Saturday, January 12, 2008

Remember the Clintons?

At former Bush staffer Karen Hughes thinks we do and believes that's Hillary's biggest problem.

Hughes says - - -

[…] Clinton's biggest message problem is not merely the fact that she finds herself on the wrong side of the change-versus-experience divide.

Her biggest problem is that the experience she's touting is exactly the experience that many voters want to change. The authoress of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" charge is not the candidate to bring left and right together and bridge the hyper-partisan divides of Washington.

Yet that's the Hillary Clinton that her campaign has been evoking.

She has rooted her message of experience not in her work in the Senate, or her legal career, or her passion for progress on a few core issues, but on the royal "we" of the Clinton presidency.

She was a part of everything, she insists, from health care to foreign policy. To drive the point home, her campaign sent former President Clinton out virtually full-time on the campaign trail across Iowa and New Hampshire.

The signature photograph from the Clinton campaign on the day the Iowa caucuses fired the starting gun of the 2008 campaign was not Senator Clinton engaging with voters, but the Clinton couple, Hillary and Bill, having lunch together.

It's probably not fair, but politics is about perception, and for all but the most committed Democratic voters, watching the Clintons together places our experiences with them in a negative and partisan light.

With his presidency almost eight years in the rear-view mirror, I can see former President Clinton today and think of the good, bipartisan work he did with former President George H.W. Bush to raise money to help the people of Indonesia after the tsunami. I can appreciate his efforts to reform welfare, or admire his ability to connect with audiences.

But when I see the Clintons together, I see a parade of images from impeachment to Monica to Ken Starr that are reminders of Washington at its partisan worst, with Hillary as a harsh and accusatory player.

She only underscores this with her frequent complaint — really a reminder — that she's taken "incoming fire." […]

The rest of Karen Hughes column is here.

Folks, you know we need to be careful when people assess what we're doing and point out our weaknesses. Maybe they’re right; maybe they’re not.

We have to be especially careful when we’re in polictics and the person doing the assessing, in this case Karen Hughes, is a long-time opponent of Hillary Clinton’s from the other party.

That said, I think Hughes has Hillary in sharp focus and is offering some useful advice.

I also like the fact that, IMO, Hughes’ column is free of cheap partisan shots.