Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hope for a Humanized Hillary

Political analysts and news organizations have hailed Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire as an upset, referring to her as a second "Comeback Kid". While her triumph in New Hampshire is a testament to the survivability, mettle, and resilience of the Clintons, it is by no means an upset. What was upsetting to the political pundits, pollsters, and even bloggers was the fact that they were wrong in writing her off in the granite state, with predictions that a loss will doom her candidacy for good. There were others who saw a Barack Obama win (myself included), but have not prepared an obituary for the Clinton campaign as yet.

This is not to say that a Clinton victory is assured, because she came very close to being obliterated. Even top Clinton supporters were anticipating an Obama conquest and were considering a loss of below 5 percentage points a victory. Some were ready to find reasons to quit to join Barack Obama's camp. An Obama win would have catapulted him to become the undisputed front runner and seize a humongous momentum for the succeeding primaries. He fell short of expectations, but it was not an upset.

Hillary was a two-to-one front runner two months ago, tagged as the inevitable nominee with an aura of invincibility. Not anymore. She won by a slim margin of 3 percentage points which is not decisive. That is upsetting. Today, she is back as a contender and a front runner, but the race is wide open. Independent voters who comprised 43% of those polled opted for Obama (43%) versus Clinton (31%). The independents are crucial to a Democrat victory against Republicans in November, and this should not be overlooked. Hillary is weak in this segment. Among registered Democrats, Hillary, however, had the advantage at 45% to Obama's 34%.

Hillary's win came from the women votes (54% of voters), garnering 45% to Obama's 36%. Older voters outnumbered the younger ones, those above 40 (67%) voted heavily for Hillary, while Obama had a 2 to 1 lead over those under 30. The men votes were evenly distributed. Fifty percent of first time voters (1 in 5) supported Obama, 33% supported Hillary.

The knack for attracting independents, combined with the magnetism to expand the Democrat followers through first time voters and the younger set, remains the success area of Obama. The decline in the voting population is due largely to the skepticism of the youth towards the political process and politicians themselves. Obama's gift for electrifying this potentially huge segment plus the independents, will render him the most electable Democrat candidate in 2008. Its a given that registered Democrats will vote for the party's candidate, but the task of motivating them to come out and vote is better suited for Obama. What transpired in Hillary's victory at the granite state is a throng of registered women Democrats beyond 40 years of age. The independents, first timers, and 18-36 year old bracket voters went out to vote for Barack, not Hillary.

Barack Obama's message in Iowa " We are one people, one nation. Our time for change has come", is saying JFK's line (The torch is passed), but directed towards Obama's (Our time for change...) leadership of this generation. In New Hampshire he declared, "It's not just about what I'll do as President, it is also about what you...the people of America, can do to change it". This is a rewording of JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country" ending statement in his inaugural speech. The message was retouched but its impact remains potent, primarily because politicians have made a huge mess of things. If Bill Clinton was John Kennedy's heir in his vision of change, Bill's heir apparent in this continuing saga for the vision of a better America is Barack Obama, not Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hillary's much talked about, (and much maligned) near breakdown helped in portraying a more human side to her erstwhile stone solid projection. Near catastrophic defeat humbled her. Her statement, "I listened to you and in the process I found my voice. I felt like we all spoke from our hearts and I'm so gratified you responded"; is an acknowledgment of her inadequacy at making a powerful connection. Certainly, her teams efforts at getting the women and youth voters helped, but this episode on TV may have been the defining moment for her campaign.

Hillary's problem is that she couldn't let go of her Iron Man persona, and their failure to connect stems from their insistence on a combative approach and fighting stance with steely personalities in a man's world. This is her most tragic error. By positioning herself as more man than woman, she is rejecting herself as a woman in particular, and rejecting all women in general. That she has to be more than a man to be President, in contrast to Michelle Obama's acceptance of being wife, mother and professional, is denying the very essence of what she is supposed to represent. Americans are tired of combat, political battles and wars. The veterans of Vietnam up to Iraq 1 and 2 still live and realize the futility of those battles, the senselessness of the mayhem, and the inevitable miseries that accompany such engagements. Obama's consensus approach is a change that is believable if only for its logic, even without the elegantly worded rhetoric.

Should this "defining moment" emerge as her epiphany in this campaign; begins to listen more and involve participation from voters; cultivate more of "us and we" statements rather than the alienating "I, and My" pronouncements; make permanent this adjusted tone in her approach by being more intimate, personal, and directed towards peoples needs; and seek the party's nomination not as an entitlement, but by humbly requesting for the party's blessings; she stands a good chance of remaining a very strong contender.

Barack Obama has a slight edge, but he will have to demonstrate his readiness with specifics. As for John Edwards, he would do America a lot of good and save a lot of money for his country too by quitting now. The game is over for him. After throwing even the kitchen sink in Iowa, I'd hate to see his underwear in Nevada or South Carolina too!



Anonymous said...

All I can say is http://www.downsouthhuntingforums.com/images/smiles/arggp.gif

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Whatever that is Dude, I'll look for it tomorrow. --Durano, done!

ZenDenizen said...

Aww wasn't Edwards once named the sexiest politician alive? So I'm sure plenty of people would like to see his underwear (that old JibJab joke comes to mind).

Great write-up, as always.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Thanks Zendenizen. On Edwards, well, underwear by themselves are not sexy. It gets to be so when they are worn. So, if these people want to see him in it, he may not have it anymore, he's all spent and he has thrown it in NH too. :-)--Durano, done!

iamsorceress said...

I'd have Putin in undies any day. LOL. Or in that topless pose.

I read the former first lady's book and I would like to believe that she's way better than Obama. She may not have the charisma that the guy has but she is someone who has seen it all and has known where idealism ends and realism begins. There's nothing false about hope indeed but in a country where people still dream the American dream, taking chances is not the best solution. Obama will have his chance, after he completes his term at least.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

I agree, but on this particular post, I erred in predicting an Obama win. Hillary's tears did it.

But going back to History, John Kennedy was much younger (40 years old) than Obama when he ran and won the US Presidential race. The experienced one, Lyndon Johnson, was relegated to running for Vice.Yet he did a terrific job at uniting Americans.

Of course, the more experienced one, who was always suspected of some involvement in the assassination,did prove, at least to himself, that experience in treachery is required.

Hillary could take Obama as her running mate and that would make for a much larger historical event!
--Durano, done!