Hillary's Inevitability Underestimated the Voting Public, But Obama Has His Work Cut Out For Him Now

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Hillary's Inevitability Underestimated the Voting Public, But Obama Has His Work Cut Out For Him Now
Political Opinion and Analysis by Alex Hammer

Hillary Clinton wouldn't be the first talented politico - nor will she certainly be the last - to take one's political lumps running a "safe" campaign as the "inevitable" nominee.

Running on a large dose of experience - in relation to her newer to the national political scene but articulate and to a growing number inspiring opponent and now Iowa Democratic victor Barack Obama - Clinton slid to a third place finish in this middle America caucus start to the Presidential 2008 race, trailing also John Edwards.

Clinton sounded as magnanimous and upbeat as is possible (and as you might expect given her history of resilience and toughness) with an, as expected, focus on New Hampshire - four days away - and the nation as a whole.

Debate will certainly swirl in regard to who is now the frontrunner.

If anyone.

It's Still Extremely Early
The burden now shifts also to Obama. Hillary will keep fighting hard and hold up well under any storm. We all know that. She's ready for a long, hard-fought slugfest of a nominating process. It is not at all unlikely that she will even thrive under such conditions.

Obama must now demonstrate that Iowans were voting for him rather than against Hillary Clinton, a candidate with historically huge negative numbers well before she - this is my opinion and a central thesis - insulted the intelligence of some displeased (if not fed up) individuals.

That would be the American electorate.

Not a Good Idea to Insult the Voter
I live in Maine, a relatively rural and politically diverse and independent state, but one well informed and educated. Nowhere do people ever like to feel that they are in any sense being dictated or talked down to, or having choice taken away from them.

This is not the easiest time, certainly, to be a politician facing the American public. According to polls, many are unhappy with President Bush. 2006 saw a Senate/Housecleaning, although the public is not enamored with the legislative branch either, it appears.

Hillary's famous husband, still beloved by some and not an unpopular president overall, also may be seen by a significant segment as a flawed or polarizing figure (or subject to viscous partisan attacks, depending upon your perspective). Hillary has not - and this is, if you agree, another central and important point - convincingly made the case to the nation that she is her own person and would be her own President. Strong willed, confident (rightfully so given her skills and accomplishments), too many may view her still as an extension, although no doubt an increasingly independent one, of her husband, if not in terms of direct influence than in terms of policy and/or political considerations.

What Do We Want?
Although Americans may be in the mood for change, this may well include experienced change. Someone that understands the structure of the systems in which he or she would be working. Certainly as a female, that in itself, even apart from what else Hillary brings to the table, would constitute historic change for America were she to be elected President.

Hillary's resilience has most prominently shone from either deep within the protection of the White House or otherwise behind the scenes. Now she will have the opportunity to demonstrate how well she can function as the main attraction in a tough political fight.

Turning Respect into Warmth
The old adage that voters elect the type of individual that they would be most comfortable having a beer with certainly does not bode well for the traditional - if stereotypical - depiction of a super bright but at times reserved, even aloof, Hillary Clinton. Although Hillary has flowered overall in her years in the political spotlight, including continuing in her years in the Senate - transforming this image significantly in the minds of some - more need to be convinced.

Or Clinton may decide to go negative.

Hillary doesn't have a history of panicking, and while such a move might only be strategic it runs the danger of being viewed as such.

And as a further insult to the sensibilities of the American voter.

Barack Obama has an inverse type of challenge. Voters like him. They may also well trust him as well intentioned. But he clearly has not yet demonstrated that he is battle tested. Not to be commander-in-chief. We know how tough Hillary has been. Obama? We don't know.

And John Edwards
He's got - by far - the toughest road to hoe of the three. But voters may well be willing to consider him remaining still viably in the race to win. A respectable political position in which to be in.

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