Hillary Clinton Apparently Having A Hard Time Deciding Why She’s Running For President

A woman who has been running for President for at least eight years is apparently having trouble explaining why she wants to be President.

Hillary Clinton Holds Campaign Roundtable In Las Vegas

Hillary Clinton, who is in the middle of her second campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination and has arguably been running for President in some sense of the word since her husband left office, is apparently still unable to articulate why she wants to be President:

At Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, staffers are invited to complete a phrase that is written on a wall: “Hillary for …”

Beside it, staffers have plastered dozens of sticky notes with various words and phrases.

While the wall could be seen as a freewheeling experiment in the manner of a tech startup, it could also be regarded as symptomatic of a nagging problem for Clinton in the 2016 race: namely, the difficulty she has had in explaining why she’s running for president.

“The wall of stickies makes me nervous, because she should be for one vision for America and then maybe she achieves that vision with a bunch of policies,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “I’m probably for most of the things on the stickies, but voters will have a tough time digesting a campaign with about a hundred policies.”

David Axelrod, one of the masterminds of President Obama’s 2008 victory, has persistently warned that Clinton needs to provide a clear rationale for why she’s seeking the White House.

” ‘Hillary: Live with it’ is no rallying cry!” Axelrod tweeted last month while bemoaning that the Clinton camp was running a “grinding, tactical race.”

Last December, Axelrod had warned that Clinton needed to show she was “running for a purpose and not just for a promotion.” He has also said, “You have to stand for something, you have to fight for something, and people need to know what that is.”

While Clinton loyalists might complain that Axelrod’s frequent barbs reflect the bad blood generated during the 2008 race, others in the Democratic Party share his concerns.

“Nothing about the campaign reads as fresh and new, but rather as cautious, risk-averse and private,” one Democratic strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said of the Clinton campaign.

Independent observers, too, suggest that the former secretary of State has been slow to offer a summation of her reasons for seeking the presidency, beyond personal ambition.

Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College at the City University of New York, said Clinton could end up getting into a tangle similar to the one that famously ensnared Edward Kennedy. Asked in a 1980 TV interview, “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy gave a vague, meandering answer that was perceived as sapping his momentum.

“She’s got to have a really appealing message — two or three bumper stickers that essentially summarize her,” Muzzio said, going on to suggest one such slogan.

“I think the bottom line is that she is ready, willing and able — and she could argue that the Republican field is not ready, and they might be willing, but are they able?”

The Clinton campaign did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Team Hillary’s apparent difficulty in boiling her candidacy down to a pithy message is all the more surprising because the same dilemma confronted her during her first run for the White House, in 2008.

While then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) kept his campaign organized around the rhetorical anchors of “hope and change,” Clinton cycled through messages at a rapid clip.

In January 2008, Politico’s Ben Smith listed a number of slogans that had already been used before a single state had voted. Among them were, “Let the Conversation Begin,” “Big Challenges, Real Solutions,” “Renewing the Promise of America,” “Working for Change, Working for You” and “Ready for Change, Ready to Lead.”

“It’s shocking that, given the ‘coronation’ criticism Clinton faced since 2007, they haven’t developed a better rationale for the candidacy,” the anonymous Democratic strategist told The Hill.

Obviously, a slogan in and of itself isn’t going to make or break a campaign. In the grand scheme of things, a slogan is little more than an advertising tag. At the same time, though, the fact that Clinton and her army of advisers is seemingly unable to come up with a rationale for her campaign that can be easily summarized for voters is an indication of the criticism that many of have leveled against her campaign since it started in April. According to these critics, some of them Democrats, Clinton has not been able to provide an overall logic for her campaign or even a reason why she wants to be President that doesn’t come off sounding like an argument for inevitability or the fact that she’s running for President because, well, because she wants to be President. To a large degree, of course, part of this failure on the part of the campaign to articulate a message can be blamed on the fact that it has largely been on the defensive for the past several months. Between the ongoing questions about her use of a private email server, the rise of Bernie Sanders from insurgent candidate to seemingly serious candidate who raises nearly as much money has she does, and the ongoing speculation over Vice-President Biden’s Presidential intentions. In this environment, it’s been difficult if not impossible for the campaign to focus on a positive message, and the fact that her poll numbers have declined throughout this process has also likely shaped the way the campaign has approached the race. In the end, though, this still leaves Clinton campaign in the same position it was in during the 2008 campaign, with confusion about what her message is and why exactly she wants to be President. \

Clinton’s position isn’t unique, of course. Other Presidential candidates have also struggled with the issue of how to frame their campaign and how to explain why they want to be President, often to an extent that has been fatal to their campaigns. The most famous example of this, of course, came during  Roger Mudd’s interview with Senator Ted Kennedy in November 1979 when Kennedy making the opening moves toward what eventually became his effort to defeat a sitting President for his parties nomination, something that had not happened in American political history for quite some time by then. During the interview, Mudd asked Kennedy why he wanted to be President, and Kennedy gave an answer that was called stammering, repetitive, and devoid of any actual content (you can watch the actual exchange in this video). The interview wasn’t fatal in the sense that it ended Kennedy’s campaign then and there, but it underscored the problems he would come to face the following year during what was already an uphill nomination fight against an incumbent President. Clinton doesn’t have quite the uphill fight that Kennedy did 36 years ago, and she still seems to be the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, but if she can’t even come up with something as simple as a theme for her campaign that explains why she wants to be President, she could be headed for trouble.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    The Energizer Bunny of politicians?

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Hillary Clinton, who is in the middle of her second campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination and has arguably been running for President in some sense of the word since her husband left office, is apparently still unable to articulate why she wants to be President:

    I think I can help here:
    (1) She currently has the best chance among Democrats to win and keep Republicans from running the table and controlling the Federal Government
    (2) She will probably be in position to nominate 1 or 2 people to the Supreme Court.

    There, those seem like good reasons for her to run for president.
    I think she should say as much.

  3. Davebo says:

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Don’t worry Doug. It will be a new career.

  4. bill says:

    @al-Ameda: her crowd wouldn’t understand the logic of that, they need some sort of thing that they can chant/bang drums to. she’s running out of “causes” though since gays can marry and there’s no threat to the dreaded “voter rights” bs. she’s having trouble gauging the gun stuff too as bernie seems to have beat her to it.
    she can still run on the “my husband cheated on me” thing that seems to be her main source of pity votes- but the more she shrieks the less people like her. limit her contact with humans and unbiased media wonks and she should be ok. god help her if some reporter gets to ask her a real question that she’s not prepared to answer…

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @bill:

    there’s no threat to the dreaded “voter rights” bs.

    I guess you haven’t been paying attention to the state of Alabama, where after passing a voter ID law, the state closed all the places you could get a voter ID.
    But there is no problem with voters rights at all…if you are a white male Republican. Otherwise…

  6. Stan says:

    The title of this post should be “Doug Mataconis Apparently Having A Hard Time Deciding Why He Hates Hillary Clinton”. Or maybe it’s just me, not able to understand his reasoning.

    Here’s a request to our genial blogger: spell out your political philosophy. You’re against social reform of the sort associated with the New Deal. Is it because you hate the idea of your money going to people who should be able to take care of themselves? Or because you think the economy functions better under conservative administrations? Or because you dislike infringements on your liberty? Or is it simply self-interest?

    I don’t think most libertarians and conservatives are bad people, but when I try to understand their thought processes I come up empty. Maybe you could help.

  7. Hal_10000 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I guess you haven’t been paying attention to the state of Alabama, where after passing a voter ID law, the state closed all the places you could get a voter ID.

    IDs can still be obtained at Board of Registrars and via a mobile ID van. It’s not as good as having a DMV, but let’s not exaggerate (and I suspect there will be a court battle over this).

    To the main question. I’ve been saying this for a while. Her big issue for years was healthcare but that’s been done. Listening to Clinton’s supporters, the entire campaign is about keeping those nasty Republicans out of power. I’m sure that will do well with Democrats. But “I’m not X” traditionally does not do well in a general election (see Dole, Bob; Kerry, John; McCain, John and Romney, Mitt. Also about 80% of the current Republican field).

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    “The wall of stickies makes me nervous, because she should be for one vision for America and then maybe she achieves that vision with a bunch of policies,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.

    Who?

    This is part of what’s so wrong with articles like this. Up to this moment, I’d never heard of “Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons” so had to look him up, and I’m fairly engaged in news about politics. So why is what he thinks particularly noteworthy or deserving to be quoted, any more than any other random person’s opinion? Other than the fact that he was apparently chief of staff to Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and a press secretary to the failed campaigns of Bob Graham and Wesley Clark, who cares if he’s nervous?

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    Post Scriptum – as a conservative/libertarian who doesn’t trust the GOP and likes divided government, I think “keeping Republicans in check” is actually the best argument in favor of Clinton (or any other Democrat). I just don’t think it’s going to do well.

  10. stonetools says:

    Hillary Clinton has set out a detailed policy agenda (which Doug has studiously ignored), and Doug’s criticism of her campaign is that she has not come up with a catchy slogan? Seriously? This post indicates what is wrong with US Presidential politics.

    In any case, we are on to you, Doug. Now, let’s say she comes up with a catchy slogan (“Tippycanoe and Hillary too” or something like that). Would you compliment her on that and say, “She’s finally on her way.” Or would you criticize her for thinking that she could help her campaign with some tawdry gimmick?

    Tell you what , Doug. Let me help you out. There is a thing called Google that can help out you locate websites like this where Clinton sets out her policy positions. You could possibly even comment on those positions, like a serious political blogger would. How about that?

  11. Rafer Janders says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But “I’m not X” traditionally does not do well in a general election (see Dole, Bob; Kerry, John; McCain, John and Romney, Mitt.

    But why not see Clinton, Bill; or Obama, Barack? A not-insignificant portion of the those who vote for Democrats are precisely those for whom “I’m not a Republican” is a winning argument. Clinton and Obama didn’t just win because everyone wanted to see those men in particular win — a lot of their voters just wanted to see the GOP lose.

  12. C. Clavin says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Listening to Clinton’s supporters, the entire campaign is about keeping those nasty Republicans out of power.

    Well…yeah.
    Because of the Supreme Court, and Foreign Policy, and the Economy, and the Environment…for a litany of policy reasons. Republicans have lost their minds. They need to be kept out of office. Because of the very real policy implications they represent. Look at Kansas. Iraq. Iran. GDP in the 4th quarter of 2008. Health Care costs. The number of people insured. The lady down the street that has insurance today.
    I’m not even sure what your argument is really???? That your view of anyone who disagrees with you is way too simplistic?

  13. Modulo Myself says:

    I’m fairly certain that Hillary Clinton wants to be president because in a strange, slightly sad way, it represents the fitting final volume of a Caroesque three-part biography of her life.

    And if she wins this election it’s going to because voters can relate more to that than the deficient Politico-style analysis of life presented by Doug and the total bloodthirsty nuttiness of the GOP.

    And could there be any journal devoted to a topic less useful on that topic than Poltico? I can’t imagine. The National Enquirer and People can tell you more about what’s going on with Ben Affleck than Politico can about the state of American politics. It was this dumbness that carried George W Bush to office, and you know what, people hate that f–king loser, which is why his comatose brother is now polling at 4%.

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Listening to Clinton’s supporters, the entire campaign is about keeping those nasty Republicans out of power. I’m sure that will do well with Democrats.

    It will also do well with anyone who remembers what happened 2001-2009, including the World Trade Center attacks, the illegal attack on and botched invasion and occupation of Iraq, the destruction of New Orleans,the failure to find bin Laden, the failed Afghanistan War, the looting of the surplus, the global financial crisis, and the entire atmosphere of cronyism, corruption, and criminality that pervaded the government the last time those nasty Republicans were in power.

  15. Modulo Myself says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Don’t forget the lovely idea to privatize Social Security and dump the money in the totally safe stock market.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @stonetools:

    like a serious political blogger would.

    hahahaha…you crack me up.

  17. Moosebreath says:

    @stonetools:

    “There is a thing called Google that can help out you locate websites like this where Clinton sets out her policy positions. You could possibly even comment on those positions, like a serious political blogger would.”

    This is Doug you are talking to. A political commentator who makes at least 20 times as many posts on the horse race elements than the actual policies of the candidates.

  18. DrDaveT says:

    “The wall of stickies makes me nervous, because she should be for one vision for America and then maybe she achieves that vision with a bunch of policies,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons

    Anyone who thinks the world is simple enough that there is a coherent “one vision” of how it ought to be, that can be achieved “with a bunch of policies”, is too dangerous to be allowed to use the pointy scissors.

    Hillary for all the little things Republicans hate that add up to quality of life for all.

  19. the Q says:

    Uh, like what is Hillary supposed to do? By keeping her mouth shut, she masks her true Clintonite leanings…big business, class elitism and hawkish foreign policy.

    Look at this quote which is so typical of her “true” feelings:

    “A lot of what caused the risk that led to the collapse came from institutions that were not big banks,” she told the Des Moines Register. And when actress/director/writer/cultural whirlwind Lena Dunham challenged her ties to Wall Street this week, Clinton said the problem with those who call for breaking up the giant lenders is “a lot of the problems were not from these traditional banks.”

    So, its not the big banks fault that we had TARP bailing them out at almost a trillion dollars and breaking up these giant cartels is not right since “a lot of the problems were not from these traditional banks.”

    So, in other words. lets not put nasty Glass Steagall type New Deal regs on the malefactors of great wealth says the poster child of baby boomer worthlessness. She’s an empty suit looking to add that one last title to her resume – thats why she can’t articulate her cause. And how much has Wall Street given to her campaign?

    But hey its all about Supreme Court appointments right?

  20. steve s says:

    @Stan: my best guess is that conservatives and libertarians grew up mostly middle class in a time after decades of labor struggle created that middle class, they think the middle class, and their place in it, just naturally happens, and don’t understand that a free market without serious redistribution rapidly creates 3rd-world conditions, which is the course the US has been on now for 35 years.

  21. Stan says:

    @steve s: Maybe so. Another possibility is that conservatives do understand how the economy has evolved but nevertheless feel that it’s wrong to require hard working sensible people to make up for the moral deficiencies of others. I think that’s the underpinning of American conservatism, but I’m just guessing.

  22. LC says:

    The saddest part is not Doug’s irrational and unhinged problems with all things Hillary says/does. The saddest part here is people commenting, as if Doug reads and/or cares about what anyone has to say. He doesn’t defend himself in the comments, he doesn’t acknowledge criticism or errors — he just posts some nonsense, and everyone else gets in a tizzy responding despite knowing Doug is moving onto the next 8 lazy, conventional-wisdom blathering posts he’s going to make today. Does anyone think Doug is really going to go to Hillary’s page and see the policy papers she has put out? Of course not. But we all keep coming here, reading his nonsense, and posting comments like it is going to have any effect.

    Doug is no different than Tsar Nicholas, or Jenos, or any other troll here, except for some reason people keep expecting him to see the light and make a halfway intelligent post.

    This blog is sorely in need of new writers — Steven can’t be expected to be a counterweight to Doug’s lazy writing. James should really consider adding some of the more intelligent commenters here as contributors, because I definitely can not go through the rest of the primary, let alone the general election, with Doug’s bullshit being 85% of the posts here.

  23. Tillman says:

    @the Q:

    But hey its all about Supreme Court appointments right?

    Only recently begun to appreciate this common refrain as the Democratic version of Norquist’s admission in 2012 that Republicans just need someone to sign the bills into law.

  24. Tillman says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It will also do well with anyone who remembers what happened 2001-2009

    You’re familiar with the truism that the average American voter’s political memory only goes back two years, right?

  25. Pinky says:

    @Stan: I don’t understand this charge against Doug. His article could have been written by a person from any part of the political spectrum. It’s about campaign effectiveness, not ideology. He’s not trying to persuade, but analyze. I don’t see any reason for questioning his motives.

    I also have trouble believing that you’ve never heard or read a conservative/Republican/libertarian defend his beliefs. You didn’t say you disagree with them; you said you couldn’t understand them. I’ve found no shortage of people willing to explain their beliefs online.

  26. Pinky says:

    @LC:

    Doug is no different than Tsar Nicholas, or Jenos, or any other troll here, except for some reason people keep expecting him to see the light and make a halfway intelligent post.

    A troll is a commenter who insults the hosts. Doug’s one of the hosts, and you’re insulting him. He’s not the troll here; you are.

  27. Dave Francis says:

    ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS & DONALD TRUMP.
    By designation, illegal aliens are criminals not IMMIGRANTS? However, the biased Press, in mainly the Liberal editorial staff prefers intentionally to intermix both immigration status. Illegal aliens violate our immigration laws each day. They fabricate the truth on application forms to get education, health care, jobs and welfare. Then you have the 172,000 convicted illegal aliens that King Obama has given amnesty so they can stay in this country. Illegal immigration has a massive cost and the taxpayer cover everything. It would be meaningless to try and guess the actual amount spent on these people, but its estimated over a $$100 billion annually, that should be spent on our own citizens and legal immigrants, not anchor babies or the chain migration of families. We now have within our boundaries 30 Million Illegal Immigrants in US, Says Mexico’s Former Ambassador on MSNBC

    And even legal immigration should be reduced, until America is back on its feet? This will never happen under the GOP professionals as they demand cheap labor or the Democrats whose agenda is to stealthily stay silent about non citizens voting in our elections.

    If you recognize the names of Kate Steinle and Marilyn Pharis, they are both murder victims of illegal aliens. The other day a drunk driving illegal alien in Victoria, Texas killed six illegal aliens. Every day the illegal aliens cause rape, murder, theft, traffic accidents and steal American jobs. Isn’t time we use a new approach? Maybe enforcing the immigration laws that are already on the books. A third of the prison population are foreign nationals.

    “According to ABC13, authorities believe the crash is a failed human smuggling attempt. They also reported that the middle seat in the SUV had been removed and the rear seat had been folded down in order to fit more people. Preliminary information points to the crash victims as having been from Honduras and Guatemala.

    The New York Times reported on the crash; however, they failed to mention the human smuggling connection thus making it difficult for their readers to understand the reasons for the chase and the crash.

    These persons died while violating our laws. Because we do not enforce our immigration laws; Washington is responsible for these deaths.

    Americans must demand a strong President, and from what I heard in Donald Trumps commencement speech, he asserted that illegal immigration was out of control and went on to say that he would enforce our laws beginning with building a Trump–WALL. That’s a good enough answer for me and millions of ordinary citizens, that he will complete that major project. The others in the Presidential race tends to fudge over statistics or just stay silent about the enormity of the illegal alien invasion. Statesman Trump will not only erect that controversial wall, but will build on the E-Verify program. Optional now E-Verify is easy to compromise by untrustworthy employers and their rules. But by amending E-Verify so it is MANDATED, illegal aliens and employers will no longer be able to slip through the fingers of ICE. However it will only work with the presence of hefty fines and in some cases imprisonment.

    Along with Trump standing tall, Senator Ted Cruz speaks his mind, not trying to make the scope of the problem trivial. Cruz didn’t stay quiet about the Republicans falling in line with not withholding the power of the purse. After the devotion of Conservatives to return Republicans in volume to the Congress, they have already seen how they have been let down. Its as if speaker of the house John Boehner was in collusion with the present administration? One things for sure, that if Trump stays and doesn’t get nominated for Prez, then I know the whole campaign is rigged?

    If the polls are correct in predicting the new man for the White House, then Trump will a tough guy, gaining momentum all the time. Then lets face it, who in their right mind would vote for Jeb Bush (a Rino) who is heavily involved with the US Chamber of Commerce and a need for cheap labor, no matter the cost to the American people Then Hillary Clinton, who lives under a ominous shadow since her entering into politics. With Hillary losing rapidly thousands of followers, she has now began pandering to illegal aliens by having the audacity to blame of all people, this president for his deportation efforts. When Obama has done more to dismiss our immigration laws with his signature and still waiting around to see the outcome of his overreach in the courts in offering another financial damaging amnesty. Since his first term in the Oval office he has released thousands of criminal illegal aliens from prison, back into our communities. As for Bernie Sanders, a dyed in the wool extreme Socialist, who wants big government to control us, like the Russian state.

    Always find the truth about all the issues including illegal immigration at Judicial Watch http://www.judicialwatch.org and download their newsletter about the corruption in Washington and state assemblies. In addition, One American News Network http://www.oann.com overseas the facts and truths that the media lies about and missing facts that they withdraw from public eye.

  28. Pinky says:

    I reserve the right to expand my definition of “troll” to include off-topic comments that I have to hit Page Down four times to get past.

  29. Stan says:

    @Pinky: I don’t think the American economy functions well unless workers make enough to sustain consumer demand and I don’t think our political system functions well when income and wealth inequality are as high as they are now. I think that the idea of deporting 11 million people is both inhumane and impractical and that Lyndon Johnson’s reform of our immigration policy was one of the best things he did. I feel that if people of the same sex want to marry it’s their business, not mine. I believe that climate scientists are honest and that the models and numerical methods they use are as good as they can be, given the limitations of present day computer technology. And finally, I think that budgetary austerity makes as much sense in terms of achieving its ends as jailing a man for not paying off his debts. For these reasons and others I’m a liberal in the American context. If I were Dutch or Swedish I’d probably be regarded as slightly right of center.

    You say that there are plenty of defenses of American style conservatism to be found online. I haven’t seen any I find convincing, and when I see conservatism in practice at the state level, in Kansas and Louisiana, for example, the practical consequences strike me as disastrous. But I’m willing to keep looking, and if you can find good economic arguments in favor of cutting taxes on the wealthy or junking the Affordable Care Act I’m certainly willing to see what they say. The ball’s in your court.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Pinky: wait. “Pinky” said:

    I don’t understand this charge against Doug. His article could have been written by a person from any part of the political spectrum. It’s about campaign effectiveness, not ideology. He’s not trying to persuade, but analyze. I don’t see any reason for questioning his motives.

    My god, I’ve just had a thought is “pinky” really Doug??!

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Pinky:

    A troll is a commenter who insults the hosts.

    That’s an interesting interpretation. Traditionally, a Troll is someone who has no real dog in the fight but simply posts the most galling thing they can think of because it amuses them to watch the reaction. More recently people use troll to mean an obnoxious moron who can be proven wrong over and over but never acknowledges it no matter how many times they are brilliantly told they are wrong by committed and sincere truth-tellers. The irony of that second definition is exquisite.

  32. Todd says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I think I can help here:
    (1) She currently has the best chance among Democrats to win and keep Republicans from running the table and controlling the Federal Government
    (2) She will probably be in position to nominate 1 or 2 people to the Supreme Court.

    #2 will likely apply to whoever is elected President in 2016.

    #1 is subjective, and not even terribly well supported by anything approaching objective data.

    And I’ll answer the question posed by the title of this article …

    In her mind, she’s running for President “because she Deserves to be President” … especially after the way Obama stole what was “rightfully hers” last time.

    Of course she would never say that. And of course that may not even be what she actually thinks.

    However, just the fact that so many Americans would be absolutely willing to believe that that is EXACTLY what she thinks, illustrates why you are so wrong in bullet point #1, that she somehow has the “best” chance of defeating whoever the eventual Republican nominee is.

  33. Ben Wolf says:

    @Pinky: Yep. A lot of commentors here are attacking a stereotype of Doug rather than what he’s actually written. Note they universally ignore the criticisms of the Clinton campaign quoted from Democrats. I haven’t seen a single comment going after Axelrod for saying something effectively identical to Doug’s argument. But Doug identifies as a libertarian and Salon says libertarians are evil so it’s ok to trash him.

  34. Todd says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    A lot of commentors here are attacking a stereotype of Doug rather than what he’s actually written.

    I think being a political writer is probably not far removed from being a politician … in that some people are going to dislike pretty much anything you say, simply because it was you who said it. 😉

  35. Guarneri says:

    I think you have all missed the real point. I will be voting for her because because of the two biggest issues facing the country: the economy and income inequality.

    She’s as economically astute as they come. Who do you know who can turn a 10x profit in the rough and tumble world of cattle futures trading? Sounds like a president we need to me. And let’s face it. Income inequality? She and that funner than a barrel full of monkey’s hubby of hers left the White House flat broke, at the bottom of the income scale, and for just fascinating and sage speaking engagements are now at the top of the income scale. A hindered million!! Talk about fixing income inequality!!!

    Here’s the slogan, people. A chicken in every pot, a private jet in every hangar.

  36. Todd says:

    @p.s. to this post: I don’t necessarily dislike Hillary Clinton because of who she is, or even anything she may have done (or not done). I dislike her as a candidate because I believe the the exact opposite of what al-Ameda wrote. Of the three (Clinton, Biden and Sanders) who seem to have a somewhat viable chance of getting the Democratic nomination, she is the riskiest bet.

    Sanders is a risk too … but not as much as some (especially Hillary supporters) seem to want everyone to believe.

    Biden (even more so if he really could convince Warren to run with him) would be the most natural heir to what I think history will judge as a successful Obama Presidency … and I believe would have the (relative) easiest chance of winning against any of the potential Republicans.

  37. stonetools says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Wrong. Look, I’m all for substantive criticism of Clinton(Indeed, the Q gave such a criticism in the comments, saying that Clinton was too close to Wall Street). I would welcome discussion based on such criticism. But criticizing Clinton based on a lack of a catchy slogan? Come on, that’s BS.
    I note that your guy Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a catchy slogan summing up his campaign message either. How would you like it if Doug wrote a column saying Bernie has been unable to come up with a slogan and that shows that he “has not been able to provide an overall logic for [his] campaign or even a reason why [he] wants to be President that doesn’t come off sounding like an argument for inevitability or the fact that [he’s] running for President because, well, because [he] wants to be President”?
    I’m sure that you would say that was a bit more to Sander’s campaign than that.

  38. walt moffett says:

    Maybe she should recall Carville’s, “The economy, stupid”. If people can’t pay brokerage fees, buy the latest and greatest tech toys, let alone 72% per cent lean hamburger, wages are flat, the mid double digit per hour jobs are vanishing, etc. Voters have, perhaps an unrealistic, notion that the top of the ticket is supposed to fix these things.

    However, the R’s are busy seeing who can overtorque the bolts of government, Sanders will make a valiant run but will fall short because the minority vote isn’t there for him,, Biden will dither until dithered while the big donors keep the Clinton war chest full leaving Clinton to win by being the last one standing.

  39. Todd says:

    Hilary Clinton’s candidacy this time reminds me of what Republicans have a habit of doing: Nominating the person who almost got it last time, because now it’s their turn. Only one problem. Dole, McCain and Romney all lost.

    Bill Clinton was/is a great politician. Hillary Clinton is the wife of a great politician. Not the same.

    Note: the same criticism could certainly be made of Joe Biden, and perhaps more effectively since he did even worse in his previous runs for the nomination. The difference (and it’s important), is that I think Biden would genuinely have President Obama’s support on the campaign trail.

  40. Lankyloo says:

    @al-Ameda:

    (1) She currently has the best chance among Democrats to win and keep Republicans from running the table and controlling the Federal Government
    (2) She will probably be in position to nominate 1 or 2 people to the Supreme Court.

    There, those seem like good reasons for her to run for president.

    Wait, is John Kerry running again?

  41. Lankyloo says:

    @al-Ameda:

    (1) She currently has the best chance among Democrats to win and keep Republicans from running the table and controlling the Federal Government
    (2) She will probably be in position to nominate 1 or 2 people to the Supreme Court.

    There, those seem like good reasons for her to run for president.

    Wait, is John Kerry running again?

  42. elocs says:

    I think Hillary wants to be president because it’s on her bucket list and time is running out.
    She’s competent but doesn’t seem to generate much passion or excitement about her candidacy and Democratic voters are like children and really seem to need passion and excitement in their candidates to motivate them to get out and vote which is why they cannot be depended upon in off year elections–it’s just not that big of a deal for them. It’s hard for Democratic voters to look upon casting their ballots as a duty–some you just do because so many people in the world don’t have that opportunity and will risk their lives or safety to vote when they do.

    If Hillary gets the nomination then the Bernsters will pout and have a snit. Their refusal to not vote for Clinton will be their passion and they will get on their high horse and be all noble about it. But even if it’s only a choice between bad and worse, only a fool does not do all they can to prevent worse from prevailing. Since that would require an abandonment of their slavish devotion to their candidate the Bernsters won’t be able to do that.

    Ultimately though I think Hillary wants to be president because it is possible for her to be president and she could be the first female POTUS.

  43. Grewgills says:

    @Todd:

    Sanders is a risk too … but not as much as some (especially Hillary supporters) seem to want everyone to believe.

    I like Sanders, but anyone who has actively identified himself as a socialist isn’t going to be elected president in the US in the near future. He is far too easily tarred as fringe Left. He would be this generation’s McGovern/Dukakis.

    I think you are more on point with your characterization of a Biden/Warren ticket. I would have loved to see Warren run, but I don’t see her entering the race as VP either. Biden brings his own baggage and a mouth that promises more, so I think he’s as big a risk as Hillary.

    I would far prefer any of them to anything on display on the other side.

  44. elocs says:

    @Grewgills:
    I think Warren loves to campaign for other Democrats but not for herself. She is getting old and think she sees her role in the Senate rather than being handcuffed as a VP but Treasury Secretary might interest her.

    The U.S. is not a socialist nation of any kind at this time, not even a far left leaning nation. Sanders has reached a cult-like status with his supporters and they cannot envision their messiah losing. They look in the mirror and believe they are seeing the will of America being reflected back at them. Proof that this is a nation ready to elect a Progressive president would be evidenced by a good number of elected Progressives at all levels of government, including the Senate but they are not there. But that would require Progressives to do hard work in the trenches at the local, state, and national level and that’s just not very exciting to them. It’s the brass ring or nothing for them.

  45. Todd says:

    @Grewgills: I disagree about Sander’s electability. I think the way that he handles the “socialist” label largely inoculates him from the potential downsides. The fact is, much like Obamacare, almost all of his positions are relatively popular on their own, even if the overall concept of being a “socialist” may not be.

    The biggest risk in a Sanders Presidency would be the potential for disappointment among those who vote for him. All the people who were disappointed in President Obama during his first term, would be just as, if not more disappointed in how much of his agenda a President Sanders would not be able to implement through what will almost certainly remain a Republican House.

  46. Grewgills says:

    @Todd:
    I strongly disagree. Sanders has handled it ok thusfar because the GOP machine hasn’t gone after him. In the very unlikely event he gets the nomination it will be McGovern all over again.
    For god’s sake, Obama has been tarred as a socialist and the general public sees him as left wing rather than the centrist he is. Someone who has outright embraced the label, he would be in for a world of hurt. I say this btw as someone who doesn’t see socialism as a bad word and thinks this country could do with a fair bit more socialism.
    As far as his ideas being individually popular I refer you to ‘Obamacare’. Despite nearly all of the provisions being individually popular, the GOP smear machine has made it unpopular as a whole. The same or worse would be waiting for candidate Sanders.
    I honestly wish you were right. I like his policy prescriptions better, though I doubt that he would have the political acumen and muscle to get much of anything done. Clinton and Biden are both too cozy with Wall Street (though less cozy than the GOP opposition) and both are too hawkish (though, again, less so than the opposition).
    I am open to a Biden candidacy. I think he would be a bit less hawkish and less likely to triangulate us as far to the right as Hillary would. If he could make it through the campaign without any serious gaffes (a bit of a long shot) he could do at least as well in the general as Hillary.

  47. Todd says:

    @Grewgills:

    For god’s sake, Obama has been tarred as a socialist and the general public sees him as left wing rather than the centrist he is.

    That’s exactly my point. Any Democrat who runs in 2016 is going to be called a socialist by the Republicans. The biggest difference between Sanders and someone like Hillary Clinton, is that he’ll explain what his policy ideas are, and who would benefit from them, while she would defensively deny that she’s a socialist.

    I mean seriously. If this is one of those elections where Democrats are going to turn out because of the Supreme Court, and because of the fact that the GOP brand has been so tarnished, then why not try to elect someone who actually espouses policy views that many Democrats actually say they want?

    The worry that “regular Americans” won’t vote for a “socialist” is exactly the type of thinking that resulted so many Senate losses in the south. I’m not saying that the Democrats would have held on to any of those seats in the past couple of cycles anyway, but perhaps they would have had a better chance if they’d worried a little more about exciting and turning out their own base, as opposed to worrying about what people who were NEVER going to vote for them anyway might think.

    In other words, almost everybody who wouldn’t vote for Sanders because he’s a socialist, also wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden for exactly the same reason … because they are damn “socialists” too.

  48. grumpy realist says:

    @Stan: Change that to “self-identified hard-working individuals.”

    I’m a hard-working individual who just happens to take a well-deserved rest from time to time; you’re a horrible moocher who lives off the sweat of my brow.

    Come to think of it, those of us living in states that send much more money to the Federal Government than we get back should obviously consider ourselves better than you slugs living in states who don’t pull your fair share, right?

    So the story has been and always will be….

  49. Tillman says:

    @stonetools: The slogan is the natural consequence of having a purpose for running other than ambition. If she wants to dispense with the idea that she’s just ambitious, she requires something. You’re defending the same crap she pulled in the ’08 primary when she lost to a charismatic younger dude with an essentially vacuous slogan of the kind you despise. Having a slogan, or at the basic level a theme such as Sanders’s, is Sales 101. Hell, running to be the first woman president outright as a stated goal would be better. Sure, still ambition, but at least it puts a nice sheen on it and leaves open the Republicans to stumble right into a giant, vote-losing trap.

    If Clinton is the sure bet people have been trying to sell me on since summer, why is it you require technicalities to sell her candidacy? “Supreme Court nominations” won’t get people to the polls. Noting she can massage and manage the labyrinthine machinery of the government to achieve policy won’t get people to the polls (it’s the “good insider” tactic and runs smack dab against the duplicitous brand she’s been saddled with).

  50. Tillman says:

    @elocs:

    But even if it’s only a choice between bad and worse, only a fool does not do all they can to prevent worse from prevailing.

    Has your observation of the American people led you to believe we aren’t fools?

  51. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Listening to Clinton’s supporters, the entire campaign is about keeping those nasty Republicans out of power.

    Bluntly, every term we have a Dem in the WhIte House is a delay in our devolution into a corporate oligarchy. The Dems aren’t much, and they’ll probably get worse, but right now they’re all we have between us and a federal level Brownback.

  52. elocs says:

    @Tillman:

    Has your observation of the American people led you to believe we aren’t fools?

    Well nobody ever went broke underestimating the overall intelligence of the American electorate.
    Here in Wisconsin in 2010 Democrats were in a snit about Obama and they did what Democrats do in off year elections–not vote. As a result the Republicans along with Walker won and took over control of the state and Russ Feingold lost his senate seat. In 2014 500,000 who voted for Obama in 2012 didn’t show up to vote and Walker was reelected by 138,000 votes. Too many Democratic voters are like little children–either they must be excited to bother to vote or they pout and stay home.

  53. elocs says:

    Very few Republicans will ever vote for the Democratic candidate and very few Democrats will ever vote for the Republican. Both parties choose a candidate from their extremes at their own peril.
    However, if both parties nominate a candidate from their extreme it will be interesting to watch.

  54. gVOR08 says:

    Bad headline. Clinton knows why she’s running for prez. Same reason as everybody else (except the one or two who realize they’re on a book tour). Massive ego, addiction to power and the game, and big, big bucks after retirement. (Unless you really screwed the pooch like W and can only get middling big bucks.) Plus, like Jeb! Bush? the name recognition and machinery were already in place.

    Your complaint, Doug, I think is two-fold. One, she has a horse race problem. This is true, and you’re correct that she’d better come up with a good solution before she mumbles out something dumb. Two, you don’t understand why she should be president, and you can’t accept that it’s because she’s head and shoulders better than anyone on the R side.

  55. bill says:

    wrong as usual, here’s the permanent ones;

    http://www.alabamavoterid.com/permanentLocations.aspx

    and they go mobile too;

    http://www.alabamavoterid.com/mobileLocations.aspx

    it does look like it may take some “effort” to attain a free id- what an injustice….
    but isn’t making people register to vote also a chore?

  56. Pinky says:

    @MarkedMan:

    My god, I’ve just had a thought is “pinky” really Doug??!

    Is your exposure to differing viewpoints so limited that you think there’s only one person in the world who disagrees with you? Every year, every race, at least 40% of the voters vote differently from you. I may confuse some of you guys on here, but I can accept that they’re all not the same person.

  57. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:
    So she has to come up with some catchy slogan? Well, hey, why not just recycle “Happy Days are Here Again” (worked for FDR) That will really get Southern whites voting for her!Or how about “All the way with HRC” (LBJ’s version worked). Or maybe catchy slogans aren’t that great. Certainly Alf Landon’s slogan (Let’s make it a Landon-slide”) didn’t seem to help.In the current campaign, I note that Bush’s “Right to Rise” hasn’t prevented his sinking , nor has his snappy! take! on his name!
    Now I have no doubt that Hillary’s brain trust is working on something (“What rhymes with Hillary?Celery?”) but I’m not sure that it will do much good.
    As to why she is running for President, I confess I don’t give a sh1t. I’m sure she’s running for the same reason as anyone else-she thinks she can do the job best ( massive ego, I know), she wants to accomplish certain things, she fears a Republican Presidency, etc. What matters really is why I would support her, and that is because of reasons stated by al-almeda. I am not slavishly devoted to her, either. If I think Sanders has a better chance to win in the general, I would back him. Far as I’m concerned, beating the Republicans and implementing the Democratic Party program is the mission, not electing Hillary President.

  58. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:
    So she has to come up with some catchy slogan? Well, hey, why not just recycle “Happy Days are Here Again” (worked for FDR) That will really get Southern whites voting for her!Or how about “All the way with HRC” (LBJ’s version worked). Or maybe catchy slogans aren’t that great. Certainly Alf Landon’s slogan (Let’s make it a Landon-slide”) didn’t seem to help.In the current campaign, I note that Bush’s “Right to Rise” hasn’t prevented his sinking , nor has his snappy! take! on his name!
    Now I have no doubt that Hillary’s brain trust is working on something (“What rhymes with Hillary?Celery?”) but I’m not sure that it will do much good.
    As to why she is running for President, I confess I don’t give a sh1t. I’m sure she’s running for the same reason as anyone else-she thinks she can do the job best ( massive ego, I know), she wants to accomplish certain things, she fears a Republican Presidency, etc. What matters really is why I would support her, and that is because of reasons stated by al-almeda. I am not slavishly devoted to her, either. If I think Sanders has a better chance to win in the general, I would back him. Far as I’m concerned, beating the Republicans and implementing the Democratic Party program is the mission, not electing Hillary President.

  59. stonetools says:

    Don’t understand why the double post. Seems to be a bug. Get on it, webmaster!

  60. Moosebreath says:

    @stonetools:

    “Certainly Alf Landon’s slogan (Let’s make it a Landon-slide”) didn’t seem to help.In the current campaign,”

    He also elected not to nominate a Senator Bridges for VP, on the grounds that he did not want any slogans along the lines of “Landon-Bridges falling down”.

  61. al-Ameda says:

    @Todd:

    #2 will likely apply to whoever is elected President in 2016.
    #1 is subjective, and not even terribly well supported by anything approaching objective data.

    Well of course #2 applies to whomever is elected, however, I was trying to say, perhaps in artfully, that I’d rather have any current Democrat than any Republican make those nominations to the Court.

    #1? Actually, I think current objective data shows that Hillary Clinton does, right now (snapshot in time) have the best chance of any Democrat to win in 2016. Now, it may be that all the baggage and constant investigation will sink her candidacy, but that remains to be seen. Right now polling does not show Biden or Sanders or even Warren at her general polling levels.

  62. MarkedMan says:

    Yeah, Doug despises Hillary, and to him she is despicable because, well, everyone just knows she’s despicable. But he does point out an interesting dilemma for the Clinton campaign: the most important reason she is running for President is of utmost import but eminently un-marketable: She will cement in Obama’s legacy. She said it best to the Black Lives Matter group: she doesn’t believe you can change hearts, but you can change laws and policies. When she walks into the room she has done her homework better than any senior person in there, and probably better than all of the Republican aides. When you hear what the people that actually worked with her in the Senate have to say, she was endless positive and incredibly relentless. She didn’t spend a lot of time or capitol beating the other guys in the room, but rather spent it getting as much of her policies implemented as she could, and she didn’t care who got the credit.

  63. elocs says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Actually, I think current objective data shows that Hillary Clinton does, right now (snapshot in time) have the best chance of any Democrat to win in 2016.

    Having a nominee that has the best chance of getting elected should be the point of a party nominating a candidate, otherwise it is an exercise in self indulgence–picking the most pure and honest person who represents truth, justice, and the American way but who then goes on to get crushed in the general election. Been there, done that. As a college student with my first presidential vote I was absolutely convinced that McGovern was the man that Americans would fall all over themselves to vote for because he was just the best and I really, really liked him and who would vote for Nixon.
    Do we really need to do this again?

  64. stonetools says:

    Here is a contrarian take by Matt Yglesias on why Hillary would be the best Democratic President for our time. I’m not a fan of the conclusion, but I can’t fault the analysis. The TL;DR: the next Democratic President will be able to accomplish any part of their agenda only by pushing the limits of executive action , since there will be no possibility of passing legislation, due to the Republicans’ lock on the House. Clinton is clearly willing to push against established norms to get things done, so she is the perfect person for the job. The conclusion:

    None of this means that you need to like Clinton. On many issues she’ll push executive power in somewhat unorthodox ways in pursuit of an agenda conservatives hate. On a handful of issues — likely those most directly connected to foreign policy — she’ll push executive power harder than Obama did, in pursuit of an agenda that liberals will find much less congenial than Obama’s.

    But she truly is the perfect leader for America’s moment of permanent constitutional crisis: a person who cares more about results than process, who cares more about winning the battle than being well-liked, and a person who believes in asking what she can get away with rather than what would look best. In other words, as nervous as the rumblings of scandal around her emails make many Democrats, the exact same qualities that led to the server drama are the ones that, if she wins, will make her capable of delivering on the party’s priorities in a way few others could.

    Now do I like this conclusion? Nope. But I also don’t see a Republican Congress working hand in glove with any Democratic President to pass bipartisan legislation, for the good of the country. That vision of American politics is as dead as can be, thanks to McConnell and the Republican’s courting of the Tea Party crowd. I don’t see a President Biden or Sanders doing well or indeed, doing anything in such a situation, either. So Hillary it is , for now.

  65. al-Ameda says:

    @elocs:

    As a college student with my first presidential vote I was absolutely convinced that McGovern was the man that Americans would fall all over themselves to vote for because he was just the best and I really, really liked him and who would vote for Nixon.
    Do we really need to do this again?

    McGovern was my 1st vote too, and I made it knowing that the rout was on.

    This stuff with Hillary Clinton has the makings of a 1968-type of falloff for Democrats. Much of the voting base is extremely ambivalent and unexcited by Hillary, much as in 1968 many Democrats just could not get behind Hubert Humphrey. I know, it’s completely different time, but the ambivalence toward the establishment candidate is palpable.

    Here in CA many liberals want Bernie Sanders to be a viable candidate a real alternative to business as usual. This could get really interesting really fast.

  66. Todd says:

    @al-Ameda:

    #1? Actually, I think current objective data shows that Hillary Clinton does, right now (snapshot in time) have the best chance of any Democrat to win in 2016. Now, it may be that all the baggage and constant investigation will sink her candidacy, but that remains to be seen. Right now polling does not show Biden or Sanders or even Warren at her general polling levels.

    Caveat: I don’t place much value in “head to head” polling match ups over a year before the election. However, this data is at least as (and probably more) objective as the “conventional wisdom” which still seems to be that “Sanders can’t win in the general”.

    That’s just not borne out in the current polling. Sanders and Biden do at least as well as, and in many cases better than Clinton in nearly all of the head-to-head match ups against Republicans.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/sanders-outperforms-clinton-general-election-match-ups-ia-nh-n438491

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/2016_presidential_race.html

    By the way, just by way of confession, I’m not even positive I’m going to vote for Sanders in the primary. Position wise, I line up with Biden much better. (I would even say with Clinton, but she’s so likely to have her positions on any given issue “evolve” lately that I can’t say for sure). I part with Sanders (and many Democrats) on things like the Trade and Surveillance/Privacy. But ultimately, I vote for the person/character over the policy proposals … because I understand that in our system of government, most Presidential policies will only be able to be enacted on the margins anyway. When it comes down to it, I want a President that I can trust, especially when I disagree with them. On that count, President Obama has worked just fine for me.

  67. Robin Cohen says:

    @grumpy realist: Let her drop out so a good Candidate can use the oxygen she wastes in the campaign.