Be Careful What You Wish For

Warning: political content.

I read with a little amusement Sharon Cobb’s recap of last night’s civil Republican debate.  On the whole, she’s got a pretty good eye for these things, and understands Republican politics better than many Republicans.  This part was the most interesting to me:

In previous debates, Romney would easily stumble when exchanges got heated. But last night everyone was very civil, so Romney didn’t get rattled. (Hillary or Barack would eat him for lunch in a debate)

I’m not saying this isn’t true.  But it brings up an interesting problem the Democrats are going to have in the general election, should Clinton win the nomination. 

(As an aside, JP thinks my advice to Democrats is a Trojan Horse.  This is a legitimate concern, I guess, so it’s up to you if you want to listen). 

I really think Hillary’s supporters do not fully appreciate her image problem amongst people who aren’t…well…her supporters.  If Romney and Clinton were to meet in a debate, and if he were to remain civil, and if Hillary “ate him for lunch”, her suporters would indeed see a tough woman putting a slick politician man in his place.  But the rest of the country (especially men, but also some women) would see the last ten seconds of this advertisement:

Hey, would someone please clean up the exploding head debris

Sure, it’s not right.  But, c’mon.  You know you’ve seen the Hillary nutcrackers, and all the other crude reminders.  Mrs Clinton has an image problem.  She’s had it since 1992.  It’s a very serious one, and I think her supporters have a blind spot to it, because they abhor the REASONS for the image problem.  But are you going to curse the universe for making men (and some women) so ignorant, or are you going to win the presidency?

She can’t overcome the image problem.  There will be no Lazio moment – outside of New York, many people would think he wussed out for not taking a swing at her.

If she wins the nomination, she cannot “out-tough” the Republican, ESPECIALLY if it’s Romney.  She’s going to have to out-charm him.  To be honest, I have no idea how Clinton would pull that off.

It’s not fair, but Obama doesn’t have this problem, and could attack, and use his charm to overcome the negative vibes from it.  Mrs Clinton has no such charm.   Can’t you see that?

Obama is the Dems’ best chance.


7 Responses to “Be Careful What You Wish For”

  1. Volunteer Voters » How Much Hate Can She Absorb? Says:

    […] Slartibartfast thinks that Hillary Clinton is too divisive a figure to win a majority for American votes for President: She can’t overcome the image problem. There will be no Lazio moment – outside of New York, many people would think he wussed out for not taking a swing at her. […]

  2. bridgett Says:

    Yes, it’s true that there are many (on both sides of the political fence, really — the American right overestimates the degree that Democrats are crazy about her…resigned to the possibility might be a better characterization for many of us) think she’s an aggressive nasty unwomanly power-hungry person (I’m going for the adjectives rather than the shorthand because your pastor reads this…but you know the word I’d be using otherwise.) However, I’d say that for the people who use her “toughness” as their main reason to tune her out, you’re right in concluding that she wouldn’t win them over by sweetening her demeanor. They are going to continue to hate her because she’s not acting like how they want a woman to act. She’s over the line simply by putting herself forward as a candidate because however she acted, for that subset of voters, she’s just doing the wrong thing by demonstrating her skill and ambition to the end of running for President. They don’t want to vote for a woman. They don’t want women to be competitive (these are the same people who characterize female athletes as either lesbians or hos — something irregular, probably sexually irregular, about a woman who wants to win). They don’t want that sort of change in our political system (some because of their religious ideals, some because their ingrained ideas about who should be in charge in the home, or whatever). By being not just interested in politics but willing and able to compete strongly for our highest office without consulting them to see if they are discomfitted by her success, she’s stepped in it bigtime. They want women to be “nice” and accomodating and that’s not really the way that our political system rolls, right? You don’t get to be President by asking pretty-please.

    The image problem is not hers, but theirs. They have a particular image of what a woman should be and it’s not in national politics. But you know? I don’t stay up nights worrying about it. In the US, one has the right to be ignorant and ignorant people even wind up President sometimes. Besides, she doesn’t have to win a majority of votes to become President. Dang that Electoral College! Flip a few formerly red, now purple states (Virginia for one, which elected a Dem governor and some Dem senators if I’m not mistaken…and Ohio, whose Dem Governor is a theological seminary grad and former corrections officer and seems to have his finger on the pulse of how to bring harmony to a straddle state with a lot of southern in-migration at a time when Northern Ohio is being hammered by the sub-prime crisis that Republicans are getting blamed for…) and that’s that.

  3. Slartibartfast Says:

    Well, I’ll disagree a little bit, and agree a lot. I think she’d still have this problem if she were a man – she’s wonkish and seems unemotional unless political expediency demands it. She really is, personality wise, a Democratic Newt Gengrich. (I hope your head didn’t explode when I said that:) )

    Americans demand warmth from their presidents, or have since Nixon. Her husband was the king of warmth, I’ll admit that. So, I think, though the problem might manifest itself in her gender, and be expressed crudely by some, it really comes down to style, and probably Bill’s horrible decision to put her in charge of health care reform in 93.

    If I may change the subject…

    Let’s talk meat and potatoes for me personally. For the longest time, I said that Hillary was the closest Democrat to my leanings (of course, that’s not saying much). She’s much more pragmatic, and understands how Washington works. But, now I’m not so sure. Anybody that knows me knows that my most prized personal attribute is my optimism. You must admit, her campaign is based far more on fears of another Republican administration than it is on idealism.

    If you want optimism and forward-thinking, Obama’s really the only game in town. So far, that goes for both parties.

    That’s why I (and I only speak for me) could never vote for Clinton. She seems cynical and calculating. I would love to be proven wrong, but I’ve watched her for 20 years now.

    I want a leader who dreams big dreams and thinks big thoughts, and asks the people to come along on the journey.

    Do you really get that vibe from Hillary? I sure don’t.

    All that being said. I think this year, the pivotal state will be Florida, once again. And Virginia. And yes, the winner will not need 50%. But, wouldn’t it be nice if one day te majority of the people actually voted for the president?


  4. bridgett Says:

    Yeah, you’ll have to look elsewhere for ringing Clinton support. I’m leaning Obama and my husband’s leaning Edwards. For us, it’s Clinton’s policy positions that just aren’t doing it. On the other hand, I will vote for whoever is the Democratic candidate in November, barring some brain injury or massive coronary-grade change of heart. Again, it’s a policy thing — who stinks more? Who less? Mostly though, I want to turn around to my fellow Americans in disbelief and say “Is this really the best people you can come up with for this job? What does that say about how we’re doing politics in this country, huh?”

    Florida’s important, but knowing Howard the way I do (I was a Dean Democrat before he even ran for President…he and I go way back politically), I know he thinks about elections in the same way that Tony LaRussa manages games. He’s a small ball kind of a guy and he doesn’t fear the squeeze when the right people are at the plate. While I’m not privy to any big strategy meetings or anything, I would not be a bit surprised if a) he’s far more interested in winning local, state, and HR seats than he is in the presidential race (because he’s the kind of guy that’s interested in long-term growth and you win states from the ground up) and b) he’d rather try to flip a few purples (VA, Ohio, Missouri) than put all the chips on Florida.

  5. nm Says:

    Slarti, are you suggesting that wonkishness isn’t intrinsically charming? Gee ….

    Bridgett, you have mentioned something that is connected to one of my big concerns about Clinton, should she win the nomination. I’m sure that either Obama or Edwards would campaign wherever and with and for whomever the DNC thinks it’s helpful (and, though I’d prefer Edwards to be the next president, I have to admit that Obama would probably have much longer coat-tails), but would Clinton? Or would she campaign only for centrists?

  6. bridgett Says:

    I believe that if she loses, she stomps off the playground and take her ball (DLC) with her. And if she wins the nomination, she rewards her “friends” and ignores the rest — she’s a machine politician. The DNC and DCCC has been conserving money just to safeguard against this.

  7. nm Says:

    She can’t take the DLC far enough away for me, obviously. But what you say about what happens if she wins … yeah, that’s my take on it, too. I hope we’re all wrong. Or that someone else wins and I’m right about their willingness to help elect other Democrats.

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