There’s been a lot of speculation about where the former president
has been lately and why we haven’t heard from him. He has been
campaigning for Hillary quietly, but he’s stepping up again, in
visibility and fervor. And quickly drawing reaction from the Obama campaign.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is trying to clarify comments
by former President Clinton that seemed to question Barack Obama’s
patriotism — comments an Obama aide likened to Joseph McCarthy.

Clinton’s campaign said the comments were being misinterpreted and
quickly posted a clarification on its Web site. But retired Air Force
Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak said he was disappointed by the comments and
compared them to those of McCarthy, the 1950s communist-hunting senator.

Bringing the heat.

“I think it would be a great thing if we had an election
year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted
to the interest of this country,” said Clinton, who was speaking to a
group of veterans Friday in Charlotte, N.C. “And people could actually
ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other
stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.”

Obama’s campaign aide said he’s “had enough” of what he likened to McCarthy-style politics. Clinton’s campaign said:

“To liken these comments to McCarthyism is absurd,”
Singer said. He said McPeak was “clearly misinterpreting” the remarks
and suggested that might be an intentional effort to divert attention
from a recent controversy involving controversial statements by Obama’s
former pastor.

To make this more interesting, McPeak used to serve under President
Clinton. So he should be familiar with the politics of the campaign,
what the tactics are and how they’re used.

“It’s a use of language as a disguised insult. We’ve
seen this before, this little clever spin that’s put on stuff,” McPeak
said. “I have no idea what his intentions are, but I’m disappointed in
the statement. I think Bill Clinton is, or ought to be, better than
that.”

The former president has attracted criticism over earlier comments
during the heated Democratic primary race. Following South Carolina’s
primary in January, he was accused of fanning racial tensions for
appearing to cast Obama as little more than a black candidate popular
in state with a heavily black electorate.

Some political operatives call this ’compare/contrast’ campaigning
and claim its not negative. Depends on which side of the criticism
you’re on. 

He also criticized the news media for making a race story out of his comments.

The media hate to be criticized. But those comments are already an
old story, as the news cycles have gone. Race used to be the sub-text
of this campaign. Now it’s the context.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....