Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hillary's Uphill Battle

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you have all recovered from your hangovers.

And now, on to business: Kurt Anderson of New York magazine has an excellent piece about why Hillary Clinton has little shot of simply being anointed the next President of the United States. He points out what anyone who has been watching Hillary since she emerged onto the national scene fourteen years ago already knows: that Hillary, in her blatant and almost-painful-to-watch attempts to be all things to all people in her quest for the White House, succeeds only in alienating her base, confusing undecided voters, and rallying Clinton opponents from coast to coast.

Where Anderson and I differ is his perception of her as a centrist moderate: he takes the view that Hillary is trying so hard to craft a middle-of-the-road image that she is neglecting to show voters her true balanced self, and that her biggest problem beyond her chronic fence-straddling is that she lacks Bill Clinton’s ability to charm her way out of contradictions real or perceived. In his own words:
Lacking her husband’s uncanny knack for finessing left and right,
however—the famous triangulation strategy—she plays the game awkwardly, like a
very earnest Vulcan who has closely studied Earth politics. When Governor
Clinton returned to Arkansas just before the 1992 New Hampshire primary to
preside over the execution of a black brain-damaged cop killer, it was an act of
evil political genius; a few months later, when he gave a speech to Jesse
Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition criticizing the rapper Sister Souljah’s apologia for
murderous black L.A. rioters, it was not even evil. In any case, his
I’m-no-bleeding-heart signals worked to fix him in voters’ minds as moderate,
comfortably quasi-conservative—that is, happy to let the state kill but
unwilling to excuse black thugs who do.

. . .

[T]o people in the great, vast middle [of the electorate], gambits
like [her support for a 2005 federal anti-flag burning law] make her look
(even more) craven, not instinctively moderate and mainstream. Yet she actually is moderate and mainstream. Ironically, maybe even a little
tragically, her strenuous attempts to demonstrate it may diminish her chances of
becoming president. (Emphasis in original.)

I personally think he oversells Hillary as a centrist, since I do not think anyone who favors partial or total nationalization of health care can be construed as being moderate in any way, shape, or form. He also presents some political opinions as facts, which I suppose is also not totally unexpected. Nevertheless, he does a good job of pointing out why she is no lock.

Who says the right and left can never agree on anything?


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