Advice for Hillary Heading into the Home Stretch
Everybody likes to give advice. Sometimes it comes from the oddest places. For example, William Kristol, editor of the conservative magazine, Weekly Standard, is telling Hillary Clinton, “don’t underestimate Donald Trump.” He should know about that. Conservatives didn’t take Trump seriously, and when they finally did, Kristol found that he couldn’t find anyone to stand up to Trump.
“If I were Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I would be worried. . .She’s up like 5 points over Trump, who has made all these mistakes and he has more room to grow, I think, because he could reassure people if he runs a semi-intelligent, semi-normal campaign, whereas what’s she going to do? I mean, there’s no reintroduction of Hillary Clinton that could be possibly be made at this point, I think.”
. . . he says chances are “very, very low” he’ll [Kristol] vote for a man he’s repeatedly flogged as unfit for national office [Trump]. . .“I think I’m probably closer to Hillary Clinton than to Donald Trump on foreign policy, and maybe trade,” he said. . .
On one hand, Kristol represents a group of pro-Israel interventionists who encouraged George W. Bush to invade Iraq — a decision the “America First” Trump regards as original sin. On the other hand, Trump’s rhetorical foreign policy — the calls to kick ISIS’ ass and keep China in check — sounds like GOP Classic, and Kristol is still a brand manager for American power projection. Trump speaks loudly and carries a small stick.
Despite saying he won’t vote for Trump, Kristol still gives him advice, too.
“I do think it would be — he would be well-advised to semi-apologize for some of the things he’s said, and he could get — again, the bar for him is so low. People like me wouldn’t forgive him, but I think a lot of people out there would want to forgive him,” Kristol said — laying out a possible path for a Trump victory.
“I do think the thing he has going for him that I think — and maybe I’m, again, too scarred by ’92, to go back to the Bush-Quayle years — in a change year, being the candidate of change is a huge advantage. Voters will want to overcome their concerns about the change candidate, because they do want change.”
Another Republican voice is also giving Hillary advice. This time, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal.
In the history of public-opinion polling, no Democrat has entered the general presidential election with weaker scores on personal popularity, trust or likability than Mrs. Clinton. . . But there is still time for the real Hillary Clinton to emerge and become a strong, popular candidate. To do so, she must return to the basics that have marked her public life. . .
No one questions whether she is a skilled politician. What has been lost in this campaign is the approachable person. Her campaign seems to be totally tactical, reactive, and based on her opponent and the issues of the moment.
WSJ went on to give three, specific suggestions:
• Reveal your compassionate side. In your campaign, you have shown mettle, but you have lost your warmth and charm. Voters want to break through and get to know you. . .There is much to be revealed—not about the substantive issues, but about Hillary Clinton. . .
• Show your leadership skills. . .As secretary of state. . .Your personal favorability score back then was 59%. The country is ready to end Washington gridlock, and you proved your ability to work across the aisle in the Senate and across the world at the State Department, with friends and foes—but nobody knows this.
• Be bolder and more focused. . .There are too many words and too many issues, and in the end there is no message. “Hillary for America” and “stronger together” are themes that say nothing. From John F. Kennedy’s “get America moving again” to Barack Obama’s “hope and change,” a good campaign is captured by a strong half-dozen or fewer words. Find yourself, be yourself and show yourself.
Of course, liberals (aka, “progressives”) also want to give Hillary advice, including Robert Reich, her husband’s Secretary of Labor.
She needs a big idea that gives her candidacy a purpose and rationale – and, if she’s elected president, a mandate to get something hugely important done. . . Everyone knows our democracy is drowning under big money. Confidence in politics has plummeted, and big money as the major culprit.
In 1964, just 29 percent of voters believed government was “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves,” according to the American National Election Studies survey. In the most recent survey, almost 80 percent of Americans think so.
A study [was] published in the fall of 2014 by Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Professor Benjamin Page of Northwestern. . .Their conclusion: “The preferences of average Americans appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significantimpact upon public policy.” Instead, lawmakers respond to the policy demands of wealthy individuals and big business. . .
Clinton should focus her campaign on reversing all of this. For a start, she should commit to nominating Supreme Court justices who will strike down “Citizen’s United,” the 2010 Supreme Court case that opened the big-money floodgates far wider.
She should also fight for public financing of general elections for president and for congress – with government matching small-donor contributions made to any candidate who agrees to abide by overall spending limits on large-donor contributions.
She should demand full disclosure of all sources of campaign funding, regardless of whether those funds are passed through non-profit organizations or through corporate entities or both.
And she should slow the revolving door – committing to a strict two-year interval between high-level government service and lobbying or corporate jobs, and a similarly interval between serving as a top executive or director of a major Wall Street bank and serving at a top level position in the executive branch.
Meanwhile, Politico offers 14 ways for Hillary to win over the media, who have felt alienated and subjugated.
1. That relationship with the press you covet is not impossible. . . Admitting that you had a press problem was the most important step.
2. You’re most admired when you’re not a candidate. . .As secretary of state, you were a BlackBerry-toting, sunglass-wearing diplomat, above the pettifoggery of politics.
3. Host Saturday Night Live. . . People have this mistaken notion that you’re a humorless, self-important prig.
4. Release your most recent tax records. Now. . .You’ve done it before.
5. Release your medical records. Now. . .Look, we all know the GOP wants to make hay with the issue of your age.
6. Divorce the Clinton Foundation. Now. . . the press will continue to scrutinize your philanthropies for evidence of conflict of interest.
7. Get an image-enhancing hobby. . .You could start crocheting, sailing or take up singing.
8. Adopt a campaign mascot. . .OK, you already have dogs, but what you really need is a charismatic campaign mascot . . .
9. Adopt a press gaggle. . .You famously have long hated the press. . .To make the press understand you, you must first make yourself understandable, and that means you must take questions, talk, take more questions and talk more. . .
10. Go all in on this yoga thing. . .Your surprise reference to your yoga routine. . .stood as an unexpected reminder that you’re a real human who does human things. It was kooky. It made you relatable. Embrace it.
11. Where do you stand? . . . I fear that you’re worried that taking positions will only discourage supporters. That’s probably true.
12. Tackle Fox News with charm. . .Nobody is happier about your candidacy than Fox News, which delights at disparaging you at every turn. You can cripple Fox with engagement.
13. If you seek a better press corps, build your own. . .Barack Obama has succeeded as president at bypassing the traditional press corps—penning his own blogs, announcing initiatives on YouTube or on Medium, tweeting major announcements, releasing his own professional photos and generally making life unpleasant and spoon-fed for those left in the briefing room. You should do the same.
14. Ask yourself what Richard Nixon would do. . .And do the opposite.
Hillary Clinton was considered cold and aloof back in 2008, too. In one debate, she was “damned by faint praise,” when Barack Obama turned, paused, smiled uncomfortably, and said, “you’re likable enough.” But the truth is, she’s not “likable enough.” She needs to become a lot more likable if she is going to beat Mr. Personality, Donald J. Trump.