Some Leading Liberals Turn Against the Clintons

By Matt Purple | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - As the Clinton campaign battles the Obama campaign in the Democratic presidential primaries, more and more observers on the political left are criticizing the Clintons for being dishonest and deceitful -- claims that once were lodged mostly by the political right.

Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary in the Bill Clinton administration, has accused his old boss of leading a "smear campaign against Obama that employs some of the worst aspects of the old politics."

"Bill Clinton's ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks on Barack Obama are doing no credit to the former president, his legacy, or his wife's campaign. Nor are they helping the Democratic Party," Reich wrote on his blog.

Liberal talk-radio host Ed Schultz blasted the former president on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: "[Clinton] lied 10 years ago about Monica Lewinsky and he's lying about a very viable candidate and somebody who could really bring change in this country [Sen. Barack Obama]. He is embarrassing poor Democrats."

Schultz, whose radio program is broadcast from North Dakota, was rated the most influential liberal radio personality in the nation and the fifth most influential host overall by Talkers Magazine.

In a recent conference call with reporters, former Sen. Tom Daschle criticized "President Clinton's inaccurate descriptions of the differences between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the war, about his inaccurate portrayal of Barack's comments ... he made about Republicans."

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) griped that Clinton had "shaded things and tried to manipulate the facts in a way that is patently unfair."

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) warned that Obama's record was being "swift boated" -unfairly attacked. Kerry did not name the Clintons directly as the perpetrators of the "swift boating," but the implication was clear.

"The fight is just heating up," Kerry said. "We won't let them steal this election with lies and distortions."

Nicholas von Hoffman, a veteran liberal columnist, wrote in Nation magazine that Hillary Clinton is an "experienced political thug." He also accused both Clintons of "playing demolition derby politics" and advised Barack Obama to take a word of advice from former president Lyndon Johnson: "[don't get] into a pissing contest with a skunk."

Von Hoffman also compared the Clintons' treatment of Obama to the way they tried to discredit Paula Jones. "In the last couple of days, Barack Obama has found out what Paula Jones must have felt like after being worked over by the Clinton organization," von Hoffman wrote. "Ms. Clinton goes slap, slap, slap across his face as husband Bill lets the Illinois Senator [sic] have it below the belt."

Paul Waldman, a columnist for The American Prospect , a liberal magazine, says that the Democrats' cheering of some of Clinton's dirtier tactics during the 1990s may have been unwise. "The question this raises is how we really feel about ethically questionable campaign tactics," said Waldman. "The fact is that we're very quick to forgive a politician we support for hitting below the belt, if the belt in question is around the waist of another politician we dislike."

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