Clinton supposedly comes to the presidential race – if she wants it – with two built-in constituencies: women and minorities. The former I’m not so sure about, for wherever I go and her name comes up it is the ladies who make faces usually associated with bad wine. As for minorities, Hillary is Bill and Bill is Hillary and their record, if not his rhetoric, is unmatched. She has earned her following.
But that leaves the rest of us who might seek something more in a presidential candidate than lists and caution and itsy-bitsy steps toward universal health care. We want, yes, vision, leadership – a little music, please, maestro! We want rhetoric that soars, poetry that compels and, every once in a while a phrase that pumps the heart and – jackpot! – draws a tear. We rarely hear that sort of thing from Hillary Clinton. Instead, she has played Mrs. Cool to her husband’s Mr. Hot. The essential theatricality of politics is not in here – not yet, anyway.
The Council on Foreign Relations is not, I grant you, a stadium full of partisans. It calls for a certain understated style. Even so, Clinton managed to bore the likes of stock brokers, money managers, corporate lawyers and others who you might think are already inured to boredom. Here and there I even saw people fighting sleep and I noticed one chap who had succumbed and was surely dreaming of IPOs or whatever fantasies occur to the very rich. Suffice it to say, though, that this was her audience – predisposed to like her, already respecting her. She gave them nothing.
I hope this is the dynamic candidate the Democratic Party puts forward in 2008.