On January 22, 2007, as Senator Clinton went viral with her announcement that she was, essentially, running for The White House, we noted that her first challenge was to shatter the prism of the right. We wrote,
[T]his simply is a fact of modern politics in America. For the past three decades, the right wing has employed a powerful strategy of “$ell and $mear.” They insist on being the gatekeepers to public opinion and have developed a powerful machine that tells us who to like – and who to hate.
… They $mear Democratic and Progressive heroes, reducing American success stories such as George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis into humiliated historical footnotes. They destroy our leaders. They destroy those that might become our leaders. There is no Democratic or Progressive leader of any note of the last twenty years that has not been attacked.
People say Hillary Clinton has “baggage” and is “divisive.” Actually she has been investigated more thoroughly than almost anyone in the country’s history and they found nothing at all. It isn’t Hillary who is divisive, it’s the people making all the accusations.
Remember that people voted for Kerry in the primaries because he was a war hero and therefore “electable.” And remember what everyone thought about Kerry by the time of the election – and still. The term “swiftboating” entered the lexicon. The right’s $mear machine destroys our leaders and makes us hate them – and to some extend to hate ourselves as well.
I don’t support or oppose Hillary. I’m just talking about the perception game.
Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.
Senator Barack Obama is a man to be admired, respected and liked. He is more than worthy of consideration for the Democratic Nomination in 2008 and if we were advising Senator Obama, and his equally impressive wife Michelle, our advice would be to run, and run now. A Vice Presidency certainly looks attractive on one’s resume, and a national campaign brings valuable experience.
Senator Obama is admired and he is loved. Look at the recent favorability polls and there he is, the Number One Democrat in America. But why? Why is a junior Senator, nationally a virtual unknown just two years ago, now at the top of the national favorability ratings? Is it because of his new book? His great 2004 Convention Speech? His appearance on Oprah? All of these, of course, but in fairness, does Barack Obama truly deserve to be the Democratic leader with the highest national favorability in a recent poll? Hardly.
With complete respect to Senator Obama, where are the long-time Democratic leaders who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country? Where are the other possible Presidential contenders? What about Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry? Where are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? Are they not leaders that deserve at the very least to have decent favorability ratings?
Why is Barack Obama “favorable” and not any of the better-known Democratic leaders? And why – of all people is Rudy Guiliani at the top of the list as the Number One leader in our country? The answer is simple, and dramatic.