Because in 2007, then-Senator Obama loudly criticized then-Senator Clinton for her failure to turn over government documents -- not State Department emails, but thousands of pages of White House documents held by the Clinton Presidential Library and National Archives, for which President Clinton had instructed archivists not to release to documents until 2012.
The Clintons released the documents eventually, but only after a protracted delay. In the meantime, Hillary's responses to criticism then sounded all too much like her responses to criticism today: she blamed the delay on government bureaucracy; she disclaimed any ability to expedite the process; and she said that she really wanted those slow bureaucrats to disclose the documents soon.
Today, President Obama is doing all he can to avoid the issue. But in October 2007, he was practically jumping at the chance to shine a spotlight on it. So much so that when Tim Russert raised the issue at a Democratic presidential candidates' debate, Obama raised his hand and eagerly criticized not just that specific controversy but also the broader problems that the controversy portended.
The exchange is worth watching in full (or at least reading the transcript), especially Sen. Obama's call upon voters to "turn the page" on the Clintons, his commitment to "open and transparent and accountable to the American people," and his recognition that it was time to "invite the American people back to participate in their government again" and "rebuild trust in our government again."
It's too late for President Obama to rebuild trust in our government again, but it's not too late to turn the page.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, I'd like to follow up because, in terms of your experience as first lady, in order to give the American people an opportunity to make a judgment about your experience, would you allow the National Archives to release the documents about your communications with the president, the advice you gave, because, as you well know, President Clinton has asked the National Archives not to do anything until 2012?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, actually, Tim, the Archives is moving as rapidly as the Archives moves. There's about 20 million pieces of paper there and they are moving, and they are releasing as they do their process. And I am fully in favor of that.
Now, all of the records, as far as I know, about what we did with health care, those are already available. Others are becoming available. And I think that, you know, the Archives will continue to move as rapidly as the circumstances and processes demand.
MR. RUSSERT: But there was a letter written by President Clinton specifically asking that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012. Would you lift that ban?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, that's not my decision to make. And I don't believe that any president or first lady has. But certainly we'll move as quickly as our circumstances and the processes of the National Archives permits.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, your hand's up?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, look, I'm glad that Hillary took the phrase "turn the page." It's a good one. But this is an example of not turning the page. We have just gone through one of the most secretive administrations in our history, and not releasing, I think, these records at the same time, Hillary, as you're making the claim that this is the basis for your experience, I think, is a problem.