Clinton triangulation strategy on display
It seems that we have a three-party political system in this country. The Republicans, the Democrats and the Clintons.
Bill Clinton successfully used his “triangulation” strategy to win his second term in the White House, deserting some Democratic interests and adopting GOP issues as his own.
And now we have Sen. Hillary Clinton working the same strategy again, but this time in a primary race, and with Republican help.
Democrats seem to be so tied up in the personal battle between Clinton and Barack Obama that they are missing how Clinton has crossed over into triangulation territory.
But then, that’s where she’s always been. She will not admit that her 2002 vote to go to war in Iraq was a mistake because for her, it wasn’t. Neither are any of her other pro-Republican positions. If anything, she has worked the triangulation game better than her husband.
Any Democrats who haven’t made up their minds about who they want to be the nominee should be paying attention to which candidate the conservatives are pulling for. Right-wing talkers Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingram and others have been persistently urging their flock to cross over and vote for Hillary, the figure whom they have spent years tearing down. Limbaugh might as well have a paid position on Clinton’s staff for as much campaigning as he’s done for her. He’s certainly better at getting her votes than her overpaid strategists.
Limbaugh and his friends know that campaigning for Clinton is the best way to help Republican John McCain.
And McCain, for his part, is helping Hillary, too. His campaign praises her and takes shots at Obama with equal zeal. It’s no secret whom they want to run against. Clinton regularly returns the praise for McCain, making this a two-on-one battle against Obama.
McCain and the Republicans can count just like anyone else. They know that Obama has the advantage over Clinton in delegates and votes, and it’s nearly impossible for Clinton to prevail. But they love the fact that this nomination process has gotten ugly, and they are doing what they can to throw more mud into the pit. For them, propping up Hillary is a win-win situation. They would rather run against her in November. But they’ll settle for a wounded Obama, too.
Getting Hillary to do their dirty work makes it even sweeter.
The strangest part of this saga has been Clinton’s buddy act with former nemesis Richard Mellon Scaife. For those who don’t remember, Scaife poured millions into digging up dirt on the Clintons during the ’90s, which eventually led to Bill’s impeachment.
But now these two enemies can sit down together for a nice chat, all visibly broken fences now mended. Scaife has nothing but nice things to say about Clinton these days. So either he’s gone off his meds, or he simply sees this as politically expedient, a way to make sure Republicans rule the White House for four more years.
How could Clinton even sit in the same room with the man who led the “vast right-wing conspiracy” against her and her husband? This was, after all, the man who pushed the smear that she murdered her friend Vince Foster.
She does it because she’s made a deal with the devil to get what she wants. And she’ll help bury the Democrats if that’s what it takes.
Signs are that the Clinton triangulation strategy may already be causing damage. The leading African-American in Congress, Rep. James Clyburn, told the New York Times last week that blacks suspect the Clintons are trying to destroy Obama to open the way for Hillary to run again in 2012. And Limbaugh is calling for race riots at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
In many ways, Clinton is making the same mistakes George W. Bush did with the war on terror. First, she is forgetting who her enemy is, attacking Obama while the Republicans prepare to crush her. And second, she is letting her opponents draw her onto the battleground of their choosing. If she somehow survives to become the nominee, she has zero chance of defeating McCain on issues of defense and terrorism. That’s his territory, the only issues for which he has any room to stand in an election year adverse to nearly all of his stated positions.
Hillary’s 3 a.m. campaign theme locks her into that narrative. And her tall tales about ducking snipers in Bosnia are due to be the main feature of campaign commercials that will clog the airways later this year.
And wait until Limbaugh, Hannity and Scaife turn their guns on her. She let that skunk into her tent, and she’ll have to deal with the smell.
• Kirk Caraway writes for Swift Communications, Inc. He can be reached through his blog at kirkcaraway.com.