Hillary needs a new tune

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Hillary Clinton does not know and has never known another way to be.

She can change the song, the genre of music and even the format (digital upgrade or streaming!), but she is still the same person with the same values (no matter how she tries to shift the narrative around and adjust her “tone”) as she always has been.

Her belief that it is her destiny and her time to become president somehow even lead her to a place where she makes her own achievements and qualifications sound like an excuse/defense. And sometimes ill-advised ones: “Before it was called Obamacare it was called Hillarycare!” Yes ,we know you know ALL about the complications and intricacies of this because you tried it as First Lady and failed in a big way – even spawning exhaustive publications about the failure (and her inability to cooperate and make deals that contributed to that failure).

Every statement by an opponent is a defense, along the lines of: “But but but… I was appointed Secretary of State!”

All these protestations and throwing in factoids about herself highlight one of the clear weaknesses of this – and all – her campaigns. She tries in a flat and false way to talk about them like they are about the American people, but they always come off being – or seeming like they are – about her. Meanwhile, the driving force of Bernie Sanders’s campaign IS the system and the people; he may mention his experience when he has to, but that is not driving the narrative of his campaign. An article in Salon states it succinctly: “His (Sanders’s) campaign is about us; it’s not about him.” and “Hillary Clinton’s campaign went south went she started making it about her and her experience.”

I am not really questioning Clinton’s credentials, her qualifications or her readiness. The laundry list of stuff she has done is impressive. I am questioning more the overall tone of what she presents (much like the episode of Friends, when Monica beseeches Chandler, “Sense the tone!”). But she stands for a lot of entrenched interests, the establishment and is, as The Economist put it, “the continuity candidate” in a season of change.

“Mr Sanders’s supporters want to undo the accommodation with business that the Democrats reached under Bill Clinton. But they do not hate their party: most strongly approve of Mr Obama, who is much closer politically to Mrs Clinton than he is to the Bern. That she is not doing better is largely down to her shortcomings as a candidate. Her well-funded campaign is being run by veterans of Mr Obama’s brilliant grass-roots operations and aims to emulate it in seeding and revving up networks of autonomous volunteers; but Mrs Clinton, a continuity candidate when the mood is for change, is not doing much revving. Mr Sanders’s campaign, which in 2015 netted over 2.5m donations, resembles the president’s more closely.”

When people crave change, they don’t care that the promises made are aspirational – they want to believe that the promised change is possible. Clinton’s insistence in the debate last night that the people deserve to know the nuts and bolts details of how changes will be accomplished is well taken – but for most people, it is a lot like how sausage is made. They don’t want to know, won’t look and will just eat what they are fed. Does anyone know how utterly impossible it was to get Obamacare reforms pushed through? And do they know the nitty-gritty of how that worked? Or did they just see that they may have gotten more options with it in the end?

The process of governing is tough – and Hillary is tough enough to do it – but it is not the process or bureaucracy that people want to hear about and is not what she should be campaigning on. She is reasonable and has a plan, but all it sounds like, despite her conversion(s) to different musical styles (following on the awkward analogy above), is a broken record – constantly breaking into song about how we have to work with the system we have.

That is the crux of the problem: the system we have is broken. That is what people are seeing, feeling and reacting to.

Standing up and bragging that you are the 30-year veteran of working within and creating a lot of that broken system is NOT going to help you.

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