Hillary Clinton is back in the spotlight she never left, turning up with her husband Bill in Iowa over the weekend, fueling talk about her inevitable second attempt at the presidency. Yet her presentation seemed tone-deaf at times–even referencing the movie Poltergeist–and the moment, with Obama’s foreign policy falling apart, does not flatter her recent political record.
It is worth remembering something about the Clintons in general, and Hillary in particular: they score all their points on defense. Bill remains a popular president, but never won the popular vote, earning public respect, ironically, when Republicans had him on the ropes during the impeachment crisis. Likewise with Hillary, who even arranged for a provocateur to carry a misogynistic “Iron My Shirt” sign at her campaign rallies the last time around.
They are inept at sketching a vision for the future–but no one is better when opponents attack. Already, the Clinton machine has been preparing for months for Republican attacks on the Benghazi terror attacks and on the Clintons’ checkered history in the Oval Office last time around.
That does not mean that potential opponents–Republican and Democratic–should shy away from slam-dunk issues like Benghazi. But it does mean that a campaign against the Clintons needs to be prepared to argue the small details of policy, not just Hillary’s deficiencies. To use a football metaphor: give them short gains, but keep their defense off the field.