Monday, March 12, 2007

Bill's impact on Hillary's Campaign

The following article appeared on Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle. It details the uniqueness of Hillary's campaign, dealing with the popularity of her husband, her status as former first lady, and her lead in the polls.

A problem for Hillary: Her hubby
Candidate's pitfalls start with ex-president

Martin F. Nolan
Sunday, March 11, 2007
In an early Rudyard Kipling short story, a feuding couple leave a dance. "Take my word for it," a woman says to her companion, "the silliest woman can manage a clever man, but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool." In a quarrel common in the British Raj of 1880s India and in 1990s Washington, the couple had argued about the husband's roving eye.

In San Francisco on Feb. 23, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called her husband "the most popular person in the world right now," defining her dilemma as a prisoner of privilege.

How much of her popularity is held in joint custody? Will she be her own woman? How many fans admired her nobly silent Wronged Woman during his luridly documented dalliance? Is there a "Where's Waldo?" future for the First Gentleman? If so, will Hillary Clinton's duties include managing a clever man or a fool?

Many Americans ask these questions, but Sen. Clinton ducks press inquiries. For all her talents, she may learn that voters in Democratic primaries don't cotton to campaigns based on a foregone conclusion. For 40 years, the habit of Republicans is to defer to early favorites. Democrats usually trash them. Such topics are taboo among her consultants and courtiers. Their job is to make inevitable the Clinton Restoration. Privileges can be burdens -- even fame, fortune and Secret Service protection.

Another heavy burden is her privileged status as a liberal Baby Boomer. If she prevails at the Democratic National Convention in Denver next year, she will be the fifth consecutive nominee from that large, self-admiring demographic. Al Gore and John Kerry shared a sense of generational entitlement infected with moral superiority: "I was right about civil rights and Vietnam; aren't you voters lucky to vote for someone as smart as me?"