♦ I have watched Hillary on the campaign trail, during debates, and on television interview programs. She is almost always on her game. Superbly talented, in command of the issues, and quite likeable. Her biggest problem during this campaign (other than the dumb decision to set up her own server and the even dumber decision to cash in on her pre-presidency celebrity), has been her surrogates or supporters. For instance, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright should stop doing Hillary favors. Now. Before it’s too late.
♦ Speaking of favors, Bill Clinton, who was in charge of explainin’ stuff for Obama in 2012, should do Hillary a favor, too. Stop explainin’ why he wishes he wasn’t married to her. It makes voters think of people like Kathleen Willey, a former volunteer aid in the Clinton administration who accused Bill of sexually assaulting her, and who is now going to campaign against Hillary on behalf of a right-wing PAC.
♦ If you think about it, there is a little bit of a contradiction in Bernie’s criticism of Hillary raking in all that big dough from bankers. He says, correctly, that our campaign financing system is broken and corrosive. But he refuses to say, and only insinuates, that Hillary Clinton has been bought like a prostitute, even if a pretty expensive one. Like Hillary says, if Bernie has somethin’ to say, he should just say it. If he doesn’t, maybe he should save his the-system-is-corrupt message for the Republicans, who generally love the system and who generally are, without a doubt, corrupted by it. If Bernie were to win, how can he accuse, say, Bush! of being corrupted by donors, if he wasn’t willing to say it about his Democratic opponent? Just stop it, Bernie, for now, and explain your tax plan, which is what will sink you in the end if you don’t begin to make people understand how it will work and how it will make the country a better place.
♦ Speaking of Bush! He will surprise. Okay, okay. You may, with good reason, think I’m nuts. But I think Bush! still has a good chance of being the GOP nominee. Yep. Call me crazy, call me insane, call me Ted Cruz. But I think Bush! can still win. Not many of the self-proclaimed revolutionaries, in either party, ever win. When I was a mind-numbed conservative, I was once a Patrick J. Buchanan supporter back in 1992 and 1996. Naively, I thought he had a chance against the Republican establishment. He didn’t. You have to have the professionals with you, no matter how many people populate your rallies or root for you from the cheap seats. Buchanan had many enthusiastic followers, but that was about it.
♦ Speaking of enthusiastic followers, neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz, no matter what happens in New Hampshire, will ever be president. Period. Let’s don’t even discuss it.
♦ Which leads me to this young woman who was interviewed on MSNBC the other day:
“There’s something very “politics” about the way she talks. And Bernie has a refreshing way of speaking,” said the earnest and engaged young lady. That’s the way a lot of young folks feel about the race between two old Democratic politicians. One gets labeled merely as a politician and the other—just as much a politician who has been around forever—gets to set himself up as an outsider whose speech is refreshing.
And it is. Bernie’s speech is refreshing. I have to admit I agree with this sincere young woman. Bernie sounds fresh and new because he is talking about a revolution. Young people tend to like that sort of talk. And there is something very politics in the way Hillary talks. Why? Because she’s a professional politician who understands that having a vision of where the country should go is important, but that it is at least as important to also have a vision of how to realistically get it there. That’s professionalism. That’s politics. That’s not all pie-in-the-sky optimism, but some stick-in-the-mud realism. And, admittedly, muddy realism doesn’t much appeal to young folks who are much more optimistic about what can get accomplished in the American political arena than is good for them. Just like I was when I was a nutty Pat Buchanan supporter in the 1990s, too many, especially too many young folks, don’t appreciate the skills of professionals who can talk “very politics” while also being very good at their jobs.
Any sober survey of the political landscape would lead one to conclude that progress from here to where we Democrats want to go will require a lot of zigging and zagging, a lot of one-and-a-half-steps forward and one-step back compromises that make regular folks cringe. And I understand the resistance to that approach. It would be nice if we could just all march up, pitch forks in hand, and take the highest hill. Unfortunately, though, there are other folks sitting on the hill, who won’t just surrender to our demands. They will fight. And they will fight with as much, or more, fervor as any left-leaning 20-year-old can marshal. That’s how they got to be “the establishment,” by the way.
Thus, Hillary’s biggest job this primary season will be in conveying a sober but still optimistic message, with as much combination of enthusiasm and realism as possible, to those young folks who need to hear it, to those who think we can afford to take a chance on a revolution-minded candidate and a revolution-ready electorate. Because, after all, more than any age group, they have the most to lose if we gamble and Republicans take it all.