The Campaign Spot

Are New York Times Columnists Souring on Hillary Clinton?

In the past few days, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd have whacked away at Hillary Rodham Clinton in their columns. Of course, thanks to TimesSelect, no one will ever hear about it. But there’s some interesting tea-leaves to read here. The Washington Post has taken a few whacks at Barack Obama since the beginning of the year; are these columns signalling that Hillary is not the preferred choice for the Democratic nomination within the offices of the New York Times?
I’ll keep the excerpts brief, lest I be accused of undermining the Great Wall of TimesSelect. Dowd:

The Achilles’ heel of “The Warrior,” as she is known, is the war. She expressed outrage about Iraq, but ended up sounding like a mother whose teenage son has not cleaned up his room: “The president has said this is going to be left to his successor … and I think it’s the height of irresponsibility, and I really resent it.”
She uttered the most irritating and disingenuous nine words in politics: “If we had known then what we know now. …”

 And Frank Rich:

This is how she explains her vote to authorize the war: “I would never have expected any president, if we knew then what we know now, to come to ask for a vote. There would not have been a vote, and I certainly would not have voted for it.” John Kerry could not have said it worse himself…
Compounding this problem for Mrs. Clinton is that the theatrics of her fledgling campaign are already echoing the content: they are so overscripted and focus-group bland that they underline rather than combat the perennial criticism that she is a cautious triangulator too willing to trim convictions for political gain. Last week she conducted three online Web chats that she billed as opportunities for voters to see her “in an unfiltered way.” Surely she was kidding. Everything was filtered, from the phony living-room set to the appearance of a “campaign blogger” who wasn’t blogging to the softball questions and canned responses. Even the rare query touching on a nominally controversial topic, gay civil rights, avoided any mention of the word marriage, let alone Bill Clinton’s enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

I realize snark and sniping are the bread and butter of these columnists, but one can’t help but wonder if the opinion-shapers at the Times are wondering if they really want to be writing about another Clinton presidency for the next four to eight years, or would prefer a fresh face…


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