by Reed Galen
Monday, March 16th, 2015
Days Until Iowa Caucus: 322
Officially Declared Candidates: 2 (Dr. Ben Carson (Rep), Jim Webb (Dem))
Quote of the Week: "Plans are nothing; planning is everything" Dwight D. Eisenhower
Welcome to the American Singularity.
Why the Singularity?
· The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.
· There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.
· The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.
Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.
Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
This Week: Hillary’s Not Ready for Takeoff Moment(s)
Authors Note: A short(er) one this week as I’m lucky enough to be back in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest (or #SXSW if you’re 35 or younger and/or work in tech.)
I didn’t want to spend a second week on Hillary Clinton, but her actions and reactions continue to roil the nascent presidential race. In the wake of the State Department email scandal that has burned through every bit of oxygen in Hillaryland, she held a news conference to tell the media, her opponents and the rest of the world what they could do with their servers.
Despite the fact that Clinton and her team are clearly not ready for the coming election cycle, media are now reporting members of both the inner circle and the wider orbit are pressing Hillary to get her presidential campaign up and running sooner than the previously reported July time frame. Brooklyn here we come!
This will create havoc for her campaign. As talented as her campaign staff-in-waiting may be, the Clintons are now asking their people to launch an airplane without a tail. It may have a great deal of forward thrust and gain altitude quickly, but they will have no ability to control it once airborne.
If indeed they are moving up the rollout of Hillary 188.8.131.52.1.2.1 in some 90 days, there are organizational and logistical pieces that will be only partly finished when they open the doors.
Their advantages are that they have no competition, and heaps of cash, giving them the ability to try and both fix their early issues and scale their organization. Truly, no campaign is 100% ready, but those crucial three months now lost to the political winds will have implications later on.
Rather than having their lines of authority, responsibility and communications fully formed, a great deal will be ad hoc. New hires will be thrown into the line as quickly as they can get to Brooklyn, allowing little time for integration. New components will likely be bolted into an existing (and tottering) superstructure rather than cleanly integrated onto a fully prepared foundation.
And this is why outcomes in presidential campaigns are so hard to predict. A decision that Hillary and her core team made six years ago – to hide their email from the State Department, and ultimately from public view, has had the effect of causing the campaign to take actions it neither desires, nor for which it is prepared.
There is also a distinct difference between announcing one’s campaign and actually doing anything. In the first few months, the fundraisers will be hard at work scooping up every last penny they can. Clinton herself will likely stay below the radar, visiting early states occasionally and talking to the press even less. At some point, she will actually have to face voters. Even if she is the forgone conclusion for the Democratic nomination, early state voters don’t like being taken for granted. Why are you running? What is your vision for the future? How will you be different from Barack Obama? How will you be the same?
Much like their Republican counterparts, Democratic primary voters tend to be activists, and thereby more toward the edge than toward the middle. Hillary has never been the darling of the hardcore left. Will they box her in to ensure her fealty to their core values and make life more difficult for her in a General Election match up?
Further clouding Clinton’s entry into the race is the report that the story of Hillary’s illicit email system was actually leaked by Valerie Jarrett, major domo without portfolio in the Obama White House. It is no secret the Obamas and the Clintons are not close. But the Senior Advisor to a sitting President actively attempting to submarine their own party’s presumptive nominee is a new one.
Jarrett’s apparent indiscretion (and ham-handed efforts to remain anonymous) will make life difficult for the younger generation of Democratic staffers and operatives who have come of age during Obama’s presidency. The President will always own their hearts, working for Hillary will be ultimately, just another job.
They’ll do it because the need to, because their careers depend on it, and because the potential rewards are too great to sit out the cycle. But will they get up at 5 am every morning and work relentlessly for 18 hours for Clinton like they did Obama?
There’s no such thing as a “New Generation” of Clintonistas. Even the young ones are now in their 40s – too old and too established to do much more than write their max out checks. Those who want better jobs in the Department in which they served Bill Clinton may come running back, but they’ll have more gray hair and less adrenaline to keep them running for the next 16 months.
Sometime around Easter, Hillary Clinton will likely kick off the final chapter of her electoral career. Win or lose, this is it for her. But if past is truly prologue, it will be a messy, chaotic and bumpy road to the White House. Her own personality, strengths and weaknesses will shape the effort. If campaigns are truly reflections of their candidates, how can 2016 be any different?
Author’s Note: This series is not in any way related to Harold Hyman’s American Singularity – The 1787 Northwest Ordinance, 1862 Homestead and Morrill Acts and the 1944 GI Bill.