Saturday, January 5, 2008

Admit Nothing ... In Both Iowa & Iraq

I'm absolutely baffled that Hillary is going full speed ahead with the "experience" tack, especially when it appears that so many people are telling her to change course:

As Clinton flew from Iowa to New Hampshire, her supporters were divided over how she should handle the early defeat. Paul Begala, a campaign strategist for her husband and a Hillary Clinton supporter, said she could take one of two approaches: explain away Iowa by dismissing it as unfamiliar territory, diminishing its odd caucus system and portraying it as Obama's neighboring state; or accept responsibility for the loss, saying, " 'I've been knocked on my rear end. It's not fun, but the view from the canvas can be instructional.' "

"America loves an underdog," Begala said. "Candidates can show their character in defeat."

But the Clinton campaign did not appear poised to take the advice. The senator from New York and the former president started the day taking jabs at Iowa, justifying Clinton's third-place finish. And for those who counseled that she could not campaign both as an agent of change and the most experienced candidate in the race, Clinton had a clear answer: Her two-sided message would not be altered much.

[Why the "two-sided" message sucks, here.]

This refusal to change gears reminds me of Clinton's refusal to apologize for her vote to authorize the Iraq war. I can sympathize with why she would not want to beg the mercy of public opinion for her sins in Mesopotamia, but I just don't understand what why the hell she just can't move beyond the Iowa strategy.

The only thing that comes to mind would be polling or focus group data that suggests that voters find this to be a weakness in a female candidate, but one would have to imagine that this same kind of "I regret nothing!" attitude, so prevalent in the current Bush Administration, wouldn't play well with Democrats ... and it's clearly not a terribly popular strategy even within Clinton's own circle:

So far, no senior Clinton advisers have been ousted for failing to produce a victory in Iowa, despite their spending many months and millions of dollars there only to see the candidate's status as the Democratic front-runner vanish. But supporters outside the campaign were quick to question Mark Penn, the chief strategist, whose polling data suggested she could win in Iowa; Patti Solis Doyle, the campaign manager, who moved to Iowa to try to eke out a win; and an inner circle of operatives whose "inevitability" strategy failed to blunt the message of "change" that swept Obama into first place Thursday night.

If Hillary loses New Hampshire -- and at this rate this is quickly becoming a reality -- she'll have a little less than a month until Clusterfuck Tuesday. During that time she'll likely lose South Carolina and possibly Nevada (especially if the culinary workers union decides to endorse Obama following a hypothetical NH win). If she does lose next Tuesday, I wouldn't be surprised to see a wholesale massacre of campaign staff and a head-to-toe retooling of the campaign message gearing up for February 5th that will involve a less Thatcheresque Hillary and one of a more conciliatory tone (but not necessarily on Iraq, at least so long as it recedes from being a major campaign issue as it seems to have done in recent weeks).

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