Hillary Rodham Clinton has reason to be a happy camper. Over recent days, for the first time in months, she has moved significantly ahead of Barack Obama in Gallup's national polling. And, defying Milton Friedman's famous dictum that there is no such thing as a free lunch, she's made these gains at no cost.
Clinton has remained quietly on the sidelines, smirking like a Cheshire cat, as Republican commentators have done all her work for her. They've dragged out the tapes of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and have helped sully what everyone thought was Obama's picture-perfect and Teflon-coated image.
Why, after all, should the New York senator bear the costs of attacking Obama and his controversial pastor, further alienating black voters she so desperately wants back, when Republicans have been more than happy to do this work for her?
As a result, Clinton has picked up ground and the Illinois senator has lost some. And what have Republicans gained by so enthusiastically jumping into the Democratic-primary fray?
Sorry, but I don't buy the calculations about which Democrat will be easier to beat. The brilliant political tacticians have as much insight about what will be nine months from now as they had nine months ago about what we have on the table today.
Sure, Wright's inflammatory sermons, and Obama's longtime association with this man, is important news. But the real story for Republicans is that, for practical considerations, there's no difference between the two left-wing, big-government-loving, morally relativist candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. This is what Sen. John McCain of Arizona and the Republican Party should be running against, regardless of who it turns out to be.
There's some sense that Obama's relationship with Wright hints at a possible hidden subversive side of his that makes him more dangerous than Clinton.
But there's no reason to have concerns about one and not the other.
Take, for instance, Wright's outrageous accusation that AIDS in the black community is the result of some racial conspiracy.
Last summer, the Democratic presidential candidates debated at Howard University. A black journalist asked for comments about why AIDS is ravaging young black women. Clinton observed, "You know ... if HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country."
Or how about Wright's trip with the Rev. Louis Farrakhan to visit Moammar Gadhafi in Libya?
So let's recall Clinton's famous embrace of and kissing Soha Arafat, wife of terrorist Yasser.