Attacking in Vain

Hillary Clinton is one of those people who has no use for fly swatters when an armored tank will kill a fly just the same.

In her effort to frighten superdelegates about the controversial comments Barack Obama made, she felt the need to invoke the past two nominees of her party as evidence that these dumb Democrats are perilously close to making the same mistake again. Fresh off her drinking outing with real people and her testimonials of her early days in the gun culture, Clinton — in the lemon-yellow jacket no less — went in for the kill at the Compassion Forum sponsored by CNN. Just before she launched into God's grace in her life, she fired off a stern warning: no more elitist, tassel-loafered, liberal wimps need apply. Too many Americans don't like these "good men of faith," like Al Gore and John Kerry, whom they feel "don't respect" their way of life.

It doesn't matter that superdelegates can read and can make up their mind about Obama's electability without any help from the Clintons. Indeed, the episode will damage Obama if he is the nominee and could possibly doom him. But Hillary Clinton's nuclear reaction to Obama's problem has now clearly hurt her as well.

Her own über-backer, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, said yesterday that the whole thing moves perhaps one or two points against Obama in the Tuesday contest he is already expected to lose, but nothing more.

But some superdelegates are already on the record saying they think many struggling Americans agree with what Obama said. At the American Alliance of Manufacturing event in Pittsburgh yesterday Obama was applauded while Clinton received scattered "no"s from the audience when she began to stir the pot for the 43rd time in just three days over his words. Today Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a Clinton supporter, told The Associated Press that the candidate behind in pledged delegates should quit by June 3 but "probably sooner." Read: Hey Hillary, please stop attacking the guy, we're stuck with him.

Finally, check out the comments in J. Taylor Rushing's story in our newspaper from advisers to Gore and Kerry who don't appreciate Clinton belittling the two nominees in her effort to "convince" superdelegates of their fate.

Mark Fabiani, deputy campaign manager for Gore-Lieberman, said Clinton's statement was "astonishing to hear coming from a member of the Clinton family." He added that Gore won and "the only reason he didn't win more handily was because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I don't think there is any doubt about that. The election wouldn't have even been close. The biggest argument George Bush made was, 'We need to restore honor to the White House.' "

Bob Shrum, a senior adviser to the Gore-Lieberman and Kerry-Edwards campaigns, agreed Gore won and said "the unspoken assumption here seems to be that she's the answer to this supposed problem, but neither she nor the president have lived in the real world for 25 years. They're surrounded by aides and staff, and they've moved from one mansion to another." Shrum added: "I find it ironic that Obama was raised by a single mother and has paid off his student loans and now faces this. This is the elite commenting on what it means to be elite."

Clinton is out with her new "bitter" ad, and she's got some "insulted" — but not bitter! — Pennsylvanians in it to declare the "good people of Pennsylvania deserve a lot better." She may soon have to ask if the superdelegates deserve better.

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Just how bitter is it for Obama? ASK A.B. returns on Monday, April 21 one last time before Pennsylvania — please join me for my weekly Q & A video posts by sending useful, interesting and entertaining questions to askab@thehill.com. We want to talk politics and have a few laughs. Spare us the offensive, unGoogleable, unthinkable or otherwise useless. I look forward to hearing from all of you, often.