The most frightening moments of the Democratic presidential debate on the evening before Halloween were when Sen. Hillary Clinton’s mask slipped — and the act of terrorism her slippage caused.
Journalists as well as the audience and rival debaters caught Mrs. Clinton being “evasive on at least five different issues,” observed MSNBC reporter David Shuster.
She afterwards tried to cover these embarrassing gaffs by unleashing what Shuster called “the Clinton fog machine,” whose apparatchiks used tactics of distraction that included “trashing the [debate] moderators” by accusing NBC’s Tim Russert and Brian Williams of unfairness to their candidate.
During a conference call after the debate led by Clinton operatives Mark Penn and Jonathan Mantz, one zealous Clinton supporter said the journalists’ questions “were designed to incite a brawl.”
Another Clintonista conference caller declared that NBC’s Washington news chief and host of "Meet the Press" Russert “should be shot.”
The Hill newspaper in reporting this death threat did not say whether political veterans Penn, who led the Clinton campaign’s counterattack against Russert, or Mantz reprimanded or repudiated the caller for this violent threat. Had either done so, The Hill should have reported his words.
If neither Penn nor Mantz spoke up, then we have a deadly serious issue here.
If so, we have high level Clinton campaign spokesmen who, after besmirching one of America’s pre-eminent journalists, might wrongly be perceived as having given assent by their silence when a Clintonista who called for shooting Tim Russert.
Boys and girls, can you say the words “chilling effect on free speech and the press?”
How many terrified journalists will now hesitate before asking Clinton any tough question because this murderous seed has been planted in the tiny minds of her radical supporters?
Had this caller instead proposed shooting Clinton, the Secret Service would by now have traced and apprehended the domestic terrorist at the other end of the line.
But no journalist — not even one as prominent as Tim Russert, a former operative for New York’s Democratic then-Gov. Mario Cuomo — is given Secret Service protection.
Journalists are supposed to be America’s political watchdogs, despite the fact that many are liberal lapdogs serving the powerful. We are traditionally referred to as the Fourth Estate or branch of our government, a vital part whose scrutiny is needed to keep our government honest.
So it is no small thing when one of Hillary Clinton’s attack dogs threatens the death of a journalist whose questions embarrassed her.
This example of today’s hate-filled leftist partisanship is literally a mortal threat to the First Amendment and to freedom of the press. At a minimum, Clinton, Mark Penn, and Jonathan Mantz should make a public repudiation of that caller’s threat of violence.
They should apologize to Mr. Russert and to all other journalists for letting this terrorist threat by a Clinton activist go unchallenged. (Because it had a chilling effect on the free speech of all journalists, this threat could be regarded as a kind of hate crime against an entire class of citizens.)
Clinton, Penn, and Mantz should tell Clinton supporters to refrain from any future threats of violence, physical intimidation and confrontation.
Russert became a target because he asked questions that took the former first lady off balance. He pressed her to say whether she supported New York Democratic Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s plan to give state driver's licenses to illegal aliens.
As with several other questions, Mrs. Clinton avoided a clear yes or no answer.
Her aim, not uncommon among politicians, was to give an answer that would make those on both sides of this thorny issue believe she was on their side.
One facet of her answer was to say that American security is served when “undocumented immigrants” are provided with documents so that the U.S. can more easily identify, track and monitor them. Implicit in this view is the notion that no such document will exist unless illegals are given a valid New York State driver's license.
One flaw in this argument is obvious. A Mexican in the United States needs no American license because he or she can carry a Mexican driver's license, or before leaving Mexico can obtain an international driver's license.
Polls confirm that approximately 70 percent of voters in liberal New York State do not want illegal aliens rewarded with driver's licenses. By promising such licenses, Spitzer is turning his state into an even stronger magnet attracting illegal aliens.
In another debate question, Tim Russert pressed Clinton to release all her written communications as first lady. She uses her White House experience as a prime reason to elect her president, but her husband, former President Bill Clinton, signed a document specifically directing the National Archive to cut off all public and press access to all such documents. When Russert asked Mrs. Clinton to tear down this stonewall and permit press access, she tap-danced away and claimed the decision was not hers to make.
Where is a skilled thief of archive documents like Clinton operative Sandy Berger when you need one?
The very name Clinton has become a synonym for “honesty-challenged,” which this debate showed to be as true of Hillary as of Bill.
One way to understand Hillary Clinton, implies Jonathan Darman in the Nov. 5 Newsweek, is to compare and contrast her with England’s Queen Elizabeth I, the Renaissance ruler who stopped Spanish-speaking invaders from seizing her realm. (The day after this latest debate, Hillary came out in favor of giving America’s Spanish-speaking invaders driver's licenses.)
“Neither can Clinton harness rage, Elizabeth’s most powerful tool . . .” wrote Darman, because Hillary “is dogged by the conservative caricature of her, the Angry Woman who throws lamps and seeks to destroy men and is careful never to appear too wrathful.”
Darman wrote before America saw this debate, witnessed the imperious how-dare-you-question-me anger in Clinton’s eyes, or heard the harsh I’ll-get-you-my-pretty witch-like cackle of the forked-tongue voice she would use as president.
Off with their heads?
Ask Tim Russert.
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