January 09, 2008

 

"I listened to you and in the process I found my own voice."


Photo: AFP/Stan Honda
"Hey look! There's my voice!!!"

You've got to be freakin' kidding me. The words in the headline of this post are the exact words selected by the Clinton campaign to open Hillary's less-than-inspiring victory speech in New Hampshire last night. In other words, after years of endlessly campaigning for President (arguably she began campaigning the day she moved to New York to run for the Senate at the beginning of the new millennium), she wasn't able to find her own voice until she "spoke" with the people of New Hampshire for a mere seven days?

How is that possible? Surely the self-proclaimed "experienced" candidate is savvy enough to know where to look for her own voice. Didn't she know where her voice was when she was soaking up all of that experience as First Lady during state dinners, holiday photo ops and defending her husband on The Today Show?

Certainly she must have found her voice as a U.S. Senator for the past seven years where her greatest experience was obviously learning what she knows now about the things she didn't know then concerning Iraq and it's non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Okay, perhaps she was just too busy getting experience and/or campaigning to spend the necessary time to look for her own voice. Spending day after day, year after year answering questions from the media or giving speeches to potential donors or shaking hands with potential voters, there's clearly little time for voice-finding. In fact, it's easy to see how one could lose one's voice with all that talk-talk-talking. Assuming one had a voice to being with.

And there, my friends, is the problem with Hillary Clinton. She has no voice. She says whatever she or her advisers and pollsters think she needs to say in reaction to each particular question or situation. Does she risk being seen as weak on defense or does she vote for the highly questionable Kyl-Lieberman amendment? Her political experience tells her to vote for the stupid amendment. Is she seen as too cold and unemotional after her defeat in Iowa? How about some tears? Were her tears genuine? Unfortunately, we'll never know because it seems like every other day she trots out a revised version of who she is supposed to be.

Apparently, the tears along with the media's and John Edwards treatment of her tears created a backlash of sympathy for Clinton (with Hillary herself saying the tears represented a turnaround in her campaign fortunes), resulting in thousands of New Hampshire women turning out to vote for her last night. First of all, I want to defend John Edwards who everyone is making out to be a bad guy. This is what Edwards said:
"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business."
Sounds more than reasonable to me. But the press has portrayed this statement as an attempt to "pounce" on Clinton. The Huffington Post went as far to write that Edwards "knock(ed) Clinton for getting emotional on the campaign trail." Really? He said that? Obviously, he did not.

Secondly, and most importantly: Do we really want to choose a nominee based on who we feel the most sorry for? Unfortunately, we Democrats have a long history of doing just that (how else to explain Mondale, Dukakis and Kerry?). Our priority should be to choose a candidate who a) can be elected and b) can actually lead (not react). I just don't see Hillary Clinton as that candidate. I don't think she can get elected because the hate machine will be a million times stronger during the actual election. And I don't think she can lead because, despite what she said last night, she doesn't have her own voice.

I'll leave you with Clinton's and Obama's speeches from last night. The "experienced" candidate with her "own voice" read her speech woodenly, as if she was seeing the words for the first time (and, as a result, her "voice" came off less than convincing). Contrast her speech with Barack's. The difference in tone is striking. He comes off not only more confident but as someone who clearly knows his own voice. Just sayin'...



Comments:
I could not agree more with your recent Clinton campaign analysis. Somehow Obama had already found his voice before he started campaigning to be President.
 
Obama would certainly get my vote for orator-in-chief, but I have yet to develop confidence in his ability to do the job once in office. Maybe he could spend his term giving lots of great speeches, and the inspired populace will rise up and do the rest! His inexperience will leave him open to some pretty effective Republican attacks, I'm afraid....
 
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