Clinton 2016 Takes Shape With No Stance On Significant Issues ... Yet

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Apr 15, 2015 3:15 PM
Clinton 2016 Takes Shape With No Stance On Significant Issues ... Yet

The Scooby Doo mobile has reached Iowa–and Hillary laid some of the bricks that will soon become her 2016 platform; income inequality, money in politics, and being a champion for struggling Americans were some of the key points. She’s also making her early campaign stops at community colleges and saving the big rallies for later (via AP):

Hillary Rodham Clinton began laying out her Democratic presidential campaign message in Iowa on Tuesday, casting herself as a "champion" for struggling Americans and calling for a purging of "unaccountable money" from the campaign finance system.

"I think it's fair to say that as you look across the country the deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top," she said in a meeting with students and teachers at a community college in rural Monticello. "There's something wrong with that."

Clinton is facing pressure from the liberal wing of her party to make tackling economic inequality a central theme of her new candidacy. In Iowa, she outlined four tenets of her early campaign: improving the economy, strengthening families, fixing "dysfunctional government," and protecting national security.

"We've got to figure out in our country how to get back on the right track," she said.

Clinton said the Supreme Court decision removing campaign-finance obstacles for big-money interests must be addressed even if it takes a constitutional amendment to do so.

Clinton is opening her campaign, announced Sunday, with small events such as the community college meeting and leaving big rallies for later.

Fresh from a two-day road trip from New York, Clinton visited a coffee ship in the Mississippi River town of LeClaire in the morning in the first event in her return to presidential politics.

Her 2012 debut is reminiscent of the "listening tour" that opened her campaign for a New York Senate seat in 2000, when she ventured into small upstate towns to convene meetings with voters and local leaders.

Yet, Clinton’s campaign rollout has been mocked and pilloried for being “vapid” or something akin to a “State Farm commercial gone viral.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders–a possible Democratic challenger to Mrs. Clinton–said he has no idea what Hillary stands for in this campaign. Sen. Sanders said he would be making his 2016 intentions known “pretty soon” (via the Hill) [emphasis mine]:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a potential 2016 presidential contender, slammed the national media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, saying the press and public "don't know" where she stands on important issues.

“Why don’t you tell me what Hillary Clinton is campaigning on, do you know?” he said on MSNBC’s “Live with Thomas Roberts,” when asked if he believed her campaign message that she’s running to represent the “little guy."

“You don’t know and I don’t know and the American people don’t know.”

Sanders mocked the media's fascination with Clinton's early campaign van, which she has nicknamed the "Scooby Doo van."

“I’m sure there is great national interest about the Scooby van, I can’t think of an interest of more significance to the American people,” Sanders said.

“I would hope very much that serious debate on serious issues is what we do in any campaign,” he added.

Sanders didn’t give into questioning on whether Clinton’s decision to enter the race on Sunday would prompt him to do the same.

“We’re going to make that decision pretty soon,” Sanders said.

MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki made a good point that for the past six years Hillary Clinton hasn’t been in a position where she had to weigh in on the issues affecting the nation. In fact, it seems that when people want the former first lady to weigh in, she runs away.

Concerning the Keystone Pipeline, Hillary Clinton refused to state her opinion at least three times. One of the reasons for her hesitancy is that a wrong answer could make environmentalists “furious.” It placed her in a somewhat awkward position during the Louisiana 2014 runoff. On December 1, Clinton appeared at a private fundraiser for then-Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who staunchly supported the project, but then gave a speech to the League of Conservation Voters, who vehemently opposes the pipeline’s constriction, two hours later. She took evasive maneuvers when DREAMers questioned her in a rope line during then-Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) steak fry event last September. More recently, she prevaricated on a question about her new campaign headquarters, which is in the same building as Morgan Stanley. And recently, MSNBC asked her how she would improve her performance in Iowa, where she finished in third place in 2008. Clinton said, she was “having a good time.”

Seriously?

Guy mentioned how Hillary is a vulnerable frontrunner who could take a gamble, and run towards Obama’s record, instead of away from it. Well, for starters, she may not have a choice in the matter; Clintonomics of the 1990s just isn’t popular with the Democratic base anymore, as AEI’s James Pethokoukis wrote in March:

While Clinton and most other Americans fondly recall the '90s, partisan progressives are less nostalgic. Sure, they like that a Democratic president won re-election for the first time since FDR. But they also see the '90s as a time when the pro-market, pro-Wall Street "neoliberal" consensus captured their party. Count the party's top Democrat, Barack Obama, among the cynics. He has criticized American economic performance from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush as one where tax cuts and deregulation failed to reproduce the "shared prosperity" of the 1950s and 1960s.

In the progressive mind, Bill Clinton quickly ejected his "putting people first" spending agenda in favor of the Alan Greenspan-approved "bond market strategy" that focused on boosting growth by cutting the deficit. (During the Obama era, Republicans adopted the strategy and renamed it "cut to grow.") "I hope you're all aware we're all Eisenhower Republicans," Clinton fumed, as recounted in Bob Woodward's The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House. Not long after, Clinton's economic council was praising the much-hated — well, at least by progressives — Reagan tax cuts: "It is undeniable that the sharp reduction in taxes in the early 1980s was a strong impetus to economic growth." Eventually, Clinton declared that the "era of big government is over." Not a red-letter day in Liberal Land.

Bill Clinton did raise top labor income tax rates, but he also cut them for investment taxes. And while median wages rose, so did inequality. From 1993 through 2000, the share of market income going to the top 1 percent rose to 16.5 percent from 12.8 percent, continuing a trend begun in the Reagan years. Perhaps the biggest black mark from a progressive perspective was Clinton's signing of the bill that deregulated Wall Street. Some critics, such as Elizabeth Warren, blame that law for at least contributing to the financial crisis and subsequent recession.

Democrats surely hope the Obama presidency spurs a long-term, leftward shift for America, much as the Reagan presidency nudged the country rightward for a generation.

Then again, you never know; maybe this is where we see the real Clinton. The one that Republican strategist Mike Murphy alluded to as her true political identity in 2000: “a strong doctrinaire liberal…more government power to do certain things that she believes will bring social justice.” This brings us back (again) to Clinton’s problems relating to authenticity and credibility, which have been put on trial due to the email fiasco and questionable donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The moves she’s trying to make to look authentic–and a champion of the struggling American–are severely undercut when you read that she decided to run for president last December while vacationing at the beachfront estate of the late Oscar de la Renta in the Dominican Republic. The fact that she will fly commercial back home after this Iowa stop looks as if she’s trying too hard.

Then again, Julie Pace of the Associated Press, who wrote about the moments leading up to Clinton’s 2016 decision, alluded that this could be the same Clinton we have always known.

“Her decision to run again would be slow, almost painstakingly deliberate, a reflection of Clinton's methodical and cautious nature.” The latter is what the progressive left doesn’t find appealing in her as a candidate.

So, overall, Clinton's campaign rollout has been rather anticlimactic. Hey, she's the only one running and the nomination is hers, but reactions are mixed–especially with Iowa voters. 

Last Note: There were more reporters than Iowa voters at Clinton kickoff event.  Maybe Clinton's book already gave  the spoilers to her 2016 campaign: "cautious mush."

Okay, then: