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    January 20, 2007

    Hillary's in it…to chat

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillarychat Hillary Clinton finally ended all the speculation today and announced she's "in" the race for the White House in 2008.  And the form of her announcement suited her perfectly:  on video via her Web site, her living-room surroundings calibrated to soften her image, with Hillary sitting on the sofa, inviting us into a national "chat."

    There's no rule, of course, that presidential campaigns must be launched at screaming rallies or crowded press conferences, but the point is more what it says about her approach to politics: exceedingly careful.

    Even her name changes based on political expediency; her Web site refers to her only as "Hillary" and the "Rodham" is once again no longer to be found. HillaryClinton.com is "policy-free"; no positions on the issues of the day and, for those of you wondering, the word "gay" does not appear (according to a Google search).

    No doubt the series of live online "chats" she'll be hosting this week will be scripted affairs, with questions pre-screened and little opportunity for actual dialogue.  I know it's early days, but the entire concept strikes a false chord with me.  At this point in her career, Hillary Clinton should know enough about the issues and problems in America that she doesn't need a handful of "chats" to inform herself. If she's running for president, then it's her ideas that need exploration, through real interactions and not the scripted variety. 

    Give John Edwards credit for showing up at a real New Hampshire townhall meeting for Q&A after he announced his candidacy.  It exposed him to some difficult issues like gay marriage, and that's surely what Hillary is avoiding — all while trying to maintain the illusion of openness.

    Putting aside questions of electability, Hillary's overabundance of caution and expedience raise the biggest questions about her candidacy.  Like her husband before her, Hillary is such a political animal that not much can realistically be expected from her in terms of leadership. 

    She has already, in a few short years in the Senate, voted to let George Bush take us to war in Iraq, and she did so because opposing the president so soon after 9/11 was too great a political risk.  Even after it became clear to almost everyone that the war is a failure that has made the region, and the U.S., less safe, she has been achingly slow to respond.  She hasn't even given a speech renouncing her vote on the run-up to the way; admitting only when pressed in a "Today Show" interview that if she knew then what she knew today, she would have voted differently.

    If political expedience prevented her — and continues to prevent her — from doing anything to stop the deaths of young men and women in an unjust war, then only very wishful thinking suggests she would expend political capital on the civil rights of gay men and lesbians.  (And that same criticism, by the way, goes for Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and any other senatorial presidents-in-waiting.)

    I understand Hillary's appeal for lesbians and gay men both — strong women who have perservered through difficult times have always been our favorites. But Hillary must break out of her carefully scripted shell and show real, risk-taking leadership.  Bill Clinton talked famously of "a place called Hope" and Barack Obama burst on the national stage talking about "The Audacity of Hope."  Hillary will get nowhere with "The Audacity of Being Cautious."



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    1. Adam on Jan 20, 2007 3:53:36 PM:

      She announces in January, but the greenery and flowers outside her window say July? What's wrong with this picture?

    1. KJ on Jan 20, 2007 7:14:20 PM:

      What's wrong with the picture is that her head seems too big for her body. Chris, have you been Photo-editing, or is that just the effect that DC has on all politicos?

    1. Kevin on Jan 20, 2007 9:21:26 PM:

      You're right, Chris, as usual. And it seems that all this caution masks an inability by the Senator to really handle the pull and thrust of real debate, real argument, solid on her feet with a crystal clear grasp of ideas, belief and rock-ribbed philosophy. It is a chronic illness in the Democratic Party, and it's ruining the country. The country needs real debate between two solid sides or you end up with what we have now - a dumbed-down, triumphalist Republican Party and a cautious, timid, unthinking image-conscious Democratic Party.

    1. Bloggernista on Jan 20, 2007 10:47:41 PM:

      I think that Clinton is going to come out swinging when the Rep attack machine gears up to smear her. I am hoping that all of the Dem candidates will do the same. Enough of the punk ass turn the other check attitude. The future of our country hangs in the balance and we can't let a bunch wingnuts from the GOP steal another election and continue to drive our nation deeper in debt and ruin our international credibility.

      Bush has proven that while the GOP can sometimes win elections, either by hook or by crook, they cannot govern effectively. its time for them to go.

    1. H.R. on Jan 21, 2007 10:17:09 AM:

      I think this analysis of Hillary's candidacy is right on the button. She flows with the wind. Even if she happened to be any good--and I don't think she is capable to lead this country because she has no guts or apparent honesty--I go by what my mother and my 'mother in law' think. They cannot stand her. And if those two are against her, she doesn't have a prayer of winning even the office of National Dog Catcher. So move her on off stage, please. The problem is there are no candidates in the Dem. stable that appear capable. And where is the Democratic plan for anything? As dumb as W is, at least he kind of has a plan in Iraq . Even though it wreaks of Lyndon.

      This country is in a serious bind and it is in a bind because of rampant poor leadership through DC.

    1. marilyn c. schwartz on Jan 21, 2007 12:51:18 PM:

      Hillary is a politician, not a leader. Her husband is both, as is NANCY PELOSI, who is infinitely more qualified than Hillary to be the first woman president.
      May I suggest a PELOSI-OBAMA
      ticket? That could be a winner.

    1. Alan on Jan 21, 2007 1:04:27 PM:

      If George W, Bush had been a little more "cautious" we might not be embroiled in the Iraq quagmire. Caution is not necessarily a bad thing.

      Hillary as a politician is my approach while driving at high speeds. Follow cars driving faster or stay behind buses/trucks exceeding the speed limit and slowing down on those sections of road where the radar is hiding. Let the others flush out the ticket-writers and speed on by while they're busy writing some other fool their ticket.

    1. raj on Jan 21, 2007 1:21:45 PM:

      It would be nice if Mr. Crain were to identify the potential presidential candidate who is to his liking. It is very easy to rhetorically bash sHillary Clinton (and I could do a more extensive job of it that Mr Crain has.

      But, Mr. Crain, query. Who among possible presidential candidates would you support? Irrespective as to party. More to the point, who would you suggest that gay people support? And, to both questions, why?

      I'm sorry to tax your brain. But it is your blog.

    1. Tom Allan on Jan 21, 2007 1:26:57 PM:

      Hillary needs a good slogan for sure. Hows about "The Good Clanton...I mean Clinton"

    1. Alan on Jan 21, 2007 7:23:06 PM:

      For a slogan I propose "Join The It Takes A Village People"

    1. Citizen Crain on Jan 21, 2007 8:24:28 PM:

      That's hilarious, K.J. I hadn't noticed that about Hillary's head. It does look photo-shopped! I swear it's just an still image from the video on HillaryClinton.com.

      I hope that Bloggernista and not Kevin is right about Hillary's willingness to come out of her over-consulted, super-scripted bubble of caution. I don't see why she has to wait for the GOP to attack.

      Kevin is right that the country has sorely needed a real two-party debate for at least the last six years. Two decades later, Democrats remain so scarred by Ronald Reagan's effective use of "liberal" as an insult that instead they try to paint themselves as Republican-lite.

      To paraphrase FDR (I think): Give the people a choice between a Republican and a Republican, and they're going to choose the Republican every time.

      Public support for President Bush and the GOP generally is at historic lows and has been for some time now. The electorate handed Democrats control of Congress. The 2008 presidential field is wide open in both parties for the first time in a half-century. If Democrats can't find their voice now, when will they?

    1. Andoni on Jan 22, 2007 11:32:43 AM:

      Cautious gave us DOMA. Cautious gave us DADT. And that was the Clinton who was both a politician and a leader.

      I want to see a politician who is not afraid of the word gay and who runs a campaign explaining to the public why he/she takes those gay positions. The positions need not be 100% what our ideal platform would be, but at least if they are reasonable and stated openly during the campaign, if he/she wins, then it can be said that that's what the country voted for.

      The nod and wink stuff in the back rooms has gotten us nowhere. "Don't worry, she's on our side and will do great things for us when she wins" doesn't cut it. I want our issues discussed in the open and I want us acknowledged publicly. I don't like going in the back door so people don't know what our relationship with a given candidate really is. If you have to use the back door and remain out of sight, believe me, that is not a good relationship.

    1. Alan on Jan 22, 2007 12:04:42 PM:

      One wonders if Hillary's caution on gay issues has anything to do with the consistent bombardment by the tabloids with unsubtantiated stories of her own personal lesbianism?

    1. order generic viagra online on Sep 15, 2010 2:54:45 AM:

      Really I'm agree with above comments.... Hillary needs a good slogan for sure. Hows about "The Good Clanton...I mean Clinton" Hillary is really very great politician and Great team leader.

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