Jay Reding.com

Why Hillary Is Smarter Than You Think

Michael Barone has an interesting piece on the Warner fallout and the prospects of Hillary Clinton running in 2008. He notes in Hillary’s recent pieces on Iraq:

No. 1, she avoids the “Bush lied, people died” mantra, which tends to delegitimize our effort in Iraq. Instead, she says, not unreasonably, “We have to deal with the Iraq we have, not the Iraq we wish we had.” That sounds to me like someone who is thinking realistically about a responsibility that might be hers starting Jan. 20, 2009.

No. 2, she endorses the idea, which I championed long ago, of an Iraqi oil fund that would distribute part of the state’s oil profits in payments to every individual. She says that she recommended it in 2003 and that it was shot down by Dick Cheney–something I’ve never seen before in print.

“I thought it was something that could demonstrate clearly that we were not on the side of the oil companies, we were not on the side of the ruling elites–we were on the side of the Iraqi people.” Yes, exactly! She says that over the past month she has asked the president and deputy prime minister of Iraq and the U.S. ambassador there, “When are you going to get the oil deal done?”

The oil trust idea should have been implemented back in 2003, and while Senator Clinton is late on that bus, at least she’s got the will to think constructively about the situation in Iraq. The far left hates Clinton because she’s not a radical leftist. The far right thinks that she is. The reality is that Hillary is much like her husband, someone who’s trying to triangulate to the middle.

I still maintain that Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democrats in 2008. The reputable polls agree. But what about her negatives? is the usual response — and she does have some high negative numbers.

But does anyone think those negatives will stay that way when the Clinton press machine gets rolling? The media will turn her into Lady Di, Mother Theresa, and Xena all rolled into one. We’ll get a stream of constant hagiography from the moment she runs until Election Day. The Clintons are still the media’s darling, and Hillary knows how to play a room.

That doesn’t even touch on her fundraising, the fact that she’s already establishing a strong political presence in key states, and the fact that she’s already positioning herself as a moderate in comparison to the increasingly shrill radicalism of the Democratic Party. While Republicans have a tough time imagining Hillary Clinton as a moderate, that’s where she’s heading, and she’s one of the few American politicians to pull it off. When you have the Clinton machine working on your behalf, you can pull off damn near anything. Between that and the media, don’t think for a second that Hillary is going to be an easy candidate to beat.

Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is a consummate political operator. She knows how to fundraise. She knows how to triangulate. She knows how to read the tea leaves, and she knows how to position herself to be in the right place at the right time. Even the talk that she really doesn’t have a chance works in her favor, just as Clinton’s “comeback kid” schtick worked for him in 1992.

Granted, she could utterly implode à la Howard Dean, but she’s smarter than that. The Clintons have made careers on defying the odds, and when it comes right down to it, Hillary remains the one to beat. Nobody has her organization, her machine, and her fundraising, and when it comes to 2008 those factors are going to make a massive difference.

4 responses to “Why Hillary Is Smarter Than You Think”

  1. Mark says:

    “I still maintain that Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democrats in 2008. The reputable polls agree.”

    Has there ever in the history of Presidential politics been a “frontrunner” two years before a Presidential election who ends up getting the nomination?

    People’s minds are made up about Hillary Clinton, and they won’t change. As she twists in the wind and hedges her bets on every issue in attempt to play the “centrist”, her unfavorables will only continue to rise because the right and center have convinced themselves she’s a liberal and the left has convinced themselves she’s a sellout.

    Hillary lacks the political skills of her husband and will suffer from her high profile as her triangulatory ways will be viewed as insincere. GOP partisan Michael Barone promotes Hillary for the same reason you do. You know she’d be the easiest top-tier or second-tier Democratic candidate to beat, as was confirmed by the Des Moines Register poll last month showing her losing to Mike frickin’ Huckabee.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    Has there ever in the history of Presidential politics been a “frontrunner” two years before a Presidential election who ends up getting the nomination?

    Reagan comes to mind immediately. I’m sure George H.W. Bush would also qualify. It isn’t always true, but neither is it unprecedented.

    People’s minds are made up about Hillary Clinton, and they won’t change.

    I don’t buy that at all. Once the Clinton media machine starts moving, those unfavorables will evaporate overnight. Remember that Clinton is still wildly popular with mainstream Democrats, and she’d almost certainly take a good chunk of the female vote. There’s no Democratic candidate that comes close.

    Hillary lacks the political skills of her husband and will suffer from her high profile as her triangulatory ways will be viewed as insincere. GOP partisan Michael Barone promotes Hillary for the same reason you do. You know she’d be the easiest top-tier or second-tier Democratic candidate to beat, as was confirmed by the Des Moines Register poll last month showing her losing to Mike frickin’ Huckabee

    I’m not promoting Hillary at all, I’m just looking at the situation. Personally, if I were selecting a candidate based on who would do the most to ensure a Democratic loss, I’d be all for Kerry or Gore.

    I personally think the Register poll is a crock – for one, there’s no way that Hillary could lose to Huckabee based on name recognition alone. Secondly, she didn’t lose to Huckabee, since his name wasn’t in the trial heats. Not only that, but Clinton hasn’t campaigned in Iowa at all yet.

    Anything could change in two years, but I don’t see any Democratic candidate catching up to Hillary when you see figures like these unless Hillary truly screws up. Yes, the Kossack left hates her guts, but they’re a vocal minority. Anyone who thinks that Clinton doesn’t have the edge in the nomination horserace right now isn’t looking at the numbers. Would enough Democrats jump ship on her to see those massive leads go down? I’m not inclined to believe so, especially since Hillary hasn’t even begun to campaign nationally yet.

  3. Dave says:

    Another big question going into 2008 is whether the country is ready for another political family dynasty. This will be the first election in a very very long time to not have an incumbent president or vice president running. 2008 has so many different dynamics because of this that I can see Hillary easily being pushed to the side. Also the tendency to elect govenors vs washington types will play a good size role as well.

    Personnaly I think she has a high potential to implode ala Howard Dean as she can be far too shrill and off-puting when she gets fired up.

    Thankfully she does tend to avoid the brain dead far left of the party.

    Dave

  4. Seth says:

    She won’t win because Democrats won’t think she can win.