Here’s a question to send shudders up anyone’s spine:
Will new Whitewater papers reveal that the real estate deal was really a conspiracy to sell heroin?
That’s a throwaway line in a classically judicious piece from the greatest-ever Clinton-watcher, Joe Klein, as he challenges Hillary Clinton’s “inevitability” before her new (probably unreadable) book launches next week:
She can be prohibitively “political” and far more cautious than she needs to be. The trouble is, presidential campaigns can’t be managed like book tours. They tend to be overwhelmed by events and trivialities. There is a constant gotcha contest with the press. In a recent Politico article about Clinton and the press, one of her advisers is quoted: “Look, she hates you. Period. That is not going to change.” To make things worse, her top communications adviser, Phillippe Reines, argued that Clinton didn’t really hate the press. She brought bagels to the back of the bus. But bringing bagels to the back of the bus is an embarrassingly transparent ploy. Bringing candor to the back of the bus might be a little more successful. I’ve seen her candor more than once, but always off the record. That will have to change. If Hillary Clinton hopes to succeed, she’s going to have to drop the veil–spontaneously, quite possibly in a crucial moment, like a debate–and trust the public to accept who she really is. Absent that, there is no such thing as inevitability.
Keep the veil, Madame president. Just give us some indication that you are not calculation through and through. And, yes, dear reader, I’m doing my best to remain upbeat about the coming campaign, but Joe’s description of his own feelings mirror my own (and not for the first time):
I approach the coming spectacle with a combination of obsession, exhaustion, dread and exhilaration.
The last crosstabbed assessment of HRC’s popularity was conducted by Public Policy Polling back in March. Her favorability rating among self-identified Democrats stood at 83% (Obama’s is currently at 79%, according to Gallup). Among those calling themselves “very liberal,” HRC’s at 91%, and at 77% with “somewhat liberal” voters (Obama’s at 70% among “liberals” of every variety, though he’s up to 81% among “liberal Democrats.”). Among African-Americans, HRC’s favorables are at 80%, and among Hispanics, 60% (Obama is now at 87% and 51% in these demographics, respectively).
Do you see a leftward path to the Democratic presidential nominations against HRC in any of these numbers, particularly if it involves trashing Obama as well as HRC? I sure don’t. Yes, Obama was able to significantly cut into HRC’s high standing among African-Americans in 2008 for obvious reasons; if Brian Schweitzer has any documented appeal to minorities other than perhaps Native Americans, I must have missed it.
(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)