The Clinton campaign probably thought they were being clever with the Friday afternoon document dump of Hillary’s IRS returns, but all they have done is give the media a taste and 48 hours to sift through them. Expect this story to still be active and raging on Monday. Not to mention, this juxtaposition of stories at the NY Times is exceptionally unfortunate:
Those are the kind of side by side comparisons that simply can not help Hillary with the blue-collar vote she so desperately needs. Did no one check the web to see whether today was really the day they wanted to release the returns? At any rate, while the clinton campaign seems to suffer from chronic bad timing, at least portions of the campaign have no problem two-timing the Senator from New York:
Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s top political strategist, apologized yesterday for meeting with Colombian officials to advocate for a trade agreement that Clinton opposes.
“The meeting was an error in judgment that will not be repeated, and I am sorry for it,” Penn said in a statement released by the campaign. “The senator’s well-known opposition to this trade deal is clear and was not discussed.”
Penn met with Colombia’s ambassador as recently as Monday to discuss how to get a bilateral free-trade agreement passed between the South American nation and the United States. Campaign officials said the meeting was done as part of Penn’s separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, an international communications and lobbying firm.
The incompetence of it all is staggering, as if they had a checklist for pissing off blue collar voters. The fact that Penn is still with the campaign is simply inexplicable, as Marc Armbinder notes:
One of the toughest tasks for a political journalist these days is to try and find someone in Clinton world who is willing to defend Mr. Penn or his sense of political optics.
Incidentally, Penn has said that he has time for only two clients: Clinton and Microsoft. Now, perhaps, he has three.
Obama aides had nothing to say. (Indeed — can you blame them for wanting to allow this story to unfurl without any help?)
Meanwhile, as if all of this was not enough, Clinton’s credibility problem is going to re-emerge next week as a full-time story with this example of truthiness:
Over the last five weeks, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has featured in her campaign stump speeches the story of a health care horror: an uninsured pregnant woman who lost her baby and died herself after being denied care by an Ohio hospital because she could not come up with a $100 fee.
The woman, Trina Bachtel, did die last August, two weeks after her baby boy was stillborn at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio. But hospital administrators said Friday that Ms. Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured.
“We implore the Clinton campaign to immediately desist from repeating this story,” said Rick Castrop, chief executive officer of the O’Bleness Health System.
Linda M. Weiss, a spokeswoman for the not-for-profit hospital, said the Clinton campaign had never contacted the hospital to check the accuracy of the story, which Mrs. Clinton had first heard from a Meigs County, Ohio, sheriff’s deputy in late February.
A Clinton spokesman, Mo Elleithee, said candidates would frequently retell stories relayed to them, vetting them when possible. “In this case, we did try but were not able to fully vet it,” Mr. Elleithee said. “If the hospital claims it did not happen that way, we respect that.”
It seems like calling the hospital would have been an easy first step, and in fact, let’s compare and contrast. When your average right-wing blogger wants to prove or disprove something, generally the first thing they do is CONTACT the people in the middle of the situation. Think about that. Either the Clinton campaign didn’t care if the story was true or not, and just wanted to keep telling it, or they are less equipped to get at the truth than your average citizen journalist.
What this all boils down to is a question of competence. It has become increasingly clear that despite their claims about passing the CinC threshold and despite their claims of superior judement, the Clinton crew cares little about actually getting things right. Loyalty, however, is a cherished value. Competence, not so much.
Where have I seen that poisonous combination over the past eight years? Does the country need four more years of rule from an arrogant and incompetent administration that places a priority on loyalty and secrecy?
I think not.