The article is trying to draw a distinction here: On the one hand, bringing change and bipartisanship to Washington. On the other hand, advocating “traditionally liberal issues” so the base doesn’t desert you. In fact, these are two sides of the same coin. Hillary Clinton can’t reinvent herself as an Elizabeth Warren–type populist, and I doubt she will be running against big banks. But she can still run on “change,” channeling a streak of populism and appealing to a disgruntled left-wing of the Democratic Party. Much of the appeal to one’s base is about attitude. Howard Dean’s popularity among the netroots could coexist with his relatively moderate record as governor because he seemed angry. The point isn’t that Clinton is angry; rather, it is that you can appeal to different groups with non-policy related appeals.
In 2008, Clinton chose to run as the grown-up candidate—someone adept at getting things done, and immensely qualified for the task at hand. The overwhelming problem for her was the vote she made to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein’s regime. There was also the sense that American had already just undergone a dynastic experiment, and the result was eight years of poor governance and disastrous policies. And Clinton was a sitting senator. For all these reasons, Obama’s pitch was especially effective.
Will Clinton’s new rhetoric succeed? It’s probably smart of her to embark on it relatively early in the campaign, and there is reason to think it will be more effective than it would have been had she tried a similar strategy in 2008. She isn’t currently in government, for starters, and she has four years as Secretary of State behind her. This is the one cabinet job that seems to distance you from petty politics, and may go some way to making her seem like a figure who can rise above the fray.