For the past 7-8 months Hillary Clinton has been running a masterful presidential campaign and it shows in the polls – she is leading by 15-20 points except in Iowa and NewHampshire against all her Democratic rivals. But for the first time she has made a series of gaffes – and so she came out swinging (and using it possibly to secure her large leadership among female voters) accusing the Democratic “old boys” of piling on in a sexist attack. This may have been her worst or best gaffe – playing the gender card early.
Hillary as leader in the polls knows she is going to be attacked by all her opponents. And given the primaries start in 9 weeks and her huge lead, the Democratic candidates would have to target her. This is part of the hurly burly that makes the US Presidential campaign so “revered” – if you can survive the political mayhem and machinations of the primary and national Presidential campaigns then you deserve to serve as President. But of course, George Bush seems to have raised himself as the great counter point to this notion. So I would expect Hillary to be savvy to this and have worked out a whole series of amusing or even poke-back lines (she certainly has command of most of the issues – unlike Steven Colbert, which did his own “presidential” campaign in by not having even a pulse on some key issues). The idea would be for Hillary to slowly escalate the Democrats “self threatening” issue. But instead she unleashed the Gender Bash bomb right away – this must be a measure of how seriously the Clinton’s feel the Sidestepping Slip-up to be.
Grace under fire and willingness to take clear stands on tough issues will now become much more closely watched in the fast approaching Democratic primary season. Given Hillary’s abhorrence of being branded a radical or “liberal” on any issues – one can see her tendency for equivocation. She may have to change this tactic fast in the next few weeks. Here is the key reason – not only is George Bush phenomenally unpopular, but so is the Democratically led Congress. And it is being entrapped by George who is swiftboating with the power of veto any real Congressional progress (SCHIP health care insurance extensions, Tax reform, Armenian Sentiment of the Congress statement while giving the Medal of Freedom to Tibet Dalai Lama which inflames US-China relations, etc, etc). Bush is now bound and determined to do unto the Democratic Congress (and all its deserting Republicans like Chuck Hagel or John McCain) what has been done unto his presidency by voters and the “liberal” press and countless books on his false, failed Iraq “strategy”. Make no mistake, Bush is a political pitbull showing that unlike a lame-duck, he has real political bite.
But the problem for Hillary is that Congress, with popularity lower than the President’s, is lead by Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat and feted as a leading example of what Women’s leadership can do for Washington. Hence the the Offside Trap by the White House – torpedo Congress and you get two Birds with one shot. So Hillary, take a swig from a 5th, decide what issues you can be unequivocal about – and make sure that number is greater than 5.