Politics & Policy

“Kill” Bill?

Hillary's got a problem of presidential proportions on her road back to the White House.

Let’s admit it. Hillary is scary. And not only because she is extremely smart, totally driven, and a formidable fundraiser. Hillary’s most impressive and most worrisome quality is that she is a self-improver. That girl can learn and change constantly even if it means contradicting herself. “That’s not flip-flopping,” I bet she’d say, nodding her head, which she always does when she’s agreeing, “it’s evolving.”

And let’s admit this, as well: Most guys are either too self-confident or too insecure to work so constantly and so hard on trying to improve and repackage themselves. Not our Hillary. Remember how she used to always change her hairdos–flip to pouf, long to short–as well as her style–hippie to fussy to de la Renta–until she finally settled on her current easy-to-blow-out do and her black-pantsuits-for-work and colored-ones-for-fundraisers look, both of which can hide those unfortunate legs?

In some ways she seems like one of those Star Trek villains who would baffle Captain Kirk for half a show because they keep changing form. Or, like The Matrix she can, not only change form, but the whole environment in order to protect herself or have her way. Maybe that’s why a couple of weeks ago she tacked so noticeably to the right on abortion and, even before that, told a crowd in Boston that she really, really, really believes in faith-based initiatives.

Of course, at practically the same time–after she and Bill attended the Trump wedding reception–she spoke to crowd of the faithful at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach and declared, “I believe that on both political and substantive grounds, my husband did it just right…. He took on hard issues that we pay a president for. Frankly, it is not that hard cutting people’s taxes.” She also complained “I don’t see that thoughtful, visionary direction that got us where we are today,” Yes, she was able to say with a straight face that Bill had the vision thing and Dubya doesn’t.

Isn’t it a relief to know that George and Laura would never attend Donald Trump’s fourth wedding reception?

The other night a Democratic fundraiser told me that the only way Hillary could have a chance was to use the Karl Rove strategy and get out the base. But Karl Rove says that his strategy was increasing the base, and Hillary is smart enough to recognize that. Bob McCarthy, a writer at the Buffalo News, reported that she had an interesting little chat on just that subject with the reporters and editors of the paper when she was in Buffalo last week to give back-to-back speeches. She grew queasy and faint before a pro-choice women’s group but still soldiered on to Canisius College, a bastion of Jesuit Catholicism. At Canisius, talking about health care, she managed to make respectful references to Cardinals Bernardin and O’Connor and, for good measure, the Gospel of St. Matthew.

According to McCarthy, she gave her opinion of what went wrong with Kerry’s strategy, hinting how she might run her own campaign. “[Kerry’s] campaign missed a lot of opportunities to make their case. There were a number of decisions–strategic decisions–that just didn’t pan out. ” Kerry, she said, worked hard to rally his Democratic base in the big cities of Ohio, writing off the outlying areas. Ditto for Nevada when he won Las Vegas and Reno but lost the hinterland. Hillary said when she was running for Senate, she was advised to concentrate on four out of the five boroughs of New York City, and the upstate cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany. She was told to write off the rural counties as “a waste of time.” “But I looked at the numbers and the numbers didn’t support that,” she told Buffalo News staffers. “I was successful in shrinking the margins against me.” In her decisive victory, she even won some traditionally GOP counties. So expect Hillary during the next year, even while she occasionally throws some red meat to her loyalists, to never ” stop thinking about tomorrow” and the need to turn some “red” states purple in 2008.

But, of course, her greatest problem remains, not merely moderating her current views, but distancing herself her Hill-and-Bill past. Women–who she would have to win decisively–might find the historic opportunity to help elect the first woman president quite appealing. But not if that means having Bill back in the White House, even if he’s merely hanging out in an office in the East Wing.

So what is our girl going to do? A Hillary on her own just might make her a much stronger candidate. Yes, she can change her views, but will she change her husband? Handling that challenge would be the greatest test yet of Senator Clinton’s presidential ambitions.

Myrna Blyth, former long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness–and Liberalism–to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.

Myrna BlythMyrna Blyth is senior vice president and editorial director of AARP Media. She is the former editor-in-chief and publishing director of Ladies’ Home Journal. She was the founding editor and ...

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