Wednesday, February 20

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Hillary, we have to talk.

I know you have a lot of highly paid consultants, but they don't seem to be doing much for you at present. Me, I've got a Ph.D in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and a few minutes to kill before I go to bed.

I like you. I think you'd be a great president. I'm hoping Obama will win the nomination, but I'd vote for you in a heartbeat if you ended up getting the nod.

This seems increasingly unlikely, however, because you have been doing virtually everything wrong for a while now. Where to begin?

Change vs Experience

What moron came up with this frame? First, you don't have a lot of experience, and second, a lot of your experience is losing or getting attacked. You don't pick a boxer who's gotten the #$@* beat out of him because he claims to be "experienced." That's not really the kind of experience people are looking for. You'd rather pick the fresh face who looks like he might be the next Ali. Why surrender the change mantle to Obama? That's mistake #1.

Pretty speeches

Hillary, even your working class demographic is smart enough to see the basic performative contradiction here. You're forced to make speeches claiming speeches are evil. Powerful speeches of your own which take discredit the idea of making powerful speeches. It's just a silly tack, and it's never going to work. Speeches are the coin of the realm. You can talk all you want about "action", but all you're doing- and all you _can_ do, is talk. And people see that. They're never going to think, well, that guy's really inspiring and makes me feel good and everything, but she says he's full of it. Which do you think they're ultimately going to choose? You're totally playing into his trap. He says you're the old, evil establishment, the obstinate, bickering, my-way-or-the-highway style politics, and what do you do? You go ahead and prove him right! This is why the Democrats lose time and time again. The Republicans pick some generally affable bonehead who repeats a few easy feel-good lines until everyone has them in their head like the latest hit pop song. The Democrats? They get someone like Mondale or Dukakis or Gore or Kerry who reads position papers and lectures people and generally has no charisma whatsoever.

You'd think it would be warning sign when all the papers have lead stories saying "Clinton and McCain make same attacks against Obama." Can you imagine anything worse for your image than being associated with McCain in terms of both your style and your "experience." Not only are you crushing the "change" idea you're supposed to be embodying, but you're regressing to the very thing people are asking for change FROM!

Look, it may be too late at this point, but just ignore Obama. Make some pretty speeches of your own. Stress the good ideas you have. SHOW, don't tell, the voters what a great, charismatic, inspiring leader you can be. Show them that you, like Obama, can bring all kinds of new faces into the Democratic party, even bring over some Bush Republicans to our side. Be the kind, generous Queen who is so strong she can constantly speak good about Obama and know that she will get the nomination because of it. If you go the annoying, hectoring nag route, you'll play into every negative perception that's ever been floated about you, and sympathy will balloon for Obama and you'll be done.

Honestly, though, I don't think there's any hope at this point. Wisconsin voters think Obama has a better chance against McCain by a 2:1 margin, and Wisconsin was supposed to be a good state for you. Here's my prediction for the coming weeks:

1) your dumb advisors will tell you to go on the attack, to tear down Obama by any means necessary.

2) this will backfire massively. you will be increasingly viewed as unstatesmanlike, lacking in grace and poise, and positively embodying the very negativity that Obama's campaign is claiming to transcend. You may squeek a win in Ohio and Texas, but it will not be a blow out, and Obama will keep his momentum simply by virtue of stopping you. Superdelegates will be under increasing pressure to side with Obama, since he is now leading you in a prospective McCain matchup in every poll. Furthermore, your claims that Obama can't take the heat against a republican will be shown to be false, because people will see you turning up the heat and getting nowhere, which is precisely what McCain is going to do to no avail. McCain is a thousand years old, completely uninspiring as a prospective leader, embodies all the fear-mongering that people have now come to despise about the Bush administration, is amazingly gung-ho about a massively unpopular war, has no great plans to do anything other than maintain the status quo when polls have routinely shown Americans do not like the status quo, and last but certainly not least, is not even well-loved by the Republican base. The more people see and hear Obama, the more of a blow-out this race will become.