2008’s Best YouTube Attack Yet

First came the Politics of Hope. Then the Politics of Pile-On. Now, via the Edwards campaign, the Politics of Parsing.

In what looks like a direct response to Hillary Clinton’s mashup of Tuesday’s debate, which shows the other Democratic candidates uttering her name over and over, Team Edwards has released what has got to be the most devastating indictment of Hillary’s debate performance so far.

The spot, posted online today, juxtaposes clips of Hillary saying one thing—on Iraq, Social Security, and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants—and then saying something that sounds contradictory. Plenty of observers and campaigns have already pointed out these inconsistencies. ( Some might call them nuances .) But no one has lined them up in such a simple way that, context be damned, lets you watch Hillary dig her own grave. It’s pretty unfair, but it’s also why YouTube was invented.

This line of attack seems to be carrying Edwards (and Obama) a long way. Hillary’s camp was concerned enough after the debate to hold a conference call with big donors to talk strategy and ask for more money. Her opponents are speaking of “chinks in the armor.” Supporters say it’s good practice before facing Giuliani. But if there’s an anti-Hillary narrative that could sustain itself through the primaries, it’s her tendency to equivocate—not to lie, necessarily, but to slice and dice the truth into tiny little slivers. (An approach that, with a little YouTube trickery, starts to sound a lot like like lying.)

In the meantime, Edwards might consider taking this attack to prime time.

UPDATE 12:52 p.m.: Hillary spokesman Phil Singer responds:

“In 2004, John Edwards said ‘If you are looking for the candidate that will do the best job of attacking the other Democrats, I am not your guy.’ But now that his campaign has stalled, he’s launching false attacks on his fellow Democrats. Voters will certainly be asking whether Mr. Edwards’ pledges to be positive in 2004 were anything more than just a political tactic.”

UPDATE 11/5/07 1:07 p.m.: The knife twists .