It's Clinton, not Trump, who's replaying the Nixon scenario

 
 
Posted7/31/2016 1:00 AM
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In Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton faced three separate goals:

1. She needed the convention to tread the political needle to soothe Bernie Sanders delegates hurt feelings;

2. Identify and explain the vast differences between her views and Donald Trump's controversial campaign themes.

3. While at the same time reintroducing herself to the American public.

As a grade on accomplishing these three goals, I would give her and her team an "A" -- though it wasn't easy, especially on Point 1.

In Cleveland many pundits compared Trump's candidacy to Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. They were philosophically correct but politically wrong.

Why? It is Hillary Clinton who is replaying the Nixon scenario. As Nixon was in 1968, Clinton has been in the national public eye for almost a quarter of a century. Like him, eight years previous, she narrowly lost her presidential bid (she the nomination/he the general election). And now, eight years later, like the "new" Nixon, she is the "new" Clinton, repackaging herself as a presidential nominee.

Forget about her husband Bill. Hillary is the new "Comeback Kid."

Random Thoughts

It has been said that Michelle Obama was not excited about her husband running for president or having her family in the public eye. Obviously that is yesterday's news. Her opening night speech not only had solid content, but she displayed the oratorical style of a political pro. Her performance also calmed down the convention, which was a huge gift to Hillary Clinton.

• Political campaigns do not give out silver medals. You either win or lose. Clearly, the Democratic National Committee favored Clinton in the nomination battle (for one thing, she is a Democrat), but in the end, Sanders lost because Clinton won more delegates, more states and more votes.

Those Sanders backers threatening to support Green party candidate Jill Stein should revisit Ralph Nader's 2000 third-party campaign. Nader siphoned off enough Al Gore votes in Florida to give the state and the election to George Bush and in doing so demonstrated a rather "regressive/progressive" strategy.

Unlike the GOP in Cleveland, Democrats in Philadelphia had their party's heavy hitters on stage. Here is a snapshot analysis of each:

• Bill Clinton. Aas usual talked like he was in everybody's living room describing how he met "that girl." For a while, I thought I was watching a Hallmark Channel "mushy" love story and that I believe was his ultimate aim, to show a side of his wife seldom seen.

• Joe Biden. He is at his best when emotion and heart dominates his speechmaking. To be sure, there were some "Bidenesque" moments, but in the end he was talking to middle class Americans -- especially white men about -- about the hypocrisy of Trump's campaign for their votes.

• Tim Kaine. A jovial, experienced and churchgoing family man who is not and probably never will be a great speaker. His non-threatening demeanor and, yes, his Spanish language skills may make him a potential "sleeper" as a valuable vote-getter.

• Barack Obama. His coolness and eloquence often hide his hard-nosed political determination and grit. The president's speech drove home his desire to beat Trump in November.

Two final thoughts

• Despite the successful Democratic convention, Trump is still in the game and his unique and unorthodox campaign is alive and kicking -- especially in his desire to put the industrial Mid-west states in play for November. In short, this battle is far from over.

• Wouldn't it have been something if the music played while President Obama came to the podium to give his speech were Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA"?

Paul Green is director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University in Chicago and Schaumburg.

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