and cautious.

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