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Monday, July 25, 2005

HILLARY'S CALCULATION: Regular readers know I'm no fan. But simply from the standpoint of political strategy I have to take my hat off to her. Sen. Clinton's speech today in Ohio was close to brilliant, given her obvious strategy of moving to middle ground. This stuff in particular will play well with voters weary of partisan excess:
"All too often we have allowed ourselves to be split between left, right and center," she said of Democrats. "It's high time for a cease-fire." Echoing one of her husband's favorite lines, she said Democrats should stop "accepting the false logic of false choices that keep our party and our country divided."
This, too, is quite good:
She referred to faith in God, shared values and a desire to "protect our children from the excesses of the popular culture."
Hillary's on a roll, and obviously it's a role — but if she keeps playing this tune for the next year a half, she may actually succeed in remaking herself. She couldn't ask for a better mentor than her husband, whose '92 candidacy looked doomed after the Jennifer Flowers story hit the headlines. If you're not quite sure which one Jennifer Flowers was, that's the point. A whole lot of Americans won't remember and won't care what Hillary wanted to do to America's health care system in 1994. If she keeps singing this centrist tune, it won't matter. Nor will her decided lack of charisma, or even simple human warmth, necessarily hurt be a problem. Nixon made it to the White House only six years after he declared, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because ... this is my last press conference." But there are differences as well. For one, Nixon's 1968 victory was stage-managed in a way that simply isn't possible in a 24/7 news cycle. Also, it's wise to bear in mind two other Democratic frontrunners: Ed Muskie, Gary Hart, and of course Howard Dean.