September 10, 2010
Hillary Clinton's Campaign for '12 Is UnderwayBy Lee Cary
Hillary's campaign for the Democrat nomination for president in 2012 began last June 8, when, during an interview with an Ecuadorean television reporter, she announced the Department of Justice's plan to bring a lawsuit against Arizona's immigration act.
The conventional wisdom among news outlets back then was that while speaking off-script, she prematurely "let the cat out of the bag" -- so wrote the Huffington Post. The episode was widely packaged and sold as an in-the-moment slip.
Now, recall who took the heat after Hillary spoke: Attorney General Eric Holder, who admitted not having yet read the Arizona bill, and Barack Obama. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State told a political secret offshore, and no one took public umbrage with her faux pas. On the contrary, it yielded cheese for the Cheshire cat as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer went ballistic against the Obama administration.
Let's assume, for the moment, that Hillary's announcement was planned. And that it was meant to embarrass the Obama administration. Let's also assume that she chose to make that announcement outside the range of the legacy media's attention span, which on a good day has the focus of a hummingbird. It took days for the news to migrate north from NTN24 Television out of Quito, Ecuador to the Beltway JournoListas. Hey, the SecState was having a casual conversation with an otherwise unknown Ecuadorian reporter, and, oops, the lawsuit just slipped out.
You're asking: So if she meant to make news, why not use the pages of the Washington Post, or the TV screen of "Face the Nation"? The Daily Beast didn't even name the Ecuadorean reporter who interviewed Hillary. Nor did the LATimes. They would have, had she been Katie Couric.
The news venue was about credible denial. It runs in the Clinton family, credible denial does -- although when Bill said that five U.S. JDAM bombs were accidentally dropped on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999 because strike planners used old Michelin road maps and mistakenly targeted the wrong building, he did cross into incredible denial, like when he didn't inhale and never had sex with that woman. But never mind all that. The Clintons know how to manipulate the media to their advantage, even though ex-Chicago Tribune reporter David Axelrod was better at it in '08.
Hillary chose an innocuous forum to turn the cat bag upside-down in order to deflect any suggestion that she meant to deliver a blow to her political opponents. NTN24 TV was Hillary's Michelin map, though more artful.
Now fast-forward to Hillary's address before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on September 8, 2010. Her prepared remarks were standard fare, all about the new cooperative and collegial demeanor of America's foreign policy with the requisite blah blah blah featuring Hillary as America's Grand Statesperson. There isn't a GOP presidential candidate on the radar screen today who can make a better prima facie case for timely international experience, as long as you put aside the absence of any significant foreign policy successes to date. Doesn't matter. Hillary will claim the experience -- Barry will carry the failures.
The platform for Hillary's pitch for the Democrat nomination in 2012 surfaced in the Q&A that followed her prepared remarks. Here's an excerpt, with the most telling words in italics.
Hillary is preparing to run against President Obama for the '12 Democrat nomination by wielding the two-edged issue of fiscal responsibility and national defense. She'll align herself with moderate establishment Republicans, like Bob Gates, just as she made nice with John McCain. She'll be the moderate Democrat in the race, even though she called herself a "modern progressive" during the last campaign. In her unscripted remarks above, she juxtaposed "conservative" with "progressive" rather than with "liberal." Expect to hear more of that ahead.
Hillary will tout her long-established involvement with the health care issue as offering her the unique ability to convert the hash -- she'd never use that word -- of ObamaCare into a sirloin of change that Americans will find more palatable, and even embrace. She'll talk McCain's Crossing-the-Isle Talk. He might even campaign for her.
Hillary will cite Bill's fiscal record as president and mention in favorable terms Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress who once helped bring fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C. Let's return to those days of bipartisan cooperation, she'll say. End the stridency once and for all. Her supporters will shout, "It's her turn. It's her turn."
Her strongest talking point will be that she's untarnished by what Barry, Nancy, and Harry have done to the country, although she'll never say that directly. Some wondered at the time why she agreed to become Secretary of State. But had she stayed in the Senate, she'd either be tarnished by the Democrats' legislative heavy-handedness of the last two years or be at odds with her own party. In either case, she'd be damaged goods by now. If asked why she didn't speak out earlier, she's already answered that, saying, "I am by law out of politics." Raise your hand if you believe that.
When Hillary runs against Obama again, she can't lose the support of blacks since against Obama, she never had them on her side anyway. But she could offset their failure to vote if Obama isn't on the ticket by gaining heavy support from Hispanics. Plus, blacks are not going to vote for a Republican in any significant numbers under any circumstance. If wind-blown moderates perceived the GOP nominee as too conservative, Hillary will regain their support by positioning herself as a moderate middle-of-the-roadie.
Pure speculation? Obviously. Ridiculous? Perhaps. At least one legacy media writer recently called it that. But impossible? Not on your life.
Suppose the GDP moves into the negative territory in 2011 and stays there. Now imagine that the GOP wins one or both Houses of Congress and disappoints conservatives by attempting convoluted patchwork makeovers of the Ugly Betty bills Democrats passed. Meanwhile, the national debt continues to mount, and unemployment stays at 9.6%, or increases. Then, one day, Iran tests a nuclear weapon. Or worse, there's a significant terrorist strike on U.S. soil. The lawsuit against Arizona proceeds, along with the construction of the new mosque near Ground Zero. And Obama's approval rate bottoms out at the percentage of Americans dependent on federal government handouts. It's near that already. Amidst it all, rich Democrats conclude he's a loser in '12.
Still think another President Clinton is impossible?