There should be an all-points-bulletin for the whereabouts of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who seems to have disappeared.
Word has it she is on a “listening tour” of Iowa and New Hampshire, both key states for consolidating a solid base for a presidential run. Listening to “ordinary” folks is a very good thing to do; so few politicians really listen or understand the many challenges faced daily by folks. Thus, three cheers for Clinton.
However, she has been completely ignoring questions from reporters who follow her from town to town. What’s baffling is Clinton has been one of the savviest politicians ever to hit the hustings. Doesn’t she know by now – or has she suddenly forgotten – that in politics perceptions (sometimes called optics) count?
The Republicans, licking their chops like eager generals, have been busy polishing off their biggest artillery, preparing to intensify the war against Hillary. But who can blame them? Politics is a dirty business, and let’s face it, Clinton has given the “enemy” plenty of ammunition in recent weeks. First it was her use of two cell phones during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State, and her explanation for that was a bit fumbling and lame, to be sure. Then it was the revelations about the Clinton Foundation and whether or not she indulged in delivering special favors in exchange for contributions to that foundation. A book about those issues, written by a Republican operative, raised many questions even though it didn’t prove any connection between favors and money – quid pro quo.
Clinton’s refusal to meet with the press or to answer questions has raised the eyebrows of many, including some of her diehard Democratic supporters. It’s easy to understand why she spurns the noisy furor of her long-time arch-enemies, who have hounded her, nipping at her heels ever since her husband was elected governor of Arkansas, way back when. At one time, she and President Clinton were even accused of setting up the murder of their long-time friend and advisor, Vince Foster, who committed suicide. The attacks against the Clintons were vicious and unrelenting, and we tend to forget how vicious because those kinds of attacks have been aimed at President Obama for so long.
Yes, it’s understandable Hillary would avoid questions and accusations. But understandable or not, she had better start taking on her accusers very soon and answering questions with frank transparency, otherwise more and more potential voters will view her as having something to hide.
Anybody who runs for president quickly learns “anything goes” in a campaign, meaning the process is a brutal, personal ordeal, like being a bug under a magnifying glass. If anyone on today’s political scene knows that through and through, it’s Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has a life-long experience of being a fiercely intelligent battler, a hard worker, a survivor of so many ups and downs, of overcoming disappointments and personal humiliations, punctuated by many successes. How can such a candidate imagine that ignoring questions by the press and by others is the way to go? If Hillary thinks these hard-pressing queries will fade with time if she just ignores them, she is mistaken. Quite the contrary. Her opponents and the press will only become more persistent the longer she stubbornly maintains her zipped-lip silence.
Chances are, she is honing her upcoming campaign messages through her frequent meetings with folks on her listening tour. That’s fine. But now it’s time – weeks overdue, in fact – to listen to the many questions being raised and to answer them forthrightly. To do otherwise is to give credence to the perception she is aloof, elitist and that she is taking too much for granted, that she feels as if she is naturally entitled to her official nomination – or, as some cynics say, her “coronation” as candidate and possibly as president.
Hillary had better put on her boxing gloves, come out of her corner and start fighting back – and soon – or she is likely to lose the battle in the long run.