In the world of U.S. politics, almost everything falls under the category of “fair game.”

But Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s “leak” of the 2006 photograph of Senator Barack Obama, clothed in African tribal garments, via the Internet, looks to be the final unfortunate move in a campaign struggling desperately to stay afloat.

In the photograph, Obama is wearing a turban. For those who can’t get enough of subliminal fear-mongering, it was about as subtle as a fascist rally. However, just in case some people didn’t get it, the campaign also mentioned that Obama’s middle name is Hussein and his last name rhymes with a certain most wanted terrorist.

A few months ago, I questioned whether Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington was justified in criticizing the Clinton camp with manipulating voters prior to the New Hampshire primary by tearfully displaying how “difficult her presidential run had been.”

I said it has been the media more so than the candidates playing the race card, and the idea that New Hampshire voters were trying to “protect the poor woman who is threatened by the black man,” was an example of over-analysis and hyperbole.

However, I stand corrected.

In recent weeks, the Clinton camp has done more to represent the shady, business-as-usual tactics of U.S. politics, the type of politics that have crippled her campaign.

From the condescending comments by former president Bill Clinton sniping, “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina too,” to this most recent error in judgment, marks an unfortunate low.

The emotional outburst in the coffee shop fits right in with the “Obama as national security risk” tactics being used now.

It was the Drudge Report on the Internet that stated the photo was circulated by unnamed “Clinton staffers,” without Hillary Clinton’s consent.

However, to believe that, you must believe that Clinton either has no control over her campaign and is simply leaving the job of discrediting her opponent to staff, or she’s lying-neither of which represents the type of attributes voters are looking for in their next commander-in-chief.

This is not to say that Obama’s campaign is without flaws. He has spent so much time patting himself on the back for not voting for the war in Iraq that he has lost sight of the fact that we are still there and we need a concise, definitive exit strategy, which he has yet to really flesh out.

He also did not affirm my faith in his foreign policy expertise by admitting his lack of knowledge of presumptive new Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev.

There is also the little matter of his connection to Tony Rezko, who was recently indicted on federal corruption charges. Admittedly, Obama donated the funds that the Rezko camp poured into his campaign to a much appreciative charity.

However, it is a blemish on his record that could be exploited-by Sen. John McCain.

The flaw for Clinton in this campaign was reminding voters of the seedy, attack-dog politics that this country has been inundated with for so many years now. We want a fresh start, a new beginning, a reason to believe a candidate can change the negative state of the economy, housing market and progression in Iraq.

We want a candidate who will infuse us with hope, not stoop to the depths of “politics as usual.”

That flaw may prove fatal to Sen. Clinton.