May 29, 2014

Thursday Hillary Bash - Hillary tacks left, just in time.

"Liberal Democrats feel the wind at their backs."

I'm not sure why that would be the case going into the 2016 presidential election, but let's assume that is indeed the way they feel.  In the article in The Hill, it's pointed out that Hillary Clinton might not be the ideal candidate for the progressive liberal left wing of the party.
“If Hillary Clinton embraces the rising economic populist tide in America, there will be little political space for a credible primary challenger,” said Laura Friedenbach of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “But if she sides with big corporations against everyday people, there will be a huge amount of political space for some insurgent to run on an economic populist platform.”
The far left has been increasingly openly laying down the gauntlet for Hillary Clinton - move left or you will not get our support.  With a president who regularly spout progressive agenda platitudes and clearly has a sympathetic ear for the cause, the far left may feel empowered to turn out another progressive president - an Elizabeth Warren or a Howard Dean  type.  As we inch closer to primary season, their 'encouragement' will grow more strident and louder and may become outright political threatening of Hillary Clinton.

There's a worry already that she cannot possibly represent grassroots progressives because she's too rich.  I'd argue (tongue-in-cheek) that perhaps progressives are being sexist because the same wealth standard does not seem to apply to George Soros.  Nevertheless, the thought is there and Hillary understands the nature of elections - run to the base first and run back to the center during the general election, that's how you will win.  She's started movement accordingly;
When your own minimum wage reportedly is in the neighborhood of $200,000 a speech, it might be difficult to sell yourself as the populist champion of the working class.

In recent weeks, Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun a calculated transition from respected diplomat to fierce advocate for the 99 percent, using a “haves versus have-nots” message to build support among progressives who are desperate for a strong voice to battle Wall Street, protect entitlement programs such as Social Security and promote income equality.

But for Mrs. Clinton, a rich, successful woman and part of one of America’s most powerful political families, there are questions about how effectively she can carry that banner if she runs for president in 2016.

Her comments indicate that she understands which way the political wind is blowing, at least within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
For Republicans, this is a welcome opportunity.  The further this fracture on the left grows, the less likely is a Hillary Clinton primary win.  And even if the fracture is fixed as Hillary plays to the far left to gain their support, the more ammunition the eventual GOP candidate will have during a general election season.  She'll say things that can be brought up during the debates to call out her leftist extremist positions.  Either she'll be forced to defend some outlandish positions or she will stumble all over herself trying to backtrack on her statement.  She's done it before.  Remember the driver's licenses for illegal immigrants issue during the 2008 Democratic primaries?  She'll flub again, guaranteed, if the questions are put to her in a way where she has to think quickly on her feet.

Meanwhile there's a whole other front in which Hillary will have to fight back.  The Wary of Hillary Democrats have begun to get some notice.  They are at least superficially concerned about her inevitability, although I suspect many progressives are using the group as cover for their real, far left agenda-based concerns;
“She is an enormously capable candidate and leader, but I do worry about the inevitability, because I think it’s off-putting to the average voter,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a longtime Obama ally, told CNN earlier this month. “And I think that was an element of her campaign the last time. As an enthusiastic Democrat, I just hope that the people around her pay attention to that this time around.”

The public commentary about the risks of Clinton as fait accompli seems less a harbinger of a messy primary fight than an effort to nudge Clinton to the left. There’s no apparent candidate with President Barack Obama’s political skill to catch Clinton by surprise this time. But the Democratic base doesn’t want Clinton to get a free pass, lest she give short shrift to the progressive agenda and tack to the center before the primary campaign is even fully underway.
All this in-fighting doesn't hand a win to the GOP, but a divide on the left does make the Republicans' job easier in 2016. A smart RNC will be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity this presents. Let's hope smart applies this time around.
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