...The Beltway's narrative has it not only that the Democrats are shoo-ins, but also that the likely standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, is running what Zagat shorthand might describe as a "flawless campaign" that is "tightly disciplined" and "doesn't make mistakes..."
...the only way Mrs. Clinton could lose her tight hold on the nomination and, presumably, the White House would be if she were bruised in Iowa (where both John Edwards and Senator Obama remain competitive) or derailed by unforeseeable events like a scandal or a domestic terror attack.
If you buy into the Washington logic that a flawless campaign is one that doesn't make gaffes, never goes off-message and never makes news, then this analysis makes sense. The Clinton machine runs as smoothly and efficiently as a Rolls. And like a fine car, it is just as likely to lull its driver into complacent coasting and its passengers to sleep. What I saw on television last Sunday was the incipient second coming of the can't-miss 2000 campaign of Al Gore.
That Mr. Gore, some may recall, was not the firebrand who emerged from defeat, speaking up early against the Iraq war and leading the international charge on global warming. It was instead the cautious Gore whose public persona changed from debate to debate and whose answers were often long-winded and equivocal (even about the Kansas Board of Education's decision to ban the teaching of evolution). Incredibly, he minimized both his environmental passions and his own administration's achievements throughout the campaign.
He, too, had initially been deemed a winner, the potential recipient of a landslide rather than a narrow popular-vote majority. The signs were nearly as good for Democrats then as they are now. The impeachment crusade had backfired on the Republicans in the 1998 midterms; the economy was booming; Mr. Gore's opponent was seen as a lightweight who couldn't match him in articulateness or his mastery of policy, let alone his eight years of Clinton White House experience...
...So far her post-first-lady record suggests a follower rather than a leader. She still can't offer a credible explanation of why she gave President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq (or why she voted against the Levin amendment that would have put on some diplomatic brakes). That's because her votes had more to do with hedging her political bets than with principle. Nor has she explained why it took her two years of the war going south to start speaking up against it. She was similarly tardy with her new health care plan, waiting to see what heat Mr. Edwards and Senator Obama took with theirs. She has lagged behind the Democratic curve on issues ranging from the profound (calling for an unequivocal ban on torture) to the trivial (formulating a response to the MoveOn.org Petraeus ad)...
The situation is far worse than the complacent mediocrity Rich suggests.
HHHillary's stands on the issue show benevolent instincts. She's pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and pro-gender rights. That's fine and good.
But she has ever been and remains the choice of the Soros branch of the Carlyle Group, taking positions on the War on Terra that Poppy Bu$h's consigliere could have written. And has written. She regards the Lieberman DINOcrats as elder statesmen in her party, which has been very profitable for her.
But the reality of it is all the DINOcrat lite policy positions, from her support of the Iraq war to the support for getting Iran On to her support of a plan of a troop draw down in Iraq identical to the Poppy/ Baker/ Saudi plan that leaves forces at the new Cheneyburton-controlled "bases" (that is, controlling the oilfields) are not positions that most of America support.
Let's face it. As long as we're spending a billion a day in Iraq, all her liberal posturing will come to nothing even if she does get elected. Paying to keep the troops and an equal number of
You can just kiss health care reform good-bye until Blackwater's out of the oil protection racket and CSC/ DynCorp is out of the total information awareness biz. HHHillary's not going to end that, so there is no way she can make good on her proposed social agendas.
But don't get me wrong. If by some likely and unhappy occurence she does end up with her chauffeur driving the Democratic nomination for preznit next summer, I will vote for her in 2008 over any Rethuglican. With full knowledge that HHHillary is the DINOcratic candidate of the Company's choice, with a snowball's chance in Hell of winning, and an iceberg's chance on the equator of actually changing anything for the better if she does win.