Senator Clinton: A Gambling Woman
Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (D., NY) and her staff are working hard to portray her as a centrist, with their eye on the prize of 2008. This strategy was successful for her husband, but can a centrist win in the Democratic primary election? It appears the Clinton machine is going for double or nothing.
It is not all that surprising that Sen. Barack Obama (D., IL) is perceived as the far-left candidate. What is noteworthy, however, is that Senator Clinton seems perfectly willing to abdicate that role.
As I previously wrote for The Tentacle in January, Senator Clinton's announcement that she was running for president portrayed a moderate Hillary relaxing in a suburban home. Now, seven months later, the actions of the Clinton for President Campaign Part III (1992, 1996, 2008) reflect a disciplined gamble in her bid for the White House.
The most divisive issue in the current campaign is the safety and security of Americans, including the war in Iraq. Most of the Republican candidates are finding new ways to say they disagree with President Bush's management of the war.
On the other extreme, Democratic candidates are finding new ways to portray themselves as anti-war while seemingly tough on terrorism. Senator Clinton stands out in her use of anti-war rhetoric, however.
Although she joins her opponents in decrying the war, she has been feeble and half-hearted in her deflection of the criticism aimed her way for her vote to go to war in Iraq. Her special talent, however, is in delivering a prepared message (sincerity and truthfulness aside).
Why hasn't the Clinton Brain Trust created a stronger message against the war? Additionally, she is booed at far-leftist events such as the Take Back America conference; and these episodes are widely-publicized. Why does her campaign continue to schedule speaking engagements at these events?
The answer lies in the use of the media: Hillary Clinton being booed by leftists makes middle-of-the-road Democrats and Independents think twice.
Rather than move left - as other Democratic candidates have done - to appeal to the voting base for the presidential primary election, Senator Clinton is keeping faithfully just left of center.
Recently she gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and said that recent tactics in Iraq "are working". Acknowledging that elements of the war in Iraq are successful before veterans is significant.
Clearly polling data regarding the war informs the Clinton Campaign that a majority of voting Americans may not agree with the war's harshest critics. Senator Clinton realizes that she will need to fight for middle-America's vote following the primary and is already preparing for the attacks that will inevitably originate from the right. She is aware that her negative polling is just as high as her positives; she knows she will not be able to reach those who are loyal followers of MoveOn.org.
The advent of mass media has surely revolutionized political campaigning. The Clinton Campaign is betting that things have changed enough to allow a candidate like Senator Clinton to be elected based on well-crafted image management and sound bites.
As Marylanders, we have seen the same dog-and-pony show from Gov. Martin O'Malley. Could it be that "like" will choose "like" for a vice presidential spot on the ticket if Mrs. Clinton is nominated?
This is an incredible gamble, however. Arguably, if any of the Democratic candidates can achieve a victory based on the candidate's exterior, it's the Clinton Political Machine. This may explain the campaign's focus on the General Election.
On the other hand, if the "real-deal" is elected in the Republican Primary, then that Republican can beat her. It is true that Americans as a whole are becoming increasingly reliant on mass media to inform them of their voting preferences, and therefore becoming less-informed.
Now is not the time to embrace empty shells, however. More than ever we need a strong leader who has been found to be capable of doing more than echoing a crafted message.