Something bothered me while I watched Katie Couric’s interview with Senator Clinton on 60 Minutes this past Sunday. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until suddenly today my concerns coalesced: her approach to problem solving is to convince herself she couldn’t possibly be wrong.
Listen to the senator’s response to Couric’s inquiry as to whether she ever wonders if Obama might win.
"Even in your deepest darkest moments, when you're exhausted, you don't think 'Oh my gosh, I'm going through this, I'm spending so much money, I'm so tired and this could be all for naught?' What if that happens?" Couric asked. "You have to, once in a while, think that. No?"
"No, Katie," Clinton said. "You can't think like that. You have to believe you're going to win."
First, that has to be a lie. It’s scary to think that she has never pondered the possibility she might not win the nomination. A better answer might have been, “Well, of course, but I don’t dwell on those thoughts because I believe I can do this.” It’s one thing to say, “Yes, but…” and quite another to say, “I don’t allow myself to consider the alternative.”
I mean, hurray for positive thinking and affirmations, but look where that got our current President. As Iraq spiraled long ago into bloody chaos, Bush angrily insisted that we had to remain optimistic. But being optimistic isn’t just crossing your fingers and hoping for rainbows when there’s no rain in the forecast. Hoping for the best is an admirable quality in a president – indeed, Obamites have adopted “hope” as one of their mantras – but optimism, when it transcends the boundaries of the possible or even the likely, is delusion. While hoping for the best, a president should be ready for the worst.
A president who refuses even to consider the worst is not going to be, in Clinton’s words, “ready on day one.” Or on any other day.
Clinton’s reluctance to consider potentially adverse outcomes is the clearest explanation for the tanking of her campaign; presently, Obama – who was down in the polls by double digits about two weeks prior to Super Tuesday – leads Clinton in delegates and has won 22 states to her 10. Of Obama’s last 8 wins, Clinton’s narrowest loss was 19 points. She’s now short on cash and firing (okay, “accepting the resignations of,” to go with the media euphemism) her campaign manager and deputy campaign manager. She has offered a litany of lame excuses for why Obama is besting her, including the fantabulous claim that the caucus system favors him. No, Hillary, the system doesn’t favor Obama, the voters do.
If you focus exclusively on a best-of-all-possible-worlds outcome, you find yourself disengaged from reality. Do we want four more years of this kind of governance?
Sure, she says it with a smile instead of a smirk, and the grammar's not all screwy, but she has exactly the same mindset as President Bush.
Hillary, if you want to govern, you can’t think like that.