Hillary Clinton Pivoting to the Center?
From Thom Hartmann's The Big Picture. Cued to show the first seven minutes. Note the caption under the Politics Panel discussion: "MSNBC disses Bernie. Coulter praises." This is an interesting segment, one that echoes what we've been writing here.
by Gaius Publius
[Updated to clarify that Vox writer Jonathan Allen does not directly "connect the dots" from David Brock's email attack on Sanders and what he sees as Clinton's repositioning herself to the "center."]
I don't want to analyze this report yet, of Clinton's apparent pivot to the "center," but it seems like news and it seems important. So I'm passing it on for you to digest.
That recent David Brock and Correct the Record PAC email attack on Bernie Sanders as a "socialist"? It may or may not have been a one-off, since there's no direct evidence that it was coordinated. Nevertheless, according to Jonathan Allen writing at Vox, there is at the same time a major pivot by the the Clinton campaign, and it's toward the "center."
Here's a taste of the Brock story when it broke, via Samantha Lochman and Ryan Grim at Huffington Post (my occasional emphasis):
A Pro-Clinton Super PAC Is Going Negative On Bernie SandersForget whether you think this is ugly or political fair game, and forget whether you think this kind of oppo research is coordinated or legal. Consider just the timing. At roughly the same time, the Clinton campaign itself seems to be pivoting
The group links Sanders to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and the United Kingdom's new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
A super PAC backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is going negative, circulating an email that yokes her chief rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to some of the more controversial remarks made by Jeremy Corbyn, the United Kingdom's new Labour Party leader, including his praise for the late Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader who provided discounted fuel to Vermont in a deal supported by Sanders.
Clinton's camp has long said it has no plans to attack Sanders. But the super PAC, called Correct the Record, departed from its defense of Clinton's record as a former secretary of state in an email Monday that compares Sanders with Corbyn. Correct the Record, led by Clinton ally David Brock, also has sent trackers after Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The Democratic candidates have refrained from criticizing each other directly. Sanders has obliquely knocked Clinton for not stating her position on the Keystone XL pipeline, and hasn't made an issue of her use of a private email server and account while at the State Department. Clinton, in turn, almost never mentions Sanders' name and has focused on her Republican rivals.
Monday's Correct the Record email strays from that pattern. ...
"A Tire-Squealing Turn"
The Vox piece says there is a major strategy pivot in the Clinton campaign, and calls it a "tire-squealing turn," whether or not the Brock attack is part of it. As writer Jonathan Allen, notes later in his piece, this "shift is partly about portraying Sanders as too extreme." His opinion, since he cites not sources but his own analysis, but worth considering. Allen:
While everyone else was talking about her authenticity, Hillary Clinton changed her positionThe reasons that Allen offers for this change are worth looking at. He starts that section this way:
The frontrunner is now calling herself a "moderate" as she seeks a contrast with Bernie Sanders.
The revelation that Hillary Clinton is planning to be more spontaneous and authentic brought a booming collective laugh from Republicans, some Democrats, and opinion writers last week. The group guffaw drowned out a related shift in her positioning that is far more important: Now she wants to be known as a moderate.
"You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center," Clinton said in Ohio September 10, according to CNN. "I plead guilty."
That's a tire-squealing turn from the first five months of her campaign, when Clinton emphasized her progressive credentials. She built a policy platform significantly to the left of where many Democrats expected her to stand — in favor of new regulations of the financial services industry, "ending the era of mass incarceration," and reforming campaign finance laws, to name a few items on her agenda. The focus on populism was described as a newfound affinity for the left, a return to liberal roots, an effort to crowd out the competition, a general election strategy based on energizing Democrats, or some combination thereof. The truth is that Clinton's record is pretty liberal, except when it comes to national defense and trade.
Now she's pivoting back toward the centrist label that defined her husband's campaigns and presidency.
The obvious reason for Clinton to switch tacks now is that her initial strategy didn't work: On the strength of backing from liberals, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has surged to leads in New Hampshire and Iowa. That's a good reason for her to shake things up a bit, but it's only part of a story that is more about drawing a contrast with Sanders, sending a signal to her supporters that she's ready to really fight for the nomination, and making sure that she's comfortable in the political skin she's wearing for the rest of the campaign.I'll leave you to read the rest of this good piece. Summarized, his reasons include these:
"When we start the debate, we will start to draw contrasts not only as I do all the time with Republicans but where appropriate with my Democratic competitors," Clinton told reporters Monday, referring to the launch of a series of six Democratic debates next month.
While one could spend a lot of time criticizing Clinton for being "calculating" — a word that often is spelled "strategic" and considered a compliment when applied to a male candidate for the presidency — it's far more interesting and instructive to explore all the reasons for this pivot, especially because it's one that is likely to define the rest of her candidacy.
- Clinton's attempt to be Sanders Lite didn't win love from the left
- The shift is partly about portraying Sanders as too extreme
- The transition could serve Clinton well as the primary wears on
- It's partly about Clinton's authenticity factor
The insider made another good point about what the "moderate" title means for Clinton: It's authentic.Food for thought.
Added notes: Allen's story isn't sourced to "unnamed insiders" or to "an individual who spoke on condition of anonymity" — in other words, these aren't campaign-originated "leaks." This is reporting and analysis by the writer. One can agree or not, approve or not, but it's a writer speaking for himself based on research. Glad to see that.
Also, if you'd like to help Sanders out, click here; adjust the split any way you wish at the link.