To recap: Clinton is humble, strategic, and learns from her mistakes, and if she loses it’s because people don’t trust her and her husband enough. Great—why was any of this anonymous? Again, no disrespect to Hagan, who is operating under the rules of this beat and coming out with a newsy exclusive story. My pre-emptive peeve is that the Obama administration is looking ready to pass the Democratic baton to a coterie that’s even more ridiculous about controlling the press.
And anyone is surprised by that? John Dickerson ponders Clinton’s press strategy:
Most presidential candidates strain for attention. They rush to Iowa, write books, or take extreme positions on controversial issues. Clinton has to do the opposite, trying to flee from the circus ready to chase her down the grocery store aisle. But she’s in a bind. If she makes too much news this far ahead of the 2016 presidential election, there’s a chance people will tire of her candidacy.
Yes, I feel narcolepsy coming on, and if I have to see another tedious interview with Chelsea Clinton, a coma is imminent. Only the newness of the first woman president can overcome it. But I really wish the first woman president were not the wife of a previous one. John goes on:
If she steps back, though, the unstoppable flow of Clinton stories will come anyway (especially the highly unflattering ones that feature people loosely associated with Clinton world, like the New Republic profile of Doug Band, who once oversaw the Clinton Global Initiative). Not all of these people leave a good impression.
The 2008 Obama candidacy was a romance between him and liberal voters. Romance is all about discovery, the excitement of the new, the thrill of venturing into unknown territory with someone as you begin to know them. Perhaps most importantly, romance also allows you to reimagine yourself as you’re seen through this new person’s eyes. And that was the most important thing about 2008: how it made liberals feel differently about themselves. They weren’t weak and defensive and they weren’t losers. They were brave and strong and smart. They were history’s actors, forging real, meaningful change with every yard sign and phone call and Facebook post. They were the future.
We can’t ever have a romance with Hillary Clinton, because we’re already in a relationship with her, one that’s over two decades old. A successful Clinton candidacy isn’t going to allow liberals to reimagine themselves. She could turn out to be the greatest president in American history, but the beginning of that presidency won’t give liberals the thrill that 2008 gave them.
Chait points out the candidacy’s flaws:
Bill Clinton has surrounded himself with wealthy people and paid barely any attention to the money flowing all around him. Even if nothing incriminating ever comes to light, the atmospheric revelations could form a potent combination with the policy agenda. Liberal complaints with their party’s failure to sufficiently regulate Wall Street have focused on figures like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin, but these men are proxies for the president who appointed them. Wall Street will be to 2016 what Iraq was to 2008: both a policy liability and a lever for her opponent to wedge open broader doubts about her character, to paint her as a corrupt and feckless insider. Clinton’s loyalists say she won’t repeat her 2008 errors. But she will have to show she understands just what the analogue is.
And we all know how flexible she is …
(Photo: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting on September 24, 2013 in New York City. Timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, CGI brings together heads of state, CEOs, philanthropists and others to help find solutions to the world’s major problems. By Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)