Sunday, January 21, 2007

Regarding Hillary

To no one's surprise, Hillary is in. The text of her statement is here. In reading it over, there's one thing I find interesting: how similar she sounds to her husband.

Look at some of the ideas and phrases. She wants to have a conversation with the American people, and be the President who will 'restore our hope.' She says that a new President can 'renew the promise of America.' And she's out to ensure that those who 'work hard' or are 'working hard to raise a family' can count on health care, educational opportunity, and retirement security. I could almost hear Bill's voice talking about the 'new compact' - as if it was 1992 again.

But does she care about children, you ask? Well, guess what! She's 'fought for children for more than 30 years,' pushing for education reform, health care coverage for millions of children and legislation to dramatically increased adoptions.

In her last thematic passage, she says:

The promise of America is that all of us will have access to opportunity, and I want to run a 2008 campaign that renews that promise, a campaign built on a lifetime record of results.

To me this all sounds very, er... 'Clintonesque.' And it raises a potential problem: she can't afford to be just a replay of Bill. The polls may say clearly that the American people preferred Bill to 'W,' but they don't say that they want Bill back. In 2008, there will be lots of other choices. If Hillary wants to help her chances, she'll find clear ways to differentiate herself from her husband.

I guess that one will be on abortion. So much of her announcement stresses what she's done for children (and adoption, specifically), I suspect we won't hear much of the phrase 'safe, legal and rare.'

But I think she'll need to find more dramatic distinctions to draw between herself and her husband.

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