I suspect it’s probably not real stupidity but simply being behind the times and not realizing just how powerful the Internet community is. Clarke probably thought he just had to worry about the standard Republican political operatives. But those type of people are now much less dangerous than the horde of webloggers and their associates. The odds of any single weblogger coming up with something are slim, somebody’s gonna hit pay dirt if it’s there to find. Then the other feature of the blogosphere will come in to play, which is its ability to filter out the noise and promote the substance. Once some obscure weblogger finds something interesting, he’ll post, other webloggers will see it and cross post. The better the information, the faster and more widely it will cross posted until it hits one of the big boys and then it’s everywhere.
Previously (say, 5-10 years ago) the dirt would probably have stayed buried or even if found, wouldn’t have made a splash. Even now, most Big Media is still trying to ignore the credibility problems. Unfortunately, there are too many people who are in the blogosphere or talk to people who are. In the future it will simply be assumed that if you put yourself in the public eye, everything you’ve ever said or written will be researched and the interesting bits disseminated. Perhaps Clarke will be held up as the archetype of of this kind of thing. Then he would have at least accomplished something.