Voting has started today in the New Hampshire primary. The polls and pundits are saying that Senator Bernie Sanders is likely to beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, further puncturing the air of inevitability that her campaign has sought to project.
Why is Hillary Clinton struggling? She’s got tons of money, and tons of endorsements, and allies up and down the Democratic Party structure. She can point to a record that includes service as a Senator and Secretary of State. She’s the first woman to seriously contend for the presidency and has that historic element to her candidacy. And she’s got an ex-President always ready to go out and campaign for her.
So, why isn’t she wiping the floor with Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-avowed socialist?
I think it’s because Hillary Clinton is the candidate of self-inflicted wounds. A lot of politics is instinctive, and her instincts just aren’t there. Time and again, she doesn’t effectively deal with questions or issues, and then rather than changing tack she digs in and just makes the issue more difficult for herself.
The latest example of this is the continuing runout of the Hillary Clinton Goldman Sachs speeches story. At the most recent Democratic candidate debate, Clinton was asked if she would release the transcripts of those speeches. Clinton said, guardedly, that she would “look into it.” It’s a classic non-answer, a deferral in hopes that people will just forget about it. But, of course, the media is like a dog with a bone — when a story has legs, as the Wall Street speeches story does, the press won’t let go.
So the media reports that transcripts of the speeches were required by contracts covering the speeches, at Clinton’s insistence, and that she owns the transcripts and controls the ability to release them. Then, when the Clinton campaign doesn’t promptly announce its decision after “looking into” the issue, the press asks about it, which leads to stories speculating about why she wouldn’t release the transcripts — unless there’s something bad in them. Days later, Clinton tries to stop the bleeding by saying she’ll release her transcripts if every other candidate who has given a speech for money agrees to release those transcripts. It’s another non-answer and deferral technique, because nobody is seeking every transcript of every speech by every other candidate — they just want to know what Hillary Clinton said at Goldman Sachs.
It must be frustrating for Clinton’s supporters and campaign staff, to deal with the constant drip, drip, drip of stories about issues that won’t go away and that won’t allow Clinton to try to deliver her own, coherent campaign message. Why won’t she just release the damn transcripts and be done with it? If Hillary Clinton doesn’t beat Bernie Sanders, she should just look in the mirror for the culprit, because she is the candidate of self-inflicted wounds.