Monday, December 17, 2007

Hillary's New Tone

There's been much ado about the new tone of the Hillary campaign - the softer touch, human, feminine. Even her web site has been relaunched. I've notice even the tone of her voice is different - she's speaking softer.

She no longer asserting, as she did to Katie Couric a month ago, that she WILL be the nominee and she's hasn't at all considered the possibility that she wouldn't be. She was not campaigning as much in Iowa,and now she's doing a helicopter tour.

This change in tone was the course chosen rather than a shake up, that was rumored to be considered late last week. A shake up of her campaign staff (a.k.a. firing Mark Penn) was seen as feeding the image of her being too tough and mean. So instead they've carted her out this way. She was on all six morning shows (that's better than a full Ginsberg) today.

I don't think this is going to work because it reinforces another negative narrative about her - which that she's slippery and capable of changing her personality (if not her positions) to fit the circumstances.

It was fun to read of Bill Clinton's agitation on Charlie Rose, so much so that his staff was trying to abort the interview before he did something regrettable (reported in the New York Times, see last paragraphs). Chris Matthews properly pointed out the big whopping lie of Bill's in that interview - that he didn't run in 1988 because he knew he wasn't yet ready (and that this is what Obama should do). Matthews correctly points out that the reason Bill didn't run in '88 was because he was told of all the "bimbo eruptions" that could derail his ambition. If only he'd listened and never ran.

I also think that when you try to co-opt the message of your opponent, that's a sign you're not the strategic, politically acute candidate you've been posing as. Hillary given up on the "experience" reason for electing her because Obama (with help from Oprah) has convinced voters that experience of her ilk (a.k.a. the old ways of partisan Washington politics) is NOT what we need. He won that argument, and hence his rise in the polls.

So now Hillary is admitting "change" is the important issue. There was a front page article in the New York Times about this new strategy. So now she is arguing - in her soft tone - that she is the one to deliver it - not by demanding it (Edwards) or hoping for it (Obama) but working for it (her!). I don't even trust her tone!

Here's another question. Who would want to be Hillary's VP, with Bill in the picture?

UPDATE: December 18th - E.J. Dionne "Clinton's Difficulties Deeper Than Strategy" assembles many of the points of difficulty - including that she wasn't running in Iowa until very recently because she was so focused on a general election. He also highlights Obama's November 10th speech (at the Jefferson Jackson dinner) and how good it was - good in itself and good for his campaign. And he notes that she argues that with her - there are no surprises, while Obama (according to Bill) is a "roll of the dice."

But that simply isn't true. As long as Hillary is married to Bill, one thing we know for sure - there will be surprises. He's volatile. And he is even now traveling with a press secretary to keep him on message.

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