POLITICS

Out of touch much? Hillary makes shaky start

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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OUT OF TOUCH MUCH? HILLARY MAKES SHAKY START
Is Hillary Clinton just a little rusty or is she again going to disappoint the lavish expectations of her supporters? We’ll see this week as the 2016 Democratic frontrunner continues her laborious campaign rollout. But in round one, the omens are bad for supporters of the Clinton restoration. The campaign chose the tender ministrations of ABC News’ Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts for the former secretary of state’s first interviews since leaving office. So what did a candidate who faces trouble with her base over self-dealing and exploiting insider status to get fabulously rich have to say? She complained about how hard she had it after leaving the White House in 2001. Oh, boy. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education,” Clinton, whose family’s estimated worth now exceeds $100 million, told Sawyer. “You know, it was not easy.”

Do-over - Given the chance today by Roberts to revise and extend her remarks, Clinton wasn’t ready to admit she was wrong. Instead, she defended her claim, blaming her husband’s massive post-presidency legal bills, including a sexual harassment suit and an unsuccessful bid to avoid being disbarred as an attorney, for the family’s plight. She acknowledged to Roberts that her family’s experience was different from most Americans in “very dramatic ways” and that the Clintons had been “blessed.” But Clinton also demanded credit for amassing the fortune, built through speaking fees and investments: “What we faced when he got out of the White House meant that we just had to keep working really hard.” The understanding of how hard ordinary people work is, in fact, what Clinton said is driving her political ambition. That, and, she said a desire to prove Republicans wrong on Benghazi. (Um, weird.) Clinton is endlessly touting her own hard work. Doing what, though? Flying around the word to go to meetings. Campaigning. Giving speeches. It’s no doubt tiring stuff, but those are the kinds of activities voters would likely think of as privileges, not “working really hard.” If this is what Clinton does with softballs, it’s no wonder she is trying to drive around even largely friendly media scrutiny to get the presidency.

‘Hard Choices’ easy to put down - And then there’s the book itself. You wouldn’t know it because it has been strategically leaked in a successful effort to squelch even the minimal controversy that a typical campaign tome can generate, but today is officially the launch of Clinton’s book “Hard Choices.” The closest to praise that even staunch admirers of the former first lady can muster is that the rollout of the book has been “masterful.” Not the book, mind you, but the PR effort behind it. That would be like choking down a bad dinner but praising the restaurant’s use of social media to get you through the door. As with everything about the Clinton candidacy, ‘Hard Choices’ wins praise for its caution and calculation. Who wouldn’t want to grab a copy of something shrewdly unreadable?  The book, like its author, is an inevitability. She is the frontrunner because she will win. She will win because she is the frontrunner. The book is clever for being boring. The book is boring because its author is so clever.

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