The Clinton campaign recently fired two volunteers for forwarding emails suggesting Barack Obama is a Muslim, but these were minor embarrassments, not scandalous.
For one thing, campaigns have little control over what people who are volunteering actually do. How could they control them? Cutting off their cold pizza, stale coffee, donuts, and Red Bull? For another, anything so sensitive as "dirty tricks" would hardly be entrusted to mere volunteers.
A campaign seeking real dirt on an opponent would assign the task to someone else - say, a "deputy campaign manager," wouldn't they? Jeff Zeleny reports for The New York Times:
Presidential campaigns have unlimited appetites for information about their rivals. They track their whereabouts, they study their records and they obsessively follow nearly every movement. By this point in the race, though, it would seem a candidate's work history would have already been sufficiently combed through.
If there was any question whether Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign was concerned about the rise of Senator Barack Obama, here is a fresh example: A deputy campaign manager for Mrs. Clinton sent an e-mail yesterday, trying to find out about Mr. Obama's background as a community organizer in Chicago.
Read it all at the link above. Now, the email in question doesn't specify "dirt" on Obama, but requesting "information" on his old community work could scarcely have another purpose, could it? Was Nash seeking to put up a tribute website for Obama? I doubt it . . .
What's most alarming here is the complete lack of sophistication. Using email - a written record - is exactly the wrong way to go about it. For such dirty work, you use the phone or, better yet, a personal visit. Something which can't be forwarded to the media.
For those who see some innocent explanation for the inquiry, please elaborate. I'd be fascinated to hear it.