"I think the defining issue in '08 is going to be Hillary Clinton."
-- Senate Min. Leader Mitch McConnell, Louisville Courier-Journal, 8/5
That's right the same McConnell that is getting blasted at home about the war with ads, protesters, and sinking popularity rankings.
At first I thought this was a GOP fantasy, but then I realized it was a real strategy.
On conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh's show Wednesday, Rove predicted the New York Democrat would win her party's nomination but said she was "fatally flawed" and would ultimately lose the race for the White House.
"There is no frontrunner who has entered the primary season with negatives as high as she has in the history of modern polling," said Rove
For her part, Hillary spun this as Rove is "obsessed with" her because she and her husband are the only ones who have been able to beat "these guys."
Here's Rove's plan in a nutshell: keep the story on Hillary and keep her negatives up. Sadly, the media will happily play along with stories about the Clinton's sex lives, the 1990's "scandals," Hillary's sealed WH records (when Bush sr.'s and Reagan's are still sealed thanks to George W.), and even her clothing/hair choices.
The idea doesn't sound that unreasonable when you consider that is exactly what Rove did to Al Gore and John Kerry. The races became about those men's supposed flaws rather than George W. Bush's.
Sen. Clinton is right to say that the Right Wing Attack Machine will do the same thing to whomever the nominee is. But the question is, who has more built-in fodder?
It is true that Hillary/Bill drives conservatives as nuts as Karl Rove/George W. Bush drives liberals nuts. But that doesn't mean that a base election will mean either a 2004 type GOP victory or 2006 type Democratic one.
Personally, I am tired of my party nominating the same old candidate who checks off all the boxes for the party's interest groups but doesn't really excite anyone. Gore and Kerry were exactly those types. Hillary to me looks to be the same type. Granted, professional woman really are excited about her and will rally towards her when she is inevitably attacked.
Nevertheless, the dramatic change that someone like Obama represents (whether or not he would actually change things) seems like just what the country needs right now. His negatives are, according to right wing groups: his middle name, his attendance at a school in a Muslim country when he was 3-6 years old, his willingness to talk to America-hating dictators like Kim Jung-Il, his willingness to take nukes off the table, (and that is half-black).
The first two have tried and failed miserably. The last one is a covert attack line that must be used very carefully since racism isn't very hip these days. The middle two are ones that Hillary and other Washington establishment types seem to think are a big deal, but I bet polling would say that these are mainstream American positions.
Generally, it will be much harder for Republicans to make the election about Barrack Obama than it will be for them to make it about Hillary Clinton or John Edwards' hair.