Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is Hillary Clinton About to Fuck Up Royally?

Sure looks like she could be ...

First, with Obama up in the polls and on a roll in the primary she's going to be the first Dem to go negative in Iowa. The Chief has nothing against negative advertising -- in fact, we enjoy it very much -- but no one does so out of a position of strength. So when someone does decide to go negative, it's important to hit hard or at least make the punches count. If the initial looks at how Clinton is planning on going negative are to be believed, that's not going to happen.

Clinton is said to be focus-grouping TV spots revolving around health care. She already has "compare/contrast" flier out on Obama centering on the same issue. There's not a whole lot of time between now and the caucus -- how much campaigning between Christmas and New Year's is anyone's guess, so one would assume this is the tack she's going to continue on until January 3rd since she'll likely have only one shot at making it stick.

So why go with Health Care?

Health care is something of a historically contentious issue with Clinton. While she undoubtedly has demonstrated a considerable interest in over the years, the subject is also her most noted political albatross -- a lot of people equate Clinton and health care to failure. That's strike one.

Strike two has to do with this recent (positive) TV ad Hillary's been running in Iowa. In she talks about her past working for health care and on children's issues -- both of which are nurturing roles traditionally associated with women. (Yes, she gets to foreign policy, but it's fourth on the list and seems almost like an afterthought.) Clinton is at her best when she shows a little toughness -- playing to an age old cultural stereotype doesn't demonstrate that. When she talks about health care, on at least a subconscious level, she's reminding voters both about a personal failure and the fact that she's woman in world dominated by dudes.

But the unhitable 99 mile and hour heater that scrapes the lower inside corner of the strike zone to strike out the side is the simple fact that almost everyone who votes already has health care. It would be great if they were altruistic enough to think of the needs of others when they got into the voting booth, but that really doesn't happen too frequently.

This is all very puzzling. Clinton is said to have assembled one of the most formidable campaign staffs ever put together by a Democratic candidate, but ever since she got tangled up in the licenses for immigrants question during the debate in Philadelphia she's been seriously off her game (while Obama appears to be finishing strong) and her campaign hasn't been helping her much -- especially in the opposition research department. Just in the last few days it's been amateur hour at the Clinton camp between the Obama's kindergarten ambitions to the embarrassing e-mail from a staffer that came to light today.

Personally, I expected one of the most well-prepared and cut-throat research and rapid response teams ever placed on a single pay-roll. This was going to be one of the essential elements that was going to allow her to defeat her GOP opponent in the general. Thus far I am extraordinarily underwhelmed.

MORE: Noam Scheiber also has some questions about Clinton's Iowa strategy.

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