Hillary's Last, Best Chance
The best use of staff and candidate time today for Hillary Clinton will be in the formation of a carefully-crafted concession speech for tonight. It should be gracious and complimentary of her two worthy rivals, not claiming victory in any form, but should be resolute to continue to fight for core Democratic principles and the traditional constituents of that great party.
In other words, pander.
The new age appeal of Barack Obama, and the populist message of John Edwards together gives the senator from New York a tremendous opening. By being the candidates of a new politics welcome to independents as well as younger voters, they have, by definition, turned their barackas (sorry) on the special or even not-so-special interests that still make up a large portion of the core of the Democratic Party. John Edwards has said he will not accept lobbyist money, not even from trial lawyers or unions; Hillary should assure them they will get the first seat at the table; that she will fight against "tort reform" and for higher wages and better working conditions for working people. She should talk Social Security to older voters, student aid to students, equal pay to women and sensible immigration reform to Latinos.
Oh, but she has already done that, you say. Really? This month? I haven't heard it, and I've been listening. Instead she has tried to out-Obama Barack, out-smile John Edwards and ride their respective messages as if it were she who is the rightful vessel of their appeal. She is not and never was. But as we are hearing ad nauseum in the week between Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama's phenomenal performance has been largely attributable to registered independents. The degree and influence of participation of that voting group will wane in larger caucuses and primaries as the influence of core party members waxes over the next two weeks. And those core Democrats hear the message of love, peace and understanding coming from the Obama campaign a little differently, I'm guessing, than it is currently being heard by the independent minded states of Iowa and New Hampshire. They hear it more as the foundation for compromise with a party that has screwed the country over royally. They don't want compromise. They want war. And the spoils of war. For that job, it takes a Clinton.
It may well be too late to attempt such an admittedly unattractive re-casting of her campaign, and I doubt she will go that direction but in my opinion it is her last best, shot Hillary gambled and to this point has lost, by using a general election strategy in Democratic primaries. I thought it was a flawed strategy from the beginning. Ironically, the Obama phenomenon may give her a chance to move to the traditional Democratic base that still loves Bill Clinton and fondly remembers peace, prosperity and the other "P", power.