Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Donkey's Iron Lady

The Moose has discovered the Democrat's Thatcher.

Even though it is premature to choose a horse for '08, pundits must pontificate - including the Moose. The new issue of the Washington Monthly contains a lively debate over Hillary's prospects for President. It is worth a read.

Although Amy Sullivan is pessimistic about her prospects, she writes a rather sympathetic piece on the former first lady. Despite her strengths, she fears that Hillary will fall victim to a Republican media assault, particularly targeted to suburban women. Sullivan cites a GOP commercial in the 2000 Senate campaign that brought down her numbers in this demographic.

While the Moose doesn't doubt that the Republicans will exploit this potential vulnerability, the question is "So what?" The truth is that any Democrat will have a weakness that the Republicans will ruthlessly exploit. At least, Hillary is already aware of this line of attack. And certainly, suburban women can be as much of a strength for her as a weakness. After a Bush Administration stacks the Supreme Court with nominees who are hostile to choice - those women may be longing to have one of their own in the Oval Office to defend their rights! And after eight years of Bush, Bill Clinton's presence in the East Wing might be downright reassuring to the American people.

Hillary's political sagacity is on full display in the lead graphs in two stories in the New York Times today.

On national security,

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and other Democrats proposed Wednesday to increase the size of the Army by 80,000 troops as a way to alleviate what she called a "crisis" in the military caused by lengthy deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan."

And on values,

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling on federal regulators to investigate the latest version of Grand Theft Auto, a popular video game series that allows players to go on simulated crime sprees."

In addition to her deep understanding of the weaknesses of the Democratic party, one of her greatest political assets is that she deeply comprehends the nature of the Republican attack machine. She will be prepared to give as well as she gets. A Democratic Thatcher may be in the making. An Iron Lady may be just what the donkey needs at this moment.

The Moose was particularly intrigued by the smart piece written in favor of Hillary's prospects by Carl Cannon. He makes a fascinating and insightful comparison between Hillary and Ronald Reagan,

"She has paid her dues to the Democratic Party, and she doesn't have to prove her bona fides to anyone. From now on, she only need emulate Reagan, a fellow Illinois native, who campaigned with positive rhetoric and a smile on his face, trusting that the work he'd done cultivating his base would pay off, and that he needed mainly to reassure independent-minded voters. When we in the press corps tried to bait Reagan into going negative by asking why he'd abandoned the party of his youth, he invariably smiled, cocked his head, and gave the same line. "I didn't leave the Democratic Party," Reagan would say. "The Democratic Party left me."

"As a girl, Hillary Rodham was a Goldwater Republican. She could use the same line in reverse. It might remind swing voters why they are looking, once again, at casting their lot with a candidate named Clinton. She can do this because Democrats are poised to back her already, and because much of the rest of America is watching, open-minded, half-hoping that she gives them a reason to support her, too."

Back in 1980, many Democrats were salivating at the prospect of facing Reagan - he was thought too polarizing and ideological to win an election. Similarly, Hillary may prove to be the Democrat's Reagan. And as Cannon points out, since she is the unique position of being freed from pandering to the base, Hillary can can reach out to the center - including those suburban women who are Sullivan's concern (the New Donkey makes a similar point).

And who knows - perhaps this former Goldwater Girl can rescue such conservative values such as fiscal prudence and individual responsibility from Delayican crowd!
-- Posted at 8:40 AM | Link to this post | Email this post