Letting Her Hair Down
"I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear. I am going to tell you what I actually can get done."
--Hillary Clinton in Iowa yesterday
Long-time readers of this blog know that I have been a supporter of Hillary Clinton, especially during the 2008 Democratic nomination fight against Barack Obama. I'm not running away from that, just as I am comfortable supporting her now over a good man Bernie Sanders. The choice for me in 2008 was quite clear: a choice between experience and moderation versus hope and change, or at least how hope and change was being sold during that campaign. Well, without going into my list of gripes over the last eight years, Barack Obama won and has done a fair job, even if there is a disappointing gap between what was promised and what was ever competently attempted.
Now in 2016, after seven years of initial naiveté and eventual wisdom in the White House matched against ongoing obstruction and outright hatred amongst the political opposition, Hillary is running again, this time against Sanders, whose presence and standing in the current race is a direct result of Obama's failings. Against all of the current candidates running this cycle, Hillary for me is a clear choice to deal with our challenges here at home and abroad. Yet Hillary's advantages in experience and political moderation are offset by her poor judgment on the self-inflicted wounds stemming from the email fiasco. She is also beset by an inability this late in her life to simply let her hair down and talk straight with the voters. In a political environment where it appears the electorate is thirsty for straight talk and accountability, it would be opportune for Mrs. Clinton to simply come out and say "yeah, I was stupid and wrong for setting up the private email server. If anyone in this race should have known it was bad judgment to do this, it would have been me, but I'm so fixated on protecting myself from political opponents that it led me to a bad decision. As I have said, I take responsibility and will of course continue cooperating in all legitimate inquiries."
In this environment, Hillary should speak openly about why she has such opposition, but not by trumpeting a one-sided self-congratulatory resume like the New York Times did in their embarrassing endorsement today. She should plainly say "Look, I know there are millions of Americans who don't like me and don't trust me, and who would never vote for me. I know that there is nothing I can say to change many of those minds, and I acknowledge that. I also know that many of these people are Democrats who question my motives and commitment to a more progressive society. They see a kindred spirit and passionate fighter like Bernie Sanders and it is an easy choice for them. I get it. But please understand this: you already know more about me and my life than you will ever know about Donald Trump and his life, and yet I'm still here. I'm not a quitter. I know how to get things done at home and abroad, even with Republicans. And unlike Bernie and most of the Republicans, I won't go into the job unprepared for what awaits. For thirty years now, we've been sold simple slogans that allowed the few to enrich themselves at your expense. From Day One of my presidency, those days are over, and if you don't like what you see, then throw me out of office after one term. But never assume I don't care or won't work every day to get all of us to a better place."
It's evident that in the closing days of the Iowa campaign Hillary is running as a practical realist, and not someone who wants to blow things up and start over. Her argument, rightly so, is that the fault doesn't rest in the system but rather in the people who've rigged the current system and who continue to manipulate it against the interests of the many. Arguing that we need to build and improve upon what Obama has done at home and abroad, and go farther is an argument that may not stir passions in the millions of disaffected, who legitimately are fed up. But it is a message that resonates with millions of realists who also want change and a better future, but a change that is actually achievable with accountability for those who oppose it, and without the need for a "revolution" with unintended consequences.
If there ever was a time for Hillary to let her hair down and speak her mind, it would be in the alleged Age of Authenticity.