I’m with Brian Fallon
Campaigns are complicated things. No one gets every piece of them right. Some candidates are great at big rallies. Some are good only at small events. Some are terrific TV communicators but bad on the stump. Some delegate well, and others don’t. Some never waver from a message, while others can’t seem to find one with a 10-foot pole. It’s a high-wire balancing act every day with tens of millions of people watching.
— Trump is making a real mess of his campaign, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, Jul.10
Okay, I nearly fell out of my chair when I read that 10-foot poll line two weeks ago, which is why I remembered it today. It was no mystery which two candidates Cillizza had in mind in drawing that contrast in that sentence.
Throughout Clinton’s campaign pundits and ordinary voters alike have wondered what exactly her justification is for running for president. But I am not among them. Her justification, from its outset, has been that she’s a woman and that this particular glass ceiling must be broken, now, and by her. That was, and remains, it.
Thus her cringe-inducing statement at that debate last winter that she doesn’t understand why people think she’s a member of the establishment. After all, she’s running to become the first woman president.
And thus the focus of her speech on the night of the California primary, which it turns out troubled a number of her advisors as much as it did me. Which is, a lot.
Amy Chozick has an article in this morning’s NYT titled “Hillary Clinton’s Team Seeks a Balance: Celebrating Women Without Alienating Men” that begins:
PHILADELPHIA — When Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic presidential nomination last month, her campaign put together a video that framed Mrs. Clinton’s victory as a giant leap in the women’s movement. Scenes of suffragists, Gloria Steinem and little girls in their mother’s arms flashed on the screen.
The footage brought some of Mrs. Clinton’s advisers to tears, but others asked a practical, and delicate, question: What might men be thinking?
Good question. But I’ll amend it: What were women, as well as men, thinking? The ones who think this election is really, or at least mostly, about the economic and political-power issues that Bernie Sanders has built his campaign around. That Elizabeth Warren (no less a female than is Clinton) has built her public career around. That Donald Trump has so fraudulently coopted, these days interspersing his claim to fight the economically and politically powerful on behalf of working class whites with his actual fiscal and regulatory policies written—literally—at the Heritage Foundation.**
Trump is now openly seeking donations on behalf of a superPAC operated by and for some of the most fiscal and regulatory regressive billionaires and multimillionaires in the world.
Yet he’s apparently winning among white working class men who aren’t all that enthused about Building a Wall, Barring Muslims From Entering This Country, and, now—again, literally; unabashedly—turning this country into a fascist state because five police officers in Dallas were murdered by a mentally disturbed man after he lured them with a 911 phone call.
Yet the Clinton campaign, according to Chozick’s detailed article, now debating “how much her nomination this week should be focused on women.” Chozick writes:
Some advisers believe that overemphasizing Mrs. Clinton’s historic achievement as the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination could backfire, driving away men who favor her Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, and alienating younger women who are less motivated by gender. The result is what Democrats describe as a cautious mix, attaching the women’s movement to issues like the economy and health care. …
“This has been a long, drawn-out debate,” said Tracy Sefl, a Democratic strategist who worked for Mrs. Clinton in 2008 and has been involved in discussions with her 2016 campaign about women’s outreach.
The debate inside the campaign about the focus on women during the convention was described by a person involved in the planning who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The discussions date to the start of the campaign, when some advisers suggested she choose Seneca Falls, N.Y., the birthplace of the modern women’s movement, to hold her kickoff rally.
Others questioned whether she should visit the town at all. In the end, she started her campaign in New York City, and in April, her daughter organized a “Women for Hillary” event in Seneca Falls in her mother’s place.
A campaign spokesman, Brian Fallon, did not respond to questions on Sunday about the internal discussions, other than to say, “It will not be lost on anyone that she is a woman.”
So here’s something Clinton should understand: Every time she suggests that the purpose of her campaign is to make history as the first woman to become president she also suggests that she truly doesn’t get this election—that she doesn’t understand the economic populism of this moment. That is true even though some of the traditional women’s policy issues she will talk about also are very much economic ones.
Brian Fallon is not, I’ll just say, a favorite among Clinton spokespeople, and I know that other fervent Sandinistas shared that sentiment over the last year. But I think I can speak for all Sandinistas—Sanders Bros and Sanders Sisses alike—in supporting his advice to the candidate: “It will not be lost on anyone that she is a woman.”
And if she really thinks we’re stronger together she should let that speak for itself. It will not be lost on anyone that she is a woman.
A huge problem for Clinton and her campaign has been that its unremitting focus on things everyone already knows, and its failure to educate the public about things most or at least many people don’t know about Trump’s actions. Their specifics. His very modus operandi. And, for heaven’s sake, his fiscal and regulatory policy proposals.
Also from the Chozick article:*
She drives me crazy with this woman thing,” Misty Leach, 43, a high school teacher who voted for Senator Bernie Sanders in the primary, said of Mrs. Clinton. “‘I’m going to be the first woman president’ to me just feels like she’s entitled.
To me it just feels like she wants to be sure no one misses that she thinks this is what is most on most people’s minds. Excuse me, on most women’s minds.
Clinton should think back to her husband’s War Room’s famous mantra: It’s the economy, stupid. This time the campaign’s internal mantra should be: It’s the economic and political power, stupid.
I think Trump made a serious mistake last week in “pivoting” from a (faux) anti-establishment-economic-and-political-power theme to a (bizarre) law-and-order one, which I found bizarre. (I didn’t watch any of that convention, but have more than enough about what transpired.) In Clinton’s case, the opposite is necessary: She needs to pivot away from her campaign’s raison d’être, and toward the raison that matters.
*The quote and comment about it that follow were added on 7/26 at 1:44 p.m.
**Paragraph rewritten to make sense, 7/26 at 8:10 p.m.
Yeah, I noticed in the debates that every single answer from Clinton about every subject was based on the fact she is a woman.
Maybe you can provide justification for an emphasis, in that California primary night speech and apparently in her acceptance speech on Thursday and the lead-up to it, on this.
Oh, and also from the Chozick article:
“She drives me crazy with this woman thing,” Misty Leach, 43, a high school teacher who voted for Senator Bernie Sanders in the primary, said of Mrs. Clinton. “‘I’m going to be the first woman president’ to me just feels like she’s entitled.”
See Michele Obama’s speech for reasons Hillary is running. It doesn’t exclude a glass ceiling but it certainly contains much more.
Here’s the thing, Jack: Obama himself never spoke of his race as justification for his campaign, or the glass ceiling he would break as reason for people to vote for him. He never spoke of the glass ceiling at all, I believe.
Granted, more than half of Americans are female and only about 13% or so are black. But Obama could figure out that people knew he was black and knew he would be the first nonwhite president. What conceivable purpose would there have been to act like people weren’t aware of this, and speak about it–least of all as the justification for his run?
What Clinton is doing is idiocy. It’s almost unbelievably tone-deaf. And who’s vote exactly does she expect she’ll get by stating and restating and restating it? Anyone who isn’t already planning to vote for her?
She’s either stupid or this is just a compulsion of hers and she can’t stop it.
EMichael, shouldnt you be somewhere telling people to off themselves?
non sequitur. Bruce was all over you once before. Lighten up.
If I knew where you lived I would do it personally.
(Editor: EMichael just because I defended your right to comment doesn’t give you unlimited rights to be a dick. You too can knock it off. Bruce)
I really could care less about that schoolteacher. It is a historic occurrence. I have seen no evidence that it is the basis of her campaign.
Get over it.
Let’s move on.
I simply do not understand why you fail to see the damage you, and others who write things like this, do to the progressive movement.
BTW, What was Trump;s stand on raising the minimum wage again? The public option?
it may make you uneasy if i tell you that i agree with you entirely.
thing is, though, that the people who do politics are motivated by an agenda…those, that is, not motivated by power pure and simple..
and people motivated by an agenda are not always sane.
i guess i don’t like what i am hearing from hillary much, and can only hope that when she gets elected she does better. what i expect is that with hillary we will get what we have been getting for the last 30 or more years. not good and getting worse but not the hell that Trump would unleash if only by giving some sort of legitimacy to the insanity of his supporters. a large part of this country was governed by lynch mob mentality for maybe two hundred years. we almost got over it in the sixties. we don’t want to go back to it and see it nationwide.
and if we don’t like what we get with Hillary, there is always another election in four years. i’d rather start that election with dissatisfaction with Hillary and rule by the rich and powerful, than have to start it with bands of empowered brownshirts enforcing the rule of fear and hate.
Bev, it might be helpful to hear everything being said instead of just the one thing that aggravates you.
Since 1980, the last 36 years, Democrats have had control of the government for four years, 93-94, and 2009-2010. And even in those periods, they have not had 60 Senate votes for much of the time.
During the first time, Democrats voted in a tax bill that put our federal government on a path of fiscal solvency. When the Clinton’s left the White House, they left George W. Bush with a projected ten year fiscal surplus of $5.6 trillion. It was nearly enough to retire the entire national debt.
The second time, under Obama, Democrats passed a significant health care bill that has provided health insurance to over 20 million Americans.
When I hear comments like “…we will get what we have been getting for the last 30 or more years…”, I think there should be a bit more specifics.
i’ll leave it to others to explain why the Clinton “good economy” was really the result of Reagans policies, and the Bush “bad” economy waw really the result of Clintons policies…
because, of course, i believe that Obama’s bad economy was really the result of Bushs policies.
However my own more or less personal encounters with politicians of both stripes is that they are not very smart, tell the voters what they want to hear, and do what the bankers tell them to do.
i don’t think that our government’s “fiscal solvency” is even a real issue. no more than any of the other “issues” the real power gets the left and the right fighting over while they go on about the business of running the country to their own profit.
You have got to be kidding me. HRC has gone into excruciating detail on the policies she plans to implement. If you don’t know what they are you must have been doing everything you can to avoid hearing about them. Here’s a link so you can read them for yourself – https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/
Hank, first time commenters get automatically sent to Moderation. It won’t happen again. Thanks for contributing.
Excuse me, but I know what they are. But they appear to be secondary to her own stated primary argument for electing her, and restated again and again.
She has two concurrent messages: She’s well qualified for the job, given her background. And she’s a woman, and we need to elect a woman, in this election, so that all the seven-year-old girls in the country will know that they too can become president.
As if by the time they’re old enough to vote that will still be in question. As if it is still in question now.
As if Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t be the next president had she decided to run–on a policy platform and only a policy platform, and her deep expertise in those issues, not on her gender.
It is Clinton, not I, who diminishes the importance of her policy proposals as reason to vote for her. Wonder why you don’t get that. Or, at least why you don’t let on, if you do get that. I’m guessing you’re from her campaign.
Which is fine; nothing wrong with your weighing in here if you are.
I wasn’t talking about economies, I was talking fiscal and tax policy. Reagan and Bush I started running large deficits, they wanted lower tax rates, but didn’t cut spending. Clinton and the Democratic congress in 1993 voted in new tax rates that balanced the budget.
I think fiscal solvency is a real issue, because we now are unable to pass any tax increases due to the Grover Norquist pledge. Our country needs infrastructure and other government spending, but it will not happen.
Also, above and beyond legislative actions over the past 30 years, I believe that Bill Clinton was a fairly solid President, George W. Bush was one of the worst, and Barack Obama is probably the best President since FDR.
However reading your second paragraph, I think we have a totally different world view of politics and political actions.
Your post suggests that you think the only thing that matters is the budget deficit. Not even tax policy per se as well; just the bottom-line budget deficit.
Which, clearly, is not the only thing that matters. At least to most progressives.
Kudos for understanding our government.
Not many do.
While deficits matter nothing to me, it is nice to see that there are actual human beings that understand why the US is where the US is.
Which is weird, because anyone capable of reading the Constitution should be able to figure it out in a NY minute.
But I guess these guys are too busy on facebook to actually read something.
I quite agree that we live in different worlds (different conceptual space), that makes it nearly impossible for you to even know what i was talking about and futile to try to graft it into your conceptual space.
Other that SS, no one lives in your world.
The idea that Reagan’s policies came to fruition 15 years later is one of the most stupid memes in the history of the world.
I mean, I have friends that are RWDWs (right wing dogma whores) that say it but do not come close to believing it.
actually, I was using that as an example of the stupid things people argue about.
sort of like people thinking they are making an argument that deficits really matter because politicians use the deficit as an excuse not to do what the country desperately needs
“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”
Has there ever been a more powerful expression of the deep historical significance of Obama’s election as the first black President?
It is equally of deep historical significance that a woman has now been nominated, but can anyone imagine Hillary expressing it as powerfully as Michelle did?
Hillary’s play to women is irksome. To women of her generation – the founders of the modern Feminist Movement in the US who challenged orthodoxy and organized and struggled mightily – it is a profound event. On the one hand, Hillary is a victim of the success of the feminist movement; it is now widely taken for granted “why not a woman President?” My problem with Hillary has nothing to do with her being a woman; I would joyfully pull the lever for Elizabeth Warren, for example. Young women in particular flocked to Bernie in droves and were unmoved by “the first” argument.
On the other hand, Hillary is a victim of her own ambition. Regular folks have sussed out that she is, in essence, self-serving; she appears willing to say anything and do anything to advance herself. I think it is of great significance that while Hillary constantly plays the woman card, Michelle’s comments were really only one of fewer than a handful of times I can recall that the Obamas ever referred to race. Obama never made the argument “elect me because I’ll be the first.” It is all too easy for me to imagine that if old-school feminists somehow became an impediment to her personal success, she would turn on them, too.
Hillary ought never again make this argument that she would be “the first.” A) It has already been made. B) Everyone can see she is a woman. She ought to run as every other politician runs: I am better than my opponent. She ought to drop to her knees and thank the gods that her opponent is Trump. Without him she would be in a world of hurt. Yet, in spite of running against this ignorant charlatan, she faces substantial difficulties in beating him.
She will win mainly because most American voters are center-right, hard-headed realists. And she will now be given a huge gift via Putin’s meddling in American politics in support of Trump.
Comment accepted and deserved.