Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Bill Strategy

Is Bill Clinton's bad cop gig helping Hillary?

I maintain that it's hurting her, at least since Obama brought it out in the open post-Nevada. I think it reminds people of the worst of Bill Clinton - the lying, drama queen side. The "is is" side. And it could be - could be - that pundits failed to pick up on another potential turning of the tide last night.

The previously neutral Feb. 5 Democrat now has to ask her/himself whether it's worth turning back the clock to the end of the Clinton years, when Fox News was born as the 24-hour Lewinsky network and George W. won an election by convincing America he was running against Clinton, not Gore. Now that it's obvious Bill (and last night, Hillary) are in straight-up mudslinging mode, this plays directly into Obama's narrative.

A reader of Ben Smith's blog has an interesting take on women's reactions to Bill's role:
However, something funny has happened the last couple of days that was crystallized amongst those watching highlights of last night's debate. Around the office today, a number of women who were definitely in the Hillary camp are starting to feel a little sick to their stomach about the role Bill Clinton's is playing. One remarked that she thought she would be voting for the first women president, not a trojan horse for Bill Clinton's overactive ambition. Another friend I thought last week would definitely vote for Hillary labeled them the "Dynastic Duo" this morning and said she may switch to Obama. And finally, my best friend, who already sent in her absentee ballot says, she's got serious "buyer's remorse" saying she thought she had voted for the first women president, but now she's not so sure she's advanced or hurt women everywhere by voting for Hillary.

What do you think?

[update]: Eric Schmeltzer has another take on the debates, concludes that Obama successfully changed the issue from "experience" to "trust" - a clear winner for him.

[update 2]: In any case, people were paying attention. The debate was the most watched primary season debate in cable news history.


Levois said...

I think Bill is killing her or at least will turn into a liability. I'm sure she thought he might be a great asset but many will probably see that as a problem because you know he's Bill. I think Hillary will do anything to be President including trotting out Bill or promoting the fact that she's a woman. After those two things what does she really have?

Rob said...

I agree with Levois. I am personally more disgusted with Bill Clinton than I think I've ever been. The scales have fallen from my eyes! I see what Rush Limbaugh sees in him!

The calculation by the Clintons is clearly that a game of "straight-up mudslinging" favors them because it opens Obama up to charges of oh-but-I-thought-you-represented-a-new-kind-of-politics. But they have been playing that card for a year and it hasn't once worked. Look at the way Obama could throw 'bows at the start of the debate and still end up with the soundbite of the day with a funny bit about Bill Clinton's dancing ability. Not completely sure about the Bill strategy, but I bet money the debate was a net loss for Clinton.

But it is still going to be a long slog.

Don Hotdog said...

the first time i watched the debate i was completely demoralized by it. i dont really even care what happens anymore. i always had it in the back of my head that none of the democrats would win and i am feeling more and more resigned to the idea of president mccain. i've also come to dislike bill clinton in the process.

Jake said...

The funny thing is that I really liked President Clinton. And as an ex-President, he's been sort of charming and a little goofy. But now I kind of think he's an ass. It's completely disingenuous for Hillary to have Bill do the mudslinging for her, especially when she's played up the "look, they're ganging up on the girl" card in the past.

Should Hillary win the nomination, if the Republican nominee ends up McCain or Guiliani, I'm thinking hard about that vote. I think a lot of Dem-leaning independents, and many Dems, too, are going to feel that way.

the cold cowboy said...

jake tapper posed the clinton v. mccain question to obama supporters. not that comments are anywhere near scientific, but it's worth looking at. pretty remarkable reaction.

obama supporters are done with clintons.