Below, for posterity, a partial list of the things that happened in the first 24 hours of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign:
- Clinton’s announcement, the circumstances of which she had nearly seven years to plan, came three hours late, in the form of a two-minute, 18-second YouTube video in which Mrs. Clinton does not appear until the 1:33 mark.
- The accompanying press release, the content of which she had nearly seven years to write, included the bracing acknowledgment that Mrs. Clinton has “fought children and families all her career.” Sic erat, as they say, scriptum.
- The campaign brandished its basic mastery of colors and shapes by revealing this . . . well, this — — as a its logo, which, insofar as lots of things are red or blue or angular, called any number of associations to mind. I joked darkly that there would be those who saw a nose-touch to Truther conspiracy theory in the image (wait for it, I’ll pause), only to find out that, of course, the boggiest corners of social media were full of just such speculations.
- The campaign unveiled its working slogan — “It’s your time” — which, even if it didn’t evoke the over-50 dating site OurTime.com, just doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Hillary ’16: What Difference, at This Point, Can We Make?”
- Clinton embarked from New York, in a vehicle dubbed the “Scooby van,” for a roadshow with voters. NBC’s Charles Todd remarked on Twitter: “So hard in this new media age to do anything that looks spontaneous to political world. This Hillary road trip idea has done just that.”
- Moments later, RNC strategist Sean Spicer replied, pointing out that in launching her 2000 Senate campaign, the Clinton team toured New York State in a vehicle dubbed the “Scooby van.” Like, zoinks.
- Clinton and said van were spotted at a Chipotle Grill outside Toledo, Ohio. None less than ABC News obtained the security tape of a sunglassed madam secretary Being Approachable, and appended to the footage the shoe-leather fact that Clinton ordered “a chicken bowl with guacamole, a chicken salad, and fruit juice.”
And just think: As I write there are a mere 574 days to go until Election Day.
The only thing we can say for sure about these proceedings is that Hillary’s will be a content-free campaign. There will be some bits about income inequality and the “middle class,” to be sure, and she will assure recent graduates of the unis she charges three-hundred large per benediction that their student loans are albatrosses around their necks. But it will all be so much fury and sound.
At its core it will be the world’s safest run, a kind of “don’t make any sudden moves” show that makes G. H. W. Bush ’92 look positively Bull Moose. Bill Clinton’s chief political innovation was to stand on the leftmost edge of the Overton window and then start walking rightward, one step at a time, until his approval rating went over 50. I expect his better half to follow that playbook.
There are those who think that Clinton’s nomination-cum-assumption is a subsidy to the GOP field — that the primary cage match will get the eventual victor rowdy and ruddy and, as it were, ready for Hillary. But I’m sure that that is a wash. Because while Clinton is refining her messaging algorithm to the thousandth decimal place, Republicans will be lanced and barbed and run into exhaustion like so many Andalusian bulls, by a media of picadores using gotcha questions in primary debates to bleed them gentle for the slaughter — for the matadora.
This isn’t to say that Hillary doesn’t have her own weaknesses. She’s probably a crook, and people don’t like her once they remember what she’s like, and she’s quite literally as old as the electronic transistor. But . . .
I suspect it will come down to the woman question. Hillary is running as the First Woman because it’s the blueprint. Because the incumbent won twice by mobilizing “First _____” voter coalitions.
But it’s no sure bet those Obama voters will be there again. Obama significantly outperformed every Democratic nominee of the last 30 years among 18–29-year-olds and minorities, and even the One slipped in both these categories between 2008 and 2012.
If Clinton is to be, then, she will be because she did with women — especially unwed women — what Obama did with Millennials and minorities. In 2012, there was no bigger predictor of how a woman voted than whether she had a ring on it. Romney won married women handily but lost the unwed — who constituted nearly a quarter of the electorate — by nearly two to one.
If Hillary can dial in the right combination of policies and signaling and good old-fashioned false consciousness to run up the score with these gals, then I’ll bet no profusion of vowels in the GOP nominee’s name will be enough to make the demographics work.
Which means our republic is in the hands of all the single ladies.
As a GOP sympathizer who has spent his adult life trying to please this very group, I have my concerns.
– Mr. Foster is a political consultant and a former news editor of National Review Online.