HILLARY: JUST FOLKS
This time she’s quite determined not to blunder or to stumble.
Her style won’t be imperious but modest, even humble.
Her experience prepares her for the crises that are looming,
And yet she’ll be grandmotherly and strictly unassuming.
Ted Cruz burst onto the presidential election scene. Marco Rubio’s announcement brimmed with youthful energy. Rand Paul offered assertive policy prescriptions, home and abroad. But Hillary Clinton entered quietly, almost demurely. So much so, said the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz, that her opening ad featured “nothing but kittens.. ‘tabbies, calicoes, Siamese and a dozen other breeds – in a variety of adorable vignettes.’”
Her caution was not surprising. Nor was the fact that her ad featured every one of the groups she needed to win the presidency including some, such as gays, she had discovered rather recently. But very little about herself. After all, she was pretty well known already. A Jimmy Fallon joke had Obama saying: “If she’s her wonderful self, I’m sure she’ll do great. If she’s her other self, watch out!” It was that other self her critics fastened on. The one that had blown a huge lead against Obama in 2008; that had not been able to explain satisfactorily why she had expunged thousands of e-mails while she was Secretary of State; and that had failed to recognize that her recently acquired riches made her, in fact, rich. As I suggested at the time:
She didn’t mean an uproar to provoke
Saying when they left the White House they were broke
And now though multi-millions they possess
She tells us they’re not wealthy nonetheless.
Cartoonists were merciless. She was the wicked witch of the West; the dispenser of Kool-Aide to the masses; an e-mail and Benghazi denier; a recipient of donations to the Clinton foundations from oppressive regimes.
Online the SatireWorld declared that “Hillary called her stockbroker to buy more Saudi Arabian oil stock before her next talk about women’s rights and equal pay”. And for Onion her campaign slogan was simply: “I deserve this.”
But if most of this is dismissed as the product of male chauvinism, consider the assessments of the New York Times two caustic female (and liberal) columnists.
Maureen Dowd: “Her paranoia, secrecy, scandals and disappearing act with emails from her time as secretary of state have inspired a cascade of comparisons with Nixon.” Her effort to be ‘a warm, spontaneous, scrappy fighter for average Americans” is designed to rebut critics who say she’s too close to Wall Street and too grabby with speech money and foundation donations from Arab autocrats to wage a since fight against income inequality.”
Gail Collins: “She should be home, lounging on her patio, looking at the daffodils and sipping a glass of 1961 Latour. But instead she’s at a dinner at a town meeting, nodding ferociously, and listening to a guy explain his problems with rural electrification. And she is planning on doing this kind of thing for the next nineteen months. Just for you.” Then Collins offers her readers a series oF statements that might express their thinking about Clinton’s candidacy such as “No matter what disaster happens, she comes back fighting. I just wish there weren’t so many disasters”.
This seems to add up to an indictment devastating to any candidate’s hopes. Yet Hillary Clinton appears confident and undaunted, admired and adored by very large numbers. For it is all part of the inevitable process in the television and social media age that any candidate with a serious chance of winning the presidency must be exposed not only to serious questions about policies and character but also to a barrage of skepticism and ridicule. It is a harsh, sometimes brutal process and, however carefully and cautiously a campaign is managed, it cannot be avoided.
Certainly in Clinton’s case the process provided attractive opportunities for opposition attacks. A Steve Sack cartoon shows a line-up of leading Republican candidates all wearing large campaign buttons carrying her slogan: “I’m Ready For Hillary!”
But are they, in fact, ready to take on a former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator and prospective first woman president? Gail Collins asks her readers to consider what is “the biggest thing Hillary Clinton has going for her right now?” Among the choices is money and name recognition. But the other option is “Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush.”
She’ll move along and demonstrate she’s confident and steady
While they debate to prove which one for Hillary is ready.
When that is done he, too, will have to show that he’s not bitter
At all the cutting late night jokes and calumnies on Twitter.