Thursday, January 27, 2005

Keeping It Real Politik: Hillary Makes Her Move for ’08

While a battle rages over the present and future of the embattled Democratic Party, Bill and Hillary Clinton are carefully putting the chess pieces in place for an HRC in ’08 presidential bid. In a carefully worded speech to abortion rights activists, delivered on the 32nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that in effect legalized abortions in the United States, Clinton made a concerted and conscious effort to triangulate the divisive abortion issue and “values,” the political buzz word of 2005, to her own future benefit:

Calling abortion "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women," Clinton said, "The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place."

Although Clinton has said similar things before, combining them in that setting was a classic play for the middle, or at least the appearance of the middle. Coming when Democrats are sifting through the ashes of John Kerry's defeat and trying to figure out who they want to be when they grow up, Clinton showed she's already got her own answers.

Clinton's appeal on Monday for "common ground" on abortion was a perfect two-fer. On one level, it was about Roe vs. Wade. At heart, it was about her. Come together over abortion, she seemed to say, and while you're at it, look at me. I'm not so bad, I'm really a moderate. Really.

This is nothing less than an attempt at an early “Sister Soulja” moment for Hillary Clinton, an effort to take back traditionally conservative themes and present them in acceptably moderate and appealing terms. It is also Clinton’s plan to set herself up as both a Democrat who gets things done and as someone who can work across the aisle. There have already been rumblings by influential figures that the Democratic Party needs to re-invent itself as a pro-reform party, and Clinton would love nothing less than to take the spotlight in that role.

Meanwhile, New York Republicans are looking to deflate any wind that Clinton might gain in her presidential sails by attempting to draft none other than Rudy Giuliani, America’s Mayor, to run against her in her likely ’06 bid to retain New York’s Junior Senate seat. All signs are, however, that the Senate is too small a chamber to entice Giuliani… and that a loss against a formidable opponent backed by a husband with legendary political instincts would snuff any chance at a White House run in ’08 in his own formidable right.

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