Friday, November 23, 2007

Hillary's Real Campaign Weakness

Kim Strassel on Clinton's Achilles Heel:
For all the Clinton protestations that they were the object of a conspiracy, the polls consistently show that even Democratic voters are queasy about her honesty. The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa--which puts Mr. Obama ahead--shows him beating her by 2-1 as the most honest and trustworthy candidate. Every bump on the Clinton campaign road has also been linked to her reputation as insincere.

Mrs. Clinton has all but broadcast that her greatest fear is that her opponents will reopen this can of Clinton creepy crawlies. Her refusal, which is growing news, to expedite the release of her records from her time as first lady, is one big sign. Her campaign's aggressive reaction to the merest hint of a personal comment by an opponent is another. It isn't clear the Clinton campaign is sitting on dirt on Barack Obama; but they're happy to have him think they are.

Mr. Obama has come the closest to delving into Mrs. Clinton's past, though you need an Enigma machine to decode it. His campaign slogan is "Change We Can Believe In." (Translation: If you elect her, don't be surprised what she discovers in a box under a table.) He's mused about "character and judgment." (Translation: I don't trade in cattle futures.) Freudian psychology this is, Mortal Kombat it is not. Yet while the squeaky clean Mr. Obama may be best positioned to make a moral case against Mrs. Clinton, his own "politics of hope" has made it difficult to pull out the brass knuckles.

The rest of Mrs. Clinton's opponents fear an attack on her ethics would backfire, allowing her to paint herself as a female victim. You can bet they've studied the video of Rick Lazio, Mrs. Clinton's 2000 Senate opponent, invading her debate space, and Mrs. Clinton's ensuing performance as flinching, defenseless woman. (Mr. Lazio sank like a rock.) She has suggested she's not above a repeat act, dispatching Bill to warn that "the boys" were being awfully "tough" on his wife.

I don't think the other Democratic candidates will go for it. Too much of the party is wrapped up in the Clinton legacy; it jeopardizes the whole party for old issues to be rehashed and new allegations to get legs. It was tough enough for Kerry; and the Clinton's have much more fodder to supply.

I think Strassel is right, and we will see some character stress testing for Hillary. But only after she wins the nomination; the Republicans will bring it up at that point. As far as the "Rick Lazio Lesson", well, that would have never even come up so late in the campaign, had Giuliani not bowed out.

UPDATE: This is a barrage of cheap character attacks (via Don Surber), but Huma Abedin makes me like Hillary better, kinda like how Princess Leia casts Jabba the Hut in a better light. That said, I prefer being governed by Jabba to some of the other characters.


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