Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hillary's 2d Act: It's The Economy, Stupid

You can't blame Hillary Clinton for yucking it up after winning the Democratic New Hampshire primary, which puts her right back in the race for her party's presidential nomination. After all, she who laughs last, laughs best.
There's no shortage of theories about why Hillary prevailed. Here's mine: It's the economy, stupid.
Sound familiar? It should because that was the rallying cry of husband Bill Clinton's successful presidential race for the White House in 1992, when he faced George Bush I, who didn't have a clue about the depth of the U.S. economy's problems.
Amid all the New Hampshire post-election chatter, one bit of analysis stood out. A CNN voter poll found that among the registered New Hampshire Democrats who think the economy is in trouble, a majority of them voted for Sen. Clinton because they believe she can fix it.
Hillary is in luck because the economy is going to get worse as unemployment ticks up, the number of home foreclosures increases, basic living costs rise and health care insurance rates escalate.
As the election season unfolds, cash-pinched middle-age and middle-class voters--who are emerging as Hillary's core demographic constituency--are going to remember better days, when the economy was humming along for most of Bill Clinton's Administration. Right or wrong, they'll expect Bill to backstop Hillary on key economic decisions.
For many people, presidential contender Illinois Senator Barack Obama inspires hope. But when it comes to the fixing economy, it's Hillary (and Bill) who inspire confidence.

WAR IS STILL JOB ONE. Yes, the economy is moving front and center right now. But the War in Iraq continues to be the back light to this election. That's as it should be. The war will not go away as an issue, especially if our troops again run into heavy trouble and casualties.

BAD ADVICE: DUMP BILL. Anyone who thinks Hillary is going to distance herself from Bill is inhaling. Who was the last Democrat to try that tact? Al Gore.

HOW DOES WALL STREET SPELL 'RELIEF?' You'd think the prospect of a change-agent Democrat, like Hillary or Barack, going to the White House would freak out the power brokers running the country's financial markets. Not so.
Wall Street can live with either one. And that should gives us pause.
Investment bankers, hedge funds, private equity players, traders on the New York-based exchanges have been generous in their financial support of both candidates. Word is the gents running the big investment houses, who are mostly over 50 years old, are backing New York's Senator Clinton. Meanwhile younger Turks are bankrolling Sen. Obama.
Who's not feeling Wall Street's love?
For one, there's lagging presidential hopeful John Edwards. Throughout his campaign Edwards has rightly laid the blame for the subprime lending meltdown at the feet of Wall Street and vows to crack down on such excess. The money-bag set hates this guy.
But Edwards isn't alone. On the other side of the aisle, the GOP's Mike Huckabee has sounded a similar alarm, blaming greedy Wall Street for Main Street's troubles. By the way, don't you get a kick out of that Huckabee-Chuck Norris ad?
Some TV pundits say Clinton and Obama will have to become "more populist" in their messages to scarf up Edwards' voters.
I suspect that means demonizing parts of Corporate America (after all, who doesn't hate health insurance companies?)while keeping a respectful distance from the powers-behind-the-throne on Wall Street, which deserve much of the blame for the nation's economic implosion.

HARD BALLING. What goes with MSNBC's Chris Matthews? This man harbors a grudge against the Clintons that's beyond reason. Either his boss, or a shrink, should talk to him about it.
In the early part of the New Hampshire election night coverage, Matthews could barely contain his glee at Hillary's difficulties and her expected trouncing. His attitude changed later in the evening, when he sheepishly conceded that he won't again make the mistake of under-estimating "The Clintons".
Whether you like the Clintons or not, why would anyone trust what this man has to say about them? He's so far off the charts.
In contrast, it was a pleasure to see Tom Brokaw back in the saddle last night providing some balanced, thoughtful commentary. Even Brokaw seemed peeved at some of the bizarre allusions and analogies that Matthews, and co-host Keith Olberman, cooked up during MSNBC's coverage.
I'll take more real reporting, less commentary. Except on this blog, of course.


(Photo courtesy of BHowdy's Photos on Flickr.com)

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