National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has what is likely to be a prescient piece up this week in which he girds himself for the inevitable rise of Republicans for Hillary.
“Every four years a great algae plume of stories appears inside the beltway Sargasso sea about ‘conservatives’ who’ve decided either that the Republican party is no longer for them (‘I didn’t leave the party, the party left me’) and/or that the Democratic nominee isn’t your typical Democrat to such a degree that intellectually ‘serious’ Republicans must cross the aisle for the sake of the country,” Goldberg wrote.
What Goldberg envisions are defections from Republican thought leaders with a modest public profile. They will enjoy a few minutes of celebrity for the renunciation of their heretical conservative views and the endorsing Clinton from the pulpit of the cable news studio. You can probably think of a few likely suspects who might be seduced by the prospect of selling a conversion tale in exchange for media acclaim. And that phenomenon is almost certainly coming.
But it is still too early for desertions. Clinton has yet to elaborate on any substantive policy proposals, or even to clarify why she believes she would be best positioned to lead the nation as commander-in-chief. The policies that she has proposed are exclusively designed to appeal to the fringe elements of the progressive left. For example, Clinton endorsed Bernie Sanders’ proposal to amend the Constitution in order to strike some of the First Amendment’s protections on speech on Tuesday. So, for now, the political media is hard pressed to find Republicans who will confess their sins and beg forgiveness at the feet of Her Inevitableness.
But if Clinton lacks any policy prescriptions for Republicans to praise, she at least now has a campaign. And that is enough, according to Politico, for a handful of GOP “insiders” to gush over.
“Hillary Clinton has found a new constituency: Republicans,” read the jaw-dropping lede from Politico reporter James Hohmann. Sufficiently shocked, the reader goes on to learn that most Republicans don’t plan to vote for Clinton and found her campaign unveiling contrived, but they nevertheless think she has executed a strategic masterstroke of unparalleled brilliance by rolling it out as she did.
“Honestly, I was very impressed,” said a top Iowa Republican, who — like all 72 respondents — completed the questionnaire anonymously in order to speak candidly. “She’s always been seen as cold. I think this helps warm her up for the general election. It also creates a soft launch for her.”
“She can be very hard to listen to speak, at times shrill, so this was refreshing and a little inspirational,” said a second Iowa Republican. “She knows she needs to earn people’s vote. It’s a smart way to brush off being the ‘anointed one.’”
“The drive to Iowa is the smartest play I’ve seen her make in a while,” declared a New Hampshire Republican.
A second Granite State Republican described the road trip as a masterstroke. “The campaign is, rightly, underplaying it and letting the social media activity promote her and her travels,” he said. “Really, really well played.”
Surely, Hohmann’s sources are solid, and it’s not only probable but likely that some Republicans found Clinton’s earned media ploy in the form of a low-key van trip across the Midwest innovative. That trip was unique, even if only because no other presidential candidate could afford to replicate it. Only a candidate like Clinton, who is so saturated in media coverage that she is subjected to ludicrous swarms of reporters, has the wherewithal to mock eschew press coverage. Every other candidate in the race needs all the exposure they can get. In that sense, Clinton is making the most of her unprecedented abundance of resources by refusing to make use of them all at once.
But that is the only aspect of Clinton’s campaign debut that could be objectively considered clever. Beyond that, few neutral observers found much to love.
Between typos on her website, graphical errors on her Twitter page, Clinton advisor John Podesta releasing a press release before Clinton’s video, and a taped introduction spot that even sympathetic voices like The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus called “insultingly vapid,” it was not hard to find voices on both sides of the aisle criticizing Clinton’s unveiling. In fact, it is safe to say that it was far more challenging to populate an article with quotes from unattributed Republicans lavishing the former secretary of state with praise.
But this is only the beginning. The high-profile defections are coming, as Goldberg warned. They always do. And they won’t even request anonymity from reporters when they do it.
UPDATE: Over at The Weekly Standard, Jeryl Bier observed that there was an odd double standard on Clinton’s donation page. “The main donation page for the site includes preset amount buttons for $5, $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and the maximum for the primary election cycle, $2,700,” he wrote. “However, the preset amounts for the Spanish language version of the donation page are significantly less: $3, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $250.”
The Clinton campaign quickly revised the donation site, and now the Spanish language donations amounts match the English language page. If Clinton were a Republican, however, this discrepancy would have exposed a universe of prejudices and othering that would compel her to issue a formal apology and attend sensitivity training seminars. Fortunately for her, Clinton is a Democrat. So her intentions must have been just and noble.