The recent revelation that disgraced, convicted document thief and former national security advisor Samuel Berger (aka Sandy Burglar) is advising the Hillary Clinton campaign is akin to Giuliani asking Richard Nixon, were he still alive, to serve him in a similar capacity. Imagine the reaction in Washington and among the media elites if a Republican candidate in fact enlisted such a controversial figure in any capacity.
Of course, Madame Hillary simply shrugs and says that Berger is not serving her in any official capacity, so what's the big deal? That's the same mentality that was used so effectively to minimize the enormity of what Berger did inside the National Archives, all in the name of protecting his ex-boss. Has anyone thought of the possibility of a political payback here?
Berger becomes eligible to regain his security clearance, as luck would have it, in 2009. However, a condition of his regaining that status is to take a polygraph test-something that to this point he has steadfastly avoided. Nonetheless, it would not be shocking to see him in some capacity-whether unofficial or otherwise-in a second Clinton Administration. Somehow, Republicans need to make this a significant campaign issue. And that is where the recent Giuliani-Romney dustup could make things interesting.
By engaging in their one-on-one fight, the top two candidates are apparently trying to further distance themselves from the pack. The strategy, if indeed that's what it is, may just work. They will certainly garner the most attention as long as their squabbles generate headlines. However, there's a line over which they dare not cross-the line in the sand that, once violated, will allow their battle to descend into the mud. And in so doing, they're in danger of forgetting about who the real enemy is.
If Giuliani and Romney beat each other up enough, then the comparatively mild-mannered Fred Thompson's stock could rise. The irony in that is with Thompson, the Clinton machine would have less to worry about but also less to criticize. Why, Thompson didn't even vote for conviction in Bill Clinton's impeachment trial. It's doubtful that he would make much of the Berger-as-unofficial-advisor situation.
Hillary Clinton has clearly taken a calculated risk-since she puts every decision in her life, no matter how minute, through the political calculus-to have someone of Berger's character advising her. Apparently loyalty to the machine outweighs personal integrity every time. The frustration for the Republicans is how to keep this issue front and center despite Clinton's and her media friends' best efforts to bury it.
In the end, only an Al Gore candidacy may derail another Clinton presidency. If you've never prayed for political success for Mr. Gore, this might be a good time to start-not for too much success; just enough to disrupt the Clinton march back to the White House.