The Clintons Just Won't Learn
By: Dick Morris
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 29, 2008
Whether one likes,
dislikes, loves, hates, admires, fears, despises, or envies them, every
Clinton watcher has this in common: They are dumbfounded both by the
incompetence with which Hillary has run for president and her
intransigence at sticking to a failed message. In a demonstration of
inability and inflexibility reminiscent of her healthcare debacle of
1993-94, Mrs. Clinton seems destined to fulfill Voltaire’s description
of the Bourbon kings of France: “They learn nothing. They forget
Even now, with her back against the wall, fighting for
her political career, Hillary, presumably with Bill’s acquiescence,
insists on making the same mistakes that landed her in the soup. No new
tactics, no new strategy, no new message emerges.
both Clintons are harping, once more, on the theme of experience to
carry the day. No matter that it hasn’t worked since before Iowa; they
repeat the same mantra endlessly — that Hillary can “hit the ground
running” on “Day One.” Will they ever realize that voters grasp two
(a) That Hillary’s experience is derivative of Bill’s and her claims to his achievements are largely invented and spurious, and
That the real edge she has in experience is her ability to repeat the
strategies, tactics, message, fundraising models and campaign style of
the 1990s, something modern voters reject emphatically?
after losing 24 states, do Hillary and Bill fail to get these messages?
Are they saving up these insights for their memoirs?
why do the Clintons persist in running a negative campaign even when
they can’t find anything to be negative about? Alienating voters with
their abrasive attacks without attracting them with their content, they
throw pitty-pat punches accusing Obama one day of plagiarism for
borrowing speech lines from his close and consenting friend and the
next day for accurately describing Hillary’s healthcare plan as
requiring sanctions to make those who do not wish to sign up do so
against their will (albeit for policies Mrs. Clinton deems to be
If you are going to pay the price of going
negative, throw real punches. Hit Obama with big negatives. You take
the backlash for going negative in order to pass the lethal message on
to the voters. But if you don’t have any negatives to throw and your
detectiv es have, indeed, come up empty, then stop trying to go
negative. Stop alienating people to no purpose.
But as obvious as these observations are, they
seem to be lost on Bill and Hillary and the geniuses who are running
her campaign. Despite defeat after defeat, we still hear about
experience and still get a daily dose of so-what attacks on Obama.
deeper reality of this campaign is that Obama has shown, by his
incredible skill in the way he is waging it, an ability to handle
himself and a talent for the demands of center stage that show,
experienced or not, he is better able to be president than the inept
We are watching a grim re-enactment of all of the
character traits that led Hillary to decompose in the healthcare debate
of her husband’s first term. The blind reliance on a guru-delivered
strategy, the religious insistence on following the same rhetorical
line even when it obviously isn’t working, the inflexibility in a
dapting to one’s opposition, and the inability to formulate new
strategies or to improvise tactics when her pre-conceptions are found
to be so obviously faulty — this is Hillary at her worst.
citizens, we are entitled to watch Obama’s skill, leadership style, and
savvy sophistication and contrast it with Hillary’s doctrinaire
insistence on approaches that aren’t working and to conclude that
Hillary would be a disaster as president and that Obama would be pretty
good. We can, at least, conclude that the same tenacity that led
Johnson into Vietnam and may be inducing Bush to risk his party, his
reputation and the attitudes of a generation in Iraq may be abundantly
present in Hillary.
But we are driven to wonder: Does Hillary’s
rigidity stem from a false conviction or from an absence of sufficient
imagination and creativity to formulate an alternative course?
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