They Like Her, They Really… Okay, Maybe Not

I find myself more disenchanted with the Clinton campaign as the days go by.  There was the initial turn towards negativity, then the utterly uninspiring argument that at least she’s been vetted, and now, in an attempt to reverse the momentum going away from Mrs. Clinton, her campaign has decided to employ a “new” strategy: convincing people she’s like-able.

Only problem is, this has been a major factor of the Clinton campaign from the beginning; softening her image, and trying to dispell the idea that Clinton is this cold, heartless, overly ambitious politician that was willing to do anything to get elected.  Indeed, the campaign’s early forays into this realm were what had initially endeared me to it.  Things like the Sopranos video that they did were, I thought, truly clever, allowing Mrs. Clinton to show that she’s not just some machine.

The idea, of course, is that the negativity that Clinton faces is a massive holdover to when she was in the White House as first lady, and is nothing more than the residual leftovers of the barrage leveled upon her by that Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.  But as Matt Stoller points out, this isn’t the case.

Instead, he notes that Clinton’s negatives have only risen since this campaign despite its best efforts to counteract this.  The short of it is simply that there doesn’t seem to be shiny enough wrapping paper to make Mrs. Clinton look like the kind of gift under the tree that would make anyone particularly thrilled with what they got.  Severe character flaws, Bush-like foreign policy, and an uncannily cozy approach to corporate lobbyists do not an inspiring Democratic candidate make.

It seems as though everytime the Clinton candidacy gets dinged too hard, or gets caught reaching, it always come back with a comment that explains how much Hillary is campaigning on the issues.  That’s not the case.  Hillary is barely a Democrat on the issues, and definitely not the kind of Democrat that gets the base up in a roar.  Thus she has, in a Bush-like fashion, narrowed her issues talk to bumper stickers (“If Bush doesn’t get us out of Iraq, when I’m president I will”), while looking for other quick fixes to buoy her campaign.  She has launched an aggressive negative campaign against Barack Obama, and so far it has back fired.  She has tried to begin a dialogue on how she is the most vetted candidate (this could be true, but that does not mean she doesn’t have any surprise skeletons left in her closet.  With Mrs. Clinton, it turns out, she may need more vetting than most), and that narrative didn’t seem to survive the weekend.  Now she’s trying to trick us into thinking she’s the kinda gal you can get buddy buddy with.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t need a president I can be friends with; I don’t imagine I’ll ever have the kind of clout that would net me a night in the Lincoln bedroom.  I want a president that is capable, that is translucent, and will engage the country in a national dialogue, not merely a dialogue of his or her advisors and partisan ground troops.  And it would be kind of nice to be able to vote for a someone who won’t be a repeat of the last two terms of the current president.

Unfortunately, I can’t say Hillary fits any of those things.

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