If there’s anything that could derail Hillary Clinton’s status as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, it’s crap like this. Over the weekend, Clinton marched in an Independence Day parade in Gorham, New Hampshire, and rather than allowing her press pool to trail follow along as they always do, snapping pictures and occasionally looking for a quote to file, someone within the Clinton campaign thought it’d be a great idea to corral the press using a rope and led along the parade route while basically tied together in a big loop.
Clinton advance aides create a rope line for the press, moving with the candidate pic.twitter.com/9S7CpVt7x4
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 4, 2015
That’s… that’s just ridiculous. Seriously, who the hell thought it’d be a fantastic idea to concoct a moving rope line — and that it’d look better than the press freely roaming in the parade?
In and of itself, it’s ultimately not that big a deal, but it’s unforced errors like this that tend to accumulate, one on top of the other, forming big fucking deals. It’s the sort of thing that helped to doom Clinton’s 2008 campaign, most frequently on the race issue. With Mark Penn at the helm, and as the Obama campaign crept closer in the polls, Clinton and to a certain extent President Clinton routinely tripped over their own feet, handing “who won the week?” victories to Obama. Certainly I’m not really complaining about that, since it was Obama’s time. But it’s precedent.
This time around, Clinton is so vastly ahead of the rest of the field — trouncing both her Democratic challengers as well as her would-be Republican opponents — but if enough of these mishaps begin to drop, then what was once a pretty well locked-up victory will disintegrate, making 2016 a potentially harrowing election year.
In the meantime, Clinton and, to a certain extent, Bernie Sanders have an advantage in that they’re running mostly well-organized campaigns and they each, in their own way, continue to look like the grown-ups in the room. Concurrently, the GOP candidates are inadvertently making Clinton and Sanders look comparatively more grown-up with every gaffe and every new entrant into the clown car. Nonsense like this rope-leash thing diminishes this advantage and gives the Republicans fuel to say, Lookit! Hillary’s a doofus, too!
Seriously, the only thing the Democrats have to do is to not screw up and one of them, likely Clinton at this point, will be our next president. Too much is at stake if swing voters suddenly doubt Clinton’s competence, suddenly President Jeb Bush or President Scott Walker begins to look more like a reality, and the consequences would be utterly terrifying.
Again, it’s not just the rope line. But it’s the realization that Clinton, as with 2008, could have a staff competency problem. And right now, today — she’d do well to nip it in the bud.