From Washington Monthly:
There’s a bait and switch going on at the beginning of The Way to Win, the recent collaboration between ABC political director Mark Halperin and the Washington Post‘s John Harris. The authors say they plan to share the lessons of the two sharpest political minds of this generation: Karl Rove and Bill Clinton. Only Rove and Clinton, they argue, have mastered presidential campaigning in the age of the Freak Show, by which they mean the era of hyper-personal, hyper-partisan, scandal-obsessed politics ushered in by New Media.
And, to be fair, The Way to Win dispenses no shortage of lessons — if anything, the book offers too many of them. But don’t be fooled. Much as Halperin and Harris want you to believe it, this is not an innocent how-to kit for Freak-Show-era presidential aspirants. It’s an argument for why Hillary Clinton should be the Democrats’ nominee in 2008.
Better yet, it’s a remarkably fresh argument for why Hillary should be the party’s nominee. To date, the most damning knock against Hillary has to do with electability: Democratic partisans love her (naysaying bloggers notwithstanding), but they fret that she carries too much baggage to win a general election. Halperin and Harris disagree. They suggest Hillary would be the Democrats’ most formidable candidate precisely because she’s the most electable.
It all depends on your definition of “electable,” of course. The traditional notion of electability holds that there’s something about a candidate’s biography or worldview that makes her more or less capable of winning over the swing voters who decide elections. John Kerry qualified as electable under this standard because of his war-hero résumé and his relatively moderate Senate record. Hillary fails the test because of her starring role in the Clinton-era scandals, not to mention the biggest policy fiasco of the 1990s.