Monday, June 18, 2007

Senator Clinton Featured In Salon

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There are two interesting articles on Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency in Salon magazine today.

The first is an interview. What is remarkable about this interview is how pat and prefabricated her answers struck me. That's not to say that it was an especially inquisitive interview, but just about all of it was, seemingly, lifted word-for-word from other speeches she's given around the country. The only topic I hadn't seen before was how she felt about being referred to by her first name so often. Her answer:

I probably have more of an open mind. But I understand the point people are taking because if you also refer to Rudy and Mitt and John then that would be even-handed. I get the same indignation from a lot of women who read you and others and say, "They never call the other candidates by their first name."

And I think that in print -- as opposed to building a campaign that really does use my first name because it is so identified with who I am -- that's the concern that people have.

Hillary's hard-won experience

A Clintonesque answer if ever I heard one. She makes a point while at the same time seeming to stay above the fray. "I'm not personally offended, but ...". Don't call people fools for either using her first name or not, but make the point that she deserves respect for her accomplishments and position. It's the sort of rhetoric that made Bill Clinton such an effective politician, and it's quite clear that Hillary has it down, too.

[As an aside, my policy is that I generally refer to her as "Senator" or "Mrs." Clinton, and only use her first name to either break up monotony or distinguish her from Bill Clinton.]

To illustrate that point, Salon also has an article on the Senator's most recent trip through New Hampshire. Entitled "Hillary Clinton always comes prepared", it's a portrait of a candidate who always does her homework:

"This is the first time that anyone has given me an introduction that is perfect," gushed Jeffrey Cohen, a neurologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who was on the panel. During the question period, Nancy Speck, who teaches biochemistry at the medical center, told Clinton, "I'm extremely impressed by how knowledgeable you are." Afterward Speck said, "She gets it. She's somebody as a scientist I could have a conversation with."

Hillary Clinton always comes prepared

Sound like any other Clintons we know? More than a few people in the press have remarked about President Clinton's ability to talk at length on almost any issue, and on his ability to make it appear that he agreed with or at least understood the point of view of those with whom he was discussing it. The annoying thing about this, of course, was that you were never sure where he stood on an issue. While Hillary is a bit more definite, she clearly has some of that old Clinton magic going.

I've been wondering what has kept Hillary Clinton ahead in the polls. Her support among blacks is clearly important, but not as solid as one might think:

With strong support from the African American community, Illinois Senator Obama has assumed a strong lead over New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton [in South Carolina]. On the Republican side, Thompson zoomed to the top spot, slightly ahead of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, even though he hasn't yet announced his bid for the GOP nomination.

SC poll has Obama, Thompson as frontrunners

From these articles, and from others like Taylor Marsh's coverage of a recent campaign stop by Senator Clinton in Nevada, it's pretty clear where Clinton's real strengths lie:

Candidate Clinton stayed for an hour, then asked people to feel free to stay afterwards. She took pictures with the audience from the stage, Secret Service at the ready. But this was an audience of adoring fans. They cheered on cue. They believe in Hillary Clinton. There was a feeling of excitement and building momentum among the crowd and among those to whom I spoke. They sure didn't get the sense that this was a speech she gives all the time across the country, in state after state, or that this event was anything but just for them. It was likely a picture perfect microcosm of what's happening across this country from Candidate Clinton and her campaign. Sure it's a full out pep rally, but it's a formidable operation.

Clinton's Snapshot of America

As someone who has done a lot of work in community theatre, I've learned to recognize a well-run production when it's described to me. The Clinton campaign is such a show. Other candidates will have to have their act together if they want to overtake her. Certainly lame attempts at smears, and hiring loudmouth idiot consultants isn't going to cut it.

Mrs. Clinton isn't my favorite candidate by a wide margin. She's not all that inspiring a speaker, and she's certainly not ready to make a stand on an issue that's going to cost her any support. She's way too happy to ingratiate herself with big business. But she is organized, and that's important. Despite the largely nonsensical criticism to the contrary, Bill Clinton's was the best-run Presidency in memory, and Hillary was part of that Presidency. Her website, apart from its overuse of flashmedia, is competent and well-organized. She also knows, maybe better than any of the candidates from either party, what the demands on her time and attention will be like once she's in office. She's willing and able to learn about the issues she'll have to confront as President. After six years of being led by a man who won't even pick up a newspaper that's almost refreshing.

Other candidates had better take heed.


Anonymous said...

Hillary has been fundraising for candidates nationwide since 1993, and every single one of them owes her an endorsement. The lobbyists and corporate donors have to give her money whether they like her or not, or risk being shut out in influence in her administration.

It looks more like the Mafia than anything else.

Cujo359 said...

I don't know anything about that, op99, but both Edwards and Obama are raising lots of cash, too. They're just not spending it as well, if the product is any indication.