While no politician is perfect, Hillary Clinton is good enough at politics to be president.
The other day New York magazine posted a big cover story by Jason Zengerle on whether not Hillary Clinton is any good at politics. It’s an interesting question, but oftentimes we tend to get cause and effect totally backwards when it comes to rating politicians. That is to say the press just tends to describe electoral losers as incompetent dunces and electoral wins as of course being geniuses. As Jonathan Bernstein pointed out:
As Zengerle shows, we have a tendency to remember only the strengths of winners and the weaknesses of losers. People remember Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe and think of it as typical of his awkwardness on the campaign trail, while Barack Obama’s awful performance in the first debate is either forgotten or thought of as atypical.
If Romney had won—which he might have, had the economy been even worse—we would have reversed those narratives, fitting them into stories about Romney’s strengths and Obama’s weaknesses.
Every general-election loser—Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, the Jimmy Carter of 1980—gets this treatment. By contrast, every winner, including the 1976 version of Carter, is seen as a good candidate. In fact, each of the losers had sufficient skills to win, but the fundamentals (such as how the economy was doing or whether the country was at war or peace) were against them.
Yes, that is exactly right. Hence why George H. W. Bush was only turned into a laughing stock in the national press, only after he lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, while before then he was oftentimes portrayed as a sort of Caesar of the Gulf. Likewise Ronald Reagan’s presidential blunders and scandals are largely ignored when we talk about him these days although the press oftentimes ridiculed him during the 1980’s.
At the end of the day Hillary Clinton has probably already won the Democratic nomination for 2016, which is pretty good evidence that she has the political skills necessary to compete at the presidential level. All the humorous anecdotes about the 2008 campaign in the world doesn’t really change that.
Like The Good Men Project On Facebook
Photo by Bebeto Mathews/AP