Grab your smelling salts, everyone. There is no Hillary Clinton campaign. There is, however, a Clintons campaign. Plural. As far as the media is concerned, it’s Bill and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket this year.
I’ve wondered if this is deliberate language on the part of the pro-Clinton forces or the anti-Clinton forces, and I have come to the conclusion it’s both. The pro-Clinton forces (including Mr. and Mrs. Clinton) want to associate Hillary with good approval ratings, a pre-9/11 world, and a budget surplus. The anti-Clinton forces are also down with the pluralization. They think it associates Hillary with lying under oath, renting out the Lincoln bedroom, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
This strategy appears to be pretty darn effective for both parties, with Democrats fondly reminiscing about the swell Days of Bill, while Republicans fume over past hijinx. The problem is that Democrats and Republicans were going to fall in line anyway. They always do. It just cements their feelings.
Independents and undecideds are the only voters who really count. How does Hillary’s transformation into “the Clintons” impact their vote? This is less certain.
What if we detach Hillary from Bill, to the extent possible? It seems to be the fairest way. Why should she be blamed for NAFTA and Monica Lewinsky? Why should she garner credit for the economy of the 1990s?
We should judge her based on her record in the Senate, and moreover as Secretary of State and co-founder of the Clinton Foundation, as these are her most recent roles. If Hillary is judged exclusively on her own words and actions, does that help her or hurt her?