Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mike Madden: Hillary Clinton gets serious

Another good Salon story here:

Hillary Clinton arrived here the day after Christmas with a simple message for Iowa caucus-goers: The fun is over, and now it's time to get serious. The world is a scary place; the economy feels as though it's ready to collapse, healthcare bills keep going up and up, the country is mired in wars, and the government just doesn't seem to work right. And that's only the trouble we knew about Wednesday -- as Benazir Bhutto's assassination on Thursday made starkly clear, unexpected crises cross the president's desk every day.

"On Jan. 20, 2009, someone will raise his or her hand to take the oath of office in front of our Capitol," Clinton said as she launched her final bus tour of Iowa. "And then that person will go to the Oval Office. And on the desk in the Oval Office will be a stack of problems."

That's what Clinton's campaign is about now, right down to the clunky official name of the tour, "Big Problems, Real Solutions -- Time to Pick a President." Forget the polls, and the horse race. Forget the flashier rhetoric from the other guys. Forget the tactical differences among the Democratic candidates about how they'd accomplish the policy goals most of them share. Clinton is confronting voters with a much starker question -- which candidate can walk into the White House and get right to work fixing the mess we're in? . . .

Flashy or not, Clinton is making her pitch as clear she can -- when something like this happens, she's the one who knows what to do about it. "The job itself is unpredictable," she said Wednesday, even before Bhutto was killed. "You never know what may happen in some part of the world that will create a real challenge at home to us here in Iowa." There's less than a week for Iowans to weigh whether Clinton is the one they want in charge when faraway calamities like the Bhutto assassination threaten to have repercussions at home.

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