GOP Has More Than a Hillary Problem; It's an America Problem

Mark Davis
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Posted: Apr 17, 2015 12:01 AM
GOP Has More Than a Hillary Problem; It's an America Problem

All in all, a pretty fun week for conservatives. Marco Rubio made a classy and inspiring entrance into a Republican field that is already impressive and energizing, and sure to become even more so.

Meanwhile, the most powerful woman in American history dropped in with a campaign debut that ranged from underwhelming to comically inept.

Or so it appears to those of us who have no intention of voting for her.

Make no mistake, I have enjoyed the absurdity of the incognito Chipotle moment, the inexplicable road trip in the stupidly labeled “Scooby” van, the easy-to-mock fawning of the reporters scrambling along with the candidate in an attempt to make it all look more impressive than it is.

From the mediocre video that seeks to make Hillary look new and fresh, to the Iowa sojourn designed to portray her as a Woman of the People, it has all been just plain silly.

But here’s my concern, and it should be yours: It is probably working.

As skeptics point and laugh at the tentative and unimpressive early days of Hillary 2016, no small number of voters will examine the accompanying coverage and offer analysis that goes no deeper than: “Wow. She got a burrito. Cool.”

Does anyone remember how we got Obama?

It wasn’t the thoughtful desire of 69 million liberals who wanted exactly what he was selling. It was a leftist base exploded to successful levels by low-information voters who had no idea what he would do but thought it would be cool to have a non-white President born in the Sixties.

It is easy to critique Hillary’s less-than-grand entrance. The video is ripe for parody, and the road trip seemed almost sad, a forced exercise by a woman who surely chafed at seeing mid-America through something other than a private jet window.

It lacked a feature of virtually every campaign kickoff: a rousing speech amid loud, loyal backers.

But imagine how that would have gone. Hillary has always been a wooden, sometimes even painful public spraker. So if, instead of the video, she had held some big announcement event in a room full of real people, it could have been fairly horrible, offering even more opportunities for conservative mockery.

This roll-out, flawed as it was, may be a fairly adept strategy crafted by people who know her weaknesses and how to minimize them while slowly stoking her eager handmaidens in the media.

So chuckle if you will. I surely have. But know this— the Hillary campaign will never feature a string of masterful speeches; she will never pull of a TV appearance in which she seems relaxed, natural and relatable; and the attempt to package her as new and different will fail.

And none of it may matter.

Hillary is a formidable candidate riding a gravy train of star quality that she has done little to deserve. This is not to denigrate her enviable résumé. It is to point out that someone who is this big a deal in politics has usually done a litany of things that warrant that status.

But than came Barack Obama, and with him the era of ascendancy based on enormous puffs of smoke born of celebrity culture, the media’s star-maker machinery, and most notably, an inattentive public.

Add up those factors, and Republicans could offer up a skilled and worthy conservative and still lose. The base could actually be lured back to the polls after the tranquilizer darts of Romney and McCain, and still lose to Hillary Clinton.

Why? Because there is more infernal history to be made. How many votes will be cast by people without an issue in their head because they’ve been crammed out by the cool factor of First Woman President?

Such history is indeed remarkable, but I am ready to celebrate the dropping of presidential race and gender barriers only upon the election of Presidents who will not screw up the country.

So let us enjoy our chortles at the seeming sluggish awkwardness of Team Hillary. But be aware that this is a campaign that can win without the usual requirements of adeptness or intellectual depth.

In each of the Obama elections, the women’s vote was 57 percent Democrat, and those women outnumbered men at the polls by ten million each time.

Conservative womanhood is on the rise in inspiring ways, but can you imagine how many ideologically nonchalant, unplugged women are going to stream to the polls for Hillary just for the heck of it?

While the Clinton campaign can chug along while missing on many cylinders and still win, the Republican nominee must be a well-oiled machine masterful at playing mistake-free ball.

No unforced errors. No mangled messaging. No seething gaffes.

The good news is that this is a strong possibility. The Republican debate stages of Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond will be filled with smart, worthy candidates who will offer multiple visions of how to dig America out of the age of Obama.

And therein lies one of the most important keys to beating Hillary. Even with the winds of history and an adoring media at her back, she is still asking in essence for Obama’s third term.

Republicans should memorize numerous variations on how the nation should look forward, rather than hitching our fate to the “Clinton-Obama policies of the past.”

GOP candidates should spend a lot of time talking about their agenda and relatively little time talking about Mrs. Clinton. If they can do this with skill, the eventual nominee will be a tested, reliable standardbearer who can step forward and offer something Barack Obama emptily offered but which we now desperately need: Change.