The fizz gone from Hillary's campaign, she opens a can of kiss-ass on the public to try to get the veep slot.
Kicked off the national stage, Hillary Clinton is trying to clamber back on as putative nominee Barry Obama's running mate. She lacks the political chops to pull it off; she needs a miracle.
Like a spoiled heiress, Clinton is too ungracious to yield on anything. That's not a strength as a politician; that's a weakness.
Her strategy, as always, relies solely on public P.R.: Her aides are doing it for her, leaking to reporters that she's about to soon officially yield. In effect, the aides have started a conciliatory process leading up to that dreaded C-word: concession.
She's had a mostly non-record as a senator from New York. At least Obama has an excuse for his lack of major Senate action: He's a freshman senator. In that hidebound, tradition-bound body, freshmen don't usually play on the varsity.
Fellow senator Joe Biden said of fellow Democrat Hillary during his own futile presidential bid: "There's not a major bill I know with Hillary's name on it."
And now she's mounting a campaign to get the vice-presidential slot not because she has policy issues on which she wants to influence presidential candidate Obama. At least Dick Cheney had an agenda he wanted to pursue when he seized the vice-presidential nomination in 2000. Sure, it was a disastrous agenda, but at least he was sharp enough to do the maneuvering required to seize it.
As one of my colleagues shrewdly noted, Hillary has in one sense been an effective senator in the state she parachuted into with her carpetbag. She's been a dogged "Senator Pothole," the moniker slapped on one of her predecessors, Al D'Amato. That goniff instigated a blizzard of little actions and favors on his constituents while quietly practicing sleaze on national issues. Most national pols do that sort of "constituent" P.R. activity locally, but Hillary's staff has been most diligent at it. The result? She's been more like a county official than a senator.
Look hard to find major legislation in the Senate that she has drummed up through compromise and deal-making with Republicans — or even with fellow Democrats. Compromise and deal-making are not at all bad things — that's the way things get done in a democracy/republic; that's the way politics and governance are supposed to work.
John McCain did it, teaming with Democrat Russ Feingold on campaign reform. And McCain showed some crucial bipartisanship with his highly visible torment of Bush regime schnook — and diehard GOP operative — Jack Abramoff during the Wampumgate scandal, a major shakedown of Indian casino money. Abramoff was a much shrewder operative in the Congress hallways than Clinton. The Washington Post busted open that scandal, and McCain conducted major hearings on it. As I noted in November 2005:
McCain was adroit enough to lead an investigation of fellow Republicans — even one that ensnared GOP members of Congress and the White House — and then capture his party's nomination. He overcame his shameful performance in the '80s as a lackey for S&L scandal scumbag and GOP campaign moneybag Charles Keating and later built a reputation (thanks to his schmoozing of the press) as a campaign-finance "reformer." (See my February 2000 Voice story on McCain's presidential primary campaign that year.)
McCain was a spoiled son of an admiral, carpetbagged into Arizona, married into money, and was practically given a slot in the House. Nevertheless, he became skillful by the time he entered the Senate.
Hillary's performance in the Senate? feeble on national and international issues. Mostly, she merely launched dog-and-pony shows (which all senators do) instead of politicking across the aisle — or with her fellow Democrats — on meaningful and powerful legislation.
Here's an example: On February 16, 2007, she introduced S.B. 670: "A bill to set forth limitations on the United States military presence in Iraq and on United States aid to Iraq for security and reconstruction, and for other purposes."
Sounds great, right? Here are the facts: The co-sponsors? None. Supporters? None. Opponents? None. Hearings? None. The latest major action on that bill? Its introduction on February 16, 2007. In other words, there was no action on that high-sounding legislation other than its introduction.
That's a meaningless piece of P.R. designed only to try to counter her previous important vote in October 2002, when she endorsed the Bush regime's invasion of Iraq. Her new bill was something she could point to as an example of how she tried to make war against Bush's Folly, when in fact she never did.
On February 15, 2007, the day before that non-crucial, non-crafted-through-arm-twisting-and-deal-making piece of non-legislation on the Iraq War was introduced, Hillary introduced S.B. 649: "A bill to require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct an independent safety assessment of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant."
That would make her fellow New Yorkers feel better: a tough stance toward her own state's nuclear plant. But it was just show, another P.R. move — a Senator Pothole type of non-maneuver that all senators try to do in their spare time. That bill had one co-sponsor (fellow New York senator Chuck Schumer) and it died a-borning. The latest action on that bill? Its introduction on February 15, 2007.
Now she's trying another P.R.-only move to get the veep nomination. To get it, she'll be relying on polls, not pols.
Next major action? Her upcoming official concession speech. After that? Non-action on her bid by Obama — if he's smart.