Get Ready for Hillary Clinton . . .

Because whether you support her or not, she is getting read to run for president. We are apparently going to have a small-ball campaign that is going to be designed to make us forget that Clinton picks up massive paychecks for speaking gigs, and claimed that she and her husband were almost broke when they left the White House–so broke that they could not initially afford their mortgages (note the plural of the word “mortgage”; if you are in a position where you are complaining about mortgages, you are actually doing rather well indeed).

Just to be clear about matters, if you are “Ready for Hillary,” that must mean that you are ready for a candidate who has a history of having been too scared to take a stand on the issues of the day:

A trove of papers released yesterday at the Clinton library shows that, even before homebrew e-mail servers were an option, Hillary Clinton’s operation had  mastered low-tech workarounds to avoid leaving a paper trail of her real-time views on controversial subjects.

Even though the First Lady maintained her own correspondence office, in at least once instance, her staffers punted an inquiry about her views on a timely controversial issue then dividing Democrats to her husband’s staff.

“We have received a few letters on the subject of same-sex marriage,” Alice J. Pushkar of the first lady’s staff wrote to Kyle M. Baker, on her husband’s side of the White House, on September 18, 1996. “I think that it would be more appropriate for a response to come from the President on this than the First Lady. Would it be possible to get a First Lady version of the P-323?”

Later that day, Baker’s office generated a form letter, which is among the hundreds of thousands of previously unreleased papers made public. “Thank you for contacting Hillary regarding marriages of couples of the same gender. She has asked me to respond on her behalf,” read the letter approved for Bill Clinton’s auto-pen signature. “In 1992, I stated my opposition to same-gender marriage, and recently, when the issue was raised in Congress, I said that if a bill consistent with my previously stated position reached my desk, I would sign it.”

A little more than 24 hours after that letter was prepared, Clinton did sign the Defense of Marriage Act, ignominiously doing so past midnight in an empty White House without any cameras present. In a contemporaneous signing statement, a belated effort to placate liberal supporters he knew abhorred the bill, Clinton expressed worry that it could serve to “provide an excuse for discrimination.”

A profile in courage, this ain’t. Indeed, when it comes to Clinton, no one seems to know what she stands for:

. . . For someone who has been on the national stage for a quarter-century, her beliefs are strangely hard to pin down. On foreign policy, she says she is neither a realist nor an idealist but an “idealistic realist”. In a recent memoir, she celebrates “the American model of free markets for free people”. Yet to a left-wing crowd, she says: “Don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” (An aide later said she meant tax breaks for corporations.) Some candidates’ views can be inferred from the advisers they retain, but Mrs Clinton has hundreds, including luminaries from every Democratic faction. Charles Schumer, her former Senate colleague from New York, called her “the most opaque person you’ll ever meet in your life”.

None of this matters to Clinton supporters, who remain “Ready for Hillary,” no matter how mysterious her political and governing philosophy might be. But it ought to matter to the rest of us–as should all of the stumbling and bumbling that has so strongly defined the Clinton political operation.

And already, her campaign is having problems:

In both the Iowa counties that were her strongholds when she last ran to be Democratic candidate for president, as well as those where she did the worst, activists have expressed skepticism about her nascent campaign’s efforts so far. Although many who supported her in 2008 were still onboard, they said they had heard little from the Clinton camp.

Linda Nelson, chair of the Democratic Party in Pottawattamie County, a prosperous county in south-west Iowa that includes the city of Council Bluffs and was Clinton’s No2 county last time, said she had had one phone call from Clinton’s national campaign manager, Robby Mook, who reached out to her while driving across Iowa with Matt Paul, Clinton’s state director. She said Mook assured her that the Clinton campaign “will be all over the state and they will have an organization”.

That phone call was more than other key activists had received prior to the formal launch of Clinton’s campaign.

Connie Gronstal, a prominent Democratic activist in Pottawattamie County whose husband Mike is the majority leader in the Iowa state senate, considered the most powerful Democrat in the state, told the Guardian Clinton and her allies had not excelled keeping in touch.

She said: “I’ve gotten to know [vice-president and possible 2016 candidate] Joe Biden pretty well and he’s kept in touch. Some people are very good at that, and other people aren’t as good at that.”

Gronstal went on to note that “other people have either had the time or the inclination to keep those contacts and nurture them”. She said that was important because “it gave people the connection that someone still is there. I worked hard for this person and now I’m not hearing anything”.

Get ready for more of these kinds of stories. Back in 2008, we were told that Barack Obama’s ability to run a good campaign indicated that he also had the ability to run the country. That was never a cogent argument, but if you think otherwise, then explain how we can be confident in Hillary Clinton’s ability to run the country when her campaign administration abilities have been shown to be suspect.

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