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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Hindsight on HRC

If you like insider accounts of political campaigns, you’ll probably love Michelle Cottle’s latest TNR report on her soundings of Hillary Clinton staffers about “what went wrong.” What’s remarkable about this article is how little agreement there appears to be among folks “on the inside.” There’s a fair amount of anger expressed towards former chief strategist Mark Penn and former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle (which you’d expect, since they were the people in charge of message and organization, respectively, during HRC’s fall from inevitability to second place), but beyond that, the explanations of “what went wrong” are all over the place.
This analytical disarray may just reflect the small and probably random sample of HRC staffers willing to talk to Cottle, even on a strictly off-the-record basis. But another factor is probably in play: the natural human tendency to play what-if, and attribute political setbacks to correctable internal “mistakes” rather than uncontrollable external forces.
What’s largely missing from the insider accounts quoted by Cottle is a recognition that Barack Obama’s campaign surprised virtually everybody in politics. It’s hard to remember this, but there was an extended period a few months after Obama entered the race when the CW was that he was a flavor-of-the-month who had created some excitement but was rapidly losing steam against the powerful, disciplined Clinton Machine. One of the post-mortems quoted by Cottle suggests that HRC’s big mistake was in not going nastily negative on Obama from the get-go. But that’s pure hindsight: a negative campaign made no sense for a candidate with Clinton’s poll standings and resources prior to Iowa, a state whose Democratic caucus-goers are notoriously averse to intraparty attacks. And after Iowa, when it became obvious that Obama’s was generating previously unimaginable numbers of volunteers and cash, and building a never-seen-before electoral coalition, Clinton’s campaign was already in desperate survival mode. Another little fact that a lot of people seem to have forgotten is that a couple of days before the NH primary, the chattering classes were busy writing HRC’s political obituary, in anticipation of a blowout Obama victory that would have nailed down the nomination then and there.
Perhaps the Obama phenomenon was predictable, but not many political experts actually predicted it in any detail. (I certainly include myself in this assessment; the only aspect of Obama-mania I anticipated was the rapid and massive shift of African-American support to him after Iowa). So it’s a little strange that so many people inside and outside the Clinton campaign are so sure her initial strategy should have been based on improbable developments instead of the lay of the land as it first appeared. Sure, the acid test for any political campaign is the ability to adjust to the unforeseen, but given HRC’s success in avoiding electoral extinction again and again during the primaries, you have to admit she showed some deft footwork.
The bottom line is that “what went wrong” with Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the emergence of a once-in-a-lifetime politician whose particular assets made him very nearly unbeatable once he established himself as a viable candidate. Here’s hoping that John McCain’s brain trust goes with a high-percentage game plan like HRC’s, and underestimates Barack Obama’s ability to change the rules.

One comment on “Hindsight on HRC

  1. bacaangel on

    “Hillary is a member of the generation born between 1939 and1956 with Pluto in Leo. Leo is ruled by the Sun, conveying a “center of the universe” perspective on its progeny. Like her husband and George W., our two ‘Boomer’ presidents, she is run by personal ambition and entitlement. Boomer leadership has advanced the elite in America at the expense of just about everyone else. Hillary’s chart has strong karmic imprints that are all male energies—a stellium (4 planets) in Scorpio in the karmic12th house and a conjunction of Pluto, Saturn, and Mars in Leo–indicating many former lives of power, which she regards as her birthright. Her husband’s sex scandals are one of her Scorpion projections. Fiercely competitive, when backed against a wall her Scorpion stinger comes out. If elected she could create many enemies. However, I think she will fall through the cracks due to irrelevance, because the Saturn/Uranus Election Day standoff is between the very old and the new and unknown.
    The Generation Who’s Time Has Come
    Barack Obama belongs to the Pluto in Virgo generation, those born between 1957 and 1972 and currently ages 36-51. Members of this generation are slated for a rendezvous with destiny, an opportunity to step into their power, over the next two years, as transiting Saturn conjuncts their natal Pluto placement. Virgos, the cosmic cleanup and repair crew, view service as a sacred trust. True to form, Obama is heavily invested in public service. How fitting it would be for this generation to give us our next president, turning the page on Kennedy’s declaration. “It is time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans”.
    Elements of Obama’s message resonate particularly well with younger voters. Two newly energized groups could have the decisive impact on the election. The Pluto in Libra generation, born between 1973 and 1983 and now ages 25 to 35, are passionately anti-war –or should I say, pro-peace? Obama’s theme of national unity appeals to their “Can’t we all just get along?” sensibilities. The 17-25 year old Pluto in Scorpios would relish any firestorm of change to burn away the old ways. The mantra, “Change We Can Believe In” perfectly encapsulates Uranus (change) in Pisces (faith).
    Shifting Paradigms
    Personal Karma
    Barack Obama is a man on a karmic mission. A prominent psychic recently surmised that he is a reincarnated Abe Lincoln. Although an improvable assertion, a strong resonance exists between the two men. Surely, Obama inherited Lincoln’s gift for inspiring oratory, and he is literally following in Lincoln’s footsteps. Obama announced his candidacy on the steps of the Illinois State Capital in Springfield, site of Lincoln’s famous “house divided” speech. He invoked the beloved former president numerous times. Obama also recently spoke in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. Lincoln delivered an anti-slavery speech in that venue in 1860 that is said to have won him the presidency. Lincoln, a lawyer from Illinois who served in the State Legislature before being elected to the Senate, was in Congress only two years before occupying the While House.
    Lincoln was assassinated one week after the Civil War ended; before he could reunite the country. Famous or humble, individuals reincarnate to complete unfinished business from the past–a pattern I have observed over the twenty years I have been practicing karmic astrology and past life regression—and one which leads me to believe Obama will not meet the same fate. Indeed, many of the deep divisions that persist today are the legacy of a Reconstruction gone awry. Red and blue states are nearly identical to slave and free states. Obama’s call for unity, “I see the United States” is reminiscent of Lincoln’s vow “to bind up the nation’s wounds”. Perhaps we are finally ready.
    Considering the number of historical events in the Saturn/Uranus cycle that revolve around issues of slavery and civil rights, the presidential candidacy of an African American demands special attention. Obama’s campaign is a catalyst, re-opening many of the still festering wounds of racism. His election could begin a great karmic healing.
    New Leadership
    Archetypally, Obama is a strong Aquarian (his South Node and Jupiter and Lincoln’s Sun), as demonstrated by his grassroots orientation, message of inclusiveness and his own mixed race background. He recognizes that America’s diversity is her strength. Since the turn of the millennium, many astrologers have been waiting for an Aquarian leader to step forward. The American collective (unconscious) shares this messianic quest, a factor that could explain the momentum behind Obama’s campaign. Some folks doubtless also recognize (unconsciously) his energetic overlay with Lincoln.”
    Excerpt from Judith Goldberg; a Karmic Astrologer and Past Life Regressionist
    Contact Judith at judith.goldberg@verizon.net

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