September 28, 2015

What's with the Clinton campaign?

Sam Smith - Since covering my first Washington story over 55 years ago, I have never seen a leading candidate for president of either party running a campaign as lackluster in action and response as that of Hillary Clinton’s so far. Part of this is clearly the media’s fault: Google lists 30 times as many news mentions of Donald Trump as it does for Clinton. But it is also the case that HRC has a chronic problem with excitement. Even some of her controversies – such as the email matter – are more bureaucratically complex than emotionally stirring.

This is not an ideological matter. It is more like a leading pitcher who is now throwing nothing but balls and no one can quite figure out why.

Except if you look back to last season, it’s actually not quite so much of a mystery. Here are some assessments of HRC’s 2008 campaign at the time that include things no one mentions today:
Newsweek, 2008 - The flip side of Obama's respect for voters was Clinton's disrespect. It began with her announcement of her candidacy in early 2007, when she said she was "in it to win it." …. The not-so-secret assumption behind her entire campaign was that she was the inevitable nominee. But voters don't like to be told how they will vote by politicians (or pundits). It's disrespectful….
Patti Solis Doyle, the campaign manager, was in over her head, and communications director Howard Wolfson convinced himself that being rude to reporters (or complaining to their bosses) would somehow improve the tone of the coverage. His subordinates followed this approach to press relations, sometimes verbally abusing TV bookers and others in the media. The problem with "working the refs" (a basketball term for riding referees in hopes of a good call later on) is that, while it can sometimes succeed in the short term, it's always a long-term loser. Reporters wait in the weeds..

The reason Clinton didn't adjust more quickly, alienated many potential donors, antagonized the press and had so much trouble winning over uncommitted super delegates, is that from start to finish her campaign gave off a distinct whiff of arrogance. Campaign staffers, internalizing that victory was inevitable, felt that Clinton's stature in the party gave them license to play rough with anyone who wouldn't come along. So early on donors coughed up money, super delegates pledged their support, and media outlets bought into meaningless national polls showing her way ahead, but few were happy about it. Unlike the die hard Clinton lovers, they felt intimidated. So later, when she desperately needed their support, they weren't there for her.

Suzanne Goldenerg, Guardian, 2008 -Voters were not impressed by Clinton's skills as a survivor - they wanted to move past the battles of the 1990s. Her campaign's failure to read the signs left her cast as a creature of the status quo, said Ken Goldstein, an expert in campaign advertising at the University of Wisconsin. "Hillary Clinton could have been portrayed as a change candidate," he said. "If you look at the way women candidates typically run, they typically run as change candidates because by definition they are not old white guys." Instead, Clinton stuck to a blandly centrist message that was calibrated to voters in a presidential election rather than the Democratic party activists who dominate the primary process.

Rick Klein, ABC News, 2008 - Her campaign, it would turn out, was based on a series of fundamental miscalculations — about the mood of the electorate, the threat posed by Sen. Barack Obama and even the basic rules of the Democratic primary process. In retrospect, the mistakes started with a faulty assumption: That inevitability itself could underpin the rationale for a presidential candidacy, even in the face of a deep Democratic desire for change and the wide enthusiasm that greeted a first-term senator from Illinois.

When the veneer of invincibility slipped away, so did much of the campaign's strategic foundations, leading to the staff infighting, public eruptions, financial woes and a string of devastating defeats that contributed to Obama's clinching of the Democratic nomination…

She seemed to have a lengthy policy prescription for every problem a voter had — meanwhile, Obama fired up arenas filled with thousands of enthusiastic supporters. She seemed to alternate between offense and defense almost by the day, or by the debate.
Since a Republican victory this year may well be the most damaging political event in our history since the secession that led to the Civil War, it would be helpful if the media took a little more critical look at the Clinton campaign. If, in fact, it is having problems of political pragmatism, excessive exercise of control by its candidate, false assumptions of inevitability, emotional or health issues, or lack of a workable plan - just to name a few possibilities – it’s not too late to face this reality and come up with a better solution.

Meanwhile, since I first began covering the Clinton story over twenty years ago, I have never heard such caution, concern and lack of passion from her own supporters. It’s too early to provide a clear explanation but not too soon to say that something may not be working right.


Anonymous said...

Would question the baseball analogy a bit. As pitchers go, this one should never have made 'A' ball, let alone The Show. Then again, sometimes the combination of luck, hot team, and most of the right breaks conspire to present opportunity before even the least deserving of mediocrities. In short, we doubt Hils ever had much of arm to begin with---appears a whole lot of others agree and wouldn't mind if she was relegated to picking splinters out of her ass for the rest of the season. Better yet, who needs the dead weight on the team, trade her now for some player to named later...

Anonymous said...

Hilary is a war criminal, instead of running for president, she should be warming a seat at the Hague

Anonymous said...

Few people can commit crimes and also operate in the White House, John Mitchell, Jack Abramoff, Webster Hubbell. To be a candidate must be very difficult. There is no way Mrs. Clinton could continue her campaign if she is indicted.

Anonymous said...

I'm just waiting for that Republican (or even a bold Democrat) to start running ads drawing the dots together from her woeful policy incursions into Libya and Syria and the arming of the Al Queda/ISIS/disaffected Muslims and the disastrous Syrian War and refugee nightmare.

If The Donald is on the ball, he might even link her nefarious involvement in Honduras with the flood of children coming into the country last year from the South...assuming she even makes it to the general election.

Has a party's presidential front-runner ever been this much of a slow-motion train wreck? When she finally implodes its going to be apocryphal.

Anonymous said...

It is patently obvious that Trump and Hillary are in collusion. I expect that if his Bloviation and disruption of the Republican platform is successful Trumpet will have bought HRC a chance to clean up her mess in time to still clinch the Dem nomination. He will then bow out with the Clinton/Bush Junta owing him a huge favor. Neither of them care about anything except power-mongering.
RAND PAUL is the one to take on the elimination of the Parasitical Fed system that has been grafted onto the True Government of this Nation.
That is the only thing that will turn this country around. ALL other candidates including Bernie for whom I have much respect. He would be a good VP for Rand Paul, applying his intentions to governmental reform through the use of Libertarian Principals as opposed to Socialist Principals, which will accomplish the same objectives, through EMPOWERING individual, enlightened and self-governing instead of fostering a sense of dependence, entitlement, and lack of self motivation, innovation and expression.