Despite continually being charged by Republicans for representing “Obama’s Third Term,” at the Democratic National Convention Hillary Clinton literally hugged President Barack Obama on Wednesday, and showered him with praise on Thursday. With more than two-thirds of Americans saying we’re on the “wrong track,” did she hug him too tight?
I explored the meaning of “the hug” at Politico Magazine today. Being associated with “the status quo” is no doubt a risk. Obama avoided being dragged down by a high “wrong track” number in 2012, but as Clinton is more identified with the hated “Establishment” she will have a tougher time making the case that she’s a change agent.
But it’s important not to assume, as I wrote, that “everyone in the ‘wrong track’ [camp] is predominantly angry at the Democratic side of the governing establishment. In fact, there are lots of reasons why one might say America is on the wrong track: a lack of constructive policies from the Republican Congress, the disturbing rise of Trump or the spate of public mass shootings and other terror attacks. The number doesn’t distinguish between dissatisfaction with the direction of change and the pace of change.”
Clinton is not selling herself as an agent of abrupt change. She is positioning herself as a conduit of steady change, in contrast to, in my words, “Donald Trump, who might bring change like a tornado, leveling all in its wake.” In fact, when Obama himself says he wants to “pass the baton” to Clinton, he is effectively saying is passing a baton of change, new normal of continual progressive reform.
The challenge for Clinton is similar to what Obama had in 2012, making the case that despite lingering dissatisfactions, we should take pride in how far we’ve come and keep working together to keep going. Still, Obama did it four years ago. Now it’s up to Clinton to prove she can follow his political path.