Hillary Aide Mocks McCain POW Past [Update: Hillary Apologizes]

For Maureen Dowd, politics are primarily personal. This morning she managed to reduce the current Korean conflict to an image of two boys behaving badly. Meanwhile, is mocking John McCain's POW past a smart move for Hillary? Dowd offered a stunning insight into the Hillary campaign that suggests it might not be the ready-for-presidential-primetime operation some might imagine.

The topic of Maureen Dowd's subscription-required column of this morning, Is Chivalry Shivved?, is the war of words between Hillary and John McCain, as the two top presidential contenders recently fired some early shots over the other's bow on the topic of responsibility for the N. Korean nuclear mess.

Dowd managed to work in the DNC talking point of the week: the need for direct talks between the Bush administration and N. Korea. [Former Clinton UN Ambassador Bill Richardson was all over the morning shows today pushing the idea, by the way.] In any case, viewing the N. Korean nuke situation through her politics-of-the-personal lens, Dowd saw things thusly:

"It’s clear, after all, that the North Koreans are acting immaturely in response to W. acting immaturely. They want attention because the Bush administration inexplicably refuses to talk to them. And they know, in the pre-emptive world ordained by nutty Dick Cheney, that the best way to protect themselves from the fate of Saddam Hussein is to actually go nuclear, rather than merely fantasizing and boasting about it."

Just a couple of wild 'n immature guys, that George and Jong. Nice moral equivalence, Maureen. As for the pro-pre-emption Dick Cheney ["nutty" - this is what passes for serious criticism at the Times nowadays?], wouldn't Dowd agree that the world would be a much better place if Bill Clinton had permanently pre-empted OBL when he was handed the chance?

I was fascinated by this nugget Dowd reports from inside Hillary Central:

"Privately, Hillary’s camp was not overly upset by the McCain swipe because it suspected he was doing the bidding of the White House and that he ended up, as one adviser put it, 'looking similar to the way he did on those captive tapes from Hanoi, where he recited the names of his crew mates.'”

Just how "privately" was it if Team Hillary was spilling it to a NY Times columnist?

In any case, if Hillary and her advisers think it's smart to attack McCain by making snide comments that invoke his five years as a POW, then she's not the smartest-woman-in-the-world political juggernaut some make her out to be.

UPDATE: Hillary has now personally apologized to Sen. McCain for her aide's POW comment, her spokesman Howard Wolfson said, "These comments are reprehensible and they in no way reflect Senator Clinton's feelings."

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.