WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton's slick campaign video announcing her candidacy for the presidency is being shot down as "insultingly vapid," vacuous and utterly "without… substance."
And this is coming from her liberal friends, not from her Republican critics.Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus compared the former First Lady's campaign announcement to a Verizon commercial -- filled with with a soft, pablum message to persuade voters that she's not the wild-eyed, far left wing, lamp-throwing radical described in recent books about her.
Besides a Madison Avenue commercial-style video that includes people from every demographic group possible, Hillary gives us the breath-taking reason why's she wants to be president:
"Everyday Americans need a champion,and I want to be that champion," she said in a Twitter message.
Wow. Is this the heavy message she's going to run on in 2016?
This makes President Reagan's 1984 "'morning again in America'" commercial look like a Brookings Institution seminar on economic policy," Marcus sneers in her blog this week.
That Clinton's brief, calorie-empty remarks focused on the economy suggests that she knows that it will be the No. 1 issue throughout this election cycle. But what she said next told us everything we'd want to know about how she will frame that issue.
"Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times," she said. "But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top."
You don't have to be a political science major to see where she's going with her liberal characterization of what's wrong with the economy.
It is straight out of the Democratic Party's class envy, class warfare, class division rule book. If you can't find a good, full-time job, if you are among the millions of long-term unemployed, if you are still struggling in the seventh year of President Obama's persistently sluggish economy, the people to blame are the ones at the top of the income ladder -- the rich, Wall Street, big business.
What Clinton intends to do about the success of the rich and powerful people at the top, she doesn't say -- yet.
Indeed, over the course of the past two years, since she stepped down from her post as secretary of State, Clinton hasn't said much about the economy. Comb through all of the speeches she has given for $300,000 and up, and you won't find anything about job creation and strengthening the economy.
That is because she either doesn't know much about economics, or doesn't want to criticize Obama's failed economy and risk angering his base of support.
Actually, both are true. "Don't let anybody tell you that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs," she told Democrats last October during the midterm elections that toppled her party from power on Capitol Hill.
As for those people who are at the bottom of the income scale because of "those at the top," many of them make up the base of the Democratic Party.
Unemployment among black Americans has soared to 11 percent under Obama, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But I haven't heard any major Democratic leader bemoan that grim reality, let alone Hillary Clinton, or offer a credible plan to employ jobless Americans.
In all the political analysis I've read in the newspapers recently about Clinton's candidacy, no one mentions what will be her biggest obstacle in the next two years: Obama's persistently sluggish economy.
Economists say it's slowing down, growing at little more than 1 to 2 percent in the first three months of 2015. Job creation was a stunning disappointment last month, falling to its weakest pace in over a year.
Meantime, retail sales are weak, manufacturing orders were down, and capital investment has slackened. The Federal Reserve is still afraid to raise interest rates until it sees signs of a turnaround. It's got a long wait.
If the Obama economy remains in this rut for the next year or two, there will be a political groundswell to change the nation's leadership. And the voters will not be eager to elect the equivalent of a third Obama term -- which is how Hillary Clinton's candidacy is being defined.
This is the political conundrum in which she now finds herself, and the reason why she has taken the slow and cautious -- one might say timid -- approach to launching her campaign.
She doesn't want to openly attack the short-comings of the economy and risk being seen as a critic of Obama's failed economic policies and losing her base.
So her announcement was filled with platitudes and mushy "I hope you'll join me on this journey" rhetoric that gave beleaguered voters no hint of her agenda.
In fact, at this stage of her candidacy, that agenda is still being hotly debated within her inner circle of advisers.
In the 1990s, President Clinton embraced the agenda championed by the centrist Democratic Leadership Council which he chaired in the 1980s, pushing free trade, faster economic growth and pro-business reforms -- which included cutting the capital gains tax rate.
Back then, leaders of the now-defunct DLC saw Hillary as the liberal in the Clinton White House, who was bitterly opposed to their agenda. That is the Hillary we see today.
But if she continues to peddle the divisive, far-left, big government, soak-the-rich rhetoric popular with her base, she risks losing the pivotal independent-swing voters that usually decide presidential elections. Polls show she has already suffered some erosion among those voters.
For now, however, she has not given voters any real clue about what she will campaign on in the months to come. So she is embarked on a listening tour to talk to voters and hear what's on their minds.
Maybe she'll find out that it's the weak economy and not enough jobs and that "those at the top" are not the ones who are to blame for this.