Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why Clinton is losing

Pundits, bloggers, Editorial boards, etc are not your average voter. They wonkishly examine the candidates proposals and the possible consequences. Moreover, they are aware of the ideological underpinnings of these ideas. For instance, Andrew Sullivan liked that McCain referenced Burke, but questioned how many people at CPAC knew who he was. Very few, and even less among the general public. Even as bloggers can debate the strengths and weakness of the path for society implied by Tocqueville versus Nietzsche, the average Joe has no idea who either are. What is comes down to in a campaign is not policy ideas, but a simple calculation: Who sounds and appears like they are going to make stuff better?

On this case Obama is winning. His short tenure in the Senate is a benefit because he presumably hasn't been corrupted by the system as much. Additionally, his positive tone of change to take on the system is very appealing in the current morass that we are in at the end of the Bush administration. He wants to overhaul the system. Whether he can or not in reality is almost irrelevant.

Clinton's appeal of experience and as a fighter is precisely the opposite. Her appeal is that she is the best technocrat. (As I have said before she would make a great White House chief of staff.) However, this appeal presumes that the system cannot be changed, and that she is the best at manipulating it for the results she would like. Again, whether this is realistically the best strategy to accomplish Democratic goals is beside the point. Americans are fed up with the political system, and the assumption inherent to the Clinton campaign that it is the way it is, is fundamentally flawed politically. It doesn't matter whether she is actually right. The people don't like the current system. They don't think it is fair or working. Her claim that she can make it work for the benefit of the people is questioned because the system has not worked for the people. Her attacks on Obama only dig her in deeper. She should have embraced a tone that would imply an overhaul of the system, and that she would be the best person to do it because she knows the problems, might have worked months ago. But it is too late now.

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