Hillary Clinton’s Unforced Error

She is taking some heat for this comment:

Don’t let anybody tell you that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.

It’s a useful indicator of what may well happen in a future presidential campaign: the gaffe-prone politicking, the Republican noise machine, the re-calibration of position, the charge of being fake … oh God, please stop it now! Philip Klein characterizes the remark as feeling pressure from Warren:

She had made the statement campaigning on Friday for Martha Coakley, who is seeking a Senate seat in the state of liberal populist Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. But Clinton now claims she meant to make a point about corporations that outsource their jobs overseas and just “short-handed” the point.

Just to put things in perspective, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll gives Clinton a 53-point lead over Warren nationally in a hypothetical Democratic nomination battle. A University of New Hampshire poll has Clinton ahead by 40 points in Warren’s backyard. The 2014 midterms aren’t even over yet and there’s no indication Warren intends to run. And yet merely hearing the footsteps was enough for Clinton to attempt co-opt Warren’s populist message in an embarrassingly clumsy way.

Tobin chalks up the gaffe to Hillary’s inauthenticity problem:

Clinton understands that although Warren has wisely decided to decline to attempt to challenge her for her party’s presidential nomination, her left-wing populism makes her the darling of Democrats. Though she can’t be too worried about a gadfly like Senator Bernie Sanders providing competition in the 2016 primaries, Clinton needs the enthusiasm as well as the support of her party’s liberal core. So when placed alongside Warren, her instincts tell her to not merely echo the Massachusetts senator’s attack on the market economy but to go even further down the ideological road to a place that must surely baffle the Clinton enterprise’s big money Wall Street donors. …

Democrats are laboring under the delusion that Clinton is a political colossus who will follow in Barack Obama’s footsteps and sweep aside any GOP opposition in another historic campaign. But this misstep is a reminder that she has never (as Obama knows all too well) beaten a tough opponent in an election and is capable of blowing elections that seem impossible to lose. Even if this doesn’t tempt Warren to try and steal the party out from under Clinton’s nose, it should encourage Republicans who may believe that changing demographics and other problems doom their party to inevitable defeat. Americans can smell a phony from a mile away and this week Hillary proved again that this is her glaring and perhaps fatal weakness.

Ezra, for one, continues to dream of a Warren run:

If Warren were, say, the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, and if Democrats controlled the House and the Senate and the presidency, then there would be a good argument that Warren could do more as a legislator than as a candidate. But Warren is, in real life, the second-most junior senator on the Banking Committee. And she’s likely to be serving in a Senate controlled by Republicans, at a time when the White House is controlled by a Democrat, and absolutely nothing is getting done.

So it’s not just that running for president could do an enormous amount to push Warren’s issues forward. It’s that hanging around the Senate isn’t going to do anything for Warren’s issues at all. It’s hard to imagine two better years to spend away from the Senate than 2015 and 2016.

Weigel says it’s not gonna happen. Back to the gaffe at hand, Chait wryly remarks that “now we know that all the players are fully prepared to reprise their assigned roles as the 2016 campaign begins following next week’s election”:

The context of her remarks, in which she proceeded to denounce the Republican plan to reduce taxes and regulations for business, made it fairly clear that Clinton actually meant to disagree with the idea that its policies designed to benefit corporation and businesses that create jobs, not that jobs are actually formed mostly by private businesses.

Nonetheless, it was good enough to crank up the gaffe machine. Conservatives used the gaffe as a hook for unhinged paranoid claims that Clinton has revealed her secret hate for capitalism. (Forbes argues that Clinton has exposed herself as one of “certain deeply committed progressives do not support large-scale private free enterprise and do want the government to manage, control and oversee sector after sector of the economy.”) Likewise, the mainstream media dutifully conveyed the controversy. (Bloomberg reported that Clinton has “flip-flopped on whether companies create jobs,” citing three passages in her recent book that assume companies and businesses can create jobs. Almost as Clinton somehow … believes that companies create jobs.)

Beutler expects attempts to politicize the remarks to backfire:

Republicans are no less obsessed with gaffes today than they were in October 2012. Just last week, Republicans were riding high on President Obama’s gaffetastic observation that Democrats in the Senate vote with him most of the time, and before that, his admission that the policies he supports are on the ballot in November. But what makes their obsession with this gaffe particularly revealing is that it’s substantively identical to a gaffe they seized upon two years ago, weeks before they went on to lose the electionto their great astonishmentby a pretty wide margin.

In 2012, Republicans made “you didn’t build that”a decontextualized comment Obama made about the fact that the wealthy depend on and must contribute to the public spacethe unifying theme of their party convention in Tampa, Florida. They were certain that it would cause, or at least contribute, to Obama’s demise. But in hindsight, many conservatives acknowledged that the GOP’s obsession with that gaffe revealed more damaging truths about the Republican Party than the gaffe itself revealed about Obama.