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Advice from David Axelrod that Hillary Could Heed

January 30, 2012 "This is one of those rare instances where my presence indirectly became a part of this reaction from those pictured in the photograph. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just accidentally dropped all of her briefing papers onto the Oval Office rug and she, the President and Vice President all reacted in a way that indicated that surely I wouldn't get a photo of that to embarrass her." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

January 30, 2012
“This is one of those rare instances where my presence indirectly became a part of this reaction from those pictured in the photograph. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just accidentally dropped all of her briefing papers onto the Oval Office rug and she, the President and Vice President all reacted in a way that indicated that surely I wouldn’t get a photo of that to embarrass her.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As Joe Trippi, who was the architect of Dean’s antiestablishment insurgency, puts it: “She’s almost the perfect person who can argue that both ideologies are obsolete and that you need someone who understands the old system to put forward some ideas that are new.” [Matt Bai]

A BLIZZARD of posts have flown through the Internet in the last couple of days, all from guys very concerned about Hillary Clinton. I won’t bore you with Andrew Sullivan already being “exhausted” over Hillary, except to share that Paul Waldman makes the point that if you’re tired of Clinton you didn’t like her in the first place.

Kevin Drum embarrasses himself by worrying about how long Hillary Clinton’s been in the public eye, agreeing with Andrew Sullivan that Hillary hasn’t done squat. Sees no value in being first lady and challenging China on their own soil on “women’s rights are human rights.” Sees no pluses in her workhorse ethics as New York senator, or that she fought to bring the foreign service ba—… It’s like I wrote earlier. A trip to the Congo to focus on the massive rapes just won’t be counted. The women she empowered around the world, the Hillary effect on diplomatic appointments for women around the world, it’s just not much. Oh, but not to worry, Drum wants you to “count” him as an “admirer of Hillary,” even if he can’t put breath into his writing about her to find what the hell she would run on.

Then Drum lands on this:

And Hillary has another problem too: By 2016 she will have been in the public eye for 24 years. That’s unprecedented. In the modern era, Richard Nixon holds the record for longest time in the public eye—about 20 years—before being elected president.1 The sweet spot is a little less than a decade. Longer than that and people just get tired of you. They want a fresh face. That’s largely what happened to Hillary in 2008, and it could happen again in 2016.

There isn’t a hint of reality to the history that no woman has been seen as worthy of the presidency in over 200 years and the first one to come close, with 18 million votes, took close to 20 years to get into the position that she could even try. She’s now just been there, I mean, really, way… too… long.

Earth to Mother Jones, running as a woman for commander in chief isn’t like running if you’re a man. You either don’t have the qualifications or if you do you’re seen as a “hawk,” because a “dove” couldn’t get near the football.

It boggles the mind that this still has to be written at this point.

Matt Bai’s “not if, but how” is actually interesting, because it delves into who Hillary Clinton actually is as a politician and thinker of policy prescriptions. Beyond Joe Trippi’s comment comes David Axelrod, who hits on the best way, in my opinion, for Hillary Clinton to run her way in 2016 and never look back, no matter who may come forward through the ranks of a “grassroots rebellion.”

Should she ultimately run again, Clinton might actually do herself a greater service by holding her ground. When we talked about Clinton, David Axelrod, the strategist who spent a career running campaigns against the establishment before guiding Obama to the White House, told me: “The quickest way to authenticate yourself, and the hardest thing to do, is to be willing to put yourself at risk by standing up for things you believe, even if it means taking positions every once in a while that people don’t see as the smart political move.” Which could mean that the real way to prove you’re not just a projection of the status quo isn’t necessarily to mouth tired condemnations of the establishment, but rather to speak hard truth to the partisans who indict it.

Actually, it’s the same way the best politicians rise from hard learned lessons.

What would that mean in Syria, if Clinton was in charge? How about Afghanistan? You can bet it starts with action, because in Syria women and children are dying and starving, with the Taliban ready to move women back into the stone age. State Department will have a budget that would continue to empower the foreign service.

Hillary coming out against further sanctions while Iran negotiations are in play even got AIPAC to realize they were ostracized and alone, so if you think that isn’t power you don’t know what the word means. When Clinton makes a decision having to do with the Middle East, Israeli leaders listen and so does everyone else.

Domestically, there’s no reason to think Clinton wouldn’t take what Maria Shriver and Center for American Progress has been writing about women, family, work equality, child care and challenge Congress to lean in. Obamacare will have a good steward going forward, as the law begins to coast and millions and millions of more people get coverage.

Progressives who don’t like Hillary now won’t like her presidential candidacy either.

Neither will conservatives like Andrew Sullivan who can’t come to grips with there’s not much difference in many things about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s policy beliefs, except that she knows to make Washington work you have to be able to actually work Washington.

It’s interesting that when I look at a Clinton presidential candidacy all I see is doors opening and possibilities for action everywhere. There won’t be anyone she won’t attempt to charm or bribe with the gold of political capital only the first female president in U.S. history can dangle.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a woman and I’ve been one vote among many other girls that helped elect a lot of Democratic men to the presidency who have followed a long line of men who didn’t know how they would run or what they would do either, but somehow got inspired along the way.

As David Axelrod said to Matt Bai, “speak hard truth to the partisans who indict it,” and then say follow me.

Sounds like a plan, but what do I know, I’m only a girl who’s heard a lot less from the boys who ended up winning, and now simply hope next time it will be a woman instead.

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10 Responses to Advice from David Axelrod that Hillary Could Heed

  1. Ga6thDem February 7, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    Andrew Sullivan apparently cannot handle a woman in charge. I’m not fan of Sarah Palin but what he said about her and wanting to have her “examined” is beneath contempt.

    I have always thought that Hillary was best at talking about conservatism has failed our country and it’s one of the reasons I liked her which was the opposite of what Obama was selling back in 2008.

  2. Pilgrim February 7, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    “…except that she knows to make Washington work you have to be able to actually work Washington.”

    – well said

  3. fangio February 7, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Clinton should heed Walter Mondale’s warning about being the ” front runner . “

    • Taylor Marsh February 7, 2014 at 10:52 am #

      Hillary Clinton got 18 million primary votes in the 2008 primary.

      There is NO way on earth she’s not the presumed frontrunner. How can she be anything other than the frontrunner?

      Republicans anoint the loser of the previous presidential primary contest.

      Democrats are finding every reason they can to downplay Hillary Clinton’s potential as a presidential candidate, with a lot of help from progressive writers, most of whom are male.

  4. PeggySue February 7, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    I know this video clip was put up before [I know because I stayed up wa-a-y too late one night watching it] but I think it’s a fine example of Hillary Clinton’s thoughtful, practical and pragmatic vision about the US role in the world and what we might expect of her in terms of leadership. Anyone suggesting that her ideas are ‘old hat’ or dated, that she doesn’t have a grasp of all the nuances of policy and/or leadership, watch and weep. This was following the Chatham House Award, October 2013.

    As far as ‘fresh faces?’ The country did that on the last round and we’ve all been schooled that inexperience is not an advantage. I absolutely agree with Taylor that in order to work Washington, the successful leader needs to know how Washington works and hit the ground running. Obama has learned the hard way; promises and pretty words don’t get the job done. Hillary Clinton knows the political landscape inside and out. She’s the best qualified and most experienced candidate we’ve had in years.

    Yes, she’s a woman. And the time is now.

  5. Lake Lady February 7, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Andrew Sullivan…who really gives a fig what a hysterical whiner like him has to say? Not me! Istopped reading him when it became obvious that his crush on Obama made him irrational. Is he still besotted ?

    I like what Trippi said. That is what I would love for her do. She is in the unique position to do that. It is what I have always wanted to hear from her. As for the “professional” left writers and pundits , they better watch out, I don’t thnk women are int mood o put up wih it this time around.

    I know a little gal from MO who writes a political blog who sure won’t.

  6. PaperbackRuyter February 7, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Getting off topic a bit I’m about 2/3 through Robert Gates’ book “Duty” and so far he’s had nothing but good things to say about Hillary Clinton. Overall the book is nothing like the way it was portrayed in the media.

    i think there is a danger to being the presumed candidate, especially in the general election. Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney were all presumed candidates and front-runners who lost (I know some would disagree on Romney but I think anyone watching the rest of the clowns in the primary knew Romney was the likely candidate). I might throw John Kerry in there too – although Howard Dean was an early favorite it was pretty clear he wasn’t going to win the nomination. There is a tendency to treat presumed candidates as boring.

    There are two other problems for Hillary. One is that the media loves the story of someone coming out of the pack and winning ala Bill Clinton and Obama, and even GWB to an extent. Intentionally or unintentionally they will push those stories. The other is that recent presidents – Bill Clinton, GWB and Obama – have been relatively young and vigorous. I don’t see the problem as sexism as much as agism, especially when the last visual image people might have of her is Hillary looking fatigued wearing diplopia glasses. Probably not fair to her but she needs to project a vigorous image.

    • Taylor Marsh February 7, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      Gates book not really off topic. He confirms her deep relationships with the Pentagon and other national security types, but also why.

      Probably not fair to her but she needs to project a vigorous image.

      Now, I know you didn’t mean it this way, but this is actually sexism at its most insidious, a favorite of Rush Limbaugh’s & Drudge. Agism is sexism.

      Again, Hillary’s not doing anything toward a 2016 candidacy, except not stopping the fundraising efforts of the groups out there vying for power and clout. She’d be crazy to nix any money raising efforts.

      “They” can “push” any story they want, my first book is all about the media & what they’ve done to Clinton in her 20-year rise.

      People at this site were instrumental in pushing back in 2007-2008 and there are a lot more HRC fans today than then.

      • Ga6thDem February 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

        You know, Taylor, I’m not sure I ever thanked you for what you did back then but I will thank you now. It was fighting up an uphill battle for sure but certainly one worth waging IMO.

        • Taylor Marsh February 9, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

          Wow, that’s so sweet. Proud to have been in that fight with you.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong