Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Plotline

Lots of commentators -- from David Brooks to Chris Matthews to countless minor bloviators across the landscape -- are framing Hillary's theory of the case as her competence, which they cast unfavorably to Bernie's purist ideology and Trump's purist machismo. They say her argument is boring, content-free, out of touch with the people's hunger for a mission (or at least a professional wrestler to root for).

They're wrong. Hillary's campaign is not and will not be about competence. It will be about strength. She won't run for president as the best manager, she'll run as Wonder Woman, as the Iron Lady.

That will take different coloration depending on her opponent.

If it's Cruz, she will present herself as the people's staunch defender against the extremist Republican Congress. Cruz has fought hard for -- and won -- the role of Speaker of the House in Exile (exiled in the Senate). He has embraced the Tea Party's Know-Nothing rejection of governance and opposition to anything for Those People. Empowering the nut-job choir is very scary. Her campaign theme writes itself.

If it's Rubio, the argument will be roughly the same, but she'll paint Rubio not as the enthusiastic leader of the living dead, but as their malleable thrall. A little more work will be required, but not a whole lot. And Rubio's pathetic embrace of macho rhetoric offers a glass jaw for a true puncher to break. Along with the highest and hardest glass ceiling, she'll shatter it into a thousand pieces.

And if, as seems very likely, it's Trump, the contrast of faux macho strength and deep real strength will be great theater. Nothing is as delightful as seeing a bully humbled. Nothing would fire up the women of America so much as the prospect of kicking the asshole laureate in the nuts.

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