Saturday, March 01, 2008

“Ready on day one!” Oh, really?

The campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton likes to promote her as “ready on day one” to assume the presidency. Since the public hasn’t seemed to be much interested in experience – it didn’t do Senators Joseph Biden or Chris Dodd, both with far more experience, any good – the campaign has had to resort to scare tactics. Yesterday, the Clinton campaign started running the notorious “red phone” ad suggesting harm will come to young children sleeping in their beds if President Obama is responsible for handling a crisis in the middle of the night because he is untested. (Of course, her campaign staff was unable to cite a moment in her career when she had been tested by a foreign policy crisis.)

The campaign theme from the beginning has been that she will be ready on day one for administration of the executive branch of the United States government. However, the administration of her campaign tells a very different story. This run for the White House has been in the making for years and she had all the advantages of being the frontrunner for a very long time – until, of course, the first ballots were cast. The campaign stumbled coming out of the gate in Iowa, made a come-back in New Hampshire, and had mixed results from Super Tuesday. Beyond that the campaign bungled South Carolina and conceded numerous states to her opponent losing many of them by landslides. As a result Senator Clinton, once the “inevitable” nominee, has fallen behind in the polls and the delegate count. Even if she manages to win Ohio and Texas next Tuesday – the two states she once had double digit leads in the polls and her campaign has referred to as her firewall – she will still be so far behind as to make it very difficult to catch up.

How her campaign has been administered is the public’s first insight as to how a Clinton White House will be administered. Surrounded by loyalists, unable to quickly change strategy to address changes on the ground, and no plan for the campaign beyond Super Tuesday – in a different context this sounds a lot like how the Bush administration charged into Iraq.

If this is how she runs a campaign then why would we assume she will govern differently?

Eleanor Clift has these observations in Newsweek

… A visitor from another country recently paid a call on the Clinton campaign headquarters in Ballston, Va., a place just over the bridge from Washington but light years away. He imagined he would be present at a moment of great triumph. Instead he found a campaign on the verge of imploding. Phone bank tables were unmanned. Bins full of mail sent over from the Senate sat unattended. A lot of young women, fanatical Hillary fans all, rushed about, seemingly unclear about what they were supposed to be doing. Other aides sat in front of computer screens, gloomily reading coverage of the campaign. Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer, the campaign's communications team, weren't speaking with anybody else, just doing their own thing, whatever that might have been. In short, it was not a happy family.

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The much vaunted Clinton campaign operation, billed as the biggest, baddest game in town, had no post-Super Tuesday strategy because its leaders apparently didn't think one was needed. Whether that's due to arrogance or ignorance, it's the campaign equivalent of what President Bush did in invading Iraq without a post-Saddam plan. The primaries are in a very true sense a practice run for the White House, and if you emerge with high marks, as Obama has, it's a pretty clear statement of the kind of government you would run. Obama has shown a steadiness in demeanor and message. Clinton has blown through $120 million dollars, and her persona is more confused than ever. A USA Today cartoon captures the shifting moods with a political weather map and a "Five-day Hillary Forecast: Monday…Friendly; Tuesday…On the attack; Wednesday…Complimentary; Thursday…Hostile; Friday…Conciliatory."

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Clinton wouldn't have brought her husband into the campaign so publicly if she didn't need him. It's like calling in the National Guard after the Panzer Division fails, quips a friend of Bill and Hillary. It's unclear how many ground troops would be needed to save Hillary's campaign now.

You can read the entire piece here.

2 comments:

Comrade Kevin said...

Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now?

Deb said...

Among Hillary’s claims ownership of White House decisions during her husband’s presidency, one action is glaringly omitted… the infamous ‘Blackhawk Down’ debacle. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned this? Surely this was the most telling ‘red phone’ incident of the Clinton White House years.

A fighter/ yes, a winner .. I hope not.