Hillary a populist? Won’t float.
I went to school in Madison, Wisconsin. I know progressive populists. Hillary is no progressive populist.
Clinton’s latest pre-March 4 strategy has her tacking to the left of Obama with a populist progressive message that might well resonate in Ohio. And she is hitting Obama with an “all hat/no cattle” version of Mondale’s 1984 “where’s the beef” taunt of Gary Hart to appeal to the longhorns in Texas.
Neither strategy is likely to be effective overall. Here’e why. The populist pitch is a too obvious play for an Edwards endorsement and rust belt Ohio votes. It runs afoul of the many links out there to Hillary’s corporate donors– as compared to Obama– in oil, pharmaceutical, and credit card industries. She will likely drop this pitch like a lead ballon should Edwards endorse Barack. She’ll certainly drop it should she win Ohio and Texas and suddenly become viable again.
On a related front, Hillary’s populist appeal is being undercut by Marc Penn’s insistance that there is no difference between super and elected delegates. It is difficult for a populist to credibly pin her hopes for the nomination on unelected delegates. And pushing to change rules she had agreed on in Florida and Michigan doesn’t help her to counter questions about her commitment to electoral fairness.
I also think it is difficult for a populist Clinton campaign to defend its absence a couple evenings ago from the telecom immunity vote in the Senate. Hillary was in DC at the time; perhaps she just didn’t want to offend her populist telecom donors?
Similarly difficult to attach an ‘all hat-no cattle’ Bush reference, on the intellectual heavyweight Obama. Any implict comparison between Obama and Bush works to Obama’s favor, even in Texas. Bush has done more to dumb-down America’s view of Texans than anyone since Yosemite Sam. Obama should invite the comparison and then poetically swat it away.
Hillary is not even the populist within her family. Bill is the Clinton populist. Bill’s “bubba factor” back in ’92 appealed to crossover voters, who happen to be voting now for Obama.