Opinion: Past as prologue

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Roger Simon, the veteran political writer now slinging words for Politico, raises an interesting point today. Hillary Clinton has argued for months that she would be a stronger candidate in the fall because she has already withstood several sieges’ worth of Republican attacks. In fact, some of the more notable set-tos have become searchable keywords. Whitewater. Vincent Foster. Rose Law Firm.

But skepticism abounds, especially since Clinton has declined to make her income tax returns public, while Barack Obama released his last year for 2006. And records from her eight years gaining all that White House experience remain closed, at least to the prying eyes of people like us, in Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Little Rock.


Obama, he of the self-confessed drug past, argues that he too has been vetted, and there’s nothing left for the Republicans to ferret out and use.

Pah, says Simon. Just because something is known doesn’t mean the candidate has been inoculated.

‘If Obama wins the nomination, we are going to hear a lot more about Tony Rezko and the Exelon Corp. And if Clinton is the nominee, get ready for a reprise of Whitewater and her cattle future trading, to name just two. In presidential politics, the past is not just prologue. It’s ammunition.’

As Simon points out, Michael Dukakis thought he’d put Willie Horton behind him too.

-- Scott Martelle