In Which Republicans Learn Something Valuable
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in 2008 | The Weaknesses Of Hillary Clinton — Comments (10) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
I didn't watch Tuesday night's debate between the Democratic Presidential candidates, but it appears that Hillary Clinton had quite the bad night:
We now know something that we did not know before: When Hillary Clinton has a bad night, she really has a bad night.
In a debate against six Democratic opponents at Drexel University here Tuesday, Clinton gave the worst performance of her entire campaign.
It was not just that her answer about whether illegal immigrants should be issued driver's licenses was at best incomprehensible and at worst misleading.
It was that for two hours she dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled.
And when it was over, both the Barack Obama and John Edwards campaigns signaled that in the weeks ahead they intend to hammer home a simple message: Hillary Clinton does not say what she means or mean what she says.
And she gave them plenty of ammunition Tuesday night.
Asked whether she still agrees with New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, Clinton launched into a long, complicated defense of it.
But when Chris Dodd attacked the idea a moment later, Clinton quickly said: "I did not say that it should be done."
Read the whole thing. Indeed, Senator Clinton found herself caught between a rock and a hard place on the issue and she lost points thanks to the inconsistent way in which she gave answers as well as her general tone and demeanor.
Read on . . .
A day after she appeared to struggle to give her views on the subject, Hillary Rodham Clinton offered support today for Gov. Eliot Spitzer's effort to award New York driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, as her campaign sought to contain potentially damaging fallout from what her own supporters saw as a tense and listless debate performance.
Mrs. Clinton's statement affirming her support of Mr. Spitzer in his office came less than a day after she offered a muddled and hesitant position on the bill, prompting a round of denunciations by her opponents. It signaled the extent to which her advisers viewed that moment as the biggest misstep she made in the debate, and one with long-term potential to undermine her candidacy.
"Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform,'" her campaign said.
Mrs. Clinton's aides said her statement was intended to signal that she broadly supported Mr. Spitzer's goal of awarding driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Mr. Spitzer initially proposed a blanket program of awarding full-fledged driver's licenses to illegal immigrants; in the face of sharp opposition from the Legislature, he backed off and presented a two-tier program system of awarding licenses to illegal immigrants.
Mrs. Clinton's advisers said that she had not studied either plan, and was not specifically endorsing either of them.
Yeah. That clears up everything. And the post-debate spin is predictable:
After a rare night of fumbles by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination rushed to maximize the damage yesterday, even as her advisers argued that the "piling on" engaged in by an all-male field of opponents will ultimately drive more female voters into her camp.
Clinton strategists grudgingly acknowledged that the performance in Tuesday's debate in Philadelphia was not her finest and sought to contain the fallout. They worked to clarify her muddled response to a question about whether she supports giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- she backs it, they said -- and quickly produced a video, titled "The Politics of Pile-On," splicing together in rapid-fire fashion rivals' attacks from the event.
How unbelievably bizarre. Hillary Clinton is the front runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination. It stands to reason, therefore, that her opponents were going to go after her. If any of her opponents were the front runner, she would go after them at least as vigorously. And yet, this behavior is to be denounced as "The Politics of Pile-On"? Who comes up with this stuff?
Whatever. One thing is abundantly clear: Through a combination of doublespeak and a marked lack of charisma and ability to connect with viewers, Hillary Clinton has revealed her vulnerabilities for all to see. I suspect that Barack Obama was the Democratic Presidential candidate who profited the most from Clinton's poor debating performance. But the person who really ought to take away some valuable lessons from Tuesday night's Democratic Presidential debate is the eventual Republican nominee who will (unless there are more such debate performances) face Hillary Clinton in a contest for the Presidency in 2008.