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Enter Stage Gabbing

Who's afraid of Hillary Clinton?

By Steven Martinovich

The Professor(September 10, 2007) To hear many Republicans speak one would think that the outcome of the 2008 presidential election has already been decided. Since Hillary Clinton is likely to be the nominee for the Democrats and Republicans are running in part on the unpopular Bush record and without an incumbent, the result is a foregone conclusion.

But is it really?

If we give this question some careful consideration, an assured Clinton victory in 2008 becomes much less likely. As strong as Clinton may be in some facets, she is also extraordinarily weak in other crucial areas.

For example, Clinton is touting her experience as a key point in selling her candidacy. When we stop to consider what that experience actually is the reality is far from impressive. Aside from a minor role on the Nixon impeachment committee, Clinton's resume is fairly sparse. Her record as an attorney at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas suggests she was a fairly weak litigator who was regularly the lowest billing partner.

As First Lady, Clinton only presided over one major policy initiative, a catastrophic failure to essentially nationalize the American health care system. Although Bill Clinton regularly praises his wife for the advice she gave him during his eight years as president, it's impossible to tell how effective that advice was – especially considering the number of abortive policy initiatives that he was responsible for.

We are also told that Clinton is widely loved by Americans but again the evidence doesn't seem to support that contention. While Clinton is generally admired – particularly by women – she is not well-liked. One poll suggested that over half of Americans would not vote for her under any circumstance.

And her support among women may be a mile wide but an inch deep. While her support among young women is strong, many older women – notably those who came of age during the so-called sexual revolution – are less enamored of her for sticking by her husband during the Lewinsky scandal and betraying feminist principles.

Clinton's well-known and reoccurring ethics issues are also a large liability. The latest fundraising scandal involving Norman Hsu is illustrative of a long pattern of cavalier attitudes towards the law. Time and time again we have seen both Bill and Hillary Clinton behave as if there is "no controlling legal authority" – as Al Gore once famously put it during another fundraising scandal – over their political activities. Not helping her case, as Rush Limbaugh illustrated during his September 4 program, is Clinton's insistence during every scandal that she was unaware of what was going on.

Clinton herself may be her greatest liability. She is widely regarded, and rightly so, as smart and ambitious. These are fine traits but they often come as a package deal with arrogance and a refusal to admit error. Clinton has a very lengthy history of refusing to admit when she's wrong – her conflicting and outright deceitful statements concerning her votes on Iraq being only one example -- and blaming others for her mistakes, unattractive qualities for the voting public.

Let's, however, for the sake of argument wipe away all of these stains and give the Democrats the dream team they clearly desire, a Clinton-Obama ticket. Clinton, they argue, will bring in the young female vote and Obama will carry the black vote.

This lands them precisely in the same position they enjoyed in 2000 and 2004. While Obama will likely pull in more black voters than either Gore or John Kerry did, and Clinton will attract more females than either charisma starved predecessor, Democrats know that the secret to winning is to attract white males and the southern vote.

Does a freshman senator from Indiana and a two-term New York senator really add those two groups to the Democratic column? Any election featuring a Clinton-Obama ticket will likely make it uncomfortably close for Republicans, but it is hardly a guarantee of Democratic victory.

Finally, one must consider a variable that Clinton cannot control and that is who Republicans nominate. Ignoring the respective merits of the individual candidates, something Republicans can't even agree on, it is hard to argue that Clinton would have an easy time against the universally popular Rudy Giuliani, the surprisingly strong Mitt Romney or the Reagan channeling Fred Thompson. Simply put, the caliber of opposition that she will face next year far outstrips the meager talent she is running against now.

None of this is to suggest that Clinton cannot win. She is, of course, a formidable candidate who is raising record amounts of money – mostly legal, smart, and very popular among certain segments of the American electorate and defining herself against the Bush record. She also has a powerful weapon in a popular husband. The idea, however, that she is unbeatable and anyone running against her will be playing the role of a modern Barry Goldwater is mistaken. Rather than the Unsinkable Molly Brown, Clinton may actually be the Titanic of 2008.

Thanks for reading,

Steven Martinovich


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