Senator Hillary Clinton has become a study in contrasts. She is simultaneously running to and from her political base, speaking like a liberal and like a moderate. She understands her base and she understands her weaknesses, evidenced by statements within the past thirty days. But more important, there is truth to her words, or at times, the words behind her words.
To her base, and not to the general voting public, came a campaign ad that ran in Iowa:
"You know, if you're a family that is struggling, and you don't have health care, well, you are invisible to this president. If you're a single mom trying to find affordable child care so you can go to work, well, you're invisible too. And I never thought I would see that our soldiers who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan would be treated as though they were invisible as well. Americans from all walks of life across our country may be invisible to this president, but they're not invisible to me, and they won't be invisible to the next president of the United States."
Clinton does not understand that many Americans want to be invisible- not in a ridiculous sense, as if the IRS can be avoided, but in the sense of butting out of our day-to-day lives- the federal government even regulates how much water goes down the toilet!
The heart of her message is the line: "Americans from all walks of life across this country may be invisible to this president, but they're not invisible to me." In light of the amount of government bureaucracy and regulations that inhibit our economy and encroach on our liberties, invisibility does not seem so bad, especially from a Clinton.
Her second, and more revealing statement was controversial amongst Democrats:
"It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?' But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world."
Sen. Clinton is astute enough to recognize that her party is, at the very least, perceived by the American people to be weak against our enemies. What was startling was that she actually admitted her party's weakness, and she did not admit it in confidence to a friend at a party, only to be overheard by a well-placed microphone. Rather, her admission was knowingly public.
Ignoring the gratuitous swipe at Republicans, her statement basically was "Americans know that we Democrats do not believe in protecting this country." For Democrats, their argument is no longer with Republicans, but with Sen. Clinton.
Even without her comment, the sentiment that she expressed is not really news to those who follow politics, and only Democrats protested. Americans, Europeans, Iraqis, al Qaeda- all understand that her analysis is accurate.
The primary season approaches. For now, Clinton only has to persuade fellow Democrats. But soon, assuming that she wins the nomination, she will have to persuade the masses. Her two-pronged message- that she is an "anti-Bush" and that she is a moderate who does not share her party's weaknesses- will either sweep her into the White House or turn her campaign into a pile of contradictions. She will either appear to be all things for a majority of the electorate or will turn off nearly everyone.
It is always comforting when politicians speak the truth. In the two above cases, she was forthright: your odds of being invisible under a Hillary Clinton administration will be even worse than they are now; and, never trust a modern-day Democrat to defend America.
If she does not get the Democrat party nomination, at least Sen. Clinton will have contributed, honestly, to the political debate.
Copyright ©2007 Brian W. Peterson