Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hillary versus Pirro? /yawn

Despite having well over a year to go before the 2006 mid-terms, it looks like Election 2006 is already underway in New York. Westchester County DA Jeanine Pirro is challenging Hillary Clinton for her Senate seat, charging that the Senator will be more committed to running for President than she would in representing the people of New York. (MSNBC: N.Y. prosecutor hopes to challenge Sen. Clinton). Note that Senator Clinton has yet to claim she is running for the 2008 Democratic nomination, although current polls show her as the leading candidate.

Jeanine Pirro has the support of state GOP chairman Stephen Minarik, however some of her views are at odds with the party's national platform. Pirro does not appear to be a strong contender for the NY seat and comes with some baggage (such as a husband that spent time in federal prison for tax fraud) that is sure to be a campaign issue. The party's hope is that, even in defeat, she could damage Clinton for her potential presidential bid.

Pirro is relatively inexperienced in the national political arena and will face a strong challenge in the Republican primary. The real question is whether or not she can emerge the primary unscathed. It's somewhat doubtful that she can do much image damage nationally to Clinton. The Senator has been in the political spotlight for decades and survived unscathed through her husband's impeachment procedings and the embarrassing publicity of their marriage challenges.

If Clinton decides to seek the Democratic nomination, the most damage will be inflicted by her own party during the primary season. The best approach for the GOP in 2006 is to avoid strengthening public opinion in favor of Clinton. A GOP attack on her in 2006 is likely to backfire in the presidential campaign in 2008. I've yet to see polls that show Clinton's seat to be up-for-grabs in 2006. Simply trying to tarnish her image 2 years before the presidential election would be a huge tactical mistake.



Alan Fraser said...

A big advantage for Clinton is that she was not a Vietnam War medal winner so the GOP will not be able to attack her for that. It still amazes me that a true-blue Vietnam war hero was beaten by a chickenhawk. I don't mean to stir that up overmuch but it's nevertheless an amazement.

Kannafoot said...

The attack on Kerry was so intensive because of his actions after returning home. Becoming a Vietnam War protester and speaking out against the war is what made him vulnerable.

As CNN reported, "Kerry threw away the ribbons from his medals, along with the actual medals of two veterans who were not able to attend the ceremony" referring to a 1971 anti-war protest event. What made him vulnerable in the campaign was his trying to flaunt the three purple hearts after he had already denounced them.

Hillary Clinton does not have that type of record hanging over her head, but she did participate in a number of anti-war rallies - something many veterans still find repulsive. Whether that will be to her advantage or disadvantage will depend on US war sentiment in 2008. Public opinion changes rapidly, so no conclusions can be drawn there based on attitudes seen today.

Alan Fraser said...

You're seeing femme power down in Crawford right now. I don't mean to open that can of worms here but simply point to it as an example of what happens when women get behind something. If Hillary can tap into that, she won't have to do anything except sit back and wait for George to mail her the key to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

One thing's for sure: If Iraq is still a problem in 2008, no Republican will be able to get a job anywhere. As has been said before, Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam and you're seeing now exactly the same rage that built up then. Bush is already a casualty as he had no choice but to meet with Sheehan and instead dodged it. Now it's out of control and growing across the country. The only question now is how many other Republicans he's going to take down with him.

Again, I don't mean to stir up here whether Sheehan is right or wrong but rather point to it in terms of the political consequences of it. I suppose Rove must have told Bush not to talk to her but that was very bad advice. Bush could have schmoozed her and got out of the dilemma but ignoring it has caused it to snowball and now she has tremendous backing, most particularly from other gold star mothers and they are, almost by definition, politically untouchable.

Kannafoot said...

I don't think I'd categorize what's happening there as femme power. Sheehan's being used by a number of groups with their own agenda, and that's the real tragedy in all this.

Bush was in a no-win situation with regards to the potential encounter in Crawford. Personally, I think he made the right choice by not meeting with her. The only thing meeting with her again (he met with her already on this topic, remember) does is open the door for similar encounters across the country. Allowing her to continue her protest but avoiding any direct confrontation really is the best approach.

As to 2008, I think the biggest factor is going to be the state of the economy, not Iraq. That will be true in 2006 as well. I would hate to be a sitting congressman or senator up for reelection in the mid-terms. At the rate the price of oil is climbing, I'd expect a very large freshman class in January '07.

Alan Fraser said...

We've seen oil tank the economy before. Not much to be optimistic about at the moment. I suppose we could go around slashing the tires of the Escalades but the pigdog owners probably can't afford to drive them anymore anyway.