Hillary Clinton’s makeover lessons from Richard Nixon

<> on July 23, 2014 in Oakland, California.

By Robert Mann

It’s makeover time on the nascent Hillary Clinton for President campaign.

The New York Times reported recently that Clinton has hired a former aide to First Lady Michelle Obama, Kristina Schake, to help freshen up her image. After more than two decades on the national stage, the Times reported, “Mrs. Clinton must try to show voters a self-effacing, warm and funny side that her friends say reflects who she really is. In short, she must counteract an impression that she is just ‘likeable enough,’ as [then Sen. Barack] Obama famously quipped in 2008.”

Although someone close to Clinton told the Times’ reporter that Clinton has no need for a “life coach,” it’s obvious that Clinton, like any candidate, must consider her image as she begins formally running for president.

As another New York Times’ reporter noted, the future candidate “has been exposed to the full view of the American electorate in one capacity or another for some 20 years now, but the politicians, no less than the voters, are still having trouble disengaging his intertwined assets and liabilities.” In fact, that was an observation from a February 1967 Times story about Richard Nixon, the then-former vice president who had lost the 1960 presidential campaign to John F. Kennedy and was plotting his political comeback.

It’s striking how much Nixon and Clinton have in common. They spent years in the shadows of more popular, charismatic politicians (Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton/Obama). They both lost their first presidential campaigns to younger, more charismatic challengers. Their images, as they began their second White House bids, were indelibly etched in the public’s mind.

Nixon was the shady, press-averse loser – “Tricky Dick” – who followed up his 1960 presidential defeat with a humiliating loss in the 1962 California governor’s race. He was so thoroughly crushed by Pat Brown – father of current California Gov. Jerry Brown – that he left the stage with this bitter farewell to a press corps he despised, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”

Continue reading on Salon.com at this link.


9 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton’s makeover lessons from Richard Nixon

  1. A piece in salon, very cool. Seeing if it’s in my local library…


    1. Thanks. It’s a great book. I think you’d enjoy it.


  2. Robert I usually enjoy your posts but sorry to day this one left me underwhelmed. Looking for ward to the next one.


    1. Sorry you didn’t care for it.


    2. I don’t think Hillary ranks very high for Bob, but I found the comparison interesting. There was an old joke about Nixon in the 68 race: “Tanned, ready and rested”.

      As far as a remake of her, I don’t know. Her record is out there so I guess we’ll see how it goes.


  3. As a native upstate New Yorker, I can say that if Hillary can pull off a refreshed version of what she did to win New York’s Senate race, she has a shot. It really showed that she and her staff did their homework, because they knew exactly what they had to do and who they had to win over to win the race… at least some center right Upstate New York Republicans.

    At the time, these were voters who were not as ideologically partisan as who we see today (and they still aren’t as bad as right wing Republicans elsewhere) but voted for people they felt would listen or at least not “diss” upstate, which candidates did over and over again, and then wondered why they lost statewide elections even when they carried NYC/downstate. The Clintons came in as the ultimate elite outsiders–and they bought a house in CHAPPAQUA of all places which is one of the most affluent communities in the country, and which most Upstaters think is “downstate”–but Hillary took the time to win over Upstaters who were inclined to see her as a disinterested, elitist, liberal carpetbagger who only cared about rich Downstaters. Upstate then and now is very Rust Belt… in many cities, there is no industry left other than casinos and prisons. Oh, and Walmart. Outside Upstate’s major cities it’s very rural, which is a shock to many people who just equate New York State to New York City. She did not completely ignore NYC/downstate, but she really courted Upstate and spoke their language and spoke to their needs. Not at all unlike Our Guy Bobby’s travels across north Louisiana churches with fake checks. But Hillary was a lot less gimmicky and pandering than Jindal’s version of the same approach–came off as very authentic. Authenticity is EXTREMELY important to Millennials BTW.

    It has to be refreshed even more for the social media age, though. That’s where Obama trumped her in ’08. But on the street she comes off as very approachable, and she is a very, very smart and adaptable politician. My Republican stepmother still talks about how much she loves Hillary.


    1. Sounds like she is planning an entirely different approach to voters and the press. That is no surprise and there is nothing in the McGinniss book that they don’t already know, but there are some wonderful insights in the book that would be good reminders to her and her staff.


  4. I recently received an e-mail from Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire seeking support for Hilary Clinton. Here’s my reply.

    Dupe Shaheen:

    I recently received an E-Mail purportedly from you, suggesting I support Hillary Clinton(HC).

    I wouldn’t vote for fascist warmonger Clinton if she were the last woman on earth.

    While in the Senate HC voted for the 2003 war on Iraq and the fascist Patriot Act. While Secretary of State, HC carried out an unprovoked war on Libya, a proxy war on Syria (death squads spawned and supported in Syria by U.S. foreign policy under HC’s leadership morphed into the multinational terror group now known as ISIS) HC’s U.S. State Department and the Hitlerite CIA overthrew the elected government of Ukraine and established a Neo-NAZI government there. The fascist U.S. government continues to support the illegal Neo-Nazi Ukrainian government with war supplies and U.S. soldiers.

    (By the way Billy Boy…”Jerk-Me-Off”…Clinton was a poisonous disaster for the U.S. (and the world) by exporting U.S. jobs, killing off Glass-Steagall, failing to regulate derivatives, and thereby throwing the western world into a depression. He could have really done some damage if he could have seen beyond his penis.)

    End U.S. Corporate-Fascism with its continual unprovoked wars, proxy wars, and coup d’états, its anti-citizen, anti-middle-class, anti-working-class, anti-labor and anti-liberty agenda, and its ant-black, anti-Muslim racism, genocide (unpunished murder of blacks by cops) and concentration camps (prison industrial complex and Guantánamo).

    Urge the Democratic Party to cease and desist in being enablers for the fascist Hitlerite Republicans.

    Better yet, dump the Democrats and form a REAL pro-citizen, pro-working people, pro-labor, pro-liberty, anti-Military Industrial Complex, anti-war, anti-racism, job-building, U.S.-building political party.

    Louis Sparks


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