August 3, 2005


Writing Agenda A Major Test of Clinton's Skill At Navigation (Dan Balz, 8/03/05, Washington Post)

Now she is embarking on a project that could provide a new blueprint for the Democrats, and the foundation for her own possible presidential candidacy in 2008, as the leader of an initiative by the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) to create an agenda for the party. How she uses her new platform will demonstrate just how much she would take Democrats back to the 1990s or is prepared to lead them forward in a new direction.

Clinton's challenge will be to avoid offering the politics of restoration, whose appeal is built on an implicit return to the policies that guided her husband's administration. That would appeal to many Democrats who yearn for the successes of the 1990s, but the Clinton years carry considerable baggage for many independent and swing voters.

Some Democrats wonder whether Clinton can grapple with what ails the party today and come out of the experience as a candidate with an appeal and an identity distinct from her husband's administration -- one that fits far different times than existed when he was president.

"There's a feel of nostalgia creeping into her message that she has to be particularly sensitive to," said one veteran of presidential campaigns, who declined to be identified as publicly critical of the senator. The strategist added: "I think there's a sense of let's go back and revisit the Clinton model and that's the way to get elected. . . . I think it's going to be very hard for her to get out of the comfort zone of the Clinton administration."

The challenge she faces is to avoid going back to the policies of the only successful Democratic presidency since Cleveland?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 3, 2005 10:33 AM

What was the Clinton model - sign on to the Republican agenda (NAFTA, welfare reform), kick all the hard problems down the road (terrorism, North Korea, energy), reinvent the government (by downsizing the military) and pray for another stock market bubble that bursts at the end of the Presidency so they can claim the greatest economy in American history?

Posted by: Rick T. at August 3, 2005 11:07 AM

70s or 90s? Most Democrats reflexively run on the 30s, do either would be an improvement.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 3, 2005 12:31 PM

On the positive side for the missus, having George Soros' Americans Coming Together organziation go belly up eliminates one more voice on the party's perpetually angry left that could sabotage the efforts to paint the party as more moderate, by coming out with nut-job accusations or proposals that have a few hundred million dollars in backing.

Hillary still needs to get a few other leftist groupns like MoveOn locked away in a closet with in the next 18 months or so, in order both to lower the profile of the wackier members of the party and to redirect some of the money they're getting into organizations under more direct control of the Clintons. Of course, this may also mean having to stuff the DNC chairman into a burlap sack with a sock in his mouth, but that could also happen is 2006 is as big a disaster for the Democrats as 2002 and 2004 have been.

Posted by: John at August 3, 2005 12:53 PM

One challenge she has is timing. If she crafts policy recommendations in the "Third Way" mode and shops them early (necessary to get the message out and a response from the electorate, as well as confronting the left's objections) her recommendations could easily be swiped by the Republicans and encated in a more conservative form. If she holds off on the agenda (for fear of co-optation), she is at a pr disadvantage with her base and the general electorate. Also, the longer she takes to craft the "agenda" the longer her voting record piles up contradictions. All this assumes she is crafting a Third Way program. She could just as easily repackage stale statist tripe, and be defeated.

Posted by: Luciferous at August 3, 2005 1:54 PM


That's how she'd win though, is by offering Republican policies in Democrat wrapping, just as Ike and Nixon were able to win by running as Republican-Democrats when people tired of Democratic presidencies and Cleveland and Bill Clinton ran as Democrat-Republicans.

Posted by: oj at August 3, 2005 2:00 PM


Agreed, she could win with Rep policies in Dem wrapping IF the Reps don't take the initiative, pull the Dem wrapper off, stamp it with a Rep brand, and move legislation. Could the Reps act with the speed and decisiveness required? That's the risk for Clinton. Of course, all this is moot if the electorate gets smitten by the "It's time for a change." bug. Then the Rep challenge is to find a presidential candidate who can offer both continuity and novelty.

Posted by: Luciferous at August 3, 2005 3:12 PM

it is imperative that she be forced to vote her true colors over the next couple of years. but she won't run, anyway so i am not losing sleep over it.

Posted by: cjm at August 3, 2005 5:45 PM