In the Arena

The New Coke

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Tom Edsall at Huffpo speculates about whether the Clinton campaign is aiding and abetting an effort to make Barack Obama’s youthful cocaine use an issue. Here’s the evidence:

…Democratic activists have quietly received messages from Clinton allies pointing in the likely direction. Those messages provided a link to an Iowa Independent story by Douglas Burns headlined “The Politics Of Obama’s Past Cocaine Use.”

Clinton “allies?” Yeah, that doesn’t seem very convincing to me, either.
Edsall’s a great reporter and I don’t doubt his sources, but…how close are these allies? Are they “high-ranking” allies…or are they analogous to the low-level Clinton campaign workers who were independently, and stupidly, spreading scurrilous emails about Obama’s Muslim past?

In any case, I have my doubts about how damaging a story this might be:

Burns cited two June polls.
One, a survey by Scripps Howard, found that 58 percent of respondents believed American voters are not ready to accept a president “who tried cocaine as an adult.” The other, by the New York Times, found that 74 percent said most people they know would not vote for a presidential candidate who has ever used cocaine.

[Emphasis mine]

Most people they know? That doesn’t sound very, umm, scientific. And Obama was a college kid, at most, when he messed around…in other words, not an adult. And, most important, this is no shocking expose, denied by the candidate–the only reason why we know about Obama’s cocaine use is that Obama told us about it himself.
Yepsen’s right. The candidates should be vetted…but I’d rather see them vetted on substance than on self-admitted substance abuse.