His media-driven launch immediately captured much of the substantial anti-Hillary sentiment in the Democratic Party. But as the months have unfolded, he has not followed up his launch with continuing dramatic rises in his poll numbers or in equivalent fund-raising performance -- being badly beaten by Hillary's fund raising in Hollywood, New York and generally.
And, as we are still almost a year from the first primary votes being cast, his freshness and uniqueness will have long faded by then. He might have been formidable in a lightning campaign of three or four months, but in a long ground war of attrition -- bet on Hillary's massive institutional strengths. Just one recent example is her purchase of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's support for the crucial Iowa Caucuses. In one swoop, she has not only bought his endorsement, but the use of his formidable state machine -- which is vital in the hand-to-hand combat of a caucus state.
She could buy that not only because she has the money -- but because if a Democratic politician is looking for a place in the presumed next Democratic Administration -- the smart money is on Hillary. There will doubtlessly be more Vilsacks falling into her ample lap in the coming months. Every little bit helps in a war of attrition.
Hillary's campaign is also blessed by the continuing effort of the Edward's campaign. She needed the Edwards campaign to split the anti-Hillary vote (and money). If he had dropped out after the sad news of his wife's illness, Hillary would have had to face Obama one on one (effectively) -- always a dangerous condition against an attractive adversary. But the persistence of the Edwards campaign muddies the campaign waters to Hillary's advantage, but is almost certainly not capable of knocking out Obama's campaign and taking Hillary on one-on-one. (Should Al Gore get in the race, his announcement day would be the high point of his campaign.)
Moreover, Hillary's strengths are not yet as appreciated as they will be. Don't get me wrong, personally I find her and her candidacy detestable as the worst form of unprincipled, ruthless, nihilistic, mud-throwing demagogic politics. But for the Democratic Party electorate (and some Independents and soft Republicans) her apparent strengths will become more persuasive. Currently she suffers by the media's focus on her lack of spontaneity, charm or pleasant voice -- particularly when compared with Obama and, to some extent, Edwards.
But charm is not the only path to the American voter. Richard Milhous Nixon won more national elections than any politician in our history (two vice presidents, three presidential nominations and two presidencies -- three if you count the stolen 1960 election against Kennedy). He didn't have any charm -- but he was smart, shrewd, highly political, hard working and ruthless.
Sometimes the voters are looking for what they think is competence rather than a love affair.
That is why I sometimes use the name Hillary Milhous Clinton for the junior senator from New York. It is only partially meant to be negative. But it is meant to be a warning to my fellow Republicans. Beware. It will be up to the Republicans to protect the country from the increasing likelihood of a Hillary presidency.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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