Why Hillary Is Bouncing Back
Wednesday - March 12, 2008
Guy calls me from the Big Island late last week. “Dan,” says he, “what’s happened to your man Barack?”
“My man?” says I. “Barack isn’t my man. He’s Hawaii’s man, so I’ve been writing about him and why he’s winning.”
“Sure,” says he - unconvinced.
OK. OK. I admit it. I like Obama and the thought of an inspiring, Hawaii-born-and-reared, non-haole becoming president of the United States.
But - now listen up here, reader, including my one Big Island Internet reader - aside from her being a comparatively uninspiring, suburban-born, Illinois haole named Clinton, I like Hillary just fine.
And, being the consummate blah-blahing political pundit that I am, I am prepared to list the reasons why Hillary came back in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island:
First, because she’s smart - whether answering the first, second or third questions of the evening. During most of the long series of presidential primary debates, Hillary bested her male rivals - all of them. She knows the issues inside and out. Only in the two most recent debates - in Ohio and Texas - has Obama matched her performance.
Second, she’s a woman. Gender matters this year. For at least two generations of women who’ve entered and succeeded in the workplace, Hillary is a symbol of their success as well.
While many male-dominated institutions maintain the glass ceiling for women’s advancement, the women who labor in them know that it’s to those institutions’detriment - and their own.
And during the last four years Hillary Clinton’s ascendance to the presidency is of enormous importance to them - almost equal to what an Obama presidency would mean to African Americans.
Allow me an only partially face-tious observation. When my daughter was a child, an adolescent and even now an adult, I urged her to remember - for her own preservation - that “All boys are stupid.” Looking back at her father - the overgrown boy, she would reply: “I know, Dad. I know.”
Should anyone question the truth of that maxim, I offer Bill Clinton’s supremely stupid White House dalliance and the eight years of stupidity that have constituted the presidency of George W. Bush.
Third, during the 1992 presidential campaign the mantra of the husband Bill Clinton’s campaign was “It’s the economy, stupid.” Well, in 2008, the sinking economy is once again a Clinton ally. Inflation, the mortgage crisis, a decline in the stock market, the escalating cost of a gallon of gas, the dollar’s drop in value: All spell electoral advantage for Hillary.
Democrats - and even a few Republicans and independents - remember the Clinton years as a period of economic bliss. Unemployment was low. Federal budgets were balanced - and then they ran surpluses, big surpluses: a phenomenon unknown since the Eisenhower administration - and only briefly then.
How big were those surpluses? As the second Clinton administration came to a close, economists were talking about eliminating the national debt. Shall I repeat that? About eliminating the national debt.
Bill Clinton - despite his stupid, ruinous indiscretions - left the presidency in 2000 with better than 60 percent approval rating from the American people.
When it comes to the economy, the name “Clinton” is a good one. And when the nation’s attention turned from Iraq to the sorry state of the economy, Hillary Clinton’s stock went up.
Fourth, everybody who sports a “D” in back of their name knows Hillary’s. More than that. For the past 17 years Dems from Key West to Kapaa, from Newport Beach to Nantucket, have had a Clinton at their political rallies speaking on their own or an aspiring Democratic officeholder’s behalf. That support resulted in chits, chits held by Bill and passed on to Hillary.
Don’t believe me? Ask Mazie Hirono. In 2002, in her race against Linda Lingle for governor, former President Bill Clinton flew out to Hawaii and spoke on her behalf on all the major islands.
Super delegate Hirono purports to be uncommitted. Count her in the Hillary column.
Finally, there’s the who-shall-answer-the-red-telephone ad. In Ohio and Texas, Hillary, following the lead of generations of Republican and Democratic candidates from the beginning of World War II (at least), turned to fear for an ally: fear of the Nazis, fear of the Commies, now fear of the Islamic terrorists. It’s the least attractive thing she’s done in her campaign, but she’s behind and it’s the presidency - American politics’ biggest prize.
There you have it: Why Hillary is coming back.
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