Guest post by DRJ]
Here’s how the Politico describes Hillary Clinton’s attack on Barack Obama today on NBC’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert:
“Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today that the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was “deliberately distorting” remarks she had made about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
“This is, you know, a, a — an unfortunate story line that the Obama campaign has pushed very successfully,” she said. “They’ve been putting out talking points. They’ve been making this — they’ve been telling people, in a very selective way, what the facts are.”
Clinton burst out laughing when moderator Tim Russert reiterated her phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy” and asked if it still exists. “Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t paid much attention to it for about 10 years. I really don’t have any idea. … I’m just too busy to worry about that.”
On the King remarks, a controversy blew up after Clinton told Fox News: “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done.”
Some liberal critics have charged in blogs and interviews that the comments diminished King’s contribution.
“Clearly, we know from media reports that the Obama campaign is deliberately distorting this,” she said. “It is such an unfair and unwarranted attempt to, you know, misinterpret and mischaracterize what I’ve said.”
It’s interesting that the article specifically mentioned Hillary Clinton’s laugh. Even this New York Times’ article has described her laugh as an attempt “to shame her inquisitors by chuckling at them (or their queries).”
The Politico article also highlighted Clinton’s “assertiveness”:
“Clinton was extremely assertive, at several points talking over Russert as he tried to finish a question.
“Tim, let me — let me stop you right there,” she said at one point. “No, wait a minute. … You did not give the entire quote.”
“Tim, I can’t let you get away with that mischaracterization and those snippets,” she said later.
Russert opened the show by reading to her from the front page of The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper, which reported Saturday: “Sharp criticism of Barack Obama and other comments about Martin Luther King Jr. — all from people associated with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — have generated resentment among some black S.C. voters.” Russert read a bit more, then asked what all the fuss was about.
“Beats me, because there’s not one shred of truth in what you’ve just read,” she said, adding that King “is one of the people that I admire most in the world.”
Fending off complaints from black leaders is not what the Clinton campaign wants to be doing as it heads into the South Carolina primary.
UPDATE – Here’s more from the Russert interview:
“MR. RUSSERT: If General Petraeus says, “Senator, in September you called the surge the suspension of belief. It has worked, and you know it’s worked”–let me finish–“you can see on the ground. I’m saying to you, Senator, or president-elect Clinton, don’t destroy Iraq. It’s working, the surge is working. Keep troops there just a few more months to get this reconciliation complete.”
SEN. CLINTON: Tim, I’m going to go back to what the whole point of the surge was, and the testimony that we heard last fall. The point of the surge was to push the Iraqi government to make these tough choices. Now, if we put in 30,000 of our finest young men and women, who are going to go after the bad guys and quell violence in certain parts of Iraq, there’s no doubt that can be done. The partnerships that have been created by the tribal sheiks in Anbar province and elsewhere gave us an extra advantage. But that doesn’t in any way undermine the basic reality. The point of the surge was to quickly move the Iraqi government and Iraqi people. That is only now beginning to happen, and I believe in large measure because the Iraqi government, they watch us, they listen to us. I know very well that they follow everything that I say. And my commitment to begin withdrawing our troops in January of 2009 is a big factor, as it is with Senator Obama, Senator Edwards, those of us on the Democratic side. It is a big factor in pushing the Iraqi government to finally do what they should have been doing all along.”
Finally, further down, this amusing exchange on Clinton’s vote on the Iraq war:
“CLINTON: Fourth, it is absolutely unfair to say that the vote as Chuck Hagel, who was one of the architects of the resolution, has said, was a vote for war. It was a vote to use the threat of force against Saddam Hussein, who never did anything without being made to do so.
MR. RUSSERT: The title of the act was The Authorization For Use of Military Force Against Iraq resolution.“