The Corner

Declarations of Victory

Apparently Democrats read Jonah; he wrote late last year:

There are at least three reasons Hillary could be a bad pick for the Democrats. First, presidential elections tend to be won by the more likeable candidate — and Hillary is a lugubrious robot. Bill is an oleaginous carny, who, like her, dissembles with breathless abandon. But while Hillary has the lyrics down, she can’t hear the music. Bill is like a jazz impresario of deceit, always in the groove. Following Hillary as she constructs, brick by brick, one of her word bunkers feels like homework.

Second, this is a “change election.” Government is more unpopular than it was during Watergate and the Democratic Congress has lower approval ratings than President Bush. Pollster Bill McInturff claims that “this is the most angry and unstable of an electorate as I’ve seen in my career.” Referenda in New Jersey (funding stem cells), Utah (funding school choice), and Oregon (funding children’s health care) all failed this November. The common denominator seems to be a general animosity to governmental ambition.

And while everyone is focusing on the fact that the Democrats are running against Bush and the war, fewer people have noted that they’re also running for expanding government. Bush won’t be on the ballot next year and the war may improve (the fact that Hollywood’s slew of anti-war films have fizzled may be a sign that the public is both anti-war and anti-anti-war). Meanwhile, the Democratic Congress is likely to continue to flounder. An anti-Bush message may well get trumped by an anti-Washington message. And any of the Republican frontrunners is a more plausible anti-Washington messenger than Clinton is. After all, she’s running as the quintessential Washington hand, a veteran of the White House and a Senate agenda-setter. Clinton says she has a “million ideas” but the country just can’t pay for them all right now. True enough. But having a million new ideas taxpayers can’t afford may not be something to brag about if current trends continue.

Third and finally, Hillary is . . . a Clinton. The 1990s may have been a nice time for America, but not everybody thinks Bill deserves the credit for it, and some people do want to turn the page. More important, while moderates, independents, and other swing voters may loathe Clinton-haters, they also loathe Clinton hatred. The prospect of spending another four — or eight — years listening to anti-Clinton attacks, having just finished eight years of anti-Bush attacks and eight years of anti-Clinton attacks before that, may just be too much for the “can’t we all get along” do-gooders who tend to decide elections.

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