I can't imagine ever voting for Hillary Clinton—for president, dog catcher, you name it. She was an undistinguished senator from New York and a truly godawful secretary of state. She is pro-war, pro-surveillance, anti-drug, and phony as a $3 bill.
But I do think she's been playing a pretty smart game so far of generally being silent even after announcing for president. In a new Daily Beast column, I argue that she's learned from the best—Bill Clinton—how to outwit, outplay, and outlast virtually all rivals.
She is smart to be running a rope-a-dope strategy, essentially letting her opponents (Democratic and Republican) punch themselves out in the early rounds. When they've taken their best shots and mostly exhausted themselves, she can come off the ropes and throw a haymaker or two. Along with forgoing shame, this is another great tactical advantage she's learned from her husband.
Bill Clinton outlasted his opponents—think Newt Gingrich and a gaggle of moralistic congressmen, many of whom had skeletons of their own to hide. Bill was like Muhammad Ali taking on George Foreman in the jungle heat, a personable motormouth who loved to talk and press the flesh (sometimes a bit too much, to be sure). Hillary is turning into a defensive master, but on her own terms. She's more like Floyd Mayweather, nobody's idea of a fun person to hang out with, but capable of taking huge amounts of punishment and coming off the ropes in the late rounds to secure victory.
She is hardly invulnerable, though Republicans are always capable of clenching defeat from the jaws of victory too. What to do, then?
If the eventual Republican nominee—whether it's Jeb Bush or Rand Paul or god help us all Donald Trump—wants a real chance at the crown, they'd do best to back away from Hillary and the anger-bear rhetoric that only makes her more sympathetic. The nominee would do well to outline an actually positive and inclusive message about how they plan to guide the country into the 21st century rather than constantly harp on last century's scandals, the need for even newer and bigger wars, and protecting us from the scourge of immigrants so desperate for a better life that they're willing to risk arrest to come to America.
A Republican employing positive rhetoric—which is exactly how Barack Obama toppled Clinton in 2008—would pull her out of her crouch and cause her to swing recklessly and wildly. In all that lunging, she'd be likely to knock herself out. But so long as the Republicans keep smacking themselves in the face, she's smart to hold her punches.
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