Patterico's Pontifications


Dave Weigel Reminds Us Of — And Minimizes — Hillary 2008 Strategy Memo “Otherizing” Obama

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:02 pm

Dave Weigel has a piece at the Washington Post titled Republicans are blaming Hillary Clinton for the ‘birther’ movement. That’s wishful thinking. But as John Nolte argues, Weigel has dug up some old material that undercuts the simplistic thesis of that headline.

Weigel’s main claim is that the Birther claim was “never pursued” by the Hillary 2008 campaign proper, but only its supporters:

But the Clinton campaign never pursued the idea that Obama was literally not American, and therefore ineligible for the presidency. A small group of hardcore Clinton supporters did.

Weigel acknowledges that the Clinton campaign discussed Obama’s limited American roots as a “strong weakness,” citing an all-but-forgotten internal campaign memo from Clinton pollster Mark Penn. However, Weigel minimizes the nastiness of Penn’s memo, which is very eye-opening in its frank desire to exploit Obama’s lack of ties to this country. Here’s Weigel:

“All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared toward showing his background is diverse, multicultural, and putting that in a new light,” wrote Penn. “Save it for 2050. It also exposes a very strong weakness for him — his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited.”

But Penn wrote that as a warning, not a strategy.

Is that so?

The memo can be read here, and here is a screenshot of one relevant passage. I dare any fair-minded person to read this and conclude that Penn wrote this “as a warning, not a strategy”:

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 12.31.22 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 12.31.32 PM

Especially critical are Penn’s suggestions on “[h]ow we could give some life to this contrast without turning negative,” including repeated references to the need to emphasize America. To discuss American values. To wave American flags.

In other words, to repeatedly reference Obama’s otherness — but to do so with deniability. That is the strategy.

When Weigel says the memo referenced Obama’s otherness “as a warning, not as a strategy,” the clear implication is that Penn, the memo-writer, rejected any notion of exploiting Obama’s lack of American ties. Weigel’s characterization leads the reasonable reader to believe that Penn noted this “otherness” as an issue — but as for the campaign exploiting it, he was having none of it.

Nonsense. He wanted to exploit it to the hilt. He just didn’t want to get caught doing it.

This is the context in which we must read what Weigel writes next:

In December 2007, a Clinton campaign worker named Judy Rose sent an e-mail asking whether Obama was a secret Muslim who intended to destroy America from the inside. She was fired and denounced.

She was denounced . . . for getting caught.

When I complained to Weigel about this on Twitter, he responded with this:

Fair enough, as far as it goes — but it doesn’t address the misleading characterization of the memo as something other than strategic.

Kudos are due to Weigel for unearthing the memo, but not for his characterization, which is so hyper-charitable that it is not really accurate.

Weigel’s piece highlights the critical need to read source documents and not accept Big Media’s characterization of those documents.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. I hope new readers bookmark the main page and come back soon!

23 Responses to “Dave Weigel Reminds Us Of — And Minimizes — Hillary 2008 Strategy Memo “Otherizing” Obama”

  1. Attempted inoculation (using watered down facts instead of dead viruses) by friendly journalist. Hardly the first time we’ve seen this sort of thing. After all, the classic Clinton approach to scandal is:

    #1 That’s right wing propaganda and there’s no proof of it!

    #2 (after solid proof arises) That alleged proof doesn’t mean what you claim it does!
    #3 (after 100% verified evidence proves scandal true) This is old news–why are you bringing it up?

    M. Scott Eiland (acaef4)

  2. dingggggggg!

    Yoda (7d462a)

  3. You can take the pimple-faced kid out of the JuiceBox Mafia, but you just can’t take the pimple-faced kid out of the JuiceBox Mafia.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  4. I never trust big media, democrats or rinos.

    jim (defd88)

  5. Shorter memo: “We can do that, but it would be wrong.”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  6. Shorter memo: “We can do that, but it would be wrong.”


    Shorter memo: “Let’s brand him as not an American, with deniability.”

    Patterico (fecd9b)

  7. how dare you mock their Precious?

    redc1c4 (71fd5d)

  8. Well, the guy who said it “would be wrong” did it anyway.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  9. Walk into a library and look around. You’ll never be able to read all the books. But once you realize over 98% of them are based on previous publications, you might realize (if you’re smart and lucky) that you can read the primary sources and know a great deal about what subsequent writers had to say and if they were faithful to the original thinkers. Just sayin’

    ropelight (5acabe)

  10. McCain being born in Panama, seemed rather convenient for Precious.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  11. The guy who started this was Obama with his book proposal and maybe his application to Harvard as a foreign student. I suppose some historian will eventually find the records. Maybe.

    Mike K (974b77)

  12. You can take the pimple-faced kid out of the JuiceBox Mafia, but you just can’t take the pimple-faced kid out of the JuiceBox Mafia.

    No need to worry about Weigel. Ezra Klein (or was it Matt Yglesias?) vouched for him as a conservative, and that’s good enough for me.

    JVW (ba78f9)

  13. True that, JVW. Here’s a piece that got my attention today. Much truth lays within…

    “We all now have access to a lot more information (just for starters, many more periodicals and even books can easily be accessed online) than we did before. So now, people who turn away from learning that information, or who make excuses for the destructive actions and/or lying by certain public figures they admire, either are lazy, avoidant, or already know or should know certain truths but don’t have the courage to admit that their idols have feet of clay—or to admit to themselves that they have made errors in judgement in admiring those people or voting for them…”

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  14. In retrospect arguably the only time the Clinton machine pulled it’s punches. THANKS FOR NUTHIN! JSUT THIS ONCE COUL YOU HAVE DONE THE SLEAZY YOU ALWAYS DO?

    Bugg (fa64ec)

  15. “Maggie Williams, campaign manager for Clinton, played down the significance of the picture [of Obama in Somali garb]. “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed.”

    That’s what her official campaign did instead of condemning the circulation of the picture.

    Average Joe (15cd59)

  16. Congrats on the Instapundit link.

    DRJ (521990)

  17. UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. I hope new readers bookmark the main page and come back soon!

    Patterico (fecd9b)

  18. Patterico–

    You may be doing Weigel an injustice. If he had not soft-pedaled the interpretation, the piece would never have run and the memo would remain “unearthed.”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  19. this is all Miriam Goderich’s fault

    redc1c4 (d7a752)

  20. Ummm…politics 101: Openly “wonder” about an opponents quirks/perversions/orientations etc and let your loyal footsoldiers do the heavy lifting. Weigel knows this. Nobody”s buying it and he shouldn’t be selling it.

    Mike S. (f5d617)

  21. Speaking of Hillary! and her crime family…


    Clinton Aide Shared Classified Information With Foundation, Email Shows
    Cheryl Mills sent information marked ‘confidential’ to Clinton Foundation in 2012

    …Ken Cuccinelli is president of Senate Conservatives Fund and the former attorney general of Virginia.

    Steve57 (ca1277)

  22. I meant to type “Chaser” to go with the second story.

    Steve57 (ca1277)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0736 secs.