Friday, 16 September 2016

The Wrong Candidate, In The Wrong Place, At The Wrong Time

Kevin Meagher writes:

It’s safe to say the Clintons have cast a long shadow over the Labour party.

A generation of political professionals have imbibed the campaigning techniques that propelled Bill to the presidency in 1992 and 1996, with two ambitious young Labour frontbenchers sent over to learn from the master at close quarters. 

The lessons Tony Blair and Gordon Brown brought back with them have pretty much shaped everything Labour has done since. Rapid rebuttal. ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ Triangulation. New Labour was born in that war room in Little Rock.

But now the Clintons have had their day.

Bill was a good domestic president, focusing ‘like a laser beam’ on the economy; balancing the budget, creating jobs and presiding over a decade of prosperity.

But he is also venal and morally-corroded. A Vietnam draft-dodger who, while Governor of Arkansas, notoriously sent a mentally-disabled man to his death, just so he didn’t look weak on the death penalty, the issue that hobbled Michel Dukakis’s 1988 tilt at the White House.

Never mind that impeachment business. Despite his many good works as president, a trail of slime followed the Clintons throughout their time in the White House.

As people, Bill and Hillary make Frank and Claire Underwood in House of Cards look like Tom and Barbara from The Good Life.

Now, with her lead over Donald Trump ebbing away, (as a new poll from the swing states of Ohio and Florida shows her trailing the Republican), its beginning it look like utter folly for the Democrats to have pinned their hopes on her.

It still feels inconceivable that Trump can win, but then everyone was sure he couldn’t secure the Republican nomination. Or that Bernie Sanders was a joke candidate.

Probably the same people who believed Britain would never quit the EU. 2016 is turning out to be a year of nasty electoral surprises.

If Hillary Clinton had a time it was back in 2008. Unfortunately, an upstart newbie Senator from Illinois beat her for the Democrat nomination.

As it turns out, it would have been better for both of them if the running order had been reversed, that way Obama would have had more experience and Clinton would be less clapped out.

But hubris got the better of her. She had to have it.

So rather than the Dems offering a fresher, more unknown figure who could have been more elusive and pragmatic, the world is stuck hoping Hillary Clinton, dragging around decades of political baggage, can stop Donald Trump.

The irony, of course, is that the Democrats needed someone like Bill. A candidate with charm, however shop-soiled his shtick might be.

A good old boy who could present him (or herself) as an outsider, untainted by the connivances and compromises of Washington’s beltway politics and who didn’t constantly rub the average American voter up the wrong way.

Clearly, Hillary can’t do any of that.

Trump’s followers are a ‘basket of deplorables’, she claimed last week at a swanky New York fundraising bash, insulting and dismissing half the country in half a sentence.

The little people in the small towns in the ‘flyover states’ know she means them.  And they in turn know she epitomises Washington insiderness in all its cocooned, smarmy self-regard.

Hillary Clinton is the wrong candidate, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

She cannot reach out to the whole country, nor bring it together in the event she manages to clamber across the finishing line first.

The Clintons have nothing left to teach us, either about campaigning or governing.

It’s time we stopped looking at the Clintons through Hillary’s tinted spectacles. Their day is passed.

They couldn’t even manage to bundle Hillary in the back of her car after her funny turn at the 9/11 commemorations without having it all captured on film. Amateur hour.

All that’s left is to hold our collective breath and pray that Hillary’s overweening personal ambition hasn’t now opened the door for the election of President Trump.

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