February 13, 2008

Campaign Chaos

Hillary Clinton hasn't been doing as well as predicted since the New Year: she was expected by some to have the nomination sown up at that point, some even predicted that Super Tuesday would be a coronation. They were wrong and the result seems to have been widespread discontent in her campaign for the Presidency with her long term aid, Patti Solis, leaving Clinton this week. The Atlantic has a fine article covering Solis's resignation, rumours had been swirling even before Solis left about the disfunctional structure of 'Hillaryland' and journalists had picked up on those rumours. Hillary's team is obviously involved in mutual recrimination about how they have lost their frontrunner status.

Both of the articles I have quoted above suggest that what this demonstrates is how uniquely disfunctional Hillary's campaign has been. I don't think that's true. Seasoned observers of US Politics have commented to me before that Clinton has run an almost perfect campaign- obviously it hasn't worked but on the other hand, she hasn't self destructed and Obama has run a brilliant campaign. Furthermore any campaign faces downturns and moments of pressure: pressure produces internal stresses however tight the team of people put together by the candidate. It also produces a kind of focus that makes the inner circle unable to see the wider picture: hence the need to bring in new blood in order to give new advice to a candidate. What we are seeing with Clinton is really the effect of a long campaign.

What's interesting is not what this tells us about Clinton- but what this tells us about politics and campaigning. I think the articles and the events of the last few days capture the intense closeness of politics: the suffocating claustrophobia of living in a campaign where every leading article is a major event. Sometimes that can obscure the longer term issues or even policy discussions: it produces fierce rivalries as well. Understanding the lives that politicians live is indispensible to understanding the kind of decisions they will take: I think what the Clinton campaign illustrates is the way that politics is a very visceral experience, altering day by day. Politicians have to cope both with the intensity of living in a perpetual drama and complete alterations in fortune: their psychology has to contain the confidence to survive that and be brutal to their allies and friends.

That atmosphere determines exactly what kind of politicians and hence leaders that we get at the end of the process- the Clinton campaign's breakup is a useful indicator of the way that politics works in the United States and by implication in most of the West.

3 comments:

stacy said...

Well put.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

I feel some of the superdels just don't like her and might put the votes Obama's way.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I would like to see a woman President but the trouble with this woman is that she is not independent. She should have chucked that slimeball out at the time of the Lewinski affair and then she would have the respect of other women. Interesting what you say about the effects of a long campaign.