Sunday, January 13, 2008

One Nation


Frank Rich hits the nail on the head as to why I am completely unthrilled by Hillary's campaign strategy:

Every politician employs pollsters, but Mrs. Clinton, tellingly, has one, Mark
, as her top campaign strategist. As Sally Bedell Smith reminds us in
her book about the Clintons, “For Love of Politics,” it was Mr. Penn who helped
shape the 1996 Bill Clinton campaign in which “soccer moms” were identified and
wooed with such Cracker Jack prizes as school uniforms and V-chips to monitor TV
violence. For Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaign four years later, it was also Mr.
Penn’s market testing that, in Ms. Smith’s telling, “crafted anodyne, bite-sized
messages for Hillary.” The overall message uniting the small-bore promises, such
as it was, remains unchanged today: competence, experience, wonky proficiency.

Now folks, how different is this strategy from the Rovian 50+1 strategy, which utilizes wedge issues to divy up and pit the electorate against itself to dig out victory for unpopular candidates or policies?

As a theory for marketing Burson-Marsteller corporate clients like
Microsoft and AT&T — or for selling a third Clinton term — Mr. Penn’s
vision may make sense. What Mr. Obama is betting on instead is a hunger, however
dreamy, for one America, not hundreds of niches, aspiring to the big, grandiose
scheme of finding a common good. The defining question of his campaign is not
just whether he can make this vision real but whether he has the ability as a
leader to give it intellectual heft and to carry it out. We’ll find out soon
enough. Either way, the national yearning for a more perfect union is
unmistakable. Such is the decisive backlash against these divisive years in
which anyone who fails to agree with the White House has been portrayed as
un-American, if not with the terrorists.

That's it in a nutshell. What sort of country do we want to live in? But the best part if Frank's parting invocation of the spector of DIRTY POLITICS...

In Mrs. Clinton’s down-to-earth micropolitics, polls often seem to play the
leadership role. That leaves her indecisive when one potential market is pitched
against another. Witness her equivocation over Iraq, driver’s licenses for
illegal immigrants and even Cubs vs. Yankees. Add to this habitual triangulation
the ugly campaigning of the men around her — Mr. Penn’s sleazy
of “cocaine” on MSNBC, Bill Clinton’s “fairy tale” rant
falsifying Mr. Obama’s record on Iraq — and you don’t have change. You have the acrimonious 1990s that the Republicans are dying to refight, because that’s the only real tactic they have.

And down this path lies defeat and darkness. Is there a fight brewing for the soul of the Democratic Party? God I hope so.

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