The Campaign Spot

Politics & Policy

Hillary’s Debut Was Terrible… But It Doesn’t Matter.

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Hillary’s Debut Was Terrible… But It Doesn’t Matter.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

If Hillary Clinton did nothing between now and Election Day… no interviews, no public appearances, refused to show up to any debates, taped no commercials or videos, and just sat in her house in Chappaqua for the next 20 months… she would still do pretty well. In fact, she might avoid some big mistakes! That’s the more extreme version of her (small-c) conservative, risk-averse, ball-control-offense strategy to come.

For perspective, in 2014, Republicans demolished Democrats in the House races. (This is a nice measurement because every district in America holds a House race while only some states were holding Senate or gubernatorial races.) The Republicans won, 52 percent to 45 percent. So in a year where just about everything possible went wrong for Democrats, they finished with 45 percent. Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment had a kernel of truth about the fairly high floor for a Democratic candidate.

What, you think a Hillary no-show campaign would get derailed by Martin O’Malley? Jim Webb? Lincoln Chafee, who insisted yesterday her foreign policy is too “Bush-like”? Come on. These guys aspire to “Seven Dwarf” status. At this point, they’re not even speed bumps.

Absent-Hillary would probably still carry California, New York, Illinois, most of the West Coast and New England. That’s about 183 electoral votes right there.

Credit the Democrats; they’ve built a political machine where the quality of the candidate isn’t really a factor. Their base is going to show up and vote, no matter what. The vast majority of the disappointed Hillary voters of 2008 turned out to vote for Barack Obama.

Thus, yesterday’s belly flop of a campaign announcement doesn’t really matter that much for her. She didn’t need a huge rally with thunderous applause. She didn’t need the dramatic live television coverage. A Tweet and video sufficed. (You know what was good about the video? Sure, it was a little heavy-handed, but it was about the voters, not her. “When families are strong, America is strong” is not a bad tagline.)

Here’s the good news: Hillary Clinton is going to be a pretty bad candidate. The notion that she, with her $400,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs, is going to be the “champion” for “everyday Americans” (as opposed to part-time Americans?) against the people at the top is ludicrous. She won’t be able to hide from the press, and she tends to answer questions terribly, as we saw in her press conference about the e-mails. She is indeed a congenital liar, and a bad one. She’ll have at least one more big “sniper fire in the Balkans” style blowup in the next six months, count on it.

But by the end of the year, the Democratic base and the press – and perhaps I repeat myself – will have persuaded themselves that she is whatever the moment requires. They’ll convince themselves that she’s “lunch-pail Hillary” as a writer for the New Yorker insisted. If Russia and Ukraine are blowing up, they’ll convince themselves that Madam Reset Button will be the right choice to face down Putin. If the Middle East is blowing up, they’ll convince themselves that the architect of our intervention in Libya can secure our interests and bring peace to the region.

If there’s another VA or level failure of the federal government, they’ll convince themselves that Mrs. “What difference, at this point, does it make?” is the one to restore accountably. If it’s a cyber-attack, they’ll believe that the right choice to handle future threats like this is the woman who thinks Secret Service agents standing next to a server stop intrusions.

The good news is that she’s not going to be a good candidate. The bad news is it’s not clear she needs to be one in order to win.

“I sent that?”


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