Hillary's problem of squaring electability with her positions
Hillary Clinton's many contradictions aren't hard to understand once you realize her need to suppress her natural instincts and policy preferences because they conflict with her lifelong presidential aspirations.The internal conflicts when your focus is electability too often leads to incoherence. That is what happen to John Kerry's various positions on the war in Iraq. It still exist for the current crop of Democrat candidates and especially Hillary. However Bill and Hill have been practicing the politics of obfuscation most of their lives. He would never have been elected in Arkansas, much less the US without success in such practice.
For the most part Hillary is not personally conflicted: She knows precisely what she wants. But her personality characteristics and the circumstances in which she finds herself force her to walk a tightrope between warring constituencies and to project a double-mindedness that is wholly inconsistent with her innate ideological certitude.
These themes were on display this past weekend as Hillary began her presidential campaign in Iowa. From the issue of her gender, to her kaleidoscopic positions on the war, she was trying to thread personal and policy needles to make herself attractive to Midwestern voters without triggering any more blue-state liberal landmines in the process. (Hollywood moguls have already sent her a message by hosting a fundraiser for Barack Obama.)
In the past, Hillary has vacillated between righteous indignation at any expectation that she should be home "baking cookies" and her acquired awareness that she must not go too far and project herself as cold and heartless.
So it was no surprise that in Iowa she reflected a bit of both sides: On the one hand she wore her gender on her sleeve in telling her audience she faced a "double standard" as a female candidate. In the next, shameless breath, she instructed them to look beyond "stories about my clothes and hair" to help her make history.
Similarly, Hillary wants desperately to project a soft, amiable side that is appealing to voters, but she doesn't want to come off as too soft to be chief executive and commander in chief.
Not to worry. She's quite comfortable with bare-knuckles political brawling. In this vein, she mildly criticized John Kerry for not having responded fiercely enough to his Swift boat accusers. "When you're attacked, you have to deck your opponents," she said.