Can Hilary pull rabbits out of hats?


SOMETIMES current affairs can be rancid and banal, embittered and yet so uninspiring; 2015, however, seems bent on putting the past behind as the future lies before us.

The price of oil has dropped, world leaders have expressed solidarity with demonstrators at the Paris march and there could be a tightening of cyber laws. United States elections can be compared to a good movie that sometimes lasts an hour too long.

With President Barack Obama’s term ending in 2016, the movie starts now as rumours circulate that Hillary Rodham Clinton might run for president.

Since half an hour will drag into an eternity before the rolling out the Hollywood ending, we can offer our unsolicited two cents of unbiased and unvarnished opinions.

Clinton is married to a former President Bill Clinton who has lost none of his self regard. She spent the early 1990s turning the position of first lady into a virtual co-presidency.

With conservatives, she is caught in an inescapable  trap of acrimony.

The two things they most dislike about her are her liberalism and what they consider her phoniness.

When she adopts a standard left wing position, it is taken as confirmation of her plans to impose a Euro-socialism on America. When she takes a more moderate position, it is taken as confirmation that she is hiding her true plans behind dastardly artifice.

Either way she evokes conservative scorn.

Hillary’s liberalism has an admonitory edge in keeping with her buttoned-up demeanor.

In her memoir Living History, she writes that she was tasked in Grade School in keeping the “incorrigible boys” in line, a role that seems entirely in character.

Conservatives bristle at the sense of being told what to do and they detest a tone of moral superiority in her advocacy of children’s programs and health care.

When she says “it takes a village” they hear an implicit threat to have government impinge on their prerogative as parents.

Hillary’s style inevitably raises questions about her character. Discuss her with the voters and the same words keep cropping up “disciplined”, “robotic”, “cold”, “scripted” and “calculating” (if  childhoods are to be invoked, even her mother said that “she does everything she has to do to get along and get ahead”).

Large numbers of voters regard her as slippery and untrustworthy. This inevitably raises questions about her electability. In 2008 Democratic primaries, Obama proved to be her perfect nightmare. His early entry into the contest forced  Clinton to declare her candidacy sooner that she had planned.

Obama neutralised her most compelling claim for attention as the first woman president by providing a more momentous prospect for the first black president.

The fund raising prowess Obama exhibited forced her to make much more use of her husband than she had intended. When Oprah Winfrey endorsed Obama for the presidency in front of large crowds, Clinton was forced to throw a succession of wild punches that made her look like an amateur.

For example dredging up the fact that Obama had written an essay in kindergarten on how he wanted to be president proved misguided.

Does this mean that the former   First Lady’s goose is cooked? Not at all. Without the Clintons, the “Obama Nation” will not have existed. The 1990s were not always pretty, but for Democrats they were deeply necessary.

Bill Clinton threw his body into the line wrecking the Republican Party’s intricate defences which created political room for Obama to run.

Clinton deracialised American politics and restored the democrat’s credibility on economic issues by taking three of the most racially toxic issues in US.

Politics, crime welfare and affirmative action off the table. Clinton swallowed her pride in the 2008 primaries and decided   to drop from the race to let Obama become the Democratic presidential candidate.

Her action helped reunite a party that had fractured along lines of race and class. As Secretary of State in the Obama administration, Hillary made up for Obama’s weaknesses such as his lack of foreign policy and defence experience.

In 2015, Clinton will sound more like a motivational speaker than a presidential contender. Her presentation will be devoid of hard edges, contrary to her long time image among critics as a harridan and polarised.

As the Secretary of State, Clinton had begun trying to present a warmer, more   genial side and with some success .Her basic strategy might be to scare off potential donors and supporters of her competitors by campaigning as the favourite  of the Democratic establishment and the inevitable nominee.

Her campaign team “Hillary land” as the team calls itself) might embark on a two-pronged plan to ensure her victory. First, they will emphasise her strengths, high name identification, a seemingly endless string of endorsements, lots of Washington experience, a reputation for toughness and intelligence and an enormous fundraising potential.

Equally important, will be placing emphasis on her personal qualities, friendliness, a sense of humour and a willingness to listen, all in crucial effort to improve her image.

Why Hillary for president? People see her as an experienced leader who has what it takes to govern in difficult times. They see her as smart, strong and someone who can relate to international leaders and restore respect to America.

Men are drawn to her strength of leadership while women, a majority of the electorate and the core of her support see the idea she can be the first woman president  as an emotional and important event in their lives.

Given the in roads that republicans are making, it is far from clear that Hillary is the right messenger.