Who’s Ready to Lead

Frank Rich wrote a great piece on Sunday called “The Audacity of Hopelessness.” In it, he debunks Clinton’s claim to experience by showing her campaign’s failure to organize as well as Obama’s. He starts with a description of how Clinton thought she was the inevitable candidate. It seems commonplace now, but he quotes her as telling Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos that she was a shoe-in, it was guaranteed and it would be over by Super Tuesday. He then goes on to explain how when she realized it wasn’t over, her campaign realized they had no contingency plan. And he brings up the obvious connection to Bush’s Iraq war plan.

Obama, meanwhile, has been going gung-ho from day one, sometimes having his people arriving in states weeks before Clinton’s people. While she had every advantage to start with, her campaign never worked with the ethic that Obama’s has shown. Her campaign manager, Mark Penn, never even quit his day job! This is what I’m talking about when I say we don’t want someone with “experience.” Everyone in life has some kind of experience. Clinton is showing that her experience told her it was her turn to be leader; Obama’s experience told him this was something he had to work for. The polls tell the rest of the story. Her only recourse so far has been to attack Obama’s message as vapid. Which puts her in a strange position, as Rich writes:

As for countering what she sees as the empty Obama brand of hope, she offers only a chilly void: Abandon hope all ye who enter here. This must be the first presidential candidate in history to devote so much energy to preaching against optimism, against inspiring language and — talk about bizarre — against democracy itself. No sooner does Mrs. Clinton lose a state than her campaign belittles its voters as unrepresentative of the country.

When you’re reduced to dismissing the states you lose as “meaningless,” as Mr Penn has referred to Virginia, Maryland, Washington, South Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota, Lousiana and Iowa, you’re pretty much doomed.