Hillary’s conciliatory noises

Suzanne Fields in the Washington Times discusses the reinvention of Hillary Clinton. I haven’t had much to say about Hillary’s latest act of reinvention — her expression of “respect” for people who oppose abortion under all circumstances — because it struck me as inconsequential. Given her opposition, for example, to the ban on partial birth abortion, it’s difficult to see how Ms. Clinton is going to score any points by “feeling the pain” of those who are pro-life. Only ardent feminists who demonize the pro-life movement are likely to be impressed, and not favorably. In short, this was not a Sister Souljah moment.
Perhaps, though, one should view Hillary’s statement in the context of a larger effort to create a buzz that she is moderating. If journalists talk about her this way often enough, it may become the conventional wisdom. And if she periodically throws out statements that, however superficially, sound moderate, journalists can be expected to talk about her this way. In terms of domestic policy and values, Hillary will never succeed in looking like a new Democrat the way her husband (an unknown quantity at the national level) did. However, as Fields points out, there are many young voters for whom values matter. During the next few years, these folks will be looking at Hillary essentially for the first time. Thus, it can’t hurt for her to make conciliatory noises.
Foreign policy and national security issues provide Hillary a better opportunity. Hillary’s fixed image as an ardent liberal never extended to this realm. Thus, she plausibly can present herself as tough-minded here (more than plausibly perhaps — few have ever questioned her toughness). And if she continues to project that image, her liberal image on domestic issues, and even on values, will not pose an insuperable obstacle to her quest to become our next president, assuming her party is willing to nominate a fairly hard-liner.


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