How will history remember Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign?
To start, a lot of people didn't start appreciating her until she had practically lost the nomination to Barack Obama.
Though Clinton came across as "cold" and "impersonal," she could give a great speech, bring a crowd to its feet, handle a tough question, and make meaningful connections with those around her. Under the shadow of Obama, however, none of that seemed to matter. To the media and a large group of Democrats, Hillary was merely playing an old type of politics?one that went after Obama and didn't always play nice.
As an ex-Clinton supporter and (though not as a result of Clinton's defeat) a proud fan of John McCain, I see his campaign slowly falling into the traps that sealed Hillary's fate.
For one, McCain's campaign never seems to bring a story or issue to the media or change the dialogue of the campaign. Instead, McCain spends his time in the public spotlight giving good speeches about things that don't surprise us. I could have predicted McCain would talk about his two favorite issues?energy independence and Iraq?in Portland, ME on Monday, much the same way it was no surprise Hillary Clinton gave a very obvious speech about rebuilding America's infrastructure after the Minneapolis bridge collapse last August.
The thing is, both speeches were extremely intelligent, effective, and well-received, but they were delivered in front of small audiences at times when they'd attract little attention. That sounds like where McCain's finding himself right now.
When he should be focusing on creating publicity around his own campaign, McCain has spent most of his time going after Obama. Whether it's criticizing his foreign policy experience, his "anti-troops" remarks, or the media's love affair with him (though this actually does exist), McCain and the GOP are all about Obama. Check out the RNC's homepage this morning:
In 2000 and 2004 the Republicans always seemed to be on message and didn't resort to these silly little jokes about their Democratic opponenets; their attacks used to be mean, serious, and effective. Now, the RNC homepage is little more than a parody of itself.
During his speech in Portland on Monday, McCain repeatedly brought up Barack Obama?how he should of condemned MoveOn.org's "General Betray-us" ad and that he lacked judgment in not supporting the surge in Iraq. Meanwhile, Obama travels the world speaking to presidents and diplomats about issues "larger" than partisan politics.
Whether or not Obama really does transcend party politics is up in the air, but McCain would be wise to get off Obama's case for a while and make a case of his own.