Clinton Slash-And-Burn Strategy – Part 1 – Create Division

This blog was supposed to be about politics and technology, business, and the Internet. But it seems every night there’s another news item that demonstrates just how ugly the Clinton campaign is willing to get, and I just can’t resist commenting.

So, in the news tonight: Geraldine Ferraro Gate. Clinton might not have sent Ferraro out to make her comments, but the fact that Clinton won’t dismiss Ferraro isn’t an accident. It fits nicely into what I’m now calling Hillary’s Slash and Burn Strategy. Specifically, it addresses one of the fundamental tactics of that strategy:

Create Division

In this case, the division is about race. Here’s why they think it’ll work: The more the discussion is about race, the less white Americans will focus on matters of actual substance. If you’re white, and the first thing you think when you think Obama is “black”, then you’re automatically separated from him… he’s one thing, and I’m a different thing. Even if you’re not racist, you’re still not thinking about how you’re with him, or how you agree.

So the more often the Clinton team can remind you that he’s a black candidate (they’d probably say “the black candidate”—which sound like that’s his constituency, not his color), the better they think it’ll be for them. Problem is they don’t have too many opportunities to play this game because talking about race, as Ferraro discovered, can draw accusations of racism.

The America’s-Not-Ready Shim-Sham

Hillary’s happy to have you thinking that America “isn’t ready” for a black president. She knows that even if Mr. and Ms. White Voter have no problem with a man of color in the oval office, their belief that the rest of poor, benighted America isn’t ready yet, will prevent them from “wasting” their votes on a candidate who simply can’t win.

Oops, I smeared him again

Hillary is very willing to cripple the long-term prospects for the Democratic Party if she thinks she can get elected in the process. Her Slash-and-Burn Strategy looks something like this:

    1. Make the delegate race about the superdelegates, and their having autonomy, which they should exercise “for the good of the party”
    2. Do whatever it takes to stay in the race until the convention, no matter how damaging to the party in the long term
    3. Along the way, trash Obama as a candidate. Pull out every ugly GOP, Karl Rove strategem on the books and just sully his candidacy, no matter how unjustly (eg, pretend you could have just a shadow of a doubt as to Obama’s religious affiliation).
    4. By the time the convention comes along, you make the case to the superdelegates that his candidacy is in tatters (oops, my bad!) and that after the terrible pummeling he’s taken, there’s no way he can win.

      By creating division within the party and among Democratic primary voters and caucus-goers, she advances items 2 and 3.

      I don’t want to call Hillary a “monster” or anything (although it’s clear that calling an opponent much worse has not consequences in Hillary’s campaign staff). I’ll just say that she’s running an ugly and selfish campaign.

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      5 Responses to “Clinton Slash-And-Burn Strategy – Part 1 – Create Division”

      1. jonathansalembaskin Says:

        Great post. I wonder at some level whether any and every political campaign is ugly and selfish…by definition…and it’s just that we are seeing far too much of how the sausage gets made by the Clinton team.

        To that end, I am fascinated by the emerging debate over ‘caucus delegates’ vs. ‘primary delegates.’ Not only is it masterful (and ugly) political manuvering, but it brings into question the very nature of conversation and agreement. Nothing is sacrosanct in this political season, eh?

        As a brand marketer, I’m doubly interested in how this process parallels what’s going on in the business world. I’ve riffed on it at DIM BULB if you’d like to check it out: http://dimbulb.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/03/caucuses-are-di.html

      2. withappens Says:

        Jonathan, I’m glad you mentioned the “caucus delegates” issue. I count that as another “division” tactic, and actually edited a comment to that effect out of the post before publishing it. The finer they can parse the various elements, the easier it is for them to shed light, cast aspersions, question, or refute them.

        The analogy to the business world is striking especially if you think of disruptive change. Only, in business, it’s usually a good thing, and I can’t say that about the Clinton campaign. Think of “good will toward the Democratic party and candidates” as being the incumbent industry… Hillary would happily erase 90% of that good will if she thought she could create 20% for herself alone. But as we’ve learned, what’s good in business isn’t always good in politics or government. Dividing the party for her relative benefit is no good.

      3. Olberman’s Special Comment on Hillary « Wit Happens Says:

        […] about the Clinton campaign this evening offers no real, long-term help for Obama. As I wrote last night, the more the discussion is about politics and about race, the worse it is for Obama and thus, the […]

      4. Hillary More Polarizing Than Bush « Wit Happens Says:

        […] I’ve posted recently on how the issue of race is a damaging topic to the Obama campaign, and how Hillary exploits this—either instinctively or, probably, as an explicit campaign tactic. For the past several weeks, as […]

      5. The Sober Reality for Clinton « Wit Happens Says:

        […] why the hell is Clinton being so aggressive? Could it be, per my post of a couple of weeks ago, that she plans to trash his candidacy and then step in and claim that he can’t win because […]

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