As has been widely reported, a now unemployed campaign adviser for Hillary Clinton floated a balloon concerning Barack Obama's admitted use of drugs in his late teen years. Yes, it is true that the GOP candidate whoever he may be will no doubt try to depict Obama - should he be the Democrat nominee - as what the typical GOP white voter views blacks as being like anyway: drug users, criminals, welfare cheats and low life types in general. The GOP base is not mostly lily white without good reason. Back when Doug Wilder ran for and was successfully elected Governor of Virginia, that under current was discernible. It will be even worse in 2008. Of course, Christian Right base that now controls the GOP not only dislikes gays, but Hispanics, Catholics (unless they are so far right that they want the Latin mass returned church wide), Jews (except for their role in bringing about Armageddon), and basically everyone who is not a white evangelical.
Obama will need to face up to this situation should he win the nomination and be prepared to address the issue head on. At the same time, many voters will be utterly turned off by this probable GOP tactic, not the least black voters. At the same time, Hillary needs to be prepared to face down ever imaginable skeleton that will be dredged up by the GOP from Bill Clinton's years in office should she be the Democrat nominee. Regardless of who is the nominee, expect the GOP to run a mean, nasty campaign with race baiting, gay bashing, anti-immigrant nativism, etc. That is standard operating procedure for the Christianists: wear your religion on your sleeve and then utterly ignore the principles of that claimed faith which would bar such dishonest and hate-filled statements and actions.
As for the leak from Hillary's campaign, I view it as just plain stupid. Thankfully, the campaign staffer was fired. Hopefully, others on Hilliary's campaign staff took notice. For many people - myself included - one of her big hurdles is convincing them that she is not a female "Slick Willie" and that she has some standards of fair play. This stunt did not help win them over. Here are highlights from a New York Times article that looks at this issue among others (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/us/politics/16obama.html?pagewanted=2&hp):
An adviser to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign suggested this week that Mr. Obama’s admission of drug use as a young man could weaken his candidacy should he win the general election. The Clinton campaign repudiated the remarks, Mrs. Clinton apologized and the adviser resigned, but she and her aides have kept the issue alive by referring to it publicly a number of times in what appeared to be an effort to drive up negative views of his character and raise doubts about his ability to weather a general election.
In an interview, Mr. Obama responded that voters would ultimately be turned off by such attacks on him, particularly about his admission more than a decade ago that he used marijuana and cocaine in his youth. “My past and my character seemed to be fine when I was 20 points down,” Mr. Obama said. “Those kinds of tactics or strategies, I think, are emblematic of an old politics. It’s the exactly the kind of politics that the American people are tired of.”
As he reaches out to those voters, Mr. Obama implores upon them a heavy sense of responsibility. At the same time, though, he seemed to unwittingly raise expectations for his own campaign here, particularly if he doesn’t win in Iowa and seeks to move on to the Feb. 5 contests for a second chance. “You in Iowa have this extraordinary privilege of choosing who the next president of the United States is going to be,” Mr. Obama told an audience at the Lakeside Ballroom in Guttenberg, a town that overlooks the Mississippi River. “Whoever wins this caucus is likely to win the nomination and is likely to win the presidency.”