Don’t Blame the Message—Hillary had more than one; they just didn’t work—-47jh.,b43

.Having run twice, and unsuccessfully, for the presidency, Hillary Rodham Clinton is now an official object lesson in how not to run for political office. No doubt, Clinton was a subpar candidate—especially when compared with her husband—but one strike against her is manifestly unfair: that she had no “message.”

True, in hindsight, her message was not as compelling as Donald Trump’s appeal to working-class voters. And equally true, the hacked emails from Clinton pollster Joel Benenson to campaign colleagues—”Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?”—make for embarrassing reading. But in fact, Hillary Clinton had three messages: I’m the best-prepared candidate for president in living memory; my opponent is a dangerous alternative; and it’s time for a woman president. Of course, none of them resonated sufficiently with voters—not even the appeal to sisterhood—to overcome Trump, but that’s not the same as their being nonexistent.

To which an important corollary must be added: More than a few presidents have been elected to office because voters were determined to un-elect the incumbent—message or no message. Herbert Hoover had grown sufficiently unpopular by 1932 that Roosevelt merely had to smile and wave on the campaign trail, at which he excelled. Ike won in 1952 partly because he was an American hero and largely because the Democrats had occupied the White House for 20 years and grown stale and corrupt. Lyndon Johnson’s “message” in 1964 was that the American people didn’t want three presidents in one year, and that his opponent (Barry Goldwater) was an extremist. Four years later, Nixon’s “message” against LBJ’s vice president (Hubert Humphrey) was another throw-the-rascals-out impulse in the wake of an unpopular war.

source–weekly std., philip terzian

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