Palin should be very appealing to all those Hillary supporters that hold similar positions to herself.
(Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in June 2007, via the Associated Press.)
Somewhere along the way during the Democratic nomination contest, I wound up on Hillary Clinton’s campaign mailing list. Today I got this email:
“I’ll be in touch soon”??Â Umm… about what, Hillary?
Your suggestions are welcome.
FromÂ Daily KosÂ to theÂ New York TimesÂ toÂ points beyond, political commentators have spent today spitting out post-mortems for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. By now, the standard critiques are familiar enough to be unenlightening. As uber-adviserÂ Mark PennÂ himself writes dismissively:
The conventional criticisms of Mrs. Clintonâ€™s campaign are these:Â she had no message; she ran just on experience; she should have shown more of her warmer side; she was too negative; President Clintonâ€™s campaigning hurt her; and she presented herself as inevitable.Â It is amazing she got any votes at all.
That said, familiar attacks like Team Hillary’s poor preparation in caucus states — and particularly in Iowa — gain added bite from newly revealed details like this one uncovered by Jackie Calmes in theÂ Wall Street Journal:
Veteran Iowa organizer Steve Hildebrand had sought a job with Sen. Clinton in mid-2006. In a 45-minute interview, the senator talked about congressional elections but never mentioned the coming presidential race, Mr. Hildebrand says.Â Months later, he signed on as Sen. Obama’s deputy campaign manager and oversaw his Iowa push.
Even so, many of the retrospectives make the unjustified (if unsurprising) leap from mistakes like this to the conclusion that Clinton’s campaign was fatally flawed from the start, and thus Obama’s win was inevitable. Karen Tumulty ofÂ Time magazineÂ demonstrates the new conventional wisdom:
Obama’s campaign has been that rare, frictionless machine that runs with the energy of an insurgency and the efficiency of a corporation. . . there have been no staff shake-ups, no financial crises, no change in game plan and no visible strife.Â Even its campaign slogan â€” “Change we can believe in” â€” has remained the same.
As it happens, though, this isn’t true, and therein lies a story. Â Obama’s tagline didn’t evolve into “Change We Can Believe In” untilÂ late OctoberÂ of last year, a turning point in the nomination campaign that seems to have been forgotten by mainstream media and bloggers alike. As I wroteÂ three months ago:
Plenty of credit has to go to Obama’s chart-breaking combination of charisma, fundraising ability and organization, but then again, all that seemed to beÂ doing him little good last fallÂ — a time when Clinton seemed toÂ fit the profileÂ that Democratic voters were looking for in hiring a presidential nominee.
As the links above explain, there was a time in September and October 2007 when Hillary seemed to riding unassailably high, and Obama’s strengths (including having opposed the Iraq war from the start) weren’t getting him traction even in Iowa. The problem was that all three leading candidates were seen as having essentially identical policy positions — even on where to go in the future in Iraq — and Clinton’s perceived greater experience and established credibility in surviving the GOP attack machine were serving as trump cards to prospective Democratic voters scarred by past defeats.
In short, in the absence of any clear distinction on what they proposed to do, Barack needed a way to surpass Hillary in terms of who could be relied on to get the job done. Making the case based on ability alone was a difficult challenge for a relative neophyte like Obama, so the only way to succeed was to cast doubt on Clinton’s intentions… and thus the “Change We Can Believe In” tagline was born.
Less than two weeks later, theÂ John Edwards adÂ at the top of this post helped crystallize the emerging critique of Hillary, saving Barack the trouble of having to go explicitly negative himself. (Anyone who thinks Clinton was too harsh in attacking Obama should take a look at the ad — as far as I know, Team Hillary never produced anything this brutal in terms of personal ridicule.)
And yet, in a surprise I notedÂ just before the Iowa caucuses, a Clinton campaign that more or less gloated about its ability to take a punch couldn’t figure out a way to respond to the assault on their candidate’s honesty. Had Hillary really understood what voters were looking for, and why her experience was a perceived advantage, she could have pointed out that there was nothing ambiguous or vague about what she went through in the 1990s… or about the fact that she came out standing up and ready to re-enter the fray. If she could survive that, voters could count on her to keep fighting for them no matter what Republicans through at her in the fall and beyond.
For most politicians, that kind of gutsy-posturing red meat is second nature. Team Clinton’s utter bewilderment at how to make this contrast with Obama (that is, not to attack him, but to emphasize their own candidate’s positive, proven history of standing up under fire) underscores criticisms that Hillary and her aides were running for the White House mainly because they felt somehow entitled to it — rather than because there was a job voters wanted the next President to do, and they were more determined than anyone to get it done. So, in that sense, I guess the conventional wisdom about the Clinton campaign has some merit after all.
(Cross-posted at Firedoglake.)
We are over 7000 strong and growing
What good is a great economy if you have to worry about getting blown up by a car bomb every time you go to the Mall? You want another Baghdad here in the USA, not me! I want my grandkids to be free and that includes being free from the fear of being killed by a terrorist. If Obama is elected, you better hope he adopts Hillary Health Care plan, because you are going to need it with his idea of “Security” for this country. I am one of them bible thumping, gun toting red necks and dam proud of it. Ed
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