There's no need to fear. Underdog is here.
Hillary Clinton. 35 years of experience. Ready to go on motherfucking Day ONE. Name recognition near 100%. 8 years spent within the cozy confines of the White House. Married to a President. Universally considered the INEVITABLE nominee of the Democratic Party.
Now she's the underdog. She's the outsider. The insurgent. The change agent battling an establishment candidate. She's the loveable second-place candidate who just wants a shot at the big time. That's her story (today) and she's sticking to it (today).
Hillary is the underdog. Just ask her campaign. After starting on top and slowly but surely getting her ass challenged (if not kicked) by Barack Obama, she's decided that it's better to be a struggling second-place insurgent than a front-runner... At least for a little while. Bill claims it's been that way since Iowa.
The underlying logic is easy to grasp. Hillary is losing the race for donation dollars and conventional wisdom argues that it's easier to raise funds when you aren't on top. It's also a keen way to play the "expectation" game. If you're in second place, every little when suddenly looks like a momentum shifter. The media is all about trumpeting momentum shifters. An intentional underdog might use that to slingshot into the lead at some point.
Did I say "intentional underdog". Yes, I did. Hillary Clinton didn't intend to get into a serious competition with Barack Obama. Being in a tight race wasn't intentional. This latest effort to cast herself as an underdog (and Obama as part of the party "establishment"), however, is very calculated.
It's also very ridiculous. Why? Because the underpinnings of her claim to the underdog mantle are bullshit, that's why. There is a difference between underdogs and losers, kids.
The Giants were underdogs to the Patriots this year. Why? Well, because the Giants lost some games and the Pats were undefeated and looked invincible. Fast forward to the fourth quarter... The Patriots are trailing and have a few shots at going down the field in the final seconds to win. At that moment, were they underdogs? The cards were stacked against them. They were down. But were they underdogs? Hell no. The Giants were beating them.
You don't get to claim the "u word" just because you're losing.
Seriously, how could someone with her dream team campaign staff claim to be the underdog? How can someone who has led in national polls forever suddenly decide that they're the upstart? How can a person who's had eyes on the Presidential prize for years feign political insurgency?
Hillary could say, "well, I'm getting my ass handed to me a little bit here and it may be time to go back to the drawing board. I'm surprised because I've been a prohibitive favorite for the nomination for a long time and never expected to find myself in a real struggle to snare the nomination. We underestimated Barack Obama and he's getting the better of us at the moment. That being said, I think I'm the better candidate and I just need to find the right way to demonstrate to voters that they should support me. Hopefully, I can get my message out in a way that resonates with people". That would be AOK. It would not, however, give her any magic underdog dust to sprinkle on her pancakes in the morning.
It would also require honesty. That's something that doesn't seem to flow naturally from the Clinton campaign.
Hillary Clinton is the underdog. Yeah, right. Just like Goliath was the underdog after David got off the kill shot. She might be struggling, but struggles don't make you an upstart. They just mean you're struggling. Reaching for magic media mojo might seem like a good idea in a vacuum. It might actually be a good idea if your audience consists of dumb people, too. When those who haven't recently departed the turnip truck see it, though, it looks sad, foolish, desperate and insulting.
Hillary can't rely on conventional reality to claim underdog status, so part of the plan involves painting the "new favorite", Barack Obama, as the dreaded "establishment candidate". If Barack is Mr. Status Quo, Hillary is the outsider by default. It also steals a little of his "hope and change" pitch if he's just part of the Old Democratic Machine.
The problem with that element of the "Clinton as underdog" tale is that it lacks a basis in reality. How much more Establishment can you get? Let's play a little Jeff Foxworthy game here for a minute. We'll call it "You might be part of the establishment if..."
You might be part of the establishment...
if you're husband was a two-term Democratic President.
if you've been the presumptive nominee of your party for months and months.
if you've based you campaign on a knowledge of the system and political experience.
if you trumpet endorsements from major organizations long-affiliated and associated with your party.
if you've lived in the fucking White House for 8 years.
if you've spent more time campaigning over the last twenty years than you have in the state you represent.
We could go on, of course.
Hillary has an answer, though. After the Clinton campaign started pitching the "Hillary is an underdog" meme, someone asked her about it. Hey, Hillary, are you the underdog? If you expected her to answer that directly, you underestimate the Senator. She didn't say "Yes". Instead, she danced around the question while verifying her desire to be portrayed as an underdog. She took the opportunity to buttress the Clinton underdog fairytale by saying:
"He has increasingly relied on big endorsements and celebrities to sort of attach himself to, to get the kind of validation that comes from that sort of endorsement."
Meanwhile, President Bill Clinton told a crowd in Virginia that Hillary was the underdog because that pesky Obama was raising a lot of money. That's right. Barack Obama is establishment because he's raising money and because he's collecting endorsements.
Back in the old days (prior to a few weeks ago), we used to call that doing well. Now, it's an ugly thing. Now, it means you're "a tool of the man" or something.
Does someone actually believe this? Raise your hand if you do. I'd like to be able to identify the fucking idiots in the room. No one with any sense really thinks Obama is more of an establishment candidate than Clinton. No one. It is a lie. It is a stupid lie. If this lie works, we are doomed and we, as a nation, deserve whatever evils might be visited upon us.
Hillary's argument is that racking up big name endorsements is tantamount to being "establishment". It's true, Barack got nods from assorted Kennedys, Demo bigwigs and celebrities. If that makes him a party hack, Hillary is just as guilty. Pot meet kettle, etc.
What do assorted other Kennedys, Steven Spielberg, Rob Reiner, Billie Jean King, Tom Vilsack, Geraldine Ferraro, "19 Massachusetts Legislators", Maya Angelou, David Dinkins, Quincy Jones, General Wesley Clark, Evan Bayh, Walter Mondale, Babs Streisand, Henry Cisneros, and SEVERAL HUNDRED other noted Democrats have in common?
They've all endorsed Hillary Clinton. I didn't have to dig too hard to find out about those endorsements, either. Hillary has issued a press release for each and every one of them. Hell, she even put all of the endorsements up (in the order received) on her website. Hillary Clinton isn't lacking in the endorsement department. She seems downright PROUD to receive endorsements from "outsiders" like Walter Mondale and RFK2. When Clinton gets an endorsement, it's because she's ready on Day One. When Obama gets support, he's "establishment".
Based on her argument that Obama is an "establishment" hack because he's received some endorsements, Hillary is a slave to the party's old guard.
Sweet Baby Jesus smoking Newports at a prizefight, how stupid does the Clinton campaign think we are?
Right now, Hillary Clinton is a potential loser, not an underdog. She's an establishment candidate, for better or worse, who just so happens to be lying in an effort to escape defeat.
In all fairness, I think it's time for Obama to drop some of the "underdog" talk, too. He was a long-shot, but he's not right now. This is a close race between two serious candidates. Neither needs a miracle and neither is out of the hunt. Obama can reflect on his journey from underdog to leader later, if he prevails. Right now, we all deserve better than watching people fight to pretend like they're deep in second place.
YIKES! Tampa for Hillary didn't get the memo. They're shooting straight and telling the world that Hillary is NOT the underdog. She's winning. Better get on message, Tampa.
Technorati Tags: Politics, Bill Clinton, hillary clinton, campaign, elections, underdog, momentum, lying, fundraising, dishonesty, president Del.icio.us Tags: Politics, Bill Clinton, hillary clinton, campaign, elections, underdog, momentum, lying, fundraising, dishonesty, president Furl Tags: Politics, Bill Clinton, hillary clinton, campaign, elections, underdog, momentum, lying, fundraising, dishonesty, president