Monday, August 20, 2007

Hillary gets it

Hillary Clinton, with the "gift" of having suffered 15+ years of Republican attack politics, understands something that a lot of Democrats (surprisingly) still don't get (youtube):

"The idea that you're going to escape the Republican attack machine and not have high negatives by the time they're through with you, I think, is missing what's been going on in American politics for the last twenty years."

This is in response to recent comments from Obama that he would be the better candidate in the general election precisely because his negatives aren't as high as Clinton's (also in response to Karl Rove's recent comments about those same high negatives). Clinton "gets it" in a way that Obama does not: there is no such thing as a Democrat that the Republicans can't vilify.

This is the mistake Gore and Kerry made in their respective runs. Gore thought, since he wasn't Bill, and because he had such a Boy Scout reputation (at least when it came to that topic), that he was safe from attack. The Republicans ended up painting him as a serial exagerator and an arrogant wonk.

Kerry thought that his war record in Vietnam would protect him in his run against a war time President. The Republicans ended up painting him as a coward undeserving of the medals he received.

It's this sense of naivete from Obama that has always made me hesitant to support him. I love what he is saying. I love how he is saying it. But I can't avoid the impression that he thinks he has some kind of special immunity from attack that other Democrats don't have simply because he wants to elevate the conversation. When I look at Obama I can't help but think, "lamb to the slaughter".

I have plenty of problems with Clinton. I still think she plays it too safe. That she wants to dance through the minefield when what we really need is a bulldozer.

But naivete is not one of her problems.


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