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Monday, February 11, 2008

Is the Clinton campaign showing signs of being too "Bushy?"
Posted by Jill | 6:08 AM
With the resignation of Patti Solis Doyle as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager in favor of Clinton's former White House Chief of Staff Maggie Williams, I wonder if the old Clintonistas are building a wall around Hillary that's too similar to the one that was built around George W. Bush. In other words, is Hillary Clinton in danger of living in a similar bubble?

WaPo's coverage of the staff shift has some clues that it may be so:

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, it appeared that Clinton was ready to replace Doyle and make other changes, but some Clinton loyalists said yesterday that the senator's unexpected victory forestalled widespread changes.

After her win there, the campaign began to expand, with advisers from the Clinton White House and from the Clintons' vast political network recruited to join the campaign's tight inner circle.


The campaign long has had a very tight inner circle of Doyle, chief strategist Mark Penn, communications director Howard Wolfson, media adviser Mandy Grunwald and policy director Neera Tanden. Harold Ickes, former White House deputy chief of staff, has played an increasingly important role.

Since New Hampshire, others have been brought in to help. That group includes Doug Sosnik, former White House political director; Steve Richetti, who served as congressional liaison in the Clinton White House; and Linda Moore Forbes, who also served in the Clinton White House and who is helping nail down endorsements from superdelegates to the national convention.

Doug Hattaway, a veteran of the Gore campaign, has joined Clinton's communications operation. Roy Spence, a longtime friend of both the senator and the former president, has been offering advice on messaging and will play a lead role in overseeing the Texas campaign.

But for all the efforts to expand the operation, Democratic strategists said the Clinton campaign remains opaque, even to those on the outside willing to be helpful. "They have more walls around them than you've seen in many castles," said one prominent Democrat.

It's understandable that the Clintons would feel that they're operating in a constant state of siege, given the history of their relations with the press -- a history that shows no signs of letting up. But it's clear that the press isn't going to give Hillary Clinton the same free pass that it has given George W. Bush under any circumnstances, and from the outside, this notion of ONLY keeping your friends close and shutting out your enemies seems to be setting up a minefield, as well as being just too reminiscent of the parts of the Clinton years to which most of us don't want to return. Bill Clinton had some excellent policy people around him, but I don't see people like Madeline Albright and Robert Reich hanging around the campaign. Instead it's the political apparatchiks; the ones who never really took seriously and never understood the way the Republicans and the press joined forces to take aim at the Clinton presidency.

When I see a candidate surrounded by loyalists, I have to wonder where loyalty leaves off and sycophancy begins. I wonder if these loyalists are willing to give Hillary bad news when necessary, and if they realize that the political landscape has changed since 1992 and 1996. From where I'm sitting, when I hear a candidate's outgoing manager say that she'd anticipated the campaign being over after Super Tuesday, it denotes an arrogance and sense of entitlement that's inconsistent with the notion of returning the government back to the people it's supposed to represent. The tight circle of advisers....the "loyalty above all" credo....the sense of entitlement.....doesn't that sound like another president with whom we've become all to much acquainted? Perhaps the Bush family values have rubbed off on the Clintons to the point where the two families are indistinguishable.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I keep hearing about this sense of entitlement and I just don't see it myself. In fact, if it hadn't been you, Jill, saying it I'd wonder if I were hearing another dog whistle.

I suppose that entitlement thing could be there, but if so it's sotto voce, whereas it's blasting out the the Bush Administration with the volume up to 11.

Blogger Jayhawk said...
The Clinton campaign is an interesting study in several respects. So is the Obama one. South Chicago is one of the toughest political environments in the universe, and he has been a winner there, so underestimating him (as the Clinton campaign seems to have done consistently, and as he seems to have encouraged them to do) is a bad mistake.

Obsidian Wings has an interesting post here on the subject, and the comments are a must read.