Hillary Clinton At The Turn Of The Tide

As the last few hours of 2007 drain away, let’s talk a little Bloomberg, Obama, Edwards, Hillary.

Yes, he’s running. Big Media, tired of simply controlling the process now wants its own candidate to run. The head of Bloomberg, Inc. is the perfect Big Media candidate. All the dolts will see his strengths, none of the problems. [Hint: Hillary Clinton is 44 even if Bloomberg runs (Obama loses big – Edwards loses too).] The big cheerleader in the Bloomberg effort, other than Bloomberg aides who want to stick with their Big Money pal and move to the White House, are the braindead pundits like David Broder. Broder who once declared the Reform Party “the future” or somesuch — we’ll have more on this story after Hillary gets the nomination.

The New York Times has more on the Big Meeting in Norman, Oklahoma this Sunday. As we will explain in a much later article on Bloomberg, the Oklahoma meeting is just a publicity stunt on the clever Bloomberg’s part. Bloomberg does not need any of the sad attendees going to the meeting. Bloomberg will spin the non-partisan mumbo-jumbo to the rubes. But like we said regarding Obama – the issues being fought over matter and that is why there is so much fighting. The war on partisanship continues but we agree with Krugman (while laughing at Obama) on the benefits of partisanship.

For those wanting more information on the Bloomberg campaign, read our article from May 2007 concerning Bloomberg as well as our June 2007 article. Both those early articles are on target. We still think Bloomberg will announce in May 2008 and that Giuliani will not be the nominee of the Republican Party.

Read our article from May on how Edwards could fix his campaign. For now, it is good to see Edwards discovering the benefits of wearing a suit. If you run for president, look the part.

Edwards has also discovered the joys of hypocrisy. Edwards is picking up steam by lying openly and with joy. All that talk against money in politics fell away as Edwards discovered he could benefit from all that money running ads for him from groups that Edwards would months ago have denounced as “special interests” and the evil 527s.

Edwards has also decided to finally run as the white male candidate. We wrote this back in May:

We thought Edwards would retool his campaign and try to run as the Male, Heterosexual, Southern, White, Religious, Populist candidate. This posture conceivably would have been strong. Southern candidates do well and get elected president as Democrats. As the White Male candidate Edwards also could have distinguished himself from his Latino, African-American, and Female opponents and possibly acquired a distinuishing niche in the top tier of the presidential race.

Instead of running a populist campaign, Edwards decided to become the candidate of the unnuanced left. This has led to disaster after disaster.

Edwards has finally started to ignore the nutroots and run a campaign like a grownup. Edwards has fully embraced hypocrisy, while loudly denouncing hypocrisy; Edwards is taking all the help he can from “special interests” and running as the white male that he is. That’s how you win elections bub. Embrace your inner hypocrite John – that’s why Obama is finally getting scared of you – you are finally playing the game like a grown up. Edwards also finally discovered that Obama is his problem, not Hillary. Way to go Johnny.

Obama, like any flim-flam confidence man, is running against the clock. Flim-flam artists have to keep moving and changing stories and charming and spinning and talking that sweet talk – all the while keeping an eye out for the law. The trick is to pocket the money you got from the rubes who believe that snake-oil you sell but get out just in time to avoid the pokey.

Obama’s problem: The clock is ticking faster than Obama is dancing.

After getting away with complete acceptance of his totally manufactured story Obama began to face scrutiny from the more discerning members of the Democratic left. The more intelligent members of the Democratic left began to dismantle Obama’s bull and take notice of why Republicans were acting as Obama cheerleaders. Their judgment was “No there there – an empty Republican suit.”

The basic Obama narrative was finally challenged on the pages of the Washington Post the Sunday before the Iowa caucuses:

It’s just this sort of blunder — naive, well-meaning, amateurish, convinced that everyone understands the goodness of U.S. intentions — that worries me again these days. That’s because a curious and dangerous consensus seems to be forming among the chattering classes, on both the left and the right, that what the United States needs in these troubling times is not knowledge and experience but a “fresh face” with an “intuitive sense of the world,” and that the mere act of electing Obama will put us on the path to winning the so-called war on terror. [snip]

The next president will have to try to build a successful, economically viable Palestinian state while protecting the safety and sovereignty of Israel. He or she will have to slowly and responsibly withdraw forces from Iraq without allowing the country to implode. He or she will have to bring Iraq’s neighbors, Syria and Iran, to the negotiating table while simultaneously reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, keeping Syria out of Lebanon, reassuring Washington’s Sunni Arab allies that they have not been abandoned, coaxing Russia into becoming part of the solution (rather than part of the problem) in the region, saving an independent and democratic Afghanistan from the resurgent Taliban, preparing for an inevitable succession of leadership in Saudi Arabia, persuading China to play a more constructive role in the Middle East and keeping a nuclear-armed Pakistan from self-destructing in the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. [snip]

Obama may possess all the intuition of a fortuneteller. But as chair of a Senate subcommittee on Europe, he has never made an official trip to Western Europe (except a one-day stopover in London in August 2005) or held a single policy hearing. He’s never faced off with foreign leaders and has no idea what a delicate sparring match diplomacy in the Middle East can be. And at a time in which the United States has gone from sole superpower to global pariah in a mere seven years, these things matter.

The main issue in U.S. foreign policy that the next president will face is repairing our image in the world. But in foreign policy, unlike advertising, image is created through action, not branding. Which is why one cannot help but sense a touch of shirking (not to mention a lack of short-term memory) in all this talk about “intuitive experience” and “re-branding images,” particularly when it comes from those who began the “New American Century” as ardent supporters of Bush’s wars and his self-advertised “gut” instincts.

It is as though, rather than accepting blame for the mess and taking responsibility for cleaning it up, they would prefer to slap a new coat of paint on the problem and declare it fixed.

It was “intuition” that made the mess in the first place. It will take more than intuition to clean it up. After all, we are not launching a new product. We are electing a president.

Hillary’s numbers began to soften when the Big Media Party, especially Tim Russert, decided to throw everything they had at her. Immediately the Republican candidates started to run ads against Hillary in places like New Hampshire. The Democratic candidates too continued the attack on Hillary. It was Hillary against them all. Her poll numbers softened. Now the opposite dynamic is in effect.

With the death of Benazir Bhutto candidates like John McCain, respected and loved by Big Media, began echoing the Hillary message. Experience matters. McCain and Big Media started to talk about the value of experience at the same time Obama started to get some little examination. John Edwards too finally realized his problem was Obama the concilliator, not Hillary the fighter. Edwards also realized that he needs to replace Obama as the non-Hillary. As we noted above Edwards adopted a hypocritical but intelligent stance regarding the financing of his campaign. Obama, whose numbers had earlier risen with the collapse of Edwards’ soft supporters is now losing those soft supporters to Edwards.

The Hillary campaign had already adjusted to the all out assault on Hillary initiated by Tim Russert. The endorsement of Hillary by the Des Moines Register and the rollout of that endorsement and the Hillary surrogates and the Hill-o-copter, the return of reality to the campaign trail because of the killing of Bhutto, and the last minute realizations of John Edwards all have contributed to the Hillary rise. But the big factor helping Hillary is that Iowans know they are being tested. Iowans are the ones who have to help select the next president – not a drinking buddy, not a popular college professor, – the president.

As Iowans get closer to decision day this Thursday, Iowans get serious. Pick a president Iowa – and Hillary will do just fine in the caucuses.

The latest from Iowa:

BILL CLINTON thought he had it tough when he ran for president in 1992, but his wife is facing an even more brutal race, according to Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman: “Bill Clinton said to me, ‘Terry, I have never in my life seen such an attack on one candidate and that’s saying something’.

“It has been relentless. He didn’t have to face attacks from his own party. She has had them from day one. But I’m not complaining. She has taken on the Republicans and beaten them. She’s so resilient. She has the attitude, ‘It is what it is’, and just marches on.” [snip]

Even Iowans are baffled by their preeminence. “We’re fortunate. We almost get to name the next president. It’s kinda weird,” said Lon Diers, a retired businessman, who braved the frost last week to attend one of Clinton’s rallies. What is more, Iowans are milking it. They are in no hurry to make up their minds. Diers is for Clinton but his wife Rosalyn, a former factory worker, said that she was still undecided.

“I’m afraid that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, she’ll pay the Republicans back for the times they were so horrible to her husband. We need someone who can work with both parties,” she said. But she is not sure that Obama has what it takes either: “I’m not ready for him. He’s too young and green to be president.” ABOUT 30% of Iowans are still on the fence, according to McAuliffe’s calculations. There is no secret ballot and caucus-goers can be persuaded to change their vote right up to the last minute: “You walk into the room on caucus night and there’s going to be a group dynamic at work. Until we get those results, we’re all going to be nervous, like cats on a roof. It’s very tight between the three of us, very tight.”

The third candidate is John Edwards, who is showing signs of building strength in Iowa after coming a close second there in 2004 to John Kerry, the eventual Democrat nominee. If Clinton fails to win this week, the next best result for her team would be a victory for Edwards, as he lacks the organisation and resources to compete in other states. [snip]

Weather permitting, Clinton has been travelling all over Iowa by coach and “Hill-icopter”, addressing several rallies a day with her daughter Chelsea at her side. Campaigning is a family affair. Bill Clinton is holding just as many rallies as his wife in this final stretch, prompting some pundits to wonder if he is more of a hindrance than a help to her.

“It is not even a close call,” McAuliffe said. “She’s got huge crowds. He’s got huge crowds. We’re covering double the places. How can you argue with that?”

One of Clinton’s chief organisers in Iowa told him: “Terry, if you can get Bill Clinton every day of the week, I’ll take him.”

McAuliffe is convinced that Hillary Clinton has the breadth and depth of support to survive if she suffers a shock early defeat. “Obviously Iowa is very important and we’re very competitive here, but for us, there isn’t a state that she has to win. That just doesn’t apply to Hillary Clinton.”

She holds strong leads in the vast majority of them and, if she can survive any initial loss of momentum, she will be hard to beat. And there are signs that her campaign is stabilising after hitting a rough patch last month.

When Clinton’s poll ratings began to tumble, Mark Penn, her pollster and chief adviser, held an early-morning meeting to hammer home her strategy. Don’t abandon the message “strength and experience”, he cautioned. Remember Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, he said.

Added to the mix was “the Hillary I know” – testimony from friends and supporters who claim she is kinder, gentler and more likeable than her “chilly Hilly” image. Thatcher did not bother with such niceties, but McAuliffe believes that Americans want their presidents to pass the “beer” test.

“There is no question that the core message is strength and experience, but people have got to like you,” he said.

At a crowded rally last week in Carroll, western Iowa, Clinton was firmly on message. She was introduced by an apple farmer from upstate New York who spoke glowingly of the warmth of the Hillary he knew towards rural folk like him, but in her stump speech she adopted a statesmanlike persona.

“It is time to pick a president,” she said. “There will be a stack of problems waiting in the Oval Office. A war to end in Iraq. A war to address in Afghanistan . . . and these are the problems we know about. Some will come out of nowhere.” Her supporters are drilled to say she is ready to lead on “day one”.

It has been frustrating for Obama to be portrayed as inexperienced, when Hillary Clinton, as he once tartly observed, did not serve in her husband’s cabinet. But that is how he has been defined and it is difficult to shake.

Addressing an equally packed hall in Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, last week, Obama said: “Some of my opponents appear scornful of the word ‘hope’ and think it summons up naivety or weakness, but I know it has been the guiding force behind the most improbable changes this country has ever made.”

There are signs that support for Obama is levelling off after his recent surge in the polls. Perhaps the sly references by Clinton supporters to his drug use in his youth and his Muslim heritage have had an impact, but so too has the frequent implication that he is “too green” rather than “too black”.

Dan Alexander, a university maths lecturer and Obama supporter, admitted: “His support appears to have reached a plateau. I’m just going to walk and talk to people and knock on doors and hopefully give some people enough push to turn up on caucus night. My guess is there was a lot of excitement in November, when support for him started to build, but there’s been a bit of buyer’s remorse. Some people think Obama is too nice, too conciliatory. Hillary Clinton has the Margaret Thatcher toughness.” [snip]

McAuliffe believes the Republicans are being soft on Obama because they are scared of Clinton: “Didn’t Karl Rove [former White House adviser to President Bush] write a memo to Barack Obama on how to beat Hillary? What on earth was that all about?

“Republicans are terrified of Clinton as the nominee. We’re already ahead in 11 [Republican] states, and all we’ve got to do is win Ohio. We haven’t even begun to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars we’ll have to get her positive message out. What more are they going to say about this woman? We’ve heard it all before and we’re still beating them.” By the time the Republicans have finished firing at each other, many of their candidates are going to be seriously wounded. The exception could be McCain, the Arizona senator and former Vietnamese prisoner of war, whose implosion over the summer led his overconfident, better-financed rivals to patronise him as a great American hero. They built him back up, when they might still have been knocking him down. [snip]

For a truly Happy New Year just remember 2008 marks the end of the Bush presidency.