If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  said that Hillary Clinton’s campaign told him that they had some dirt on Obama, would Obama’s staff react as they did to the Robert Novak column of November 17?  And yes, I am putting Novak in the same category as the crazy Iranian leader.  Novak has damaged U.S. national security as much as Ahmadinejad with his exposure of Valerie Plame and the subsequent destruction of her clandestine intelligence network. 

Why has Senator Barack Obama kept the Novak story alive through repeated statements for days? Is he just naïve or is he misinformed?  Is he really so unfamiliar with the journalistic incest of Washington and Novak’s status as a Republican hit man?  Why would Obama focus his campaign on unfounded “smears” circulated by Novak? Why would Obama, the candidate of “hope,” pump up the claims of Novak, “the prince of darkness”? 

The Republican smear masters had already tipped their hand for dealing with Hillary Clinton.  Look at Karl Rove’s debut column in Newsweek, where he lays out the strategy that Obama appears to be parroting:

“And so the question to John McCain from a woman at a town hall in South Carolina last Monday was tasteless, but key: ‘How do we beat the [rhymes with witch]?’ Right now, Republicans are focusing much of their fire on Senator Clinton. Criticizing her unites the party, stirs up the unsettled feelings many swing voters have toward her and allows each candidate to say why he is best able to beat her.”

With Rove’s instructions to Republicans in mind, take a new look at Obama’s reaction to Novak.  Is Obama wearing a wrist bracelet that says, “what would Karl Rove do”?

Robert Novak is a seasoned conservative columnist with a long history of publishing falsehoods, distortions and gossip. And he has been in bed with Karl Rove in running “information ops” against democrats.  For decades he has been renowned for inflating shreds of tidbits of rumors into major stories to support various Republican efforts. In 1992, Karl Rove, one of Novak’s regular sources, was fired from the campaign of President George H.W. Bush for leaking derogatory information to Novak about Bush’s campaign manager and friend, Robert Mosbacher. In 2003, Rove again served as a source to Novak, leaking the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. Even though the CIA warned Novak not to disclose her CIA identity in the interests of national security, he did so, insuring that Rove got a copy of the column before it was published. In 2004, Novak promoted the smear campaign of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against Senator John Kerry’s heroic Vietnam War record. When it was revealed that Novak’s son was the marketing director for the right-wing publisher of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth tract defaming Kerry, Novak expressed disdain about the conflict-of-interest: “I don’t think it’s relevant.” 

By his own admission Novak’s latest hyped controversy has no basis in fact. On November 17, he wrote, “Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party’s presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it.” His sourcing consisted of “word of mouth” and unnamed “experienced Democratic operatives.” Two days later, on Fox News, where Novak is a commentator, he confessed that he had heard a rumor from someone who had heard a rumor from someone. In short, he had no facts, perhaps explaining why Novak has been dubbed “No Facts” for years. 

Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson’s categorical statement would seem to have put an end to this pseudo-event: “The Clinton campaign has nothing to do with this item.” But it did not end. Instead, it is being kept artificially alive. 

As soon as Novak published his rumor, Obama elevated and dignified it as though it had credibility. “But in the interest of our party, and her own reputation, Senator Clinton should either make public any and all information referred to in the item, or concede the truth: that there is none,” he declared. Obama turned the alleged smear upside down. Rather than acknowledge that the predictable right-wing smear artist Novak was responsible for the innuendo, Obama accused Senator Clinton of being ultimately to blame. With this extraordinary statement, Obama lashed himself to Novak’s credibility as a reliable source on a story that transparently lacked any true source. 

Even when the Clinton campaign forthrightly again denied the item was false and that no one involved in the campaign had anything to do with it, Obama’s campaign refused to let the matter die. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe once again accused Senator Clinton and her campaign of doing what Novak claimed: “Are ‘agents’ of their campaign spreading these rumors?  And do they have ‘scandalous’ information that they are not releasing?” 

Once again, the Clinton campaign openly stated it had nothing to do with the story at all. Then, Plouffe made another statement that suggested Obama had somehow wrung a confession out of the Clinton campaign and still implied that it was behind Novak’s lie: “The Clinton campaign has admitted that they do not possess the ‘scandalous information’ in question and we take them at their word.  But what we don’t accept is their assertion that this is somehow falling for Republican tricks.”

The following day, November 19, Obama began a new line of attack, picking up a discredited story circulated months ago. “I’m not in this race to fulfill some long-held plan or because it was owed to me,” Obama said. An Obama spokesperson reinforced the point: “Barack Obama has not been mapping out his run for president from Washington for the last 20 years like some of his opponents.”

But where did this new attack originate? Just as he had used Novak’s false story for the previous two days, now he tried to damage Senator Clinton’s reputation by using another patently false story. Months ago, Jeff Gerth, the reporter who spent years hyping the Whitewater fables as real, and his co-author Dale Van Natta, attempted to promote their anti-Hillary screed, “Her Way,” with the supposedly startling revelation that Hillary and planned to run for president 20 years ago. But Gerth and Van Natta had no actual source. And the one source to whom they did attribute the story, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Taylor Branch, was someone they never interviewed and who told the Washington Post, “The story is preposterous. I never heard either Clinton talk about a ‘plan’ for them both to become president.”

Despite this story’s exposure as false for months, Obama eagerly exploited it to try to portray Senator Clinton as Lady Macbeth. First using Novak and then Gerth for his materials, he painted her as a dirty trickster, dishonest and recklessly ambitious.

But why does Obama do this? Once Novak’s story was exposed as a smear itself, why didn’t he stop? Why did he keep it going? And why did he revive the Gerth falsehood to tarnish Senator Clinton’s character?

Obama’s tactics appear in sync with Rove’s script. His feigned victimhood is a negative attack on Senator Clinton’s character to drive the numbers, which in turn Obama hopes will determine the nomination. While posing above the fray, but executing Rove’s strategy and exploiting Novak’s innuendo, Obama has embraced the audacity of hype.

Previous articleThe Presidential Candidates on Iran
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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
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  • bruce

    if you are a commie traitor then you will probably vote for the commie traitor bongo obami.if this bastard,yes he is the illegitimate off spring of a kenyan muzzie and s.ann dunam,is elected president of this great country he will steal our liberties.besides he was borne in kenya which makes this punk inellegible to be president.if that were not enough his wife is an ugly racist fish wife and a commiei.

  • bruce

    when you talk of plame you are talking about why the c.i.a.does not know it’s ass from a hole in the ground.undercover, i hardly think so unless it was under clintons desk, this encompetent bitch should have been fired with loss of pension.our c.ia. is a joke like the ass hole jimmy carter who started the destruction and clinton who finished the job.we need to fire every democrat in the c.i.a. and start over if we have any hope of knowing what is going on in the world.

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  • TeakwoodKite
  • John McCutchen

    The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy. Edwin Edwards,

  • John McCutchen

    Gee wiz Larry, I don’t know why Obama’s in bed with Karl Rove.

    Why are you in bed with Bill’s wife?

    • mudkitty

      Do you always insult your host?

  • Graybeard

    The two parties are just opposite wings of the same bird. Big money wins, and we get the bird.

    Lou Dobbs will run as an Independent Populist, and he will take about equally from both parties – hopefully enough to win. He has the brains, experience, and scruples to be a Great president.



    • mudkitty

      Hopefully not.

    • Shirin

      And he also, like most of the rest of them, thinks bombs are to be used as a tool of “persuasion” in foreign policy. In fact, of all of them, he may have stated it the most clearly and explicitly when he said the use of military force ought to be used only “when other things fail and you cannot achieve the results you are trying to accomplish through other means.”

      Military force must be reserved only for self defence against a clear and imminent threat. No one who advocates its use for any other purpose will ever get my vote.

  • chris

    Obama has begun to get on my nerves. I was paying attention to him at first but his one upmanship…it just blew his credibility with me.

    I don’t know if there is a candidate who can pull it off for me. Kucinich had the nerve to call for impeachment of Cheney during the last debate, during the house session a couple weeks back, and the only bill in congress (hr 333) to impeach.

    He’s got my vote, but thats not how this show goes. Ron Paul is in our neighbor district and I like him too. He has a better chance and has just been named GQ Man of the Year 2007.

    I’m feeling pretty naive myself these days in the area of ‘what to do’, so calling Obama naive seems easy. I think this country is a bit too askew to get its act together in elections.

    Now the candidates might be able to fire me up by calling for and going for impeachment and incarceration of these goons. Imagine it daily please.

    As for the particular story of Novak, campaigns are big and both Obama and Clinton are at the top of a big pyramid. It seems prudent to avoid comment so as to get clear on what happened. But yes, when the name Novak comes up, aside from trial for treason, we should know he is a traitor. capisce?

    Happy Thanksgiving you guys. I appreciate the convo here. Little nod to Scott “Should Have Spoken Sooner” McClellan for calling Bush and Cheney liars.

    Mazel Tov

    • Shirin

      Most of them get on my nerves, especially with their militarily bellicose language.

      Kucinich and Ron Paul are different, as is Gravel. Richardson is different, but perhaps not different enough.

      • chris

        I want to like Richardson, but I don’t. I would relatively trust him to handle foreign policy in a manner I agree with…provided that means straigh forward talks with leaders, on the level, no games. I’m sick of the bravado. The more I see it the more I want to puke.

        I’ll give Obama a chance to get feet, but I’d really like to see less mockery of Kucinich and more hearing on his impeachment proceedings. I want those bastards locked up.
        Now, on with the countdown….

        • chris

          and bless the genius who walked out on Larry King today. Its always good to make a landmark.

    • Cee

      Same to you Chris and everyone!!

      I just saw Joe on CNN. Ha ha. Things are looking up for them. Not so much for the traitors.

      Peace and love to all of you!

    • Taters

      And a Happy Thanksgiving to you Chris.

  • Teaeopy

    I do wish that each candidate would, when a blog post deserves a response, have someone from the campaign get over to the blog site (for high-profile blogs, anyway) and respond in comments to the blog post. My experience has been that a tip to a campaign can merely result in the tipster’s getting put on the mailing list.

  • Delia

    For some time I’ve thought that Obama was just woolly in his speaking. I don’t understand why he didn’t check this Novak allegation privately with the Clinton camp before going public. He just seemed uncertain and being led around by Novak’s game. It was insane. That above all convinced me he’s not ready for prime time. Olbermann was right.

    I have to say that I’m still an Edwards supporter, but I will certainly back Hillary if she’s the nominee. And I have kind of a revealing story about the way the Clintons build support. In 2006 a veteran Democratic state senator (female) here in Eugene had a particularly tought re-election campaign against a popular Repub former mayor of the town who was back-pedaling away from his national repub connections as fast as he could. This woman (not in my district) was campaigning very hard and said she was looking for some national figure who would give her some backing. No one would even return her calls EXCEPT FOR Bill Clinton, whom she had met at some function once. He recorded a TV commercial for her. She won her race. Well, guess who she is supporting for president in this election? She has other reasons, to be sure, but this was very important to her.

  • J


    Ex-mouthpiece McClellan fingers Bush, Cheney, and Rove in the CIA leak.

    Now the CJCS needs to do his job and arrest and physically remove/take into custody Bush, Cheney, and Rove for their ‘treason’.


    • What’s the CJCS?

      • J

        CJCS = Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — Adm. Mike Mullen, has the ‘authority’ to arrest and take into physical custody Bush, Cheney, and Rove under the 25th Amendment of the Constitution. Mullen has the Constitutional authority, question is will he do what he is ‘supposed’ to do as an officer which is he has an allegiance to our Constitution, not a sitting prez.

        • TeakwoodKite

          Remember awhile back some folks at JCS/DOD freaked when asked to dust of the old nuke Iran plan? I am sorry I don’t recall proper attributions here,( I’m looking) but I believe some threatened to resign…perhaps they will if it comes to that.

    • Cee

      arrest and physically remove/take into custody Bush, Cheney, and Rove for their ‘treason’.

      Before they get us all killed


      More US special forces to aid fight against insurgents

      Ewen MacAskill in Washington
      Tuesday November 20, 2007
      The Guardian

      The US is seeking to beef up Pakistan’s counter-insurgency efforts in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan by expanding an American special forces team in the country to train the Frontier Corps and recruiting local militias to take on the insurgents.
      The aim is to replicate the Iraq model, in which the Americans recruited, financed and armed local militias against insurgents, firstly in Anbar province and then elsewhere in the country.

      • SteveinStPete

        I say let Obama, Novak, Edwards, Rove, Republicans and anybody else throw whatever they want at Clinton. If she slogs through it and comes out on top we know she’s up to the job. If she can’t overcome it, we shouldn’t regret her loss. That’s how we learned Bill was tough enough for the job. My hunch is that she’ll prove herself worthy.

        • Shirin

          Come on! “Slogging through” a dirty campaign does not make anyone qualified to be President of the United States, it only makes them covered in slime.

          • Fred C. Dobbs

            In a Nietzschian sort of way…

  • Fred C. Dobbs

    Obama has two tines in his pitchfork:

    1. He channels Gary Hart. If you’re too young or were too stoned to remember that loonigan, ask one of your elders. I still have a few, “Honk If Gary Hart Owes You Money!” bumper stickers.

    2. He is running the Magic Negro scam.

    Both of these will peter out about March of 2008, and we can get down to the real action.

    And, yes, he IS stupid enough (note I did not say, “dumb” enough) to wind up as a car’s paw for whoever pulls Novak’s strings.

    • Cee

      He is running the Magic Negro scam.

      This is new. What is it?

      • mudkitty


      • Fred C. Dobbs

        see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro

        (FYI, although this citation tertiarily alludes to a Rush Limbaugh bit lampooning Obama, be advised that even a broken clock can be right twice daily…)

  • JL

    Larry, Thanks for the comment but I actually like to think of him as a rusted old tin man who found his heart a tad to late.

  • Taters

    In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recount the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were “not involved” in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

    “There was one problem. It was not true,” McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Monday. “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff and the president himself.”


  • i am an edwards supporter … let me say this before i make any other remarks. Larry your article was excellent … why indeed would a democratic candidate rely on the lying novak for a story. it boggles my mind, i just cant get around it to find any logic at all! especially when you consider the cowardly attack on valerie and joe. nope, it is hard to imagine what obama and his people are even thinking.

    speaking of obama … he lost me big time when he flew into oregon for a fund raiser and declined to do a radio interview with the only progressive radio station in the state. he had time to speak to democrats who could afford a ticket but couldnt be bothered with those who couldnt. and, this is the man who represents the “new” in politics? hell even the evil cold witch from the east (read hillary) knows better then to do something like that while on the campaign trail.

    in conclusion, i will vote for the democratic nominee … i just hope that whoever it is … they dont listen to novak.

  • JL

    After what happened to Kerry and the Swift Boaters, I felt that Obama’s first statement was appropriate. Unfortunately, he should have continued to slam Novak for repeating second, second hand comments and not mention Hillary but he chose not to do that. Now for an OT question for Larry. What do you think about the information from little Scottie’s book about the leak of a covert CIA agent?

    • Do you mean “Puffy McMoon Face”? Shocked, shocked I tell you. George Bush knew? How could that be?

      OK, I have now exhausted my sarcasm quota for 2007 and 2008.

  • Kathleen

    Several years ago I heard Bill Clinton say that he thought Rove was rather brilliant, definitely a compliment. Almost inviting Rove to do some work for the Clintons. I remember being creeped out when I heard him say this

    Here is Bill Moyers talking about Karl Rove

  • Comment by Kathleen | 2007-11-20 16:45:28

    Am I allowed to say fuck here?

    You can say it..you just can’t do it…

    • PrchrLady

      HAH!!! Glad to hear Jordan called and is doing well… we mother types have that ‘sixth sense’ when it comes to our babies… no matter how old they get… M

  • Kathleen

    Several years ago I heard Bill Clinton say that he thought Rove was rather brilliant, definitely a compliment. Almost inviting Rove to do some work for the Clintons. I remember being creeped out when I heard him say this

    • mudkitty

      To compliment an enemy is not the same as inviting them to work for you…you took an unwarranted leap of logic here.

      Rove is rather brilliant. Evil, but brilliant.

  • Mr.Murder

    Face it, America took the short bus back to the 50’s for Voting Rights, back to the 70’s for oil market costs per capita, to an era for personal savings not seen since mid-Hoover and the Great Depression or even the late 1800’s for American personal savings.

    Hillary Clinton would gladly have remained a Senator to stamp forward competent leadership at the highest office were some there. There’s not a single GOP candidate who reflects such confidence at this time.

    Keating McCain, Cheating Rudy, Cave in Romney, Creepy Camp Tancredo Fredo, Reactionary Ron Paul, enlighten America as to which of those losers is an example of the Best and Brightest?

    Perhaps the GOP needs to let Dick Cheney pick who will run for President, since he did well when he selected himself for VP. Go ahead, make that epitaph there, you don’t have the gravitas to try it, snarler.

    Bring It On.

    Let the people who last did things right have another try at it. That’s what pros do, they get it done.

  • 99

    Rove would probably have all bloggers start their posts with gratuitous and unsubstantiated claims about Ahmadinejad to weave into completely unrelated issues… for all the usual Rovian reasons. Don’t you see how that amounts to warmongering right about now?

  • Kathleen

    Am I allowed to say fuck here?

    What the “cheney” are Rove and Novak doing spreading their poison on our air waves? This is completey insane. The traitors who outed Plame/Wilson, undermined National Security are still running free and have power.

    Can citizens arrest these damn traitors? I want to see this group dropped down in the middle of Baghdad butt ass naked and let them run for the hole Saddam was hiding out in. This is outrageous.

    I wish Fitz would have locked these criminals up.

    • PrchrLady

      I can just picture them running down the street but naked… best picture I could imagine… who is our resident artist here???

    • TeakwoodKite

      Regarding Fitz and the sandbox he was playing in:

      If new facts come out regarding the part of investigation he was unable to proceed on, what is his relationship the new AG going to allow? They have a past both being from the southern district.

      Are there any double jeporady issues that would prevent him from removing the sand from his eyes?

      As I type this; John Dean on Kieth: 371 of the criminal code:

      So when Scotty boy’s book comes out in the spring will his book redacted like Valerie Plames was?

      • TeakwoodKite

        Bill Clinton is well known for getting galleys of manuscripts prior to publication.

        • mudkitty

          Fer crikey’s sake, I used to work in a book store, and I got copies of gallies, prior to publication.

          • TeakwoodKite

            Thanks for that.I did not know that was a common practice…
            I was only infering that if one was forewarned you might see it reflected in the behavoir of the people mentioned in the “index”. Have you seen this?

            • mudkitty

              The practice is done to increase media and public interest in the publication date of any given book.

  • PrchrLady

    Larry, thanks for the excellent post. I am glad we are able to talk openly about our likes and dislikes of various candidates here on NQ… it expands our horizons, so to speak, esp. when we listen to each other, and as we tend to do, discuss various of the ‘fine points’.

    And I agree with you that I think Obama has over reacted. Then again, as one commenter said, he didn’t want to wait, like Kerry did, and then never be able to catch up… speaking of Kerry, he took up the million dollar offer to prove SBVFT wrong, but now it seems they want to change the rules. I hope he hold them accountable this time around.

    Brenda, I agree with your comments. I have a hard time seeing Hillary as President, although if she is the Democratic candidate, she will get my vote. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, because in many ways, I have a great deal of respect and empathy for her.

    I started out supporting Obama originally, took a serious look at Paul and Huckleberry, as well as Kucinich, Edwards and Dodd. I really don’t like Paul’s civil rights stances on more than one issue, so I elimianted him further… I am now hoping for Edwards, as I think Obama is just not experienced enough to ‘get the job done yesterday’, which is what we are really going to need, short of IMPEACHMENT…

    So, Larry, thanks for not making us read and write about only the security issues which we all KNOW are important… thanks for letting us share some of the good things (or bad) that ‘make us tick’… This place is the geatest!!!! THANKS.

  • Mr.Murder

    Hillary can turn the “20 year plan” screed on its ears.

    She can note that the Clinton legacy had America poised to lead the way in the future, armed with a budget surplus and a record of sustained engagement on foreign policy.

    George Bush turned all of that around with budget busting tax cuts and record vacations with his head in the sand(looking for oil beneath it for Cheney Inc.) preceding 9-11.

    The tax cut makes the war unpaid for. Fuzzy math by Enron types, who flew company jets to Dade Co. and made a farce of the election, has contributed to a record deficit that has made America and its fiscal capital the joke of world markets.

    In fact GWB’s own tax cuts and budget shortfalls undermine the best and necessary policies his father GHWB instituted. Deficit reduction was underway as a trend, though Bill Clinton elevated that to new levels.

    Clinton used a variety of items to make America’s transition economy stronger. First he used a restoration of tax levels combined with bipartisan reform efforts. Along with some tax credits for investment, and the implementation of valid market expansion, through retirement vesting known as 401k Bill Clinton broadened market interaction on a scale basis.

    Second, Bill Clinton used the strategic petroleum reserve to cushion the economic impact of transition. This fueled a boom that contributed to an era of prosperity. So how has Cheney’s cabinet managed energy? Oh, they are closed door meetings that put big oil on the payroll then refuse any disclosure for the basis of nat’l security?

    Third, Bill Clinton’s era left the average American household with the most personal savings on average ever. America is now a net debtor nation, under the leadership of Bailout Bush the perpetual failure.

    Hillary’s historic candidacy atop a ticket would have no record to run from. Most Americans would like to return to an era where the power bills could be paid, gas in the tank has a civilian urgency to it, medicine and college remain affordable.

    Obama is simply trying to make Clinton address him so the other people on the level he’s at(Edwards, and perhaps even the slew of VP hopefuls) get less attention. Using Karl Rove is no reach for him in comparison to Al Sharpton, who bedded with Roger Stone for help on mailing lists and other direct marketing in key battleground states where he could erode support for either Wes Clark or Edwards in the last POTUS race.

    Mission Accomplished.

    Does Obama agree with other Karl Rove statements? That should be the first question asked of him at every appearance now.

    Can the Bushco. fabulous effort to squander fiscal capital in quagmires of revenue red tape pay for the accompanied shortfall in political and moral capital our country is now burdened with?

    He thinks “someone else” will answer that “twenty years from now.” Perhaps someone will translate his broken English stuttering at that time to ask him, when history’s verdict weighs in the same guilty count, much like the one Scooter Libby faced.

  • Jim Hannon

    Obama is JUST NOT READY–for the tactics of the right, for a debate, for the job, for anything besides giving “fired up” speeches, speeches that throw partisans under the bus, and writing about himself. I have been involved in Democratic politics as a lefty for over thirty years and I have never seen anything so mystifying to me as the early rush to support Obama.

    • PrchrLady

      I agree with you here. Not seasoned yet… might make a good VP candidate, if he straightens up, but much more of this junk, and I would think twice about that as well… I read someplace today, that the rush to Obama is because the Republicans want him to be the Dem candidate. therefore… MSM, every body get on board…. the rationale had to do with white male voting in blocks against him… old southern strategy, smelling of rover, all over, again…

  • I don’t get Obama on this either. If this is how he seeks to boost himself in the polls…by using Novakula…I find it reprehensible too. He’s just playing into the GOP smear machine by proxy.

    I really can’t see Clinton telling Novak anything. My bet is that Novak made it up, and it’s part of the GOP strategy. It sounded made up from the start. Intended to drive a wedge between the Democratic candidates, while painting frontrunner Hillary as a “calculating bitch” [GOP talking points].

    This will be the GOP strategy from now on. Obama should know better.

    • Intelligent summary of the situation.

      I know the candidates want to attack each other given how close the race is, but they need to pick their material from better sources than, yech, Robert Novak.

      • Taters

        Memo to Sen. Obama – Be wary of cloven – hooved, traitorous liars.

    • Brenda Stewart

      for me, it sounds just like something the drudge report would do.

  • oldtree

    His first comment on invading Pakistan was what tore it for me. How can someone consider violence before negotiation? Pakistan is paid off by the government now, trying to keep peace and relations with their biggest partner India in a nuclear tensiometer. They have to deal with tribal and regional areas they can’t control except by bribery. They border oil rich and former satellites of the old CCCP…….. and yet he says things that appear so naive that he seems unqualified to be a senator, but somehow he is past that and wants to be a candidate for president?
    it doesn’t wash. I prefer Howard Dean’s approach. Scream at it.

    • Yes, and someone should call him on his early statements re Pakistan — truly shocking.

      (Btw, and this doesn’t relate to your comment but to something that’s been eating at me: I can’t believe the revisionist history I hear sometimes about Howard Dean’s supposed scream. Chris Matthews has taken to saying it is why Howard Dean lost Iowa. Dear god. The night that Dean let out that whoop was AFTER he’d lost Iowa to Kerry, who’d joined up with Gephardt and a shady 527 group to bury Dean with some nasty negative TV ads.)

  • Doug in Mount Vernon

    Nice one Larry. Way to flip the truth on its head and accuse your “opponent” of exactly what your “team” is guilty of. Talk about Rovian! You’ve got some audacity.

    The fact of the matter is, Obama WAS quick to discredit Novak, AND to insist that there was nothing to the “rumor”.

    Nimrod, indeed.

    I’m NOT a reader of this blog, and thank you for the advice not to be. I’ll take my noggin somewhere else where readers aren’t so easily duped.

    • Kathleen

      Why the hell did Obama skip town during the Kyl Lieberman amendment vote?

      • That is very telling. Obama also did this often when he was in the Illinois state senate. In fact, he was infamous for it. Now, it’s one thing to duck hard issues when one is but a single voter in a large assembly — it is catastrophic if one is the president, i.e., the person where the buck stops.

      • Believe Obama said he was campaigning in New Hampshire or somewhere and couldn’t get back in time, it wasn’t clear when the vote would be held, etc.

        But he’s skipped a couple of important votes. So you have to wonder what’s more important to him?

        • Shirin

          I think that with almost any candidate for any office that is a very easy question to answer. They seem to spend most of their career campaigning for the next election more than doing their jobs.

  • Brenda Stewart

    What the Obama campaign should have said and done was ask why Novak was not in prison where he belongs along side of the rest of the cabal! That is what he should have directed the members to have said to the press and to the administration for all the bru ha ha this has caused. Most of all rove and cheney and bush and libby and all the rest of them, including armitage. I personally do not like hillary and her workers but then again that is just me. So be it, I just wished there was someone who I really would like to vote for period!

    • Exactly Brenda!

      I’m lukewarm on all the Democratic candidates. Even so, they’re all a far cry from the Republican ones. So I’ll wholeheartedly vote for whomever wins the Democratic nomination. Then the work of reversing eight years of Bush will begin.

  • jello

    It’s what Roger Simon brought up during Hardball yesterday: That one of Obama’s campaign people sat next to him recently and whispered to him,…

    not that the media would run interference for hillary, right? they wouldn’t stoop to planting friendly responses for her or anything.

    media has been set on making hillary the nominee from the get go.

  • …chamber for Clintonista talking points…

    oh give me a break.. There has been campaigning for everybody here.. a few clinton..a few obama..Dennis K. jesus even Ron Paul..in fact just about every opinion about everybody has been put forth..
    I don’t recall Larry echoing anything about Clinton that could be construed as talking points from the campaign…
    Maybe if you read more than 5 postings or so you would realize the disparity in views here…

  • Hillary was in Valerie’s camp early on. My issue with Obama is simple. I am not saying he should ignore these attacks. But when you have Bob Novak making the claim he chooses to attack Hillary’s camp. Sorry, that may be smart politics but it is chickenshit and Rovish. If that is what Obama is I want no part of him.

    • Kathleen

      I read somewhere it may have been when Valerie Plame Wilson was a guest at Firedoglake that Hillary and Sidney Blumenthal were incredibly supportive of both Joe and Valerie during their btutal and ongoing episode with the nationanl traitors.

      I guess that explains why Joe Wilson came out so early in support of HRC.

      I was also surprised when Zbigniew Brezenski(sp) camd out in support of Obama so early.

      • Cee

        The neocons hate him. This is feather in the Obama cap.
        Oh, Powell is also an advisor to Obama.
        Powell said today that Iran isn’t a threat.

        • Shirin

          Wow! Has Colin Powell finally had an attack of honesty? What is up with THAT?!

          • Cee

            He sees thee ghosts of millions of dead people at night? People seem to forget or aren’t aware that he gave a speech in Egypt in 2000 and said that Iraq wasn’t a threat.
            He was whipped into shape to appear before the UN.

            • Shirin

              You appear to be implying that Colin Powell has a conscience. I have never seen any sign of that.

              • Fred C. Dobbs

                Well said, Shirin!

  • jello

    When a national security/foreign policy blog degenerates into a brainless echo-chamber for Clintonista talking points, its relevance is over and…

    while i don’t echo this point entirely, for i still find this blog relevant, but i too wonder why sudden foray into partisanship and the sudden defense of hillary. i’ll give larry the benefit of a doubt and try not to suspect this protest as self serving, perhaps in hopes to secure future assignment with a new administration. and surely larry isn’t naive enough to think hillary incapable of dirty pool. obama gave the hillary campaign a chance to deny the charges 3 times and they dragged their feet in doing so. why their reticence?

    was novak telling the truth? who knows? even a broken clock is right twice a day. but what if he were? is obama not supposed to protest and just allow himself to be slimed. is larry complaining that barack is being too uppity?

    larry, how would you react if somebody was shopping slanders against you?

    and why this loyalty towards hillary. she didn’t speak up in defense of valerie. not until after she was on the campaign trail did she protest the outing. and before the guilty verdict came down, the typical response from DLC types was the give validity to rightwing talking points that suggested joe wilson was lying. this is what chris dodd did. it was the grassroots who were vocal about defending valerie. NOT the democratic establishment elite.

  • Pandora

    Obama: Audacity of Hopeless

  • oldtree

    It would be better if any of the candidates had the moxie for the job. Hillary has the guts, but her votes and standing on too many issues remain in doubt. Her opponents that have character are reviled for having character at all in the media.
    so, let’s leave the media out of it for now and pretend we have a real candidate that is going to come out of the woodwork in time to stop the rush this country is taking down the sewer toward the sea.

    But then again, let’s be rational and look at the front runners deny reality each and every day. We have no energy policy for a nation about to run out of gas. If anyone can get past this and describe the issues of stability and infrastructure in a nation where 25% are unemployed because they can’t get to work, or work for a business that requires gasoline to move a product……

    if we continue to look at the day to day aspects of our future, it will be pointless. The future is coming up on us now. but damn if I can hear anyone but a few visionary/crazy (depending on who you listen to) people talking about the wholesale changes we need to both save the almighty dollar from collapse, and the planet from the heat we are generating.

    and without a discussion on this matter, reality must be suspended. The truth must be rather awful for most to deny it, ignore it, give it lip service for votes, and in those rare cases, give it the importance it deserves.

    wake me when reality is again active in the public discourse. I may watch, but it is hard to participate when I don’t see any fundamental planning for a future. However fanciful that planning may be.

    • TeakwoodKite

      I know of a great redwood grove for you in the meantime.

    • Shirin

      Hillary has the guts, but her votes and standing on too many issues remain in doubt.

      Not really in doubt in some cases. I expect her to try to continue building the empire by other means.

      Her opponents that have character are reviled for having character at all…

      Character does not seem to be valued in politicians, at least in this country.

  • pk


    Porfolio.com and Slate.com have been running blogs saying that there’s a presidential candidate scandal rumor swirling in D.C.


    They all think that it involves barack.

    until his strong response, as a donor, i was beginning to worry that he has something odd in his past.

    i was relieved about his strong response.

    the campaign had to squash it immediately. and i’m glad they did.

    also, i hope u go back to national security/foreign policy issues. this is getting outrageous.

    • Instead of calling out Novak, they called out Clinton. That’s not knocking it down, that’s playing the Republican card.

    • Cee

      I don’t care if any of them were doing other people unless a child is involved!!

      Whoever is responsible for spreading this bullshit…lie or not is going to pay.

    • Shirin

      The only thing that I care about in a candidate’s past is the way he did his job, his record on the issues that concern me, and his basic honesty. Obama falls short in several ways, not the least of which is his habit of ducking out of potentially controversial votes. His sudden abandonment of the Palestinians in favour of AIPAC also does not make me fond of him.

      Hillary falls short in a lot of ways too. Her voting record on Iraq is one of them. Her pandering to AIPAC, ADL and other right wing Zionist interests when she made a P.R. event out of returning Muslim campaign contributions in response to their “expressions of concern” is another. I also do not trust her (or Obama’s) plans for Iraq, and do not like her (or Obama’s) refusal to recognize that bombs are inappropriate for anything but genuine self defense.

  • It will probably go unnoticed except by those who watched yesterday, so I’ll post it here in the hope it gets some traction:

    It’s what Roger Simon brought up during Hardball yesterday: That one of Obama’s campaign people sat next to him recently and whispered to him, “When are you guys going to start digging up stuff on Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affairs since he left the White House?” (paraphrased, but exactly that message))

    Obama’s hands are NOT clean in all of this. Nor are those of his staff.

    I don’t believe for a second that HRC’s staffers were spreading a vague rumor about Obama — it’d be dumb and especially dumb to spread it to Novak, and they’re too smart for that. They may have some dirt on him, but so far there’s been none of that from HRC’s campaign. Obama’s campaign, on the other hand, is TRYING ACTIVELY to stir up dirty stories about Bill Clinton.

    • Cee

      I don’t trust Hillary any more than I trust Novak.
      The Obama camp seems to feel the same way.

      IF all that you and Larry say is true, Obama jumped the gun in an effort not to be attacked like Kerry was and not return fire.

      Leaking something to Novak is a smart thing to do. Nobody would believe it! Nobody would want to believe it!

      Roger Simon supports whom?

      I’m going to keep watching to see how this plays out.

      • Kathleen

        Obama lost me during the John Bolton and Condi Rice nomination hearings. Kerry, Biden, Kennedy, Lincoln Chaffee, Dodd all asked hard driving questions, Obama was just too careful and then rolled over on the Rice vote. Then Obama just happenned to be conveniently out of town during the Kyl Lieberman amendment vote.

        Hillary lost me when she vote yes for the Kyl Lieberman amendment. You can only use that horseshit excuse “if only I knew then what I know now once”. Hillary gave the Bush administration one more tool to implement their pre-emptive strike on Iran.

        Edwards has been willing to call the warmongers out and I am on his bus based on this. And he has not taken any ‘pac’ money, this says a great deal to me.

        • Cee

          Yeah, He pissed me off with his support for Condi as well.

          Someone else on this blog mentioned his views on Pakistan which I’m going to look into.

          I did read a few things yesterday that made me wonder if Edwards and Obama weren’t positioning themselves to run together. Hillary made a comment about Obama living out of the country as a child and Edwards and Obama returned fire.

          • Shirin

            Yes, Cee, Obama did say that he would bomb Pakistan if Musharraf would not “take care of the situation”. During the debate right after that (the one Olberman moderated) Clinton and Edwards savaged him for that like a pair of rabid dogs – something I find ironic given their own stated willingness to use bombs as a foreign policy tool (but only, of course, if they can’t get their way by other means).

            As for his having lived outside the country as a child, I would consider that an asset IF he had learned anything about the world outside the U.S. as a result. Unfortunately, he clearly didn’t. He is astonishingly, blind when it comes to that, particularly in the case of the Muslim world. He has actually said that the reason “they hate us” is because they are hearing about us from the “wrong” people, and his solution is a more effective P.R. strategy. He also has the orientalist/colonialist’s typical western-centric, patronizing view of eastern peoples. He really is completely clueless in that area.

          • Kathleen

            I think both Obama and Edwards would be far more balanced on the Israeli Palestinian conflict and more willing to directly negotiate with Iran. I think the I-lobby support for Hillary could actually be her downfall.

      • Tell me explicitly why you don’t trust her.

        I ask not to put you on the spot.

        I ask because I used to feel the same way then, one day, it hit me that I didn’t know why I said that except that it seemed that everyone said it, and all of a sudden I realized I was miming what others said but hadn’t examined it enough.

        In my self-analysis, it hit me finally that I had heard — for about 15+ years — all of the attacks on her from the right on countless talk shows, news programs, etc. Somehow along the way I had absorbed those right talking points against her without realizing it. It was a shock to my system to realize that I’d bought into the right’s attacks on her which now — sadly — the left has also picked up on, but most often without much in the way of specificity.

        So I began anew. I recalled the positives I knew about her. The time on Charlie Rose, about five years ago or so, that she’d knocked my socks off with her knowledge of foreign policy issues — not just opinion but also very specific, in-depth knowledge. I recalled how she’d grown through the constant attacks on her and her husband during the 90s. I recalled how she won over the very dubious people of New York state during her 2000 senate campaign, winning over even the crusty New Yorkers in the northern part of the state with her intense interest in their concerns, and her subsequent actions to help them directly. It is now common knowledge that she has been hugely beneficial as a senator to the people of New York State, and that is very significant.

        I began adding those things up, and began to see her in a new light. It was an interesting intellectual exercise – albeit full of embarrassments as I had to admit how I’d been influenced by the constant barrage of attacks on her mostly from the right and now from the left.

        It felt personally satisfying that I could reassess someone based on what I value most, not on what others have said negatively.

        • Cee

          Tell me explicitly why you don’t trust her.

          I ask not to put you on the spot.

          I don’t mind you asking. I began to distrust her before she ran because of what I know about how she treated Lani Guinier. The same goes for someone else she had been friends with.

          I say this as someone who used to be a fierce defender.

          Now I really can’t support her after hearing her repeating lies told by John Bolton.

          I may have to vote for her. Do I support her? Hell no.

          • Can you be specific? What did she parrot by John Bolton? And in what context? With links?

            • Cee

              Here she is in pre-Iraq war mode. Didn’t she learn anything from Iraq?


              CLINTON: We don’t have as much information as we wish we did. But what we think we know is that with North Korean help, both financial and technical and material, the Syrians apparently were putting together, and perhaps over some period of years, a nuclear facility, and the Israelis took it out. I strongly support that…there was evidence of a North Korea freighter coming in with supplies. There was intelligence and other kinds of verification.

              We don’t know a thing

              U.S. sources would discuss the Israeli intelligence, which included satellite imagery, only on condition of anonymity, and many details about the North Korean-Syrian connection remain unknown. The quality of the Israeli intelligence, the extent of North Korean assistance and the seriousness of the Syrian effort are uncertain, raising the possibility that North Korea was merely unloading items it no longer needed.


              Here’s Bolton

              There is no doubt, however, that North Korea is accused of nuclear cooperation with Syria, helped by AQ Khan’s network. John Bolton, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department, told the United Nations in 2004 the Pakistani nuclear scientist had “several other” customers besides Iran, Libya and North Korea.

              More on the story


              • Shirin

                Anyone who actually knows anything about Syria knows just exactly how bogus that nuclear crap is. When are people going to understand that they cannot trust anything they are told by the Bush administration OR the Israeli government?

        • Kathleen

          My stance on Hillary has nothing to do with the right wing fruitcakes say about her. In fact it is the support of some of these warmongers for Hillary that has me worried.

          I know under Hillary we will witness a National Health care plan I know she has become quite the bridge builder on many issues. Will I jump on her bus if she is the nominee. I think so.

          It was her slick avoidance of taking full responsibillity for her misguided and seemingly uninformed decision to vote for the 2002 war resolution. Now we know that Edwards also voted for it. Edwards has come out and said it was a very serious mistake and has apologized and taken full responsibility for being taken by the war mongers (Douglas Feith, Bolton, Cheney, wolfowitz, Wurmser, Rhode, Hannah, etc etc) I can barely stand men who cannot take responsibility for their choice and actions and apologize when they make a mistake, but Hillary a woman.

          On top of it Hillary just rolled over and voted for the Kyl Lieberman amendment which defines the Iranian army as a terroist organization and was later used to state that Iran is a proliferator of WMD’s. Christ all mighty Edwards has taken a firm stand on this and has repeatedly called the neo-cons out on the carpet and said that we can not afford to give the Bush Cheney administraiton one inch on Iran based on horseshit intelligence.

          this is where Hillary lost me. Why did she bend over for the Bush administration again except for the strong possibility that the I-Lobby owns her via pac contributions.

          Edwards is not taking Pac money.

          If we want the situation in the middle east to settle down…Israel has to be reigned in, and I don’t believe Hillary is the person to do it. Edwards has some serious enemies

      • Shirin

        I don’t trust either Hillary’s or Obama’s campaign to be truthful either about themselves and their own intentions, or about each other. Politicians lie to get power, and they lie to keep power.

    • Neil

      You say “I don’t believe for a second that HRC’s staffers were spreading a vague rumor about Obama — it’d be dumb and especially dumb to spread it to Novak, and they’re too smart for that.” and you give some reasons.”

      Then you say: “Obama’s campaign, on the other hand, is TRYING ACTIVELY to stir up dirty stories about Bill Clinton.” but you don;t give any reasons. Do you have some reasons to substantiate the claim or did you mean to start that by saying “I do believe…”

  • Guthman Bey

    When a national security/foreign policy blog degenerates into a brainless echo-chamber for Clintonista talking points, its relevance is over and… the time has come to unsubscribe.

    • Oh boo hoo. Jesus, who put a gun to your head and forced you onto this blog? Grow up. If you’re looking for an echo chamber where you can indulge the dulcet tones of your own voice go elsewhere. I want folks capable of thinking for themselves. I also don’t require readers to pledge allegiance to me or my views. Got it nimrod?

      • Jim Hannon

        Right on!

        • Sad is the day when we have to act like the people at DailyKos who have to step-march to the prevailing POVs or be tossed out on their ears.

          Thank god we have free speech on this blog.

          • Kathleen

            Or tossed off Firedoglake for bringing up the Israeli Palestinian conflict when Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon would be brought up. Somehow the people at FDL would become offended and get very up tight for connecting the dots about the I/P conflict and other tragedies in the middle eats.

            I was banned by the moderator over at FDL and the “backstage crew” due to what they considered relentless focus on these issues. One could check through blog after blog hell make a research project out of how when these topics would come up over there the selective “off topic” police would show up (never show up when people are off topic about all sorts of horseshit including their storm windows, recipes, sports, their health. Just recently Jane actually put AIPAC in the title of one of her blogs (I have been challenging their avoidance of these issues all over the blogosphere).

            Today my two daughters (visiting them in Boulder Colorado) posted a few comments from their computers at Firedoglake about the I/P issue and now they have been banned due to guilt by association (we copied all of their comments they sent and they were all perfectly appopriate). We will be spreading he word about this type of censorship that is taking place on these so called “progressive” blogs. How different are these people than the Bush administration, only hearing what they want and censoring the rest.


  • Dickie Flatts

    Obama is a fraud. I have been saying it since early Spring.

    He is cheap talk in an expensive suit and he is too slick by half.

    Speak of running for Prez for a long time, Obama has been running for office since, as he described in his book, the time he broke up with his rich white girlfriend, gave up weed, and started calling himself Barack instead of Barry.

    Obama is a poser, a fake. Worse he is an inexperienced, wet behind his dumbo sized ears fake.

    • Neil

      Your long-held belief does not make your argument more compelling. I hear a lot of name calling – “cheap talk” “too slick” “a poser” “a fake” but no argument to back it up. And what’s with this ridiculous and shallow observation “Worse he is an inexperienced, wet behind his dumbo sized ears fake.” Dumbo sized ears? There’s a good reason to dislike a candidate.

  • Awesome.

    Of note: That latest poll from Iowa. Yesterday afternoon, as it was “breaking news,” Wolf Blitzer CORRECTLY noted that that poll was conducted BEFORE the last debate and Obama’s whining about Novak’s column. But Chris Matthews et al. failed to note that and said that the Novak column, etc. is having an effect on voters in Iowa. Dumb.

    ALSO: This is my theory, but I believe I am right. I think that Karl Rove and Bob Novak far more fear a Hillary Clinton candidacy because they know that 1) she is tough enough to take whatever they throw at her, and 2) she has a superior campaign staff.

    Novak and Rove really want Obama in the general. He is not seasoned. He does not display great campaign instincts. … for one thing, the man has only run about 3-4 campaign races EVER and never for high stakes — and his Senate race was a joke because the GOP in Illinois had to import that out-of-state nutsack whose name escapes me.

    That’s why Novak and Rove are pulling these shenanigans. They can’t wait for Obama.

    His campaign manager makes my stomach turn when he’s on TV — there’s something wispy, unkempt, unprofessional about the guy. Compare him to Wolfson, and there’s no comparison.

    Novak and Rove must be laughing themselves silly over Obama’s overreactions. He did MORE than they ever hoped for. They’re salivating at the chance to keep doing this to him, non-stop, through a general race.

    I know I always say I’ll support the Democratic candidate, but Obama more and more is giving me great pause. He is NOT ready. Not only is he not ready for the rigors of a general campaign but he is not ready for the White House.

    As Hillary Clinton says, we cannot afford a training period for the new president given all of the crises we face, more than perhaps any president has ever faced. The new president has to be ready to lead from day one. She already plans to lead the day after she’s elected — she’s going to send emissaries worldwide the day after she wins so that she and her people can begin to restore relations around the world. And she’ll have people, immediately, set to work on what to do about our economy, about the drawdown of the war (intelligently and carefully to protect the troops), and on and on. That’s what we need.

    Some of these candidates … was it Bill Richardson who said in last week’s debate that he’d immediately withdraw ALL contractors from Iraq? WTF? Immediately? ALL? Uhhhh .. how in the hell would he protect State Dept. employees? How would he staff all of the jobs that contractors do? (One small example: I’m reading Harper’s magazine’s article on Iraqi oil … they’re out on an expedition … the top oil engineer is a private contractor from Houston. The guys who are guarding him are from a British security firm. What in the f–k would Richardson do about that? These candidates need to have some good ol’ CS.

    • Shirin

      The American oil people should not be there, Susan. Nor should all those “State Department” (wink, wink) people.

    • Yogi-one

      Yep, I feel Rove’s invisible hands even behind the Democratic race. You know Rove didn’t die when he resigned – he was just looking for a way to disappear behind the curtain again, where he can most effectively practice his stage managing of the American political process.

      This campaign is increasingly beginning to resemble a pack of alpha-dogs fighting over a kill. You may be right that Obama is the youngest and least experienced of the wolves here.

      The price we pay is that the election will not be a choice of who can do what’s best for our country, but simply to see which predator can savage the others.

      We already know that pecking order: Rove is the most vicious, evilly brilliant of them all, but he’s not running. The Clintons, especially since they can team up against Obama, can take him down, with a double dose of treachery beating youth.

      I suspect Rove for a long time wanted Hillary to win, but now he’s realizing that she would be a real competitor, and he’s uneasy about 4-8-years of political dirty-tricks warfare against the Clintons, who can meet him on his level.

      No, Rove is sensing that Obama is the easier prey, and now his invisible hand is trying to maneuver Obama to the nomination. That would be setting up the bowling pin to knock it down in fall ’08.

      Guiliani seems pretty comfortable about the idea of running against Obama. Wonder why that is 😉

      And the winner will be: the most vicious predators!

      Once again, we’ll get the President we deserve, instead of the President we need.

      • Shirin

        the election will not be a choice of who can do what’s best for our country, but simply to see which predator can savage the others.

        What’s new about that?

  • CalGal

    As Keith Olbermann said last night “Why in the heck does anyone listen to Robert Novak?”, or words to that effect. That’s exactly what I said when I heard the story earlier in the day. The man is a toad and no one with a brain should pay any attention to what he says. There isn’t anything he writes or says that is of any value.

    • Keith had the common sense take on this and said it very well last night. We’ll have to see what he says tonight…. surely there’ll be more.

      it’ll also be fascinating to see what he reports on Scott McClellan’s revelations.