Count us among the head scratchers. We can’t pontificate on what the latest developments in the Democratic primary/caucus calendar means. We do know that whatever the primary calendar is/will be/will not be/was supposed to be/was not supposed to be/was desired to be/was not desired to be/used to be/ leads to one inescapable conclusion: the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party candidate for president.
We say that not out of arrogance but because only Hillary and the Hillary Team are and have proven themselves adept at clear thinking and effective execution. If the candidates have to campaign with hats on or with one hand juggling sleeping kittens while standing on greased flagpoles only one candidate will have the poise and proven abilities to succeed: Hillary.
Roger Simon of Politico, for those interested, pontificates a bit on the latest calendar twists and turns. [The short versions of Simon’s article is that we still don’t know what the final schedule for primaries and caucuses will be.]
Neither the primary calendar nor right wing newspapers are going to derail the Hillary campaign. In fact, for all their history of effectively chopping up Democrats, the right wing in all their guises does not threaten the Hillary campaign at all. They are a spent force which the Hillary team will dispatch with ease. The remaining threat comes from our very own PINOs.
The punditocracy and many Beltway political insiders have virtually declared Senator Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee for president for 2008. To be fair, this has not happened without some good reasons, including Mrs. Clinton’s formidable fundraising, her near-100% name recognition, her access to Bill Clinton for advice, her reputation as a brutal and efficient opponent to any rival, her strong organization, and the weakness of the field against her. [snip]
The other is the seemingly implacable opposition to her in the netroots and the left wing of her party. She did show up at the annual netrooots convention recently, but instead of pandering to their view of the war in Iraq, she stated her own more moderate view. This produced boos, but Mrs. Clinton wasn’t really directing her remarks to the netroots. She was speaking to a much larger audience and using the netroots as a foil.
The point is that, from her point of view, she does not need the netroots at all. This internet phenomenon on the left wing of the American politics has only been shown to be effective so far in raising money and in providing organizational support for candidates, neither of which she needs. In their much-publicized challenge to Senator Joe Lieberman last year, the netroots were able to conjure up an opponent, Ned Lamont, who won the Democratic
primary against the incumbent, but Mr. Lamont lost decisively in the general election which returned Mr. Lieberman to the Senate as an independent with even more influence than before.
Various Democratic politicians across the country who tried to “suck up” to the netroots by joining in the fray against Mr. Lieberman came to regret it, and to have serious reservations about the real political power of the netroots (despite its persistent self-promoting claims).
Now we have the prospects of the netroots being left out of the presidential election they have been looking forward to so much. Mrs. Clinton is not one of them. They have no real political influence with her. She is polite to their faces, but skillfully uses them to her purposes which do not include their favorite issues.
And here is the real danger from the Big Blogs, as we have pointed out in several of our previous posts, that they would rather “rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven”:
Nor are the netroots likely to go along willingly as mere afterthoughts in the 2008 presidential election. Their pride, their bragging rights, and their long-term impact is at stake.
Of course, they will denounce me for what I am saying here, as they have every time I have raised questions about their real political influence. No one denies they play a role, but after six years as a “novelty,” it will be instructive to see if the netroots can finally take their place as a major force in American national politics. That means producing not just money and organization, but, much more importantly, producing votes on election days in November.
The American voter will choose the next president not the Big Blogs. And Hillary will get the support of the voters.
Sen. Hillary Clinton has to be better than her rivals. The standard is higher for her. The reason for this isn’t her high negatives or her standing in the polls. Nor is it that Clinton-haters are numerous and boisterous. It is because she is a woman.
No citizen has ever voted for a woman for a major party’s presidential nomination with a reasonable expectation that she might wind up in the White House. The last two women to run, Elizabeth Dole and Carol Moseley Braun, vanished before the New Hampshire primary even occurred. Beginning with our 1952 primary, the first of the modern era, 221 people have received votes for president either as official candidates or as write-ins. Eight were women. Only one of the eight, Margaret Chase Smith, received more than 1,000 votes.
The older you are, the longer you have lived with a man in the White House. The older you are, the more likely you are to vote. These days, fewer people openly say they would never vote for a woman for president, but no doubt some still hold that view.
Some voters will not vote for a woman. Many others will – especially after they meet Hillary.
But because Clinton is a woman, she is also an inspiring candidate. Women young and old vest their hopes in her. Men who have witnessed the rise of women in all walks of society for four decades know it is time to consider a woman for president – if she seems qualified for the job.
Incredibly, despite her celebrity and her long run on the national stage, Clinton has maintained a zone of privacy. She has kept people from knowing the real Hillary. So what people react to, whether negatively or positively, is a public image. They see her as cold and calculating or wonky and competent. They see her as controlling – or in control.
Maybe the hardest thing for Clinton to do as a presidential candidate is to persuade voters to see her for what she is. This doesn’t mean allowing them to break through her veil so much as giving them access to her temperament, her philosophy, her experience, her preparedness for the White House.
New Hampshire is the perfect stage for this, and Clinton seems to know it. The point of her busy campaign schedule here is not to win the state’s 30-odd delegates at the Democratic National Convention, although she will take as many of them as she can get. Her hope is to change minds. Through personal campaigning, she wants to cancel voters’ preconceptions and replace them with a picture of a poised, personable, highly informed politician who would make a good president.
Here is how Hillary will win in New Hampshire:
Three factors give Clinton a special opportunity to do that in New Hampshire.
One is the state’s tradition in presidential politics. This has long been the one place, or one of two places, where voters judge candidates on the basis of a personal connection. In the early going this time around, multiple television debates and huge campaign rallies for deep-pocket candidates like Clinton have changed the dynamics of campaigning. But she, like Sen. Barack Obama, has also sought out smaller venues where she can meet voters face to face.
Clinton seems intent on leaving no hand unshaken and no question unanswered. When she came to the Monitor for an interview last week, one editor went into it expecting her to be cold and came out saying how wrong he had been. That is the response she is seeking. You can’t meet 200 million-plus potential voters across the country, but in New Hampshire, retail politics remains essential.
Another positive factor for Clinton is that the stars are aligned for her. New Hampshire was Nixon Country in 1968 when centrists dominated the Republican Party. The state is still centrist politically, but as Clinton’s husband proved in 1992, and as the popularity of Govs. Jeanne Shaheen and John Lynch has demonstrated, it is Democrats, with Independent support, who hold the center now.
The third factor is gender. New Hampshire has a long tradition of electing women to public office. In the last quarter century, only 19 states have elected a woman governor. One of them is New Hampshire, where Shaheen easily won the office in the Clinton landslide of 1996 and was twice re-elected. At the State House, women currently serve as both Senate president and House speaker. In 2006, voters sent Carol Shea-Porter to Congress, breaking the exclusive male hold on congressional seats.
New Hampshire’s habit of putting women in office does not mean Clinton will avoid closer scrutiny than male candidates because of her gender. This is the presidency, not the corner office at the State House or the speaker’s chair. Voters are right to ask whether Clinton is tough enough for the job. But males in both the Democratic and Republican fields bear this burden to a lesser degree than she. To overcome it, Clinton must wear an iron mask while also projecting warmth.
The final thoughts from the Concord Monitor:
It is too early in the campaign to know what bumps and jolts will alter its course or which of Clinton’s rivals will grow more formidable.
But from her professional life – one of a small minority of women in her Yale Law School class, the first woman in her law firm – Clinton knows how high she must jump. And from her husband’s electoral experience, she knows New Hampshire.
No woman has ever been in a better position to break the highest glass ceiling in the country.