Triangulating On The Political Fringes
August 20, 2007
By Doug Patton
Conventional wisdom in presidential politics
says that candidates must pander to the base of their parties during primaries,
and then run to the middle during general election campaigns. Richard Nixon
was perhaps the first modern master at this, running for his party's nomination
as an unabashed conservative and then appealing to the broader electorate
by toning down his positions and by governing as a moderate.
Bill Clinton understood this better than perhaps
any other politician of our time. His ability to make his political base cheer
while convincing the rest of the electorate of his sincere moderation was
legendary. For old professional political hacks like me it was nothing short
of amazing. Disgusting, but amazing.
Of course, Clinton also was an undisciplined horn dog who couldn't rein
in his own lusts and who, when caught, instinctively lied. He was, in fact,
so good at it that he reminded me of a role played by Joey Bishop in the 1967
movie "Guide for the Married Man," wherein a philandering husband is caught
by his wife in bed with another woman. As the wife shrieks at him and demands
to know who the woman is and what he thinks he is doing, Bishop and the woman
calmly get up, get dressed, make the bed and act like nothing out of the ordinary
has happened. The husband responds to his wife's questions with answers like,
"What woman? Where?" Finally, bewildered, the wife questions her own eyes
and asks, "What do you want for dinner, Charlie?"
That's Bill Clinton. But I digress.
Make no mistake; the former felon-in-chief
is his wife's shrewdest advisor in her current campaign for president. Utilizing
political triangulation techniques perfected in collusion with former advisor
Dick Morris, Bill Clinton apparently is guiding Hillary as she tiptoes through
the minefield of left wing crazies and fringe special interest groups.
The Democrat base has become a collection
of kookburgers, some of whom, just a generation or two ago, would have been
institutionalized, either in mental hospitals or in prison. The list of venues
where Democrat presidential candidates are forced to compete for primary election
votes reads like a list of America's most vitriolic enemies.
The AFL-CIO is a collection of throwbacks
to an era when labor unions had muscle and believed they had the right to
cripple American capitalism. The Democrats always have to bow to these relics
of a bygone political era.
The Daily Kos is a website dedicated to the
hatred of anything remotely traditional in American society. These people
are exceptionally venomous when it comes to anything done by George W. Bush
on any issue. Of course, our war against Islamic jihadism is especially high
on their list of things they despise about America. And every Democrat running for president, with the
notable exception of Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chose to go and genuflect
at the feet of these hate mongers.
And finally, the Dems saw fit to "debate"
on "Logo," a gay network viewed by about seven people, four of them in San
Francisco and the other three in prison. They debated issues affecting
the so-called GLBT communities. For all you unhip bumpkin bigots out there
who aren't acquainted with what matters to liberal Democrats, that acronym
stands for "gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender." (Sodom and Gomorrah were "communities" also, you know.)
Imagine if the Republican presidential candidates
were to attend a forum sponsored by a website that advocates the murder of
abortionists; or one that believes in rounding up homosexuals and interning
them; or a forum sponsored by a group of gun enthusiasts calling for the open
distribution of fully automatic firearms; or perhaps a forum about deporting
illegal aliens. What would the reaction of the media be to such events? We
all know the answer. And frankly, some of those are reasonable positions.
Returning to the campaign tactics of Hillary
Clinton, media bias aside, her performance is the one to watch in each of
these fringe debates. With Slick Willie's help and encouragement, she is skillfully
triangulating before each of these groups. By positioning herself as the voice
of reason in a field of wild-eyed liberals, she is attempting to be the gutsy
candidate who stood up to the radical fringes of her own party. And it just