Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is One of the Clintons' Strengths Also a Big Weakness?

One of the strengths of both of the Clintons is that they don't really care what others, especially the media, think of them. This was seen in 1992 when the media wrote him off time and time again. First it was Gennifer Flowers, then it was the issue of the draft, then it was the issue of his supposed trip to Russia when he was a Rhodes Scholar, and on, and on, and on. Every time the pundits told us that Clinton couldn't win and, of course, he won.

Then he was president, the trend continued. The media claimed that he was a lame-duck president after the 1994 Republican take-over of Congress. Many thought that he would be a one-term president. Of course, he easily won re-election in 1996.

Next came the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Again many in the media predicated his demise, and again he survived.

Through all of these crises, the Clintons drew strength from the fact that they didn't seem to really care what others thought. There was a great line from Hillary Clinton when the Gennifer Flowers issue was blowing up and a reporter asked her if her husband was going to drop out. Her response was something like, "We will leave when the voters tell us to leave, not before."

This attitude of the Clintons drives many in the media crazy. First of all, it diminshes their role. The media likes to think that they are gate-keepers of the political system. Many reporters see themselves as part of the system, even though they never run for office, or run a campaign, or serve as advisers. When they take a shot at a candidate and pronounce that candidate dead, well, damn it, that candidate should have the good grace to die. Only the Clintons don't.

Their attitude also drives reporters crazy because most of them, indeed most of us, don't have that kind of self-confidence and some people resent those who do. Most of us, if the media was telling us that our stuff stank, might wonder if, indeed, it does stink. Only the Clintons don't.

Which leads to the premise of this entry. Often in life a character trait that works for you in one situation will work against you in another. It could be that Bill Clinton didn't realize the impact that his statements about Obama were making, or the reaction that they would cause, because, in the past his judgment has been shown to be so much better than others, especially in politics. Thus, he made some really unfortunate remarks that ticked off not just commentators, but African-American voters in South Carolina, and voters of all races in other places.

Of course, the other thing that the history of the Clintons tell us is never to underestimate them. They work best when their backs are against the wall. If Obama doesn't win enough delegates to beat her on February 5, it might be hard to beat her at all. One thing is sure, when the Clintons are involved, you are in for one wild ride.

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