Friday, November 2, 2007

See How She Runs, pt. 3

As Sen. Bob Dole can attest, the idea that one is owed the opportunity is near the top of the list of bad reasons to run for president. As much has become plain as the results of this week's Democratic debate continue to unspool. While none of her rivals was able to make a move into the lead, Hillary Clinton's halo as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee began to slip on Tuesday evening.

By trying to have it both ways on nearly every question asked by NBC's Tim Russert, Sen. Clinton further revealed her penchants towards imperiousness, intemperance and obfuscation. To say that Hillary had a bad night would be a monumental understatement. And it is clear that Hillary's campaign gathers as much in that they quickly put out
a "Politics of Pile-on" video along with a sniveling press release.

Worse yet, in a post-debate conference call involving senior Clinton campaign advisers and key supporters, one participant commented that one of Sen. Clinton's answers to a question about unsealing National Archives records of her time in the White House, "made her eyes roll" (as reported by The Hill.) According to the same article, another participant was heard to say, "[Tim]
Russert 'should be shot.'" Presumably the comment was motivated by Russert's straightforward questioning of Ms. Clinton about her positions on Social Security, drivers licenses for illegal aliens in her home state and the AMT, among other things.

Or perhaps it was driven by a sense - however well or poorly founded - that the media are biased against their candidate. According to
data presented by that discussed the "Invisible Primary," or more precisely the media primary, the early media coverage of both Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani "was virtually identical, and more negative than positive," with press reporting on Sen. Clinton being positive in tone 26.9 percent of the time versus negative 37.8 percent of the time. While Clinton's negative coverage was not the worst of the major candidates, it highlights and reinforces her electability problem (as does her 44 percent "unfavorable" rating among all Americans.)

While Sen. Clinton has run a largely flawless campaign, and maintains a commanding lead over her Democratic rivals, her demeanor when she is under stress raises significant concerns vis-a-vis her ability to deal with America's adversaries; this takes on special significance given the Democrats' habit of denigrating the alleged unilateralism of the Bush administration in favor of open-ended diplomacy.

Hillary has attempted to position herself as the candidate of destiny, the perception being that her winning the nomination is as much a forgone conclusion as her securing the presidency is an entitlement. But no amount of unscrupulous fundraising or artful stagecraft will be sufficient if and when she is to deal with such intractable adversaries as Iran's Ahmedinejad, Venezuela's Chavez or Russia's Putin. If Hillary thinks she is being "piled on" now, the world's bullies and tyrants will have a surprise for her. We can only hope that the eventual GOP nominee will unveil a few surprises of his own for her during the campaign.


Readwriteblue said...

With all due respect, I would take issue with your statement that Sen. Clinton has run a flawless campaign. That many feel she has, is mostly a result of the incompetent campaigns run by her opponents, and the preferential treatment she has enjoyed up until this time by journalists. While I see scant evidence that the former has changed, Tim Russert has returned some of my faith to the press

Walter Grandberry said...


I will agree with you that in the case of Ms. Clinton, flawless is indeed a relative term. That said, I am sure that you'll agree with me that even on its own merits the Clinton campaign has done well in terms of message discipline, fund raising and damage control.

While she is an obviously flawed candidate, I suspect that her campaign will be a case study for would-be campaign managers.

As always, I am,