Armando has a novel defense of Hillary Clinton’s ‘have-it-both-ways’ style of campaigning. Apparently, John F. Kennedy did it too. And so did every other politician that has ever come down the pike. Which is, of course, both true and not very revealing. It’s all a matter of degree. Did Paul Wellstone ever evade a question or give a misleading answer? Sure. A good politician knows how to avoid needlessly injuring their chances. But if Paul Wellstone stands at one extreme for straightforwardness, Hillary Clinton certainly stands at the other.

Armando gives us an example of bad punditry, where Charlie Hurt and Mike Allen manage to portray Rudy Guiliani as a straight talker and Hillary Clinton as a waffler. But what does Guiliani’s dishonesty have to do with Clinton’s? Can’t they both be full of crap? Just because the press gives a free pass to Republicans doesn’t mean I have some obligation to do the same for Democrats.

I asked a series of questions, which Armando lists but doesn’t even attempt to answer.

Was Michael Dukakis a tough guy? Could you believe Bill Clinton? Which Al Gore was going to show up to which debate? Where did John Kerry stand on the war?

On the one hand, the answers to these questions were not the most important questions in these campaigns. On the other hand, there is no question that Dukakis was not a tough guy. He wouldn’t fight back. There’s no question that Bill Clinton couldn’t keep a promise and had an almost compulsive problem telling the truth. There’s no question that Al Gore’s three debate performances in 2000 were a study in multiple personality disorder. And there is no question that John Kerry could not articulate a coherent position against the continued occupation of Iraq.

In spite of these flaws, they all deserved to be elected because their opponents had different, more severe, flaws. But my essay wasn’t about Republican flaws. It was about the flaws of Democrats. In particular, it was about Pat Caddell’s insight that many Wallace Democrats were attracted to the candidacy of Robert Kennedy because he was a “tough guy”, who you “could believe”, and trust to “protect the little guy.” A Wallace Democrat, especially a southern Wallace Democrat, could be expected to despise Robert Kennedy because he had forced the integration of the University of Alabama and otherwise supported the civil rights movement. But they were willing to overlook their extreme differences on policy because they perceived that he was tough, meant what he said, and would look out for the average Joe.

Armando insists that Hillary Clinton is tough and is perceived as tough.

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton is perceived as tough. Indeed, that is one thing the “castrating bitch” GOP meme has accomplished.

He’s just begging the question. As soon as she was sharply questioned in the debates she crumpled. And then she sent our her supporters to accuse the big, bad men of ganging up on her…playing the damsel in distress. Maybe that is good politics, but ballbusting it ain’t.

The issue isn’t whether Clinton it tough or not. The issue is whether she can pass the Wallace Democrat test. Can she attract voters who might disagree with her on social issues by meaning what she says, showing them that she will stick up for their interests, and being strong?

You be the judge.

I’m sorry, but that is just a devastating advertisement. And it isn’t going to go away. It’s only going to get worse because Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a straightforward bone in her body. And let’s add to that that her campaign strategy is to leave different impressions with different audiences. Part of that is planting the questions she wants to answer in the first place. I recall criticizing the president for that practice and I don’t intend to let it go when a Democrat does it. Neither will the electorate. They’ll notice that she can’t give the same answer twice on whether she will end the war and bring our troops out (in her first term, her second term, not at all???). Pandering and caution are imprinted so far down in her character that it’s impossible to know what her real positions are on most issues. You wind up believing what you choose to believe.

This kind of weakness cost us the elections of 1988, 2000, and 2004. It’s does no good to blame it on the media. We’re in primary season now and now is the time to rip the Democrats that will take all our dreams and aspirations and flush them down the toilet. They’ll either flush them because they never (sincerely) intended to represent them, or because the electorate can sense that they cannot be trusted to tell the truth and stand up for the little guy. And, that is not strength. It isn’t tough.

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