Friday, March 13, 2015

Is Hillary Over?

Most of those who watched Hillary Clinton’s press briefing on Wednesday came away disquieted. Her tone was off. Her attitude was off. Her facial expressions were off. Her body language was clearly off.

Happily, for those of us who are less attuned to such cues, Peggy Noonan offers an expert read of Hillary’s non-verbal message.

Noonan begins:

Did she seem to you a happy, hungry warrior? She couldn’t make eye contact with her questioners, and when she did she couldn’t sustain it. She looked at the ceiling and down at notes, trying, it seemed, to stick to or remember scripted arguments. She was shaky. She couldn’t fake good cheer and confidence. It is seven years since she ran for office. You could see it.

Noonan did not see a candidate rearing up for battle. She saw a woman who was tired of it all and was not ready for prime time.

In her words:

This wasn’t high-class spin. These were not respectable dodges. They didn’t make you grudgingly tip your hat at a gift for duplicity. I could almost feel an army of oppo people of both parties saying, “You can do better than that, Hillary!”

This wasn’t the work of a national, high-grade political response team, it was the thrown-together mess of someone who knew she was guilty of self-serving actions, who didn’t herself believe what she was saying, who didn’t think the press would swallow it, and who didn’t appear to care.

She didn’t look hungry for the battle, she looked tired of the battle….

Mrs. Clinton is said to be preparing to announce her candidacy for the presidency in three to four weeks. But did that look like the news conference of a candidate about to announce? It lacked any air of confidence or certitude. For a year the press has been writing about the burgeoning Clinton Shadow Campaign. Where’s the real one?

Many of us believe that Hillary came across as incompetent because she is incompetent. No one has yet named a government job that she undertook and completed successfully. If she runs, Hillary will be running on her gender and her name, not on her achievements.

Noonan has a different take:

After the news conference I thought what I never expected to think: Maybe she doesn’t really want this. Maybe that’s what this incompetence is meant to be signaling.

For those who are chagrined that the Democratic Party has no one else, Noonan astutely explains that politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum:

Maybe Democrats who saw that news conference will sense an opening and jump in. There’s the myth of the empty bench, but it won’t be empty if she leaves it. That’s another law of physics: Nature abhors a vacuum.

We all talk so much about the presidency and who’s got the best chance. Maybe it’s not Hillary. Maybe that’s over and no one knows, even her.

One caveat: for all we know, this could  be a lot of wishful thinking. Hillary might be trying to make her opponents complacent, softening them up by making them overconfident, thus paving the way for victory.


Anonymous said...

The major difference between Bill and Hill -- which commentators fail to get -- is that he likes people while she doesn't.

Bill is the kind of guy you could bring to your town and he'd make friends and have a good time at a black-tie formal and the next day at the roadside pit beef place in the sketchy part of town. Hillary would alienate the first crowd and refuse to even stop for pit beef.

Whatever you think of either of their policies, having a disdain for people in general is a bad thing for anyone in elected office. This was also one of the fundamental differences between Nixon and Reagan.

-- Days of Broken Arrows

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I think you're right about this... and it's a major point.

Dennis said...

I am not really sure about the "empty bench" meme. One may not believe this, but when I was young I really thought a lot of myself and my capabilities. I had an old wise senior NCO who one day had me hold my finger in the air and then remove it. He asked me if I had left any lasting impression there and of course the answer was NO. He said you are really good at your job, BUT when you leave there will be someone to take your place. Maybe not as good, but they will become a valuable part of this organization.
It was an instructive lesson I have carried since that time. NO one is inevitable and there is always someone who will take your place and just maybe, in Hillary's case, be even better.
It is too bad this is driven by a party and a media that lacks the prescience to see the real viability of other people. I suspect that they want so bad to have the power control things that they are blind to the possibilities. It is why the death of a thousand cuts will continue unabated.

Keir said...

Thanks for sharing the article; always enjoy Noonan and was keen to get her take. That Clinton openly admits that everything was done for her personal convenience rather than out of duty or service to her constituents is appalling. Good to see the WP and NYTimes take her task.