Monday, August 01, 2005

The Hillary Effect


A few columnists have been trying to sound out the question of “Can Hillary Win?”, which to me is on the par with “Will Howard Dean Make Inappropriate Noises?”, or “Will Michael Moore Fib On Camera?”, but if you’re a Democrat, I guess you have to kick all the tires and look under the hood, even when you’re visiting the neighbors.

Anyway, take a look back at the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections. Do either Al Gore or John Kerry look at all, like the kind of leadership America needs and wants? Yet each of them pulled in tens of millions of votes, and more than 47% of the Popular vote, no matter how you figure it. This means that the Democrats could (and to my mind already have) nominated an undead ghoul, and he would still collect enough votes to win under certain circumstances. Therefore, the Republicans not only have to be careful to stay unified in their support for the party nominee, the Democrats know that any kind of capable Democrat can be genuinely significant.

It may seem ironic, but the best opportunity to knock Hillary from the race will likely come in the Primaries. This happened, I believe, in 2000 and in 2004, as qualified and thoughtful Democrats failed to gain the respect and attention from the more rabid Democrats, and by the time the race was serious, only the clowns were left to run in it. This trait of self-annihilation explains why the Democrats cannot mount an effective policy campaign, nor present an effective candidate for the White House. They rally around the nominee, sure, but by that time the best-qualified talent has been chased away by character thugs and the votes of the most rabid activists. One does not employ reason with Jackals, especially when the Jackals run the political party. Republicans may worry about the possible effectiveness of a Hillary Administration, but leading Democrats resent the potential she carries even more, and so redouble their efforts to keep her locked out, at any cost.

It’s always dangerous to project an outcome so far in advance, but if I had to do so now, HilClin08 has honed her tools well, with lots of money, a lot of lawyers on board already, and a PR team to give the impression she can raise the dead (Nationalized Healthcare) and walk on water (raise taxes, but only on “them"). The primaries will be a bloodbath, and HilClin08 seems hungry for the fight. The downside to this, is that it will be very difficult afterwards to recreate the image of the thoughtful, gentle leader. If we are going to pick music to represent the candidates, at a time when most Republicans will try to be like Toby Keith, HilClin08 will sound like Ludacris. With similar imagery. The Democratic primaries will set her image, and America will be very likely to see HilClin08 in a new light by summer, one with power and conviction, but not likely to be quite the picture she planned.

I have made it no secret, that the best Republican candidate for 2008 is the present Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice. No stranger to tough opposition and cheap shots, or to racism and sexism used against her, Rice will be, I think, impossible for HilClin08 to defeat, in large part because of the damage done early by HC’s in-party rivals. If it happens that another Republican wins the nomination, it will come down to National Security credentials. Nothing else will be as important in the success of the next President as that issue with Rice in the race, though the election will be influenced, as always, by the Economy. If another Democrat than HC wins the nomination, then the general election will revert more or less to normal conditions of mixing security and the economy for the vote, because without HC or Rice in the mix, the two most formidable forces on each side will have been removed and the voters will know this. The nominees will have to energize the voters, and at this time I simply do not see a candidate with the requisite qualities to do so, save HC and Rice. Political parties have made incredibly stupid mistakes before, so there is no reason to believe they cannot fumble again here.

Hillary Clinton will, absolutely, run for President in 2008. She is not, to any standard, qualified for the job. But she has the money and organization to be the early poll leader and is in position to win the early primaries, key to any Democrat’s run. If the Democrats are smart, they will recognize this now, and polish her image collectively and prepare for the hard questions to come, but party history shows this is extremely unlikely. If the Republicans are smart, they will recognize the limitations of any of the narcissist Senators or other high-maintenance hairspray types out there, and get serious about preparing a candidate for the real work to be done. Sadly, again there is little reason to believe they will do the responsible thing. Fortunately, on the whole the Democrats play dirtier than the Republicans, and by the time the parties hold their conventions, the Left will have more damage control and cleanup to do than the Right.

Hillary Clinton: The Heat-Seeking Candidate. And that could make all the difference.

No comments: