Competence not Ideology

Given the Clinton campaign’s descent into bad 1988 Democratic campaigns, I’m finding some problems with their messaging.  Beyond the fact that it’s all about process at this point and not about what she would actually do other than adamantly talking about facts.

Let’s look at recent events…

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign failed to file a full slate of convention delegate candidates for Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary.

This despite the possibility the primary proves critical and despite Clinton owning the full-throated support of Gov. Rendell, state Democratic Party leadership, Mayor Nutter and, presumably, the organizational skill all that entails.

And despite a Rendell-ordered extension of the filing deadline that could be viewed as more than just coincidental.

Texas Incompetence:

Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest.

Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state’s unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa’s heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston — where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support — could yield three or four times as many delegates.

The entire reaction from Clinton’s campaign seems to be of the same line of who could have thought this would happen thinking that brought us Iraq.  Who could have known the nomination would be messy? Who could of known that a nation divided on ethnic lines could lead to a long civil war.  Who needed to prepare for the primary season to go on this long? Who needed to prepare for the rebuilding of Iraq since we’ll win the the war in a few weeks?

And if you point out the incompetence, you are the problem, not the people actually screwing up.

Clinton had been growing on me as a candidate for a while.  Not that I’d switch allegiances, but I could have been comfortable with her being the nominee.

But I’ve seen this play before and I didn’t like it the first time.

5 thoughts on “Competence not Ideology

  1. Larry, You have given the Clinton campaign a gracious benefit of the doubt by using the term “messaging.”

    Part of their incompetence is not their messaging, but their total lack thereof. From “experience” – to “change” – to “solutions,” they’ve never found a message.

    Hillary herself keeps telling us not to listen to Obama’s speeches, but look at his actions. TELLING us. With her SPEECHES.

    After yesterday’s mini-fiasco (created totally by Hillary herself and her campaign management team) over “plagiarism,” her supporters are now posting on other blogs:

    “Don’t look at those actions (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?). PLEASE listen to her SPEECHES. She has so many good things to say.” Give me a break. Which message is the message?

    And Hillary’s attempt to create an issue over borrowed phrases being “plagiarism” opens up the questions about her own speeches, the Coretta Scott King funeral (her husband’s prepared words) and of her New Hampshire tears. Were they real tears when Hillary began to cry while reciting the words John Edwards had just used the day before?

    The Clinton message (or lack thereof) and the Clinton ground game (or lack thereof) is an embarrassment to anyone who has worked in this business. And an amazing misuse of over $100 million dollars.

    Admitting that they didn’t know the delegate rules in Texas and couldn’t fill a slate of delegates in Pennsylvania while bragging those states were a part of their firewall? This would flunk them in a college Campaign101 course.

  2. And a P.S. several hours later…

    We now witness the fourth consecutive primary that never happened.

    One of the hardest things to do in this business is stand behind a friend who had to stand up, take their lumps, and thank their volunteers and staff for “a race well run but not won.” It is a moving emotional experience.

    I’ve worked on more losing races than winning ones. It ain’t easy for the candidate who doesn’t get enough votes. But I’ve never worked for (and pray I never do work for) a candidate who did not have the balls to accept reality and face the music.

    So tonight Wisconsin joins Virginia, Maryland and DC as one more place where there evidently just wasn’t a primary.

    On top of the major incompetence, this latest childishness just screams volumes about one candidate’s basic character flaws and total lack of class.

  3. I would still accept Hillary as the nominee, but she’s making it difficult.

    The problem seems to be that she and her campaign confuse “experience” with “inevitability.” In the summer, I had the opportunity to work on a non-Hillary project with some people closely connected to the HRC campaign. The confidence in her nomination was rather staggering. They really believed the race for the nomination was over (this is July 2007, btw). Obama was just an annoying speed bump.

    All through the primary season, they confused her early ability to get institutional support (electeds, advocacy groups, etc.) with experience. Yet, here is a candidate with more experience in presidential elections than anyone — two as the candidate’s very involved spouse, and then her own campaign — whose campaign appears to implode into evermore fantastical spin the instant things don’t go her way. That hardly shows experience; it shows hubris, the consequence of inevitability.

    I still think she would make a decent President, certainly superior to John McCain. If she pulls this out, she’d get my support. But if she and her campaign continue to ignore reality, that support is not certain. It’s not at all certain that I could support her if the story that she is hatching a plan to pressure committed Obama delegates to switch their allegiance is true. (This was reported on and

  4. More later, but Rich Miller made the point about African-American support back in February of 2007. They never seemed to grasp that South Carolina was the beginning, not the zenith for a candidate like Obama. Once he did well in either Iowa or New Hampshire, this race was guaranteed to go on after Super Tuesday. But instead of planning for that, they dismissed everything Obama did.

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