The Corner

Advice for Hillary

I see absolutely no value in having Hillary Clinton pack up and leave before next Tuesday’s primaries. She can still do something about her fate.

She was Inevitable but then entered the Barackstar.  What she has to do, and hasn’t yet done since that trajectory shakeup, is offer a positive vision to her base.

Hillary supporters tell me they are for her because “she can deliver.” The big picture of what her delivery entails, however, is unclear. In what may be her last couple of days with a national megaphone, Hillary should rise above the details of policy, and the not-so-illuminating contrasts she keeps drawing with Obama’s specifics on health care. It is time for her to give a major speech outlining a vision of the country she sees. Instead of the gloom-and-doom challengers emphasize when they want to make the case for change, she has to paint with brighter colors and offer a broader vision.

Senator Clinton: Instead of giving all the reasons that people need or want universal health care, tell your base what life will be like when they don’t have to worry about paying for their child’s strep test. Illustrate what life will be like when they can devote their best energy to creativity … or studies leading to a better job … or even building new businesses in their own neighborhoods … Talk about what needs to happen to infuse the inner cities with the same sense of ownership and busy capitalism that springs up in middle-class areas. Focus on productivity. Don’t be gloomy. Talk about empowering the poor, and transcending victimhood. You, too, Senator, can lift people up. 

Heck, you can tell your story. This great country and its educational system took you, from a middle-class Chicago family and your husband, from a lower-class Arkansas broken home to some of the best colleges in America, legacy-free. Then hard work and ambition got you to Yale Law School. Paying back the loans were something you were happy to do, because Yale catapulted you into the professional class, and gave you access to the work you wanted to do. Maybe you were thrilled when Wellesley and Yale went out looking for minority students to bring in to mix as well — because that was a building block of a more just society. Not a black America, nor a white America, but one America. You’re proud that leading institutions reach out to talented people in non-traditional backgrounds. Instead of harping on how great it is that a woman is running for president, tell voters how it is still a little surprising, but always thrilling, to realize how far the opportunities Chelsea’s generation has — both the young women and the men. Tell us that, in this regard, politics is a lagging indicator.

You have fought for progress for 35 years, you keep telling us. Tell us about the successes — and how happy they have made you. Instead of talking about a little girl with no coat. Tell us about how the coat-less girl got to college and is now a doctor. Give your voters a picture of what success looks like when the policies you have fought for, and are advocating now, start kicking in. Paint a picture of an America that has changed radically since you went off to college in 1968, and how proud you are of it. Couch your plans for change in terms of what has already happened that is good. Point out that these goods were achieved step-by-step, by people who worked through the legislative details. Make clear you like to feel good too — show you can make people smile thinking about tomorrow, too.

Don’t purse your lips.

That’s my two cents worth of speechwriting advice. It couldn’t hurt, it will take away some of the churlish schoolmarm image, and it may eat into the bubble of ultimately vaporous happy gas surrounding your rival, Senator Obama. Your rival is not George Bush, nor is it John McCain. Yet.

And have Maggie Williams circulate the dirt a little more subtly.

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