Monday, January 07, 2008

Goodbye Hillary?

According to this morning's headline on the Drudge Report, the impending exit of Hillary Clinton from the 2008 Presidential campaign may be a distinct possibility. According to the report,
Facing a double-digit defeat in New Hampshire, a sudden collapse in national polls and an expected fund-raising drought, Senator Hillary Clinton is preparing for a tough decision: Does she get out of the race? And when?!

"She can't take multiple double-digit losses in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada," laments one top campaign insider. "If she gets too badly embarrassed, it will really harm her. She doesn't want the Clinton brand to be damaged with back-to-back-to-back defeats."

This brings up two immediate thoughts- one, how Hillary's entire campaign has been based on the idea that her money, power and husband's name would make up for her own complete lack of experience and likability and two, how modern campaigns are so dependent on the media.

On the subject of Hillary, if she does indeed lose in New Hampshire and then drop out, that would almost certainly spell the end of her Presidential ambitions. 2008 was her best chance to win that elusive prize, with no incumbent running. If Barack Obama wins, Hillary cannot run again for eight years, by which time she will almost certainly be considered too old, and even if that is not the case, her high negatives are unlikely to recede. In addition, eight years of a Democrat in the White House will probably lead to voters' desire for a chance in leadership- Democrats have not done a stellar job of leading in the past and there is a good chance that will not change with an Obama presidency. And if a Republican wins, she would have to face an incumbent, and her bad performance in this campaign does not seem to indicate much eagerness by Democrats to nominate a candidate whose chances for winning are as low as Hillary's. I think if she is going to win even the nomination, she has to do it in 2008- this is really her only true chance.

On the topic of the media, it is a shame that cmapaigns have become more about the image than about the substance. How many of us really know what any of the candidates believe? the so-called 'debates' hoseted by the varioous media outlets have been designed more to show off the moderators than the candidates, it would seem. And at no point have we had a true debate of substance by any of the candidates. As shown by the Clinton insider quoted above, it is more about how the candidates are perceived than what they actually are. The Clinton 'brand' cannot take more damage? Isn't the election about the candidate who best represents the American people? What is this 'brand' idea? Bill Clinton cannot run again for President. Hillary has made a mess of her campaign. What is the 'brand'? Chelsea?

Personally, I would like to cut the media completely out of the equation,save as reporters, which is what they should be anyway. Let the candidates have real debates, as Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas did. Let the voters hear what candidates really think. If a candidate has a true philosophy of government, let's hear it. I don't care what Chris Matthews or Tim Russert or any other talking head thinks. They are only reporters, not oracles. I want to hear what the candidates think. And I believe that in the flurry of media coverage, we have lost the essence of what the election should really be about. What does Barack Obama, or John McCain, or any other candidate really believe? I don't really know. In the case of Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, at least we have some governing record to look at.

I think that any of the Republican candidates would be a better choice than any Democrat, if only because of the amount of experience, both executive and legislative on that side of the aisle. But I would really like to hear the candidates themselves allowed to expound on their ideas, as opposed to some puffed-up moderator wanting sound bites for the six o'clock news.

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