Tuesday, October 02, 2007

You can’t have one without the other

Forgive me, this story originally broke last week, but I tend not to link to things that I can only find on Politico. Now that I’ve just heard it confirmed by another source who knows enough to know, here goes:

According to Politico, GQ magazine spiked an upcoming article by Josh Green (staff writer for the Atlantic Monthly) that pulled back the curtain on infighting within the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton. The reason: The Clintons threatened to cut off access to former president Bill—slated to be cover boy for the December issue—if GQ ran the story on Hillary (and her campaign).

Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign’s demands, which had been delivered by Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Jay Carson, several sources familiar with the conversations said.

. . . .

“I don’t really get into the inner workings of the magazine, but I can tell you that yes, we did kill a Hillary piece. We kill pieces all the time for a variety of reasons,” Nelson said in an e-mail to Politico.

Appearing on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show on Monday, GQ writer Robert Draper (author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush) said that he had no knowledge any specifics beyond what has been reported since he was not involved with this story, but he could confirm that there was an article on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and that it was killed over a threatened embargo of Bill.

Back to Politico for the money quote:

The campaign’s transaction with GQ opens a curtain on the Clinton campaign’s hard-nosed media strategy, which is far closer in its unromantic view of the press to the campaigns of George W. Bush than to that of Bill Clinton’s free-wheeling 1992 campaign.

Indeed. While I have much fault to find with GQ for allowing itself to be intimidated by the Clintons (remember, it’s a symbiotic relationship—celebrities need the press in order to push their messages as much as the press needs celebrities in order to push paper), I am not worried about Jim Nelson running for president anytime soon. I am really disturbed by the Senator’s behavior, however, because beyond revealing Hillary Clinton’s cynical, Bush-like view of the media, I think this little story sheds an unfavorable light on her also Bush-like desire for absolute secrecy and loyalty.

The way a candidate runs a campaign is a window on how he or she might function as president. Sen. Obama, for instance, while talking about being a change agent, has been overly tentative; increasingly so as he has solidified his top tier status, and that worries me.

And Hillary Clinton’s campaign is confirming far too many of my doubts about her. She continues to “triangulate”—looking to politically optimize every position rather than standing firmly behind core Democratic (or, for that matter, personal) beliefs. She talks a lot, but says little; after a Clinton speech/performance, I might be impressed with her diction and apparent understanding of “the issues,” but again, I am left with no impression whatsoever about where she stands on “the issues”—except, perhaps, the impression that she is skirting them (no pun intended).

Finally, the GQ flap confirms one of my biggest fears about an HRC presidency: Of all the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Clinton is the one I think is least likely to operate in the sunlight, entertain a diversity of ideas, and give back the powers stolen from the other branches of government by the self-imagined Unitary Executive Bush.

As disturbing as the carrot and stick approach is as a press strategy, in our celebrity-driven, hyper consolidated mediascape, it might actually work. However, the same approach, when used to manage White House staff, a domestic initiative, or foreign policy, would be an absolute disaster.

That, frankly, is the far more important lesson Hillary Clinton should learn from George W. Bush.

From the way that Clinton is running her campaign, however, I have a bad feeling that she will not learn. With us now watching her campaign more and more, I would hope that we, the voters, will.

(cross-posted to Daily Kos and The Seminal)

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Anonymous Jeff Ewing said...

Dude, you're number 7 on Reddit at 1:30 PM: http://reddit.com/

1:30 PM  

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