Karl Rove might be right. If so, the Democrats are in for another loss in 2008. Rove, who is President Bush’s White House deputy chief of staff and the mastermind of the president’s re-election bid, has recently indicated that Hillary Clinton is the dominant player for the Democrats and that “anybody who thinks that she’s not going to be the candidate is kidding themselves.” Oh, how I wish he was wrong.
That doesn’t mean the Bush administration is not vulnerable. Political posturing ahead of the midterm elections even has fellow Republicans questioning the president’s actions. Immigration reform, the runaway federal budget and a questionable deal to allow a Dubai-based company to manage U.S. seaports are just some examples of issues that Democrats could exploit. Sen. Clinton is just not the right person to do it.
The problem for the junior senator from New York is that too many people have already made up their minds about her. While in the past polling has proven ineffective in predicting a winner on election day, a recent poll from FOX News has succeeded in proving just how divisive Clinton has become. When pitted against potential Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani or Sen. John McCain of Arizona, she had the highest percentage of respondents saying they would definitely vote for her, but she also had the highest percent of respondents who said that “under no circumstances” would they vote for Clinton.
Why is that? Clinton suffers from what I call the double-edged sword of name recognition.
Especially going into the political party primaries, candidates want to ensure their names are prominent in newspapers, magazines, newscasts and, increasingly, political blogs. Clinton, however, is already there. To make news now, she has to take one of her angry tirades to a new level – but that can be quite detrimental.
She has taken to alienating even more voters by stating during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech that the House of Representatives “has been run like a plantation” and confused others about her views on abortion by stating that it is “a sad, even tragic choice” and should be “safe, legal and rare.” These types of comments only serve to divide a political party that desperately needs to show unity if it hopes to achieve a presidential victory.
Abortion isn’t Clinton’s only policy position that is difficult to understand, with the confusion surrounding her beliefs eerily similar to 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. But above all of her other nuances, her support for the Iraq war appears most detrimental.
Like many others within her party, Clinton has found herself in the precarious situation of attempting to explain her vote to authorize the presidential use of force in Iraq while openly criticizing the Administration’s handling of the war.
This position both enrages those on the left who are steadfast in their opposition to the war as well as those who see her stance as hypocritical. The fact that she is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee will not exempt her from criticism for lack of a substantive plan on what she would do differently in Iraq.
Clinton should use her ability, if she wins re-election to her Senate seat in November, to continue to canvass the country as a Democratic fund-raiser. That is her forte. According to the St. Petersburg Times she “has raised an estimated $50 million for the Democrats across the country,” and everybody realizes that lots of money is crucial for a national campaign.
But that isn’t enough. Despite the inability to ascertain whether she is a liberal Democrat, a centrist-wannabe or somewhere in between, she seems poised to use her charisma that often borders on outright anger to not only further divide her party, but the entire nation. Unfortunately, Karl Rove is probably right. Clinton will be a candidate for president, with her biggest adversary being herself.
Aaron Hill is a senior majoring in economics.