A Strategy for Clinton
by moi moi, Sat Feb 02, 2008 at 01:07:56 PM EST
I was watching Pat Buchanan the other day and saw how he framed the election:
1. Obama vs. McCain = election about war. Obama's 2002 speech as Illinois state senator is central to whole Obama campaign. McCainn's POW sacrifice and war hero credentials are central to his whole candidacy as well. So we will have a debate about war, which will lead into national security. McCain will win that election.
2. Clinton vs. McCain = election about the economy. That is Clinton's strength and is emerging as the number one concern of the American people. Clinton has spent the last several years neutralizing the national security issue with the GOP (to chagrin of liberal blogers) The Clinton's are smart enough to frame their campaign as one about the economy. Clinton will win that election.
The key for Clinton is to frame the remainder of the primary around the economy. Obama will try to frame it around his personality. He will try to muddy the waters. This is why in the debate before South Carolina he picked a fight with Hillary. If she had ignored his attack, and talked about how great Bill Clinton policies were in relation to Ronald Reagan, then the debate would have been about the issues again. But Obama succeeded in drawing in Clinton to the fight, and the issues were lost. As Karl Rove gleefully noted, the Democratic Primary had deteriorated into a campaign about race and gender.
In a way, the Democrats strength this campaign season is our weakness. Some of us feel we have the luxury of picking the guy with the great personality, and who stood up against the war in the beginning. But in the general election, Americans feel very insecure about their future, so they will focus more on the issues. The general election will come down to how the issues are framed: economy or war.
The whole basis of the Obama campaign's strength in the Democratic primary, his anti-war stance, is his weakness for the general election. National security will trump a speech given 6 years ago. He will be portrayed as naive and inexperienced. McCain will move to the center and start talking about a withdrawal after he secures the conservatives. Obama will lose that election.
Hillary can frame the Iraq war in this way: How will we deal with the economic impact of the war. Our country has mounting debt from the war, and the Clinton's are experts at repairing the economy. So, in a simple answer about the Iraq war: we all agree about what to do now, so it is the economy stupid.