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Run HRC Run


One of the most interesting things about covering politics is also one of the most annoying: Very often you have to change your mind. And you have to do it in public. That’s worth bearing in mind as we consider – along with the rest of the Democratic Party, if not America – the candidacy of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president of the United States of America.
I’ve written a lot in this space about why I don’t relish the idea of a second Clinton presidency. For starters, I’m opposed to dynastic politics. I also think the Clintons – and we should think of them as a team, and no, I don’t think that’s sexist – embody a lamentable trend: placing strategy above policy in the name of winning elections. It’s not just that they’ll do almost anything to get elected – that’s the nature of the political beast – it’s that they’re not subtle about it. Chameleons like the Clintons concentrate on the parsed, the unsaid, the ambiguous. Clinton’s candidacy means more quasi-non-renuciations renunciations like her abortion speech last year and political folks like me will roll our eyes, sigh and, well think of what the Dempcratic Party could be…if it could find its way.
These are reasons not to vote for the Clintons as they seek a third and fourth term in office in the general election. And – who knows? – I could and may well change my mind again. But these are not reasons to denounce Hillary Rodham Clinton’s desire to seek her party’s nomination. She is as qualified as any of the men – Democrats or Republicans – who want the job, her chief political strategist, William Jefferson Clinton, is a stone cold genius at this stuff and, most importantly, the field of Republican opponents is not exactly presenting a challenge. If there is any year when it’s ideal for a Democratic woman to run for the White House, this looks to be it and the Clintons have done everything they can to make sure there are no serious contenders.
Much of what we’re hearing about how Hillary can’t win – particularly from the Big Boy political Bloggers – is the sour voice of sexism weakly disguised as insider insight. Hillary Clinton should not be the nominee because she can’t win, they say. Democrats need a candidate who is less divisive, who can unite the country. American isn’t ready. Occasionally an honest soul will be more direct and say they don’t believe people will vote for Clinton because we live in a sexist culture that is not ready for change and conservative Americans – who dominate our politics – are not ready to put a woman in the White House.
Well, you know, I’ve surveyed the landscape and – once again, as a Democrat – come up uninspired. If Hillary’s not in the race, I see another snooze-fest kind of like the sleepwalk California Democrats managed to ignore earlier this year. Who you boys got in mind to liven things up and bring voters to the polls? Howard Dean? John Kerry? Mark Warner? John Edwards? Al Gore? What do these men have to recommend themselves for the office of the presidency? Their personal wealth? Their experience in the U.S. Senate? Their previous – and unsuccessful – attempts to claim the office? The only one who is vaguely likable is Edwards. And with Clinton’s hand on the fundraising apparatus of the Democratic Party Edwards is going to have a hard time finding the cash to keep going (which makes him – along with his wife Elizabeth – a very interesting vice presidential choice for the Clintons).
Democrats are holding Hillary Rodham Clinton to a higher standard that her fellow party rivals, her potential Republican opponents and – oh yeah – the standard used to measure her husband’s accomplishments (er…..) in and out of the White House. On top of that, Conservatives don’t determine general elections; moderates do and it is the Democrats’ failure to attract moderate voters – call ‘em Soccer Moms or Security Moms or swing voters or Independents – that’s hurt the party at the polls from coast to coast.
The harsher truth about Hillary Clinton is that many people – Liberal female Democrats among them – don’t want to see a woman in the White House. And don’t want to “risk” putting her there. They’d rather chart the safe course. So many party regulars want to hand the nomination over to another rich white guy who will consider the polling data, position himself squarely in the political middle and then, taking no chances because so much is at stake, run a boring, lame-ass centrist campaign aimed a political moderates and swing voters. In California, this gave us a primary with the lowest turn out in 60 years. Oh baby!
But setting the moderate course is exactly what Clinton’s doing and it’s another reason the party’s Left (holding her to a standard higher than it holds the millionaire male candidates) has been harshly critical of her initial campaign efforts. Why? Could it be that many Democrats who profess to understand and care about politics aren’t ready to have Hillary Clinton become president simply because she’s a woman? Is it that they aren’t ready? They don’t like powerful women? Of course, no one’s fessing up. Instead, they’re blaming “other people.” Other people won’t vote for Clinton, she’s to divisive a political figure. She’s a powerful woman. And as we all “know” no one likes powerful women.
Well, I like powerful women. And I vote. And I think a lot of women who don’t have a lot of power like powerful women. Know what else? I think a lot of women – powerful or not – are going to be sympathetic to the idea of a “wronged” woman like Sen. Hilary Clinton picking herself up, getting on with her life and making peace in in her marriage and going on to work for the job she thinks – she’s always thought – she deserves. None of this is easy and if Hilary Clinton and everyone – every woman – knows it, even if they’re not running for president of the United States. Besides, if the white boy Republicans go rabid – and they’re showing every indication that they will – this campaign tactic – she’s here, she’s competent, so what? – might work very, very well with those nice moderate female voters who have had just one too many “you’re not ready” comments from the Big Boy Boss. It’s a clever and subtle campaign strategy that, in combination with her calculated moderation, might have a lot of women and more than a few men quietly pulling the lever next to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name.
They’re ready. Some have even been waiting.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:39 AM | Permalink

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