Monday, April 20, 2015

Political Brands 2016: Hillary Clinton

Maybe it's because I can't do much about it or perhaps America's death spiral into hopeless mediocrity is so damn entertaining, but I love watching presidential politics. I love the pointless arguing. The ridiculous posturing. But most of all, I love the way the American public will buy just about anything the media feeds it. As the Nazis used to say, "Tell a lie often enough and pretty soon people believe it."

If you're a reader of this blog, you may recall my analyses of Political Brands for the last few elections. Bear in mind, I have no skin in this game. While I personally am somewhat centrist with a conservative twist, I'm by no means a dyed in the wool Republican. I tend to vote the issue and have never voted the straight party line. I'm just a brand strategist, and to that end, I humbly submit my critiques of each candidate's strategic errors, blunders and comedies.

This time out, I'd like to call your attention to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first major contender out of the gate, aptly referred to as The Great Democrat Hope. Many liberals and Democrats see Mrs. Clinton as a national shoo-in, convinced that the Republican party is all but dead, having been decimated by its Congressional intractability and its Tea Party faction.

I submit to you that Mrs. Clinton is going to need much more than that in order to become President of the United States. And the reason is simple: At this writing, there are all kinds of reasons why people may want to vote against Republicans, but there are almost no reasons why they'd want to vote for Mrs. Clinton. In fact, there's a certifiable mountain of doubts facing Mrs. Clinton's campaign, which at this point seems daunting, if not downright unsurmountable. If you doubt that, I've prepared a list of reasons for you to consider:

1. There's a distinct possibility that many voters will see Hillary as Obama's third term in the same way voters saw McCain as Bush's third term in 2008 -- and vote against her.
2. She might be great in person. But Nixon was incredibly warm and charming in person, too.
3. She's old news. Speaking from my own corner, she has no brand strategy. There's no reason to vote for her; lots of reasons to vote against her.
4. She's sexist -- and bear with me here -- because she's campaigning on a "Wouldn't you like to see a female president" platform. A genuine feminist wouldn't make gender an issue, because gender shouldn't be an issue.
5. She's got the e-mail thing.
6. She's got the Benghazi thing.
7. She's got the Rose Law firm thing.
8. She's got the Vince Foster thing.
9. She's got the failed national health care thing (1992).
10. She's hampered by Bill Clinton: One on hand, he's popular. On the other, she can't be seen in his shadow.
11. Nobody can name any of her accomplishments. Everyone can name at least three of her failures.
12. In the coming months, questions of Clinton finances will begin to pummel the candidate as inquiries dig up exactly how much Mrs. Clinton is worth -- and how she managed to accrue that wealth.
13. If you haven't read The Invisible Political Issue of 2016, I suggest you add it to your list, because the issue has nothing to do with Mrs. Clinton herself, but it has everything to do with the people she expects to vote for her.

If the above isn't enough, there's one more aspect to Mrs. Clinton's candidacy that nobody seems to care about: a Black Swan event. A wise man once warned never to put all one's eggs in one basket, yet this seems to be exactly what Democrats are doing. By placing all their money on a Clinton candidacy, the Democrats run the risk of their opponents saving up some really powerful scandal(s) to be dropped three weeks before the convention or the general election, irreparably damaging Mrs. Clinton's chances of getting either the nomination or the election. That kind of bomb would leave the Democrats scrambling for a candidate with the clock running out.

Think it can't happen? Try Googling "McGovern Eagleton" and see for yourself how a candidate that had been backed "one thousand percent" on a Friday found himself on the national trash heap by the next Monday morning -- literally.

Sure, the media will feed you all kinds of images and soundbytes. You'll see Hillary laughing and Bill waving and Chelsea cuddling her little baby, too. But that won't change the reality that exists in voters' minds. Recall that Mrs. Clinton had the Democrats' nod in early 2008, as well, but never made it to the finish line.

And that was when her logo that wasn't a disaster.


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