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Beltway Media Frets Over Hillary Clinton's Unwillingness To Blow Off Her Own Party's Voters

Former Politico writers have difficulty letting go of their preconceived notions.
Beltway Media Frets Over Hillary Clinton's Unwillingness To Blow Off Her Own Party's Voters
Image from: Ron Rogers

According to Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, Hillary Clinton's campaign is upsetting Very Serious People by not pursuing the bipartisanship unicorn:

Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be dispensing with the nationwide electoral strategy that won her husband two terms in the White House and brought white working-class voters and great stretches of what is now red-state America back to Democrats.

Instead, she is poised to retrace Barack Obama’s far narrower path to the presidency: a campaign focused more on mobilizing supporters in the Great Lakes states and in parts of the West and South than on persuading undecided voters.

So wait -- in addition to (presumably) the Northeast and the West Coast, she's going to look for votes in not only the Great Lakes states but "parts of the West and South"? So where exactly is she withdrawing from the fray? The Marshall Islands? Guam?

And Bill Clinton "brought white working-class voters and great stretches of what is now red-state America back to Democrats"? Martin and Haberman do recall that Clinton didn't win a majority of the popular vote in either 1992 or 1996, right? Yes, that was because of Ross Perot's presence on the ballot in both years -- but Martin and Haberman also know that the Democrats lost both houses of Congress for twelve years starting in the first midterms of the Clinton presidency, right? And that Al Gore couldn't quite win the presidency running as Clinton's vice president in 2000? Sure, Clinton had high job approval ratings by the end of his term, but that was because of the perceived state of the country more than the method of his campaigns. His popularity didn't lead to real, sustained gains for Democrats among white voters.

... This early in the campaign, however, forgoing a determined outreach effort to all 50 states, or even most of them, could mean missing out on the kind of spirited conversation that can be a unifying feature of a presidential election. And it could leave Mrs. Clinton, if she wins, with the same difficulties Mr. Obama has faced in governing with a Republican-controlled Congress.


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Stop -- you're killing me.

It is categorically impossible for a Democratic presidential candidate to campaign in a way that is nationally "unifying," simply because of what Charlie Pierce calls "the prion disease that has eaten its way into the brain of the Republican party and caused the party to become demented." That GOP surrender to dementia was well under way in Bill Clinton's time -- apparently Martin and Haberman have forgotten that his outreach didn't prevent Republicans from insisting that he was a collegiate Soviet agent and an adult tool of the Chinese, as well as a domestic-policy socialist, while his wife was a totalitarian who wanted to take all the babies and have them raised by collectives of Maoist lesbians.

Martin and Haberman think it's Team Clinton's style of campaigningthat "could leave [her], if she wins, with the same difficulties Mr. Obama has faced in governing with a Republican-controlled Congress"? She's going to have those difficulties no matter what. The GOP never accepted the legitimacy of the Bill Clinton or Barack Obama presidencies. Hers won't be deemed legitimate either, even if she wins 49 states (whereas George W. Bush's popular-vote loss was treated as no impediment to his "mandate" on taxes and, later, war).

And what is the radical agenda that Hillary is pursuing, instead of making nice in a centrist way, according to Martin and Haberman?

By emphatically staking out liberal positions on gay rights,immigration, criminal justice, voting rights and pay equity for women, Mrs. Clinton is showing core Democratic constituencies that she intends to give them a reason to support her.

Americans support gay marriage by a 60%-37% margin, and 58% want the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage nationwide -- and Hillary's is a "liberal position"? There's 72% support for legalization of undocumented immigrants -- and her position on immigration is too left-wing? And when I Google "bipartisan support for criminal justice reform," one of the first hits is a post with precisely that title from, um,FreedomWorks -- but Clinton's out of the mainstream? Oh, please.

(And please don't tell me that supporting pay equity for women is a radical-left position. As for voting rights, it's only the GOP's skill at Overton window shifting that's made helping people vote controversial.)

****

Meanwhile, how does the Republican field get covered? Here's a currentTimes story about Scott Walker, who's well on his way to winning the Iowa caucuses:

[Walker's] support in Iowa, as elsewhere, traces to his reputation for winning conservative fights against state employee unions in 2011 and Democrats who mounted a recall effort against him in 2012....

So far, Mr. Walker has had an unusual ability to draw support from both the social conservatives and the business-oriented wing of the party.

The social conservatives embrace his signing of bills as governor to defund Planned Parenthood, and his strong expression that prayer is central to his life. Business conservatives admire that he cut taxes and dealt crippling blows to unions.

Oh, so when Scott Walker runs as a naked ideologue, that's portrayed as nothing more than a winning strategy. There's no hand-wringing whatsoever about the possibility hat his unwillingness to tack to the center would prevent him from healing the nation's wounds as president.

Representing what your party's voters want: It's OK if you're a Republican -- and only if you're a Republican.

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UPDATE: Here's much more on the awfulness of this article from Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

{crossposted from No More Mister Nice Blog)

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