Monday, November 05, 2007

Victim=Victory for Hillary?

Kevin McCullough writes a column today in which he calls on talk radio to back off of Hillary Clinton's illegal immigrant gaffe at a recent debate. I don't agree with the totality of McCullough's column, but he does bring up what I think is an interesting twist that the eventual Republican nominee will have to handle carefully if facing Hillary:

4. Hillary only wins - when she is a victim. Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the entire Hillary fall-out issue is that such an incident plays directly into her strategy. Hillary can never be a champion of strength for anything as long as she is a "front runner." Her most historically significant positives always came in the aftermath of a moment in time in which she was able to castigate herself as a victim of circumstance, or of the abuse of men. When her husband was diddling interns in the Oval Office, her approvals were low. When he was discovered and exposed for it - her positives shot through the roof. It gave her a "cross to bear" moment to do the "right thing" even though she and the former President are more like business partners than any marriage I'd ever want to participate in. Fast forward to her run for the U.S. Senate after Mayor Giuliani had dropped out of the race due to his personal marriage issues and prostate cancer. Enter Congressman Rick Lazio and the now infamous moment of crossing the stage and slapping the pledge form on her podium and demanding that she "sign it." The Congressman confessed to me just a year ago that had he understood how that act would be spun by Hillary and her team of support in the mainstream media that he would have never considered it. Team Hillary was out in force following the debate, even through alternative media pages like Drudge, they were able to work the headline spin that Hillary had been ganged-up on. She was given a rousing "homecoming" at Wellesley College where she worked a jab into the speech. Emotional conference calls held by the campaign the days following called down more criticism upon the man asking the questions at the debate - not the candidates. And just to sweeten the pie team Hillary's number one attack dog - the former President - was sent to shake his finger before television cameras and call Russert's aggressive questioning "breathtakingly misleading." Rush has said it for years - but the only way Hillary wins is as a "victim," and now the "front-runner" is "just that."

By and large, the only times that the public has found Hillary Clinton a likable or sympathetic person has been been when she has appeared the victim. When not the victim, Clinton is an easily unlikable person. If she gets the nomination and heads into the general campaign with a sizable lead in the polls over the Republican nominee, Republicans are going to have to unload on her, but they are going to have to do so carefully. They will be well served to highlight her many negatives and to put her in positions where her unpleasantness shines. If they beat up on her like they beat up on John Kerry in '04 (deservedly so), though, she just may be able to spin herself back into the sympathetic victim in time to win in November.

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