Advice for Hillary

Haha, Bob Novak has some “advice” for Hillary Clinton:

Prominent Democrats are advising Sen. Hillary Clinton that, if she runs for president in 2008 as expected, she should avoid the Iowa caucuses as the first competition for the Democratic nomination.

That advice is based on the belief that any Democrat must run well to the left to win the Iowa caucuses. Many Democrats believe Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 victory in Iowa, while clinching the nomination, hurt his chances for the general election.

“Oh come on, why be so cynical? Why wouldn’t Novak offer Clinton some friendly advice about how best to run her campaign?” Right, right. Anyway, as a matter of tactics, it would certainly seem foolish for anyone to skip the Iowa caucuses, as Wesley Clark found in early 2004. For better or worse, the primaries nowadays generate such a media frenzy, and momentum really is everything—the winner in Iowa gets the headline coverage that then make him or her likely to win New Hampshire, and that effect keeps snowballing on and on. In the past, winning the first primary wasn’t entirely necessary for gaining the nomination, but in today’s world, with pundits and internet junkies hanging on every poll, watching the race’s every shift, far more will hang on Iowa. (Which is a great argument for mixing up the order of the primaries.)

Meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out that Hillary Clinton will have some natural advantages on this front if she runs for president in 2008. She’s so hated by a large swath of conservatives, drives them to such homicidal frenzy, and is the target of so much frothing right-wing abuse, that really, she doesn’t need to run well to the left in order to preserve her liberal credentials. A few Rush Limbaugh rants will do the trick! The Clinton-bashing really does give her a lot of breathing room to tout her largely center-right positions on abortion, foreign policy, violence on TV, etc. etc. I’m still not sure what I think of Hillary Clinton, but face it, she’s got the “George W. Bush” strategy down pat—just drive your opponents into a blinding, unfathomable rage, and suddenly you’ve got a lot of natural advantages.

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