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                                       politics + culture

Friday, January 18, 2008

Clinton ad in Nevada

Apparently this AFSCME 527 ad is running heavily in Nevada. It reinforces a point I made in an essay I wrote on Clinton's core message: Clinton's campaign is personal. Clinton's campaign is about her relationship with the voters. Clinton's campaign is about unfinished business and unfinished battles. Clinton's message in the 2008 Presidential election is that the arc of her career in public service should return her to the White House. In essence, the 2008 election is about Clinton and her journey.

Clearly, the ad also reveals the demographic Hillary is targeting in Nevada, women. And, on some level, it's interesting as much for what it says about what advocates for the Clinton campaign think of women voters in Nevada as what it tells us about the Clinton campaign itself.

"I didn't know" is a fascinating, if somewhat headscratching, strategy for winning over caucus goers to vote for you for President. On one level the ad encourages voters to take a new look at Clinton, someone they might feel they know well. On another level, the ad is somewhat maudlin and macabre and incredibly vague. When the fourth woman says, "I love that she found her voice and I want her to know that I want to keep hearing what she has to say" it seems to me to overplay the "journey of discovery" theme that Clinton is using. Further, "I want her to know..." is almost a sentiment you'd expect someone to say as the fan of a celebrity or a pop idol.

To be frank, the entire ad seems to play off a desire on the part of voters not to hurt Senator Clinton's feelings. It over-personalizes her campaign for President. It also plays off a "betrayal" theme barely hidden under the surface of the Clinton campaign since Iowa, as if to say:

"Hillary, I didn't know I was hurting your feelings when I considered voting for Barack Obama."

Finally it begs the question. Senator Clinton is running for President. Shouldn't she know and be in full command of her voice at this point? Her previous message was "Ready to Lead." And one of her campaign's supposed strengths is that the voters know her and know what they are getting from day one. She's supposed to be about delivering the goods, not about gauzy emotional moments that are more about "fear" and "concern" than bread and butter Democratic issues.

I don't see how this ad is good for the Clinton campaign. It highlights the weakness of her core message (it's all about her) and it dilutes her strength (what she promises to do for voters). It puts all the focus on the drama of Hillary's campaign for president. That has risks and real downsides.

Can you win a presidential primary by making voters feel bad for wanting to vote for your opponent?

What do you think?


  • While this ad - and so much else the Clinton campaign has done in the past two weeks - may hurt, I wish we were seeing far stronger downward pressure in the Clinton polling numbers in the states that really count, California, for instance. If Senator Obama is going to win the nomination, he needs to have some awfully good news between now and Feb. 5.

    Tangentially, I've greatly appreciated your two most recent Diaries at Daily Kos despite my misgivings about Obama. I miss the regularity of your voice over there.

    By Blogger Meteor Blades, at 10:34 AM  

  • Thanks for this post. As someone of clinton's gender and generation, I frankly find it pretty childish to wait till over 60 to "find" your voice. It made me sick the first time I heard it. And it sickens me to think of this kind of pandering. She's never going to find a way to reach ME. I don't want an imaginary relationship with the president or her. But I would like someone like Obama, who could ask us, as Americans, to make sacrifices in order to turn our country around.

    I'm discouraged, however, that the "victim" mentality hillary assumes and the guilt trips being used in the service of this "victim" seeking "redemption," may indeed be working with her naive audience of self-help-niks.

    Your analysis of the personal journey she's on fits right with what I've said. Entitlement - due to victim-hood. Except that she's the one pulling off the hood-wink.

    By Anonymous TheraP, at 9:24 PM  

  • gimmie a break...I was looking for the ad I read about that said Hillary donned boxing gloves. I read text of her new ads, which stole Obama's idea, one more time, to pass off as her own. I am right up there with Ted Kennedy in the ultimate betrayal of women, I guess, because I was looking at issues, voting records, integrity in a candidate and she was not women enough to say no to Iraq for my tastes.

    By Anonymous alice in wonderland, at 7:37 PM  

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