Soft Money and Hard Choices for Hillary

Posted by Ruth O’Brien


Money, money, money — is Bloomberg or de Blasio soft on soft money?

Masculinity, masculinity, masculinity — is Obama or Hillary soft in campaigns?

For a first — the first woman, I’m predicting, to land a major-party nomination in 2016 — we’re right on historical target, or a just a wee bit early. But then again, Hillary’s learned a lot about birds and worms over the last 20 years while watching runs for national or even nationally important local offices like the NYC mayoral race.

Hillary Clinton began running for president in June of 2013. Actually, the minute she announced her planned retirement, in 2011, she was running from that all-visible platform, the Department of State. She began running while following the Founders’, or at least the so-called Virginia Dynasty’s, long tradition of the Mute Tribune. (Adams, Jefferson, and Monroe all had to be coaxed out of retirement and into running for office.)

Hillary may not have beaten Obama into being the first in terms of identity politics and the presidency, but she’s faster than Obama, who had an incredibly fast clock (2004 run for Senate; 2006 Democratic speech; 2007 declaration of run for office).

And since we all face three years of animal references (e.g. horse racing), it’s hard not to start applying all the classic campaign references early too.

Clearly everyone wants to be in Hillary telephoto range, even if the references are blurry and opaque, like this article on Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s emissary, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, and his criticism of Bill de Blasio — his former “brother-in-arms” — who is now leading the race. The tenor of the article is that de Blasio is a “tax and spend” Democrat, the kind last spotted in the 1970s.

The main reference to money, however, is less taxes than soft money. Both de Blasio and Wolfson worked for Hillary when she took a successful stand against “soft” money in her historic New York senatorial campaign.

How many registered voters remember her run for senator in New York in 2000, let alone the 1970s? Think back a century — or take a turn in political time; we’re just about at World War I. It’s old news that the Ford Model T hit the road. How far is that from Civil War Reconstruction and the Grant administration?

Neera Tanden, Hillary Clinton’s campaign policy director, steering away from any references to anything “soft” as well as any reminders of how long ago Hillary ran for Senate in 2000, said, “On most major issues, they saw eye to eye.”

With the mayoral election looming, and a field this large and undistinguished, compounded by the social reality that outgoing mayor Bloomberg learned a few things about politics and the dissemination of information after a career in Wall Street and information technology, Bloomberg and his emissaries know well the differences between: 1. unfriending friends; 2. fake trolling for fake friends; and 3. unfriending friends in an attempt to elevate a real friend you can count on for a rain check, say in late 2016.

Is Bloomberg paying off a debt to City Council speaker Christine Quinn (after all, it’s not just Obama who should be concerned about his legacy, and the Quinn ship is all but sunk)? Or is Bloomberg taking a page out of Hillary’s book, and looking for his post-retirement worms that come after rain checks?

Published by *Ruth Frick O'Brien

Professor Ruth Frick O'Brien, City University of New York, Graduate Center, 1st "professorette" nicknamed by Rush Limbaugh nickname. Ruth Frick* O'Brien & Frederic Halper* O'Brien, Dep.M.E. @ National Review *(honoring our mothers)

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