You would think that the first clue for President Barack Obama and his advisors as to Hillary Clinton’s lackluster skills as a political campaigner would have first become evident in 2008 when they soundly defeated her in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Apparently, the most dispiriting lessons are also the hardest to learn.
According to the latest dispatch in Politico via the well-connected Edward Isaac Dovere, the White House is vexed by Clinton’s performance over the last two weeks and particularly in the wake of her brief press conference on Tuesday. “To sum up the feelings, all the way up to the highest levels: What. The. Hell,” the report read.
Dovere’s report notes that, of all the scandals that have plagued this administration, few have stuck to the president and none are indicative of a desire by Obama to gain personally. While this is a debatable assertion, this reporter’s claim that the many scandals that at one point haunted this White House have largely lost their sting. For the Clintons, however, the scandalous accusation is almost always about malicious intent rather than negligence or even managerial incompetence.
A lot of this has to do with what Obama aides refer to as a culture clash. The Clintons look for loopholes, they say, while Obama takes a special pride, particularly on transparency issues, in sticking to the letter of the law: a combination of cockiness that he’s right so why not let everyone see how he got there, as well as a background awareness that any scandal would be a scandal for the first African-American president.
Even though the White House is inclined to make excuses for the prohibitive Democratic standard-bearer ahead of the 2016 race, they are not predisposed to give her a pass on mucking up the first real test of her candidacy.
“You never feel like you’re quite getting the full story, because everyone’s got some side deal or some complicating factor,” said one former Obama aide, reflecting on dealing with Clinton and her circle. “I don’t think there was a conscious effort to watch out for scams. It was more just, you know who you’re dealing with.”
This gentle nudge from her Democratic allies might be having the desired effect. Two weeks into the coverage of Clinton’s myriad ethical lapses and 10 days after the controversy involving her email practices broke, Hillary Clinton has finally come around to the idea that she might need a communications team to deal with the press.
Clinton’s pre-campaign has tapped Jesse Ferguson, formerly the communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to handle day-to-day press operations from her New York campaign headquarters, the source said.
The addition of Ferguson — which was first reported by the New York Times — comes a month after sources told CNN that White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri was leaving the administration to fill the same role in the Clinton campaign.
The source also confirmed that Clinton’s team is in talks to hire four more press staffers from two of the major Democratic Party committees: Rebecca Chalif, Ian Sams, Tyrone Gayle and Josh Schwerin.
There are some campaign professionals who would contend that it is best to work out the kinks and shake off the cobwebs cluttering Clinton’s campaign operation early, well before voters have tuned into the 2016 race. That’s one school of thought. Another is that she is simply a terrible campaigner and the kinks are features rather than bugs.
Senior Dems are increasingly worried that Clinton is not ready to run for president… http://t.co/csv4ay0yQ0
— Robert Costa (@costareports) March 12, 2015
Maybe that’s it. Just not seasoned enough. Too wet behind the ears. Maybe she could use a few more years of experience in federal government. After all, the presidency is no place for on-the-job training, right?