I’m sure it won’t take long before Mark Penn is facing the microphones explaining why he thinks this poll isn’t trustworthy. More troubling than the horserace numbers, though, are what people think of Mrs. Clinton’s
lack of character:
While Clinton still leads on more personal attributes than any of her competitors, just half of Iowa Democrats in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll believe she’s willing to say what she really thinks, far fewer than say so of either Obama or John Edwards. Obama beats her by 2-1 as the most honest and trustworthy candidate.
It’s my opinion that this polling reflects Mrs. Clinton’s refusal to answer a simple yes or no question on giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants at the Russert/MSNBC debate. I also think that the planting questions story drives her negatives higher.
Expect Rudy, Fred and McCain to make political hay out of Mrs. Clinton’s unwillingness to answer difficult questions. Thus far, she hasn’t given anyone a good reason to think that she’s the most evasive, secretive presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter.
Right before the general election in 1976, there was a cartoon in the St. Cloud Times ridiculing Jimmy Carter. There was a downed apple tree in the background with Jimmy standing in front of the tree with a hatchet in his hand with his dad questioning him “Jimmy, did you cut down that cherry tree.” The caption of Jimmy’s response would fit Hillary to a T “Father, I cannot tell a lie. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t.”
That’s essentially what Mrs. Clinton gave for her answer of whether she’s issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Frankly, I didn’t know that Hillary could tapdance that fast.
There’s other trouble for Hillary in the poll:
Most Democratic likely voters in Iowa, 55 percent, say they’re more interested in a “new direction and new ideas” than in strength and experience, compared with 49 percent in July, a help to Obama, who holds a substantial lead among “new direction” voters.
This is a change election. Hillary is running as the establishment candidate, which will hinder her later. It also doesn’t help her that Congress’s job approval rating is next to nothing. It doesn’t hurt Obama nearly as much because he’s the newcomer, meaning it’s more difficult to put the Washington insider tag on him.
Another thing that’s hurting Washington politicians is last summer’s immigration debate. When Ted Kennedy and John McCain introduced immigration ‘reform’ the first time, they touted the ‘pathway to citizenship’ provisions. When they introduced it a second time, they touted it as a ‘tough on border security bill’. The American people knew that Kennedy hadn’t changed it in any significant way.
When Kennedy and Arlen Specter tried selling the bill as beefing up border security, they figured that Washington politicians were up to their same old tricks. It didn’t take long to trash Immigration Reform Part II.
I suspect that that’s part of the reason why voters think that they’re more interested in “new direction and new ideas” than to be strong and experienced. I think that more people are interested in that in the Democratic Party because than in the GOP. While I don’t doubt that Democrats, whether they’re DLC types or part of the Kos/MoveOn.org wing, will vote for their nominee, I do think that more will hold their nose when they pull the lever because (a) the Nutroots are upset that the new majority hasn’t stopped the war yet and (b) the DLC types think that Congress is catering too much to the Nutroots.
This has to be more than a little disconcerting for Mrs. Clinton:
Obama is within sight of Clinton on another of her main features, an image of strong leadership: Thirty-two percent call her the strongest leader, vs. 27 percent for Obama; it was 36-23 percent last summer. And both Obama and Edwards lead Clinton in honesty and trustworthiness, and in empathy, two relative weaknesses for her nationally as well.
Anytime people think that John Edwards is more honest and trustworthy than someone, that spells trouble. John Edwards is the poster child for beautiful hair and articificiality. Hillary is attempting to create an image of reliability and experience. It’s impossible to think that she’s less than trustworthy and reliable at the same time.
With another poll that’s less than flattering for Mrs. Clinton, you can expect Mark Penn will be telling the media why the poll doesn’t say what it says. That’s a Clinton War Room trademark.
Cross-posted at California Conservative