Saturday, November 10, 2007

Conscious of the Progressive Identity

Two recent items from the Clinton campaign have been nagging at me. The first I'm sure everyone has seen by now.

An aide for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a Grinnell College student a question to ask the Democratic presidential candidate during a forum this week in central Iowa.

That the question had been planted by the campaign was not mentioned at the event.

"This is not standard policy and will not be repeated again," the campaign said in a statement issued Friday night. Clinton herself did not know when she called on the student that the question had been suggested by one of her staff, the campaign said.
And I just ran across this.
[Waitress] Anita Esterday waited on the New York senator and her entourage at a Maid-Rite restaurant in Toledo, Iowa. Esterday posed for photos with Clinton and shared her plight as a single mother forced to work two jobs just to make ends meet.

Clinton later incorporated Esterday's story into her campaign stump speech. Pictures of their meeting appeared in newspapers and on TV newscasts.

In the NPR interview, Esterday said that while she had enjoyed meeting Clinton, she hadn't gotten much out of her 15-minutes of fame.
Hilary gets a pass on both of these from most, as she didn't know about the planted question, and she is mired in a very aggressive primary campaign season, but not from me.

Hillary may not be guilty of planting a question herself, but somewhere an aide didn't get the message that "we don't do this!" Hillary may not be guilty of blowing off an opportunity to connect with a working woman for any reason but a busy campaign schedule, but why use that moment as a campaign spot? It's understandable that a candidate would be occasionally pressed for time or attention, but when it happens it shouldn't be touted proudly as a ploy for votes. The excuses given may be not only true, but also understandable. What really nags at me though is a lack of awareness in the campaigns of the nominee hopefuls that we are Democrats, and there are certain things that do not (or should not) happen in a progressive campaign.

Never, even by mistake, should we mimic Republican campaign procedures. Little things like these, though admittedly minor in damage potential, ad up over the course of a campaign. Even without scandal, such lack of consciousness of progressive identity in our front runner campaigns does nothing to engage voters already looking for any reason to write you off as "just another politician." And if all they have to choose from is the status quo, why not vote for the Republican who promises he'll lower your taxes?

Worse, things like this would be so easy to avoid.

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