Ever since George H.W. Bush went into “campaign mode” in 1988 and exploited black convict Willie Horton to dirty up Michael Dukakis, it’s been a staple of modern politics that you can negate your own high negatives by driving up those of your opponent.

Except in 1992, when the “Passportgate” scheme for demeaning Bill Clinton’s patriotism blew up in Poppy Bush’s face, some effective smear has been associated with every Bush national campaign. Think of John McCain’s “black child,” Al Gore’s “delusions” and the Swift Boat lies about John Kerry’s heroism.

Indeed, dirty politics has been a hallmark of the Bush Family Dynasty – and Bill and Hillary Clinton clearly were taking notes. [For details on the Bush schemes, see Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep.]

So, perhaps it should have been expected that Hillary Clinton would borrow the Bush family’s playbook when her presidential campaign prepared to throw “the kitchen sink” at Barack Obama. Sen. Clinton, who has long suffered from high negatives, needed to boost up those numbers for the Illinois senator.

Sadly for the Clinton campaign, however, the strategy appears to be backfiring. Though the coordinated attacks against Obama’s character and judgment may have damaged him some, a new poll shows that Sen. Clinton may have hurt herself more.

“Both Democrats, and especially New York's Sen. Clinton, are showing wounds from their prolonged and increasingly bitter nomination contest, which could weaken the ultimate nominee for the general-election showdown against Sen. McCain of Arizona,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Even among women, who are the base of Sen. Clinton's support, she now is viewed negatively by more voters than positively for the first time in a Journal/NBC poll.” [WSJ, March 27, 2008]

In a Journal/NBC poll just two weeks ago, Clinton was in positive numbers with voters overall, 45 percent to 43 percent. However, in the new poll, Clinton’s overall negatives rose to 48 percent and her positives sank to 37 percent.

Even more stunning, Clinton is now drawing a net-negative rating among women, with 44 percent of women having a negative impression of Clinton versus 42 percent with a positive view. Two weeks ago, 51 percent of women had a positive opinion of Clinton.

Clinton also is sinking among white voters, who view her negatively by 51 to 34 percent. Obama has slipped, too, with white voters, down five points, but he still gets a net positive rating of 42 to 37 percent.

Among all voters, Obama is rated positively by 49 to 32 percent, roughly parallel to Republican John McCain, who registered a 45 to 25 percent positive rating.

The bottom line for Sen. Clinton may be that in throwing the “kitchen sink” at Obama, she didn’t realize that it was tied to her ankle.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

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