Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Another Brand New Way to Run for President



         If this Hillary thing works, everyone who wants to be president from this time onward will have to have an announcement that is like a mini-documentary on the inherent goodness, diligence, kindness and determination of the average American citizen.
         It took me 45 seconds of watching Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign announcement, which was no surprise after all, before I understood it wasn’t actually one of those ads that pop up before you get to what you want to get to on the internet.
          I was expecting a motivational speaker to show up at the end.
         Which is exactly what I got.
         There she stands, somewhere in suburbia, saying she’s getting ready for something, too, just like the other folks who showed up in her 2 minute and 18 second campaign announcement.
         “I’m running for president,” she says.
         “I’m hitting the road to earn your vote because it’s your time, and I hope you will join me on this journey.”
         What an engaging group the Clinton campaign presents in the film.
         A woman with the best tomatoes in the neighborhood. A couple of guys who are getting married this summer. A family that wants to teach its dog to stop eating trash (Good luck with that.) A business guy. A woman working on a drill press. And many more.
         I know these people because I run into them all the time, and you do too, unless you live in a castle with a moat around it and its own cappuccino maker so you simply never have to leave.
         They are a lot like many of us (assuming your aspirations are solidly middle class).
         They are not a lot like many of the people who are at the heart of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, angry people who hate President Obama, believe all that old Whitewater stuff about the Clintons and still see a Clinton conspiracy behind the suicide of Vince Foster.
         That doesn’t matter, because that’s not who she is talking to.
         “Americans need a champion,” Clinton says. “I want to be that champion.”
         You could hear Republican teeth grinding all over the place. They can’t wait to get a whack at her, a chance to bring up Benghazi, a whole array of stale, unproved allegations from Bill’s presidency, her email account, her wealth, her…
         Well, that probably won’t be how this is going to play out.
         It took just one more click of the button to find myself donating $10 to the effort, just to see what would happen. (Don’t read too much into this. I paid $25 to join the National Rifle Association a few years back just to see what they were pitching.) My suspicion is that they won’t leave me alone for the next year or so.
         Clinton has set a high bar with her announcement. She is trying to be a presidential candidate who goes straight to the people, just as Barack Obama uses media to talk to people, but not news media.
          Forget about her eight years as First Lady, her term in the U.S. Senate and her important job as secretary of state for the man who defeated her in 2008.
         It’s a new Hillary!
         That’s because it has to be. Washington now has the popularity of one of those giant, smelly pig farms. Still, you need those people in Washington like you need pigs, because who doesn’t love bacon?
         But you don’t want to be thought of as one of them.
         Even if you hate the woman, it’s kind of difficult not to get a little teary with all those cheery people working on their new beginnings in her announcement film.
         As warm and cuddly as all this feels (a garbage can raiding dog simply can’t lose in an ad. Why no cats?) the challenge will be for her supporters to accept this kind of a pitch from a woman who was up to her eyes in Washington process not so long ago.
         She is political right to her core. Her husband is an influence peddler of the highest order and has the bank accounts to prove it. There are lots of foreign entanglements there.
         That’s obviously why Hillary Clinton’s road show isn’t going to be typical, either. She will head to Iowa to talk to normal families, to New Hampshire to embrace the flintiness and crisp air.
         She can do that as a candidate for the same reason she can launch her campaign with a video on the web.
         Reporters will try to chase her, but most of her story will be told, just as her announcement was told, on her own terms, on her own media, in her own way.
         If you want something to get ready for, get ready for that.

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