With all that divides us these days, there are certain things that we all have in common. Think about it. For instance: Is there anybody reading this who doesn’t have a local TV news station with the slogan “7 on Your Side,” “11 on Your Side” or “13 blah, blah, blah ….” It’s the handiwork of the consultants who advise their broadcasting clients that they must establish a personal rapport with you, the viewer, by being “on your side.” It’s their way of stating that they care about you more than, say, ratings and big bucks from advertisers. And now we have “Hillary on Your Side.”
She doesn’t say it exactly that way, but she came very close in a video she released, a low-key production featuring her and scads of regular folks, gathered to announce that she is running for president. Her exact words were: “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”
She and her advisers make no bones about her strategy of presenting herself as the president who will stand up for the great majority of us who feel alienated from a system that favors the wealthy few over everyone else: “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” is how she put it.
Besides being a laudable goal, the approach also is designed by her own consultants as a way of combating the widespread perception that she carries a huge sense of entitlement, exacerbated by the fact that there is absolutely nobody else among the Democrats who stands a chance of gaining the party’s nomination next year, short of some massive embarrassment from a seriously unflattering public disclosure or even a major scandal.
She is somewhat vulnerable. The Clintons bounced from controversy to controversy during her husband’s time as chief executive, and left a widespread impression that they often skirted the boundaries of truth with their statements when they would fight back.
And now with the recent disclosures that as secretary of state she maintained a secret private server to conduct all her official state business and then deleted everything that she and her lawyers alone decided wasn’t the public’s business, millions automatically wonder just what it was she was hiding. A new poll by Bloomberg Politics reveals that 53 percent of all Americans and 60 percent of independent voters believe that she hasn’t been honest about the emails. A Quinnipiac poll shows that she has suffered slippage because respondents simply don’t believe she is trustworthy.
The GOP, both the organization and the individual candidates, makes no bones about the plan to constantly attack her and her record. Rand Paul has even launched a website called “LibertynotHillary,” which begins with: “Hillary Clinton’s attacks on liberty and the constitution make her unfit to serve as President of the United States.”
Let’s face it, though: Hillary Clinton starts with some big advantages. For starters, she’s not a Republican, a party widely perceived as a protector of the rich and a haven for the intolerant. Beyond that, she doesn’t have to fight a bloody primary battle with more than a dozen potentially running on the right to extreme right. However, that might be a mixed bag for her, since so much attention will be on the other side.
And of course she has a huge advantage. That would be history: A great bulk of Americans is rooting for the idea that it’s time for the United States to have our first female president. The question will be whether it’s this particular woman we want, and whether we consider an ex-prez back in the White House as what he calls the “first dude” simply too weird.
It all will be very entertaining, but serious business as we all take sides on the ones we want on our side.
Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.