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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Doomsday Machine, and More

Hillary Clinton's greatest advantage will end up being her downfall. No, I don't mean her gender. No, I don't mean her husband. No, I don't mean her improbably tapped supply of donors. I mean that Camp Clinton, thanks to the fullest campaign war chest in the country, has the potential to be a political menace of Darth Maulian proportions. You hit the Clintons and they will hit you back faster than you can say Cascius Clay. Barack Obama and John Edwards have both been the recipient of innocuous salvos. But how long will the Clinton campaign play nice?

Other campaigns, though they will understandably never admit fallibility until after they drop out (See Tom Vilsack), fear this perpetual potential of a counter-strike as if it were a blow from the Almighty Himself. Senator Clinton, it seems, is in possession of the Democratic Party's version of the fabled Doomsday Machine, made most famous in Dr. Strangelove and a second season Star Trek episode. The idea behind the Doomsday Machine is that it is a weapon so powerful that, if deployed, it threatens mutual annihilation. The purpose is to intimidate your enemies so they will never open fire against you. If you followed this questionable metaphor, you’d see that she has the potential to sink the Democrats chances in November. So do the rest of the candidates risk attacking her?

I think they have to. She'll be the frontrunner until someone takes her down OR until she takes herself down, and the latter cannot be counted on. We will see a handful of candidates make hay of her war stance, undoubtedly the biggest issue on the plate of Democrats. However, any shots taken at Mrs. Clinton will be reciprocated, and trust me, it won't be a proportional response.

The outcome? Hillary Clinton is going to make enemies this primary season. There is a very strong chance this will come back to haunt her a year from now. To disgruntle her Democrat rivals might mean that, come Super Tuesday and beyond, some voters will consider her their top choice... with the rest not even having her in their top three. She won't get endorsements from other ex-candidates unless her nomination is sewn up. Therefore, any candidate that can position himself as everyone's second choice will have a decent chance of winning more delegates to the convention (read: winning the primary and becoming the nominee).

So keep an eye on it. And since I promised a full length column on Hillary, here are random thoughts on one of the more unique and intriguing candidacies I can remember.


The woman is the least Dovish of all the candidates. This has to be on purpose. A woman who wants to be President cannot - CANNOT - appear weak on terror or the military. She must appear more Thatcher than Pelosi. Similarly, it's not out of the question that she moderates her position on abortion.

She's positioning herself as the centrist. Biden, Dodd, Edwards, Kucinich, Obama, Richardson, and the possible Gore candidacy are all more liberal in this primary, at least publicly. It's been clear to me since the beginning that she's got one eye on the primary and one eye on the general election. I'm not saying Hillary isn't true blue at heart, but I am saying that her campaign has positioned her as the most moderate of the bunch. This may prove to be her downfall. The Democratic base is rabid over the war and other liberal issues not being addressed. They see legitimate liberal candidates in Obama, Edwards, and Richardson and could happily move forward with any of them in November. Hillary cannot ignore the base. I'll make the obvious statement to drive home the point: You can't compete in the general if you don't win the primary.

The Big Three Democratic candidates are oddly configured on the ideological spectrum. As was just said, Hillary, the candidate from the Northeast, is furthest to the right. Barack Obama, a northern half-black Senator, will probably approach this cautiously from the left. John Edwards, the southern white male, is taking swings from the far left. It seems odd. Then again, in an election when three huge (McCain, Giuliani, Gingrich) Republican Party (home of family values) candidates have had multiple wives and cheated on and humiliated some of them...well, I suppose we should be ready for anything.

I'm just a Bill, yes I'm only a Bill, will I be sitting anywhere remotely near Capitol Hill? The ongoing and upcoming role of Bill Clinton is fascinating to me. If Hillary wins, the perfect place for him is ambassador to the world. This way, he doesn't follow the President around, overshadowing her. He doesn't look like he has nothing to do while stuck in the Residence, knitting mittens or God knows what else. He can use his superb foreign relations skills to do some real good in the world again. It's perfect.

During the campaign, however, I see him as the ultimate unofficial campaign manager. Polls say he is the most popular living politician in the country. As former top rival and almost equally brilliant Newt Gingrich commented, Hillary has, "The smartest politician in the world," working on her campaign. People can stop worrying about his role. He will be with his wife every step of the way. She will seek his advice on everything, not because she is a political invalid - nothing could be further from the truth - but because he is her husband and that's what couples do. They talk to each other. Even the Clintons.

Her first national campaign is actually her third. Never forget that she has two national campaigns under her belt, which is one more than John Edwards and Wesley Clark, and two more than the rest (not counting half hearted or unrealistic attempts by Dodd, Kucinich, et alii). Her closeness to the Bill Clinton campaigns provided a great glimpse into the ups and downs of a Presidential campaign. Can the others remain focused on the larger goal? Or will they crumble because a December poll showed them losing 6 points in South Carolinian 65 and over demographic.

Do blogs have butts to kiss? As long as she refuses to pull an Edwards and Schumer on the war, she'll be at the mercy of moveon.org and Daily Kos. Like it or not, those are two websites that can play a major role in the election, especially the Democratic Primary.

Rudy Giuliani didn't follow through with a New York Senate run because he would have lost to Hillary Clinton. Worth mentioning.

Also worth mentioning: She leads most national polls regarding the Democratic Primary in two huge columns: Approval rating and unfavorable rating. There are MANY conclusions to draw from this. I'll leave you to your thoughts.

Finally, Senator Clinton, when pressed on her stubborn Iraq stance, and how a possible Hillary Clinton supporter should deal with it, responded with, "There are others to choose from." Yup.


Check back for any updates throughout the week and weekend, including tomorrow when I make my weekly post over at 1% Conscious. Next Tuesday, my buddy Darren will have a full length column on Al Gore.
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