Hillary Clinton officially announced her campaign for the presidency Sunday, which means the rest of us may finally begin talking about it rather than around it. And while her introductory video was bare of policy, it took a word that so many have flung at Clinton as her primary weakness and repositioned it as her strength: “reinvention.”
Attacks on Clinton as a protean relic, an expired figure desperately issuing new versions of herself, have come from both sides of the political spectrum and in a variety of forms. Rand Paul has campaigned against her as a “candidate of the past.” The Free Beacon team has missed no chance to troll her on her age. A couple hours ago Hugh Hewitt compared her to the corpse in Weekend at Bernie’s. Meanwhile, Democrats fret that her nomination will be a coronation of one who has waited her turn, forcing the party to more honor Clinton’s perseverance than ratify her qualifications.
Just this morning Maureen Dowd, her own brand redolent of battles already concluded, critiqued Clinton for being on her fourth or fifth iteration of her public career:
President Obama has said: “If she’s her wonderful self, I’m sure she’s going to do great.” But which self is that?
Instead of a chilly, scripted, entitled policy wonk, as in 2008, Hillary plans to be a warm, spontaneous, scrappy fighter for average Americans. Instead of a woman campaigning like a man, as in 2008, she will try to stir crowds with the idea of being the first woman president. Instead of haughtily blowing off the press, as in 2008, she will make an effort to play nice.
Now, after 25 years on the national stage, Hillary is still hitting the reset button on her image, this time projecting herself as a warm, loving grandmother.
Against these criticisms of Clinton as a shapeshifter manipulating her lack of core to stay dominant past her prime, Clinton’s video seeks to turn reinvention itself into a value. Words in Clinton’s video: spring, start, new business, back to work, marriage, renovation, new career. “I’m getting ready to retire soon,” says one woman. “Retirement means reinventing yourself.” One man starts a new career — in a fifth-generation company. Two men declare their intention to get married, a new proposition to a traditional practice. Everywhere in the video are old institutions revivified by new blood.
So Clinton hopes to again renew her political brand, refreshing her experience from a quarter century in politics with new direction. The video itself wisely focuses on people not named Clinton. (Compare with Ted Cruz’s and Paul’s grand announcements at stadium and rally, respectively, or Ben Carson’s solo video, which featured four minutes straight of just the candidate.)
Rather Clinton, who has the biggest name recognition of any politician in the country, blends her own story into those of reinvention around her. She’s starting over; against a backdrop of new schools and new jobs and new houses, her campaign asks, who isn’t?
Watch the video below:
[Image via screengrab]
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