Hillary's Final Strategy: Be Afraid

Barack Obama and John Edwards might want to change the world. But Hillary Clinton wants to protect you against it.
Eldridge, Iowa - Barack Obama and John Edwards might want to change the world. But Hillary Clinton wants to protect you against it.

That's the unmistakable message that Senator Clinton is pounding out in this final phase of the campaign to capture the Iowa caucuses. In a world brimming with danger and uncertainty, she argues as she blitzes the Hawkeye State, there's no time to waste daydreaming about pie-in-the-sky promises of reform.

Instead, the American people must choose a leader ready to immediately start fixing the problems that already exist and one who is immediately ready to face the inevitable and "unpredictable" crises looming right over the horizon. And that would be Clinton.

"We know some of the challenges that await the next president," Clinton told a packed crowd at a junior high school Saturday morning. "But no matter how much we know, we can't possibly anticipate all the problems."

The razzamatazz cheerleading, sloganeering style that punctuated her earlier campaign events has now been replaced by a sedate, somber, even grave tone coming from the podium. Clinton never raised her voice, never elevated the mood, and at times sounded like a concerned, responsible parent telling the kids that something terrible was taking place outside the door but not to worry because Mom and Dad - or in this case Hill and Bill- would take care of it.

Becoming president, she said in a hushed tone, is "an awesome responsibility. And it was thrown into relief with the events last Thursday with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto."

"When that person gets into the Oval Office," she said, referring to the next president, "there will be a stack of problems already waiting: a war, another war to resolve, an economy that is faltering, housing values that have dropped 6% in some parts of the country...all of those millions, 47 million of them uninsured."

As is now customary among her leading rivals, Clinton didn't utter the words Obama or Edwards - the two candidates now in a dogfight for the mantle of change- but she drew a bright shining line between her position and theirs. They are the dreamers. She is the doer. All three are locked in a dead heat to win next Thursday's first-in-the-nation caucus.
Marc Cooper has covered international and domestic politics for the last three decades. His articles and essays have appeared in dozens of publications ranging from The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Playboy to Rolling Stone, the L.A. Times and the Village Voice.
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