Hillary Clinton’s campaign was pretty desperate 4 weeks ago. You might even venture to characterize it as being in crisis mode. She had lost 11 State Primaries in a row, her top staffers were resigning, super delegates were jumping ship for Obama, and her campaign infighting was becoming notorious. How has she responded to this crisis?
It is common knowledge now that Senator Clinton’s top advisors do not get along. Her intent to form an unorthodox team should be applauded and her vision commended. However, from an ordinary voter’s perspective, the result might be compared to a dysfunctional family. According to a recent Washington Post article:
She assembled her own team of advisers knowing their mutual enmity in the belief that good ideas come from vigorous discussion.
And further on in the article: But while many campaigns are beset by backbiting and power struggles, dozens of interviews indicate that the internal problem endured by the Clinton team have been especially corrosive.
Hillary Clinton is at the helm of her campaign. She is the commander and she alone is responsible for the manner and tone with which her staffers conduct themselves. Although her intent is impressive, her failure to pull it off is more resounding. She has shown an inability to manage all this power and garner the energy into a positive, collaborative team. Instead, nastiness permeates her upper echelon and this is endemic of the true picture. Her campaign serves as an honest lens into which it behooves voters to peer into because it is very likely a microcosm of the future management of her Administration. We are fortunate to be experiencing, first hand, her leadership style in the midst of a crisis, so why not judge it?
Consider her message to voters at the height of her campaign crisis. Although first claiming that voters shouldn’t vote for her just because she is a woman, she pulled the gender card as a last resort. At the conclusion to the Ohio primary, in a desperate attempt to woo women voters on February 26, she said:
I am thrilled to be running, to be the first woman president, which I think would be a sea change in our country and around the world…
Later on in the week, NPR's, Judy Woodruff followed up on these remarks with Senator Clinton on the McNeill Leherer Report. She asked her, "What would be different about having a female president?"Her response:
I don’t think we can adequately imagine the difference it would make. It would be the shattering of the highest and hardest glass ceiling and it would send such a message of hope and opportunity to every little girl, to every young woman. That’s probably the most common thing that people say to me out on the campaign trail. There’s two things, actually, one people say I’m here because of my daughter, or my little girl just learned that we never had a woman president and I want her the know that she can do anything. It would be a very deep change in how people see themselves and who is able to fulfill this position…
So what exactly are these characteristics that demonstrate that “sea change” she would bring to the presidency? Examine her message of hope that she is promising to the mothers of these “little girls and to young women”. Her responses so far to the crisis in her campaign: Negative attack ads and fear mongering (the red phone ad), innuendo (as far as I know he (Obama) is not a Muslim), punitive finger-shaking (Shame on you, Barack Obama), caddiness towards her opponent (do you need a pillow, Barack ? or her famous Xerox flub). There is nothing new in her actions that could be characterized as a “sea change”. This is just the same old game of dirty politics yet she has had perfect opportunities to demonstrate something different - to show those mothers (and fathers) that she will do it differently. And this isn’t hope, this is desperation and if this is how she responds in a crisis, no thank-you.
This is Hillary Clinton. This is how she handles crisis. This is how she leads people. This is who she is and there is no denying it no matter how it is spun.