In attacking Barack Obama, the ex-President has gone past embarrassing into his own kind of seductive swiftboating.
Is there any difference in twisting the record of someone who opposed the Iraq war from Day One on behalf of an opponent who voted for it from smearing a man who fought and bled in Vietnam to benefit someone who dodged serving there?
More and more leading Democrats, including John Kerry, are complaining, but perhaps even worse than the cheap politics to which Bill Clinton has lowered himself is the insult of treating voters as too stupid to see through what he is doing--of wooing them like bimbos who will swallow anything.
In our sound-bite age, all politicians invert the truth occasionally, but it has become a modus operandi for the former President who once explained his distortions in the 1996 election to opponent Bob Dole with a smiling, "You gotta do what you gotta do."
Now, when political figures and reporters comment on his behavior, Bill Clinton gets testy as he did with a CNN correspondent who raised a question that led a former South Carolina Democratic chairman to compare his attacks to those of Lee Atwater, Karl Rove's mentor. "Shame on you," the prospective First Spouse says.
The ex-President must be even less charmed by ABC News' Jake Tapper's exegesis of how both Clintons tortured Obama's words about Ronald Reagan in a Las Vegas interview into meanings that were clearly not there.
But Bill Clinton seems exhilarated by it all. "I know you think it's crazy," he told a South Carolina crowd, "but I kind of like to see Barack and Hillary fight. They're flesh and blood people and they have their differences--let them have it."
The Clintons are letting Barack Obama "have it" with a truthiness that would make George W. Bush blush. As someone whom most Americans once respected and many admired said recently on the campaign trail, "Give us a break!"