Every word, just as she said them: On June 17, MSNBC’s Krystal Ball discussed the NEW jihad which had started to form around Hillary Clinton.
In the year 2525, this will be regarded as an iconic text. To watch the videotape, you can just click this:
BALL (6/17/14): What are we to make of the Hillary Clinton book tour that is so much more than a book tour? The down-to-the-second, precision interactions, perfectly calculated to make sure visitors don’t feel jilted while maximizing the number of signatures. The planned pop-ups of old friends who just happen to be in the area. The carefully crafted backdrops, not too warehouse-y but not too stiff.That text is loaded with talking-points. In the future, anthropologists will call it iconic, or so we’ve been told.
And of course, the interviews.
Now, 99 percent of the interviews substance has been safe, unremarkable, just like Hillary was hoping. But that other one percent is of course what’s gotten all the attention.
First there was the lament that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House and had trouble affording mortgages [stresses the plural] for their houses [stresses the plural]. As a presumptive nominee of a party that is deeply animated by issues of inequality and middle-class fairness, could this comment have been any more dissonant?
Then there was an uncomfortable exchange with NPR’s Terry Gross in which Hillary struggled at length to sort through her various talking-points on gay marriage to describe how and why her position on the issue changed. She eventually settled on something along the lines of, “The country changed and so did I and as soon as I was done with my non-political job at State I came out with my new position,” an answer that I really take no issue with. I wish more people would have the courage to evolve, and more rapidly.
But in her talking-point flail we were reminded of something else—the fact that, for the Clintons, everything is carefully poll-tested, focus-grouped and weather-vaned. If marriage equality was still a drag for Democratic candidates, do you think Hillary would still have come out in support?
As I watched all of this unfold, I began asking myself an uncomfortable question: Is Hillary Clinton our Mitt Romney? Smart? Sure. Confident? Absolutely. Incredible resume? Without a doubt. But also kind of tone deaf and unrelatable. I mean, be honest. Didn’t Hillary’s “dead broke” comment make you think just for a second about Mitt saying “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs” or that he likes firing people?
And like Mitt, after decades in public service, we still can only really speculate on what Hillary Clinton is all about.
Is she a triangulating moderate? A secret liberal? A DLC Wall Street Dem? What will she run on? What sort of president would she actually be? There’s no clues in the bland safety of her State Department record and certainly not in Hard Choices. So we can only guess through the bobbles, the accidental deviations from the script, the things that are said that didn’t come from the briefing book.
Now there’s clearly more enthusiasm among Democrats for Clinton than there was among Republicans for Romney, both became of her trailblazer status and because she so effectively boxed out all other potential primary contenders. But already those sky-high approval ratings are beginning to ebb, and I think it’s because people are remembering the real Hillary, not just the abstract imagined one.
The real Hillary didn’t just lose in 2008 just because of her vote on Iraq. In fact the Iraq vote and her Inability to say she was wrong were symptoms of the core problem in her campaign, a problem that was also at the center of Romney’s campaign.
She exuded confidence but with no core belief. It seemed like the real answer to why she was running for president was simply because she wanted to be president. Will 2016 be different? It’s possible. But so far I haven’t seen change I can believe in just yet.