Wednesday, February 22, 2006


More Thoughts on the Austrian Thought Police

New York Post op-edder Eric Fettmann has a thoughtful column today on the imprisonment of David Irving, focusing primarily on the danger of making Irving a martyr among the neo-Nazi set.

Among other things, Fettmann noted that "Deborah Lipstadt, the Emory University professor who bested Irving in a historic British libel trial in 2000 — a case that helped shred his academic reputation and left him financially bankrupt — also has qualms with laws that criminalize Holocaust denial; Lipstadt wrote on her Web site that she is 'disturbed by the sentence.'"

Fettmann goes on to quote Lipstadt as saying, "The way to defeat these kinds of lies is with what I do in the classroom and what we did in the courtroom during my trial: with the historical facts, the evidence, the testimony. In short, with the truth."


Andrew Sullivan also filed a short but punchy objection to Irving's jailing:

I cannot express enough my contempt for the sniveling neo-Nazi, David Irving. That he has such an obviously first-rate mind makes his bigotry all the more repulsive. But ... imprisoning someone for their beliefs, however vile, is a violation of basic Western freedoms. We cannot lecture the Muslim world on freedom of speech, while criminalizing it in the West. I know there's a historical reason for the Austrian law. That doesn't make it any less objectionable in principle. And what has just happened will only deepen the sense that the West has double-standards among many Muslims.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The Thought Police Live (in Austria)

This morning I was bowled over by a New York Post article about notorious Holocaust denier David Irving, who was arrested by the Austrian government yesterday and sentenced to three years in jail for violating a law there that prohibits the denial of the Nazi genocide.

Most immediately, I was amazed to learn that there was such a law in existence. We like to joke about the thought police here in the States, but here we have a real life case of someone getting imprisoned for their ideas. It sounded as absurd as Irving's lunatic ravings themselves.

But as I thought about it more, I was surprised by how viscerally appalled I was by this well-intentioned act of Orwellian justice, and how little emotional conflict I felt about it as a free-thinking, free-speechifing Jew. I was expecting pangs of ambivalence, but what I got was moral clarity.

I'll be curious to hear the reactions of other Members of the Tribe to Irving's imprisonment. But without hearing the counter arguments, this strikes me as even more open-and-shut ethical call than the Nazis marching in Skokie -- and which demands at least an equal level of condemnation from the defenders of civil liberties and independent thought.

In the Skokie case, there was a fundamental principle at stake, but the practical consequence was relatively minimal -- the ability of the Nazis to shout in the street. Nevertheless, free speech advocates went to the legal mattresses on behalf of a group they despised, and rightly so, because of the damaging precedent that would be set.

In Irving's case, we are no longer talking about some theoretical slipppery slope, but physically robbing someone of their liberty purely for thinking odious ideas and making odious statements. That is a far more frightening and dangerous prospect to me than anything Irving has ever thought or said, despicable as his Nazi apologias are.

The most just and effective way to punish Irving's pernicious speech is to put him in an intellectual torture chamber and beat him mercilessly with the facts. Indeed, instead of fearing his lies and making him a martyr to the anti-Semitic conspiracy loonies, the world community and the Jewish community in particular should use him
to expose the disgusting fraud that deniers are peddling and make real the unfathomable horrors that the Nazis perpetrated on millions of innocent people.

That's ultimately how a free people defang and defeat Irving's brand of evil -- and at the same time teach generations to come who will never be personally touched by the Holocaust what it really means to say never again. Not by acting like a morally bankrupt Soviet state that is afraid of its critics and seeks to silence them, but by doing what democracies do best -- liberating the truth.


I was curious what some of the prominent Jewish groups were saying in reaction to the Irving case. Below are statements from ADL and AJC. As you will see, not exactly profiles in courage.

ADL Reacts to the Sentencing of Holocaust Denier David Irving

New York, NY, February 20, 2006 … While acknowledging that America's constitutional system bars prosecution for hate speech, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed understanding for the Austrian court decision to sentence Holocaust denier David Irving to a three-year prison term.

"Considering Austria's history during the Nazi period, the existence of laws against expressing Holocaust denial is understandable," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. "Irving is a key figure in efforts to legitimize Holocaust denial. At a time when the President of Iran is spreading this message of hate that Irving has propagated, the Austrian court has sent an unmistakable and important message."

AJC Salutes Austrian Court Ruling against David Irving

February 21, 2006 – New York – The American Jewish Committee has applauded an Austrian court for sentencing David Irving to prison for Holocaust denial.

“At a time when Holocaust denial is increasingly in vogue as Iran ratchets up its own efforts to question the Nazi extermination of six million Jews, an Austrian court has made a great contribution in countering this hate by punishing David Irving, one of the world’s leading Holocaust deniers,” said the American Jewish Committee. Irving was sentenced to a three year term in prison for violating Austrian laws prohibiting Holocaust denial.

The Austria court’s ruling reaffirms a landmark decision by a British court in April 2000 that supported Dr. Deborah Lipstadt for calling Irving a Holocaust denier in her book “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.”

Irving had attempted to sue Lipstadt for libel, but the British court concluded that he had distorted and manipulated history in order to promote his anti-Semitic, racist, and far-right politics, and that Irving is a pro-Nazi polemicist

AJC called the verdict in that case a “landmark victory for historical truth.”

Monday, February 20, 2006


The Education King of Queens

Looking for an edifying way to spend a small chunk of your President's day holiday? Check out this inspiring article from last week's New York magazine, which explains how a smartly-targeted private investment in a public elementary school in Queens helped spur a mind-boggling jump in student achievement.

It's the story of a visionary hedge-fund manager named Joel Greenblatt and the low-income students at PS 65Q. After doing a fair amount of research on the failures of urban public education, Greenblatt came to believe that we could turn around underperforming schools by applying a market-oriented reform model. Specifically, his idea was to employ a suped-up version of a research-based, highly-disciplined curriculum called Success for All and a sophisticated data analysis system that would help catch kids who were falling behind before it was too late.

Greenblatt was so convinced that this focused remedial program would work that he was willing to put up $2.5 million of his own money to test it. His faith has been more than amply rewarded. Indeed, as the story points out, "from 2001 to 2005, the proportion of fourth-graders passing the state’s standardized reading test doubled, rising from 36 to 71 percent of the class—and since then, the students’ performance has only gotten better. Nearly every child who has been at the school for three years or more now reads and does math at their proper level or beyond—even the special-ed kids. Last spring, the school was one of fourteen statewide to win the public-school version of the Nobel Prize: a Pathfinder Award for improved performance."

This is not just a feel-good story -- it's a highly valuable and instructive public policy case study. Greenblatt's bold experiment has shown just what is possible for our urban public schools if we are not afraid to innovate -- which is to say, if we are willing to think outside the bureaucratic box and try new approaches that are tailored to the needs of kids in the classroom, not the adults who run the system.

It's hard to say whether the Greenblatt method is replicable across a massive school district like New York City's, and it's a little premature to proclaim it a magic bullet. But this is not a bet that needs to be hedged -- the results are so powerful that we would be fools not try it and apply it on a larger scale.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


The Prospect's Prospects

Here are two articles worth checking out in the latest issue of the American Prospect, which despite its bias against my old boss, often puts out insightful reporting and commentary from a progressive perspective.

The first is the cover story profile on Senator and All-Around Democratic Darling Barack Obama.

As the author points out, Obama has been very careful -- and smart -- to not overexpose himself, to not believe his own hype, and instead pick his spots and work at cultivating a serious, substantive, and statesmanlike image.

Notwithstanding his recent scrap with John McCain, which was a minor misstep, Obama has been well served by this disciplined strategy (much like Hillary Clinton). In fact, he's been able to enhance his iconic status without coming across as a camera-chasing glory hog -- or, just as importantly, without alienating his peers in the Senate.

That's no mean feat in this hypercharged political atmosphere. And it leaves Obama exceedingly well-positioned to emerge not just as leading party spokesman, which in many respects he's already become, but as a credible national candidate within the next few years.

Who knows what will happen in 2008 and beyond and what turns the political environment and the electorate's mood will take. But if Obama can stay focused, and if he can avoid the pressure of the old civil rights lobbby to jump through the tired, typical identity politics hoops, there's a decent chance he could become the country's first black president within the next decade. He's that good.

The second piece I would recommend is a fresh take on the values debate going on within the Democratic Party by Garance Franke-Ruta (one of the smarter next generation political journalists writing today).

Franke-Ruta presents and digests the findings of a data research firm called American Environics, which helps explain why Democrats keep losing despite our supposed "advantage" on most domstic issues, and which strongly supports the contention that many Democratic dissidents (myself included) have made about the danger of ceding the values battlefield to the Republicans.

Here is a taste of the piece:

In the great debate about how Democrats can stage a comeback (beyond simply waiting for the coming Republican implosion that never seems to arrive), American Environics rejected some of the more popular recommendations out there. Rather than focusing on reframing the Democratic message, as Berkeley linguistics and cognitive science professor George Lakoff has recommended, or on redoubling Democratic efforts to persuade Americans to become economic populists, as another school of thought suggests, the American Environics team argued that the way to move voters on progressive issues is to sometimes set aside policies in favor of values. By focusing on “bridge values,” they say, progressives can reach out to constituents of opportunity who share certain fundamental beliefs, even if the targeted parties don’t necessarily share progressives’ every last goal. In that assessment, Shellenberger and Nordhaus are representative of an increasingly influential school of thought within the Democratic Party.

By the beginning of fall 2005, American Environics had presented its data to key Democratic leaders and a who’s who of Democratic interest groups: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the NDN (formerly the New Democratic Network), Third Way, Planned Parenthood, the Center for American Progress, People for the American Way, the Economic Policy Institute, and OMB Watch. They did so quietly, swearing their viewers to silence. (They will be releasing the data publicly early in 2006.) Few media outlets saw the presentations, but the Prospect was given an early copy of their research.

The data contradicted the slew of polls that show Americans to be strong supporters of Democratic issue positions, such as universal health care, despite voting habits that have made Republicans the dominant political actors. Instead, American Environics’ extensive plumbing of Americans’ attitudes laid out a darker, more nuanced vision of what the nation actually believes. Far from being a purely dour assessment, though, in it can be found the seeds of a new understanding of the interrelationship of culture, the economy, and politics -- broadly defined -- that should give progressives hope.

Friday, February 10, 2006


The Emperor Has No Clue

In case you missed it on Wednesday, the New York Times ran a front page article exploring the question that has been on the mind of many, many Democrats lately -- why is our party so uncontrollably lame?

Fittingly, the story did not show anything close to a consensus within our ranks, underscoring the disarray that is behind Democrats' discontent. It really just exhibited more of the whining and weakness that has done us wonders in the political marketplace.

Consider this especially revealing passage:

...Among more establishment Democrats, there is concern that many of the party's most visible leaders — among them, Howard Dean, the Democratic chairman; Senator John Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential candidate; Mr. Kennedy; Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader; and Al Gore, who has assumed a higher profile as the party heads toward the 2008 presidential primaries — may be flawed messengers.

In this view, the most visible Democrats are vulnerable to Republican attacks portraying them as out of the mainstream on issues including security and budget-cutting. . .

. . .Mr. Kerry said the party's authority had been diluted because of the absence of one or two obvious leaders, though he expressed confidence that would change.

"We are fighting to find a voice under difficult circumstances, and I'm confident, over the next few months, you are going to see that happen," Mr. Kerry said in an interview. "Our megaphone is just not as large as their megaphone, and we have a harder time getting that message out, even when people are on the same page."

If you read between those lines, you can get a pretty good sense of precisely what is wrong with the Democratic Party right now.

What the subtext says is that; A) we have put in place chronically unpersuasive and ineffectual leaders to try to bring the party together, articulate a common vision and set a common strategy for realizing it; B) many of us have come to realize the error of these leadership choices; and C) yet despite this recognition, we sit on our collective hands, say nothing about the fact that the emperor(s) has no clue, and idly listen to them make excuses about why we can't gain the upper hand on a Republican President with approval numbers hovering in the low-to-mid 40's and a Republican Congress that is badly scarred by scandal.

Moreover, what it ultimately says is that we are simply not prepared to do what is necessary to win -- which is to get rid of leaders who have shown they are not capable of making us a majority party again.

Let me be clear: this is not about the people themselves. I consider Howard Dean, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and the rest to be honorable public servants. This is about their performance. And by every relevant measure, they are failing -- to inspire public confidence, to address our party's glaring electoral deficiencies, to clearly and convincingly spell out an alternative agenda that shows we can govern better than the other side (N.B. I'll elaborate about this in my next post).

The fact is that if these folks were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, they would have been fired long ago. Or think about it in the bottom line terms of professional sports. If Ted Kennedy, whom I greatly admire, pitched for the Red Sox and had lost his fastball to the extent he demonstrated in the Alito hearings, the Boston management, no matter the nostalgia, would suck it up and let him go. Yet no one in the Senate Democratic caucus, and certainly not Harry Reid, had the temerity to move Kennedy aside and allow Chuck Schumer to take the lead (which is further proof of Reid's unfitness for the job).

Perhaps the most instructive comparison in this case is to our opponents. When the Republicans get saddled with leaders who are ineffective or become liabilities, they do not wring their hands about them -- they ruthlessly and efficiently defenstrate them. Trent Lott dredges up bad memories of the party's racist past? Gone. Tom Delay becomes a popular poster child for the culture of corruption? Gone. Heck, they even took out the guy who more than any other single figure in the party helped give them control of the House after 50 years, Newt Gingrich, after he appeared to get too big for his britches.

Thus, they will do anything to win, while we will do anything to avoid confrontation. Which is to say that Senator Kerry, with all due respect, is once again dead wrong -- we are losing not because they have a much bigger megaphone, but mostly because they have a much bigger set of cojones. Worst of all, the public knows it. They get that the Republicans understand how to wield power more effectively than the Democrats, and that I believe is one of the big reasons why in the post-9/11 era they continue to entrust power to a party they disagree with on many of the issues.

So as my fellow Democrats continue to grumble about the party's continued lameness, I would bluntly suggest that if we are seriously looking for the source of the problem, we all should look in the mirror. We may not be the ones who chose our leaders at the DNC and in the House and Senate, but it is our ambivalence and passivity that is keeping them there.

Want to change the party's direction? Change the people leading it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Razing Kaine

If my friends on the far left want to understand why the liberal blogosophere has little or no credibility outside its own echochamber, they should look no further than the ridiculous and despicable attack that some prominent liberal blogsites leveled this week against Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, the Democratic responder to the President's State of the Union address.

To much of the Democratic Party, Kaine is a hero these days, having found a way to win the governorship in a large Southern state this year as a smart, progressive man of faith who could credibly defend his opposition to the death penalty. That is why he (and not a Washington insider) was chosen by the party's leadership to give the rebuttal to Bush's speech Tuesday night.

But to the folks at MyDD and Americablog, among other liberal bloggers, Kaine is a horrible homophobe -- not my word, theirs. "On the unlikely chance that you thought there was any value left in the Democratic party after today," wrote John in DC on Americablog last Monday, "we have a homophobe giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union tomorrow.

And what, pray tell, did Kaine do to deserve this extreme judgment? As best I can tell from John in DC's confusing rant, Kaine did not oppose a sweeping anti-gay state constitutional amendment vociferously enough for the angry activist base's liking. There was no offensive slur on Kaine's part, no cynical political ploy. Just no purity.

This conclusion seemed absurd to me on its face, but I thought I would do a little checking on Kaine's record to see if there was anything I was missing.

It turns out that Kaine, like the clear majority of Democrats in Congress and I suspect almost the entire state of Virginia, is opposed to gay marriage. But he has publicly and consistently objected to the amendment that the Virginia Senate approved this week, and which will be put on the ballot in November as a referendum, because it goes far beyond outlawing same-sex marriages to substantially restrict the legal rights of gay and lesbian citizens.

In case you are curious, here is what the amendment says: “That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.”

As I learned, Kaine has no ability to veto a proposed constitutional amendment, and had no obligation to speak out on the subject. Thus the cheap and easy thing for a Democratic governor in a red state to do in this situation was to keep his mouth shut, especially if they were opposed to gay marriage as Kaine is. But Kaine actually had the courage to stand up, expend a little political capital, and say the amendment went "too far" and could prevent gays and lesbians from entering into legal contracts and void existing ones.

Oh, as I also learned, in his first official act as governor this year, Kaine, who has a long and strong record on civil rights, signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation. This wasn't a bill he was forced to sign, or some meaningless symbolic gesture. It was an affirmative act of leadership and an actual legal protection.

Yes, this man is clearly a homophobe.

I wish this pathetic little episode could be written off as an isolated incident of fringe lunacy. But I am afraid it is becoming endemic to the Democratic Party's activist and increasingly cannibalistic base. Indeed, there seems to be a prevailing assumption that if you do not agree with the angry activist base's dogmatic views with absolute consistency, you must be a corporate sell-out and/or an unreconstructed bigot -- and thus should be cast out of the party.

In this case, many on the left equate opposition to gay marriage with homophobia. That is on its face an indefensible proposition, not to mention grossly unfair. The fact is, there are millions of Americans like Tim Kaine are comfortable with homosexuality but at the same time uncomfortable with the prospect of radically changing a core social and religious institution for multiple millennia overnight. Many of them are people of faith who see marriage as a holy sacrament not to be tampered with, whether it's on behalf of someone gay or straight.

Now you can argue reasonably that this position is short-sighted, unjust, and even morally-flawed; as someone with a gay sibling who recently got married in Massachusetts, I have made some of those same arguments myself. But you cannot reasonably argue, in light of the deeply-ingrained social and religious forces at work here, that opposition to gay marriage must be on its face motivated by hate (and hence homophobic). To do so is to practice the very same narrow-minded prejudice that the angry activist base is ostensibly protesting.

Even worse, by showing such moral arrogance and disrespect to those on the other side of this deeply-felt issue, the far left is badly hurting the cause of gay rights -- and the long-term interests of progressives generally. Indeed, their strategy of indiscriminately insulting those Americans of good conscience who disagree with them is just producing more conflict and controversy and moving us further from any kind of consensus. Moreover, it is hardening the impression that the Democratic Party is hostile to faith and the people who practice it -- which Tim Kaine ironically had effectively counteracted in his race -- and in turn deepening the values deficit that is helping to make us a minority party.

On the heels of Coretta Scott King's passing, I can't help but note the contrast between the angry activist's base tactless tack on gay marriage and the compelling approach that MLK took in fighting racial injustice. Rather than using accusatory rhetoric, Dr. King rallied the country with moral suasion. He didn't tell the silent white majority they were bigots, he showed them, using the Bible as his evidence, why segregation was inconsistent with God's commandments, as well as America's ideals. The primary name he called was that of Christ.

If we as Democrats hope to beat back homophobia, and ultimately win back the trust of the American people to lead this country, we would be wise to learn from MLK's successes, as well as Lincoln's, and appeal to the better angel's of our fellow American's nature, rather than treating them like they are the devil.

A good place to start would be for the folks at MyDD and America Blog to apologize to Tim Kaine for slandering him. But that's not going to happen. So the next best thing would be for the leaders of the Human Rights Campaign, known for being a class organization, and other prominent gay rights groups to issue a statement denouncing the ugly, totally unwarranted attack against Kaine's character.

We Democrats like to believe we are better than the neanderthalish conservatives who run and rule by dividing and excluding. Maybe we should think about practicing what we preach.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


DT in New York Sun

Today's New York Sun carries an op-ed I wrote on Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects, which elaborates on a post I put up last week. Since you can't get access to the Sun website unless you are a subscriber, here is the full text of my piece.

How Hillary Can Win


The CNN/Gallup Poll released last week on Hillary Clinton’s presidential
prospects showed the former first lady is starting out essentially in last
place with much of the American electorate — 51% said they would not vote
for her under any circumstances.

But what this poll failed to illuminate, as have others on Senator Clinton,
is exactly why she is so unpopular with voters who are not part of the vast
right-wing conspiracy.

To try to get a handle on that question, I thought it would be an
informative exercise to ask non-insiders for their impressions.

So over the last few weeks, I conducted my own informal, unscientific,
overcaffeinated focus groups, avoiding the typical right-wing Hillary-haters
and speaking with Democrats and independents.

What I found is that Mrs. Clinton’s biggest hurdle to becoming a viable
presidential contender is not ideological, as much of the punditocracy
suggests, but personal.

It seems the prevailing perception that has taken hold is not Hillary the
wild-eyed liberal, but Hillary the ice queen. Indeed, the most common and
visceral complaint I heard is that she comes off as cold, calculating, and

These same conversations suggest that this perception problem is,
ironically, most acute with professional women, her supposed base.

Some of this appears to be residue from the Lewinsky scandal. I heard many
women criticize her for enabling her husband’s repeated infidelities and
staying with him after he dealt her a horrific public humiliation; their
sneaking suspicion is that she tolerated Bill’s sneaking around to further
her political ambitions.

Some of it just seems to be purely stylistic reaction. Many women say they
find it hard to connect with her because she rarely lets her emotions show
in public and thus seems like she’s hiding something.

Either way, this helps explain why just 22% of the women surveyed in the
CNN/Gallup poll indicated they would definitely vote for Mrs. Clinton for
president at this stage.

It also reveals the crux of Hillary’s challenge in becoming a winning
national candidate. It’s hard to see how a woman in general — and in
particular a woman with Mrs. Clinton’s political and personal baggage — can
get elected with a major chunk of her natural support stronghold strongly
predisposed against her.

There’s no way she can make it up with African-American voters — there’s
just not enough of them. And she’s certainly not going to make up for it
with the white men who are already fleeing the Democratic Party in droves.

In fact, in the CNN/Gallup poll, only 11% of men said they would definitely
vote for her, while 60% said they would not vote for her in any

I suspect that this hurdle, while formidable, is not insurmountable. But it
won’t be by conventional political means.

Indeed, typical targeted efforts to rehab her image are doomed to fail.
These moves will be so transparent, and so thoroughly chewed over by the
media, that they more likely than not will just reinforce the unfair image
of Hillary as a calculating power-schemer instead of deflating it.

As proof of that point, just look at the backlash that has accompanied
Hillary’s so-called repositioning as a centrist. The reality is that in most
of these cases, she was just being consistent, not cynical. But as is often
case, the truth is irrelevant, and the result is that the perception of her
as calculator-in-chief has only deepened.

So how can Hillary break free of this damning trap? Not by trying to make
herself over, but by opening herself up — and showing off the same warm,
funny, and generous side that has won her many admirers on both sides of the
aisle in the Senate.

The reality is, as I learned from watching her up close on Capitol Hill,
Mrs. Clinton gets more likeable the more you know her. She used this to her
advantage in her highly successful listening tour in the 2000 campaign. And
since then, her persistent efforts to personally touch voters upstate has
been widely cited as her secret weapon in maintaining her high state
favorability numbers.

So if Hillary really wants to be president, probably the best thing she
could do would be to quit the Senate — which is a graveyard for presidential
ambitions — and take her real-people road show national. Unfortunately,
that’s not a realistic option at this point.

The next best thing would be to hit the ground running with this focused
outreach strategy when her re-election campaign ends in November — and build
her schedule in 2007 around it.

Specifically, she should start ramping up a series of town meetings in
targeted states to discuss the country’s future post-Bush — and not the
cynical contrivances that President Bush himself has staged, but totally
open sessions with no pre-screened questions.

This kind of forum can be risky, but I am afraid Mrs. Clinton can’t bust her
crippling caricatures and win the presidency if she is afraid to take

To supplement these larger town hall meetings, and connect more directly
with women, she should set up a series of house parties at the homes of
friendly female supporters in the suburbs, with a heavy dose of them in red

This would give her a chance to talk in a more intimate setting about the
historic nature of her run, how this will be a test not of her political
power but of theirs, and what a Hillary victory (or an embarrassing defeat)
could mean for gender equity going forward.

In these meetings and in all her interviews, Hillary should be open about
her motivations. She should acknowledge that 15 years of vilification has
taken its toll, and make clear that instead of running away from her image
problem, she’s going to confront the caricatures and puncture them.

The conventional-thinking consultants and operatives will be aghast. But I
bet average Americans will find her candor refreshing and — lo and behold —
real. Besides, it gives her a rare opportunity to show strength and
vulnerability in one fell swoop.

All things considered, it’s a crapshoot whether this strategy will
ultimately work, especially given where the Democratic electorate is right
now. After losing two straight national campaigns with candidates who
largely failed to connect personally with average people, primary voters may
just write Hillary off as unelectable and opt for a fresh, non-polarizing

But two things seem certain. Her watchword isn’t liberal, it’s likeable. And
Hillary won’t make history if she does not openly and compellingly tell
her story.

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