Grandma Nixon


Maureen Dowd’s op-ed in The New York Times reads like a forced apology delivered by a six year old after hitting his brother—with Daddy standing behind him holding The Belt.  Surely the liberal Dowd has to support Hillary, because the spectrum of choices outside the presumptive Democratic nominee are inconceivably bad to her.

But she doesn’t have to like it.

Dowd compares Hillary to Nixon, in a backhanded kind of way:  Hillary has no magnetism so she has to “work hard” to look like she actually cares about people.

WHEN my brother Michael was a Senate page, he delivered mail to John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who had offices across the hall from each other.

He recalled that Kennedy never looked up or acknowledged his presence, but Nixon would greet him with a huge smile. “Hi, Mike,” he’d say. “How are you doing? How’s the family?”

It seemed a bit counterintuitive, especially since my dad, a D.C. police inspector in charge of Senate security, was a huge Kennedy booster. (The two prominent pictures in our house were of the Mona Lisa and J.F.K.) But after puzzling over it, I finally decided that J.F.K. had the sort of magnetism that could ensorcell big crowds, so he did not need to squander it on mail boys. Nixon, on the other hand, lacked large-scale magnetism, so he needed to work hard to charm people one by one, even mail boys.

I think it’s uncharitable to Nixon, claiming that he needed to work hard to be kind to a senate page.  Nixon could be warm and engaging one on one to people—unless they were his enemies.  I think Dowd “finally decided” that Nixon had to work hard to charm people when she wrote the lede to her op-ed piece, because she had to soften the Nixonian blow to Hillary.

Hillary is in fact much like Nixon, and certainly what she lacks in magnetism in front of large crowds, she doesn’t make up for one-on-one.  She’s a dead fish, cold, scaly, and dead-eyed.

As Hillary finally admits the axiomatic — she wants to be president — she will take the Nixon approach, trying to charm people one by one in the early states for 2016, an acknowledgement that she cannot emulate the wholesale allure of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.

Nixon had some things in his corner:  a vow to end the war in Viet Nam, a failed Democrat in office who declined to run, and in his second term campaign, he had George McGovern (enough said).  Hillary lacks any of these situational advantages.  She will be running (presuming she doesn’t seize like an overheated engine with a blown head gasket) against one of a cadre if fairly savvy and accomplished Republicans seeking office.

Democratic strategists face-palm at the imagined scene of her squaring off against [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] on a debate stage; or scrapping with Scott Walker; or discussing policy with Jeb Bush.  Any of these options appear increasingly dismal to the Hillary machine.

Instead of a chilly, scripted, entitled policy wonk, as in 2008, Hillary plans to be a warm, spontaneous, scrappy fighter for average Americans. Instead of a woman campaigning like a man, as in 2008, she will try to stir crowds with the idea of being the first woman president. Instead of haughtily blowing off the press, as in 2008, she will make an effort to play nice.

It’s a do-or-die remodeling, like when you put a new stainless steel kitchen in a house that doesn’t sell.

Except it’s not a stainless steel kitchen, it’s a new coat of paint on cabinets installed in 1978, with the original lime-green appliances still in place.

Now, after 25 years on the national stage, Hillary is still hitting the reset button on her image, this time projecting herself as a warm, loving grandmother.

On the eve of her campaign launch, she released an updated epilogue to her banal second memoir, “Hard Choices,” highlighting her role as a grandmother.

Announcing Hillary 2.0:  Grandma Nixon, with an apron and manteau, kissing babies and working the crowd.  But Hillary Clinton hates crowds.  She hates working crowds, glad-handing, and kissing babies.  She hates signing books, preferring to get in and out unseen (no pictures please!) behind a rampart of boxes.  She hates talking to reporters.  She hates smiling for the press.

If Hillary were honest with herself and her supporters, her campaign slogan would be, “Shut up and vote for me, and get off my lawn!”

Welcome to the fray, Grandma Nixon, may you enjoy the benefits of being the least trusted politician since August 9, 1974.

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