I've said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, the Democrats could nominate Jesus Christ and the right-wing and their lapdogs in the media will still go after our nominee tooth and nail. And it won't quit after Inauguration Day.
Digby nails it, first pointing out that previous VPs who were running for President have never been asked about their private conversations and memos with the President they served with, and then moving on to what we are in for in 2009, no matter who our nominee is:
I don't recall in 2000 Gore being asked to asked to reveal all of his conversations and official papers relating to his position as vice president either. Or Mondale in 1984. Or any other VPs, who are always running at least in part on the basis of their experience in a former administration.
Even weirder, what Russert is asking for is papers relating to personal advice she gave to the president, which I don't recall anyone ever asking from any candidate who had once worked in former administrations or who had a personal relationship with a former president. Cheney wasn't asked to release all of his correspondence with Bush Sr from when he was Sec Def. Bush Jr was never asked, as far as I know, to reveal records of his personal conversations with his father, (although I'm fairly sure if he had been he would have told the questioner to go Cheney himself.)
The fact is that relationships with former presidents, whether as members of the administration, or as close associates, are taken at face value. If the former president thought you were someone worth listening to, the press didn't demand that you reveal exactly what was said. The voter is expected to evaluate that endorsement on the basis of how they felt about the one who gave it --- the former president -- rather than demanding to judge each piece of advice for itself. If you liked Reagan, then you assumed that James Baker and George Bush Sr were your kind of guys too.
Not so for Clinton. Apparently, the thrill of examining every single aspect of that marriage, from sleeping arrangements to pillow talk, is of unending interest to the Village biddies. Why else would they demand that President Clinton release the records for Hillary but not for Al?
Finally, one can only gasp at the extreme irony of Russert pressing Clinton like she was a criminal for allegedly trying to keep some mid-90's advice about welfare reform a secret. Right before his eyes is an administration that has made a fetish of secrecy to the point where we are now waging wars and torturing people which, short of revolution, we can't seem to do a damned thing about. But for some reason Tim doesn't see a problem with that, at least as far as I can discern. He doesn't have problem with the president commuting the sentence of one of his felonious henchmen, and he doesn't have problem with an administration that pretty much says the laws don't apply to him. He doesn't even ask the Republican candidates if they agree with these policies or press them on whether they would endorse these actions.
But, he's hell on seeing Hillary's memos from 1997.
Has Tim ever said one thing about the fact that this White House has taken the nearly unprecedented step of directing its former employees to openly defy congressional subpoenas, leaving the congress' only option to send the Sergeant at Arms to arrest them in their homes and hold them in a little jail in the capitol that hasn't been used in about a century? Has that been a matter of interest to Russert and the kewl kidz, because I haven't heard them fulminating about it, have you? That's the kind of "executive privilege" we're talking about with this administration --- telling the United States congress to shove it, over and over again.
But seeing those thank you notes from 1995 is something that the public demands.
Grab the Maalox kids because I can feel it in my gut. The bad breath and the sleepy eyes and the bedhead are all around us. Come 2009, if a Democrat wins the presidency, the Village press will finally wake up from its 8 year somnambulent drool and rediscover its "conscience" and its "professionalism." The Republicans will only have to breathe their character assassination lightly into the ether --- the Village gossips will do the rest. And if this new president resists in any way, a primal scream will build until he or she is forced to appoint a special counsel to investigate the "cover up" and grovel repeatedly in forced acts of contrition in response to manufactured GOP hissy fits and media hysteria. We're going forward into the past (and judging from the haircut nonsense we've already seen, it isn't confined to Clinton.)
Reforming politics isn't enough. Reforming the media is just as important. The current administration is so power mad, morally bankrupt and inept that their natural heir is a barking madman. (And some excellent reporting has been done to expose them.) But the Village kewl kidz and the queen bees who set the political agenda and dominate the coverage have never found any of that interesting or worthwhile. They care about their silly little shorthand parlor games that they think reveal politicians' "character." And their judgment of character is about as useful to the average voter as Brittney and K-Fed's.