A.B. Stoddard: Nothing new from Clinton

A.B. Stoddard: Nothing new from Clinton
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As Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPro-Trump group pulls ads targeting GOP senator on ObamaCare repeal Stone to testify before House Intel Committee next month Overnight Cybersecurity: New ransomware attack spreads globally | US pharma giant hit | House intel panel interviews Podesta | US, Kenya deepen cyber partnership MORE hides behind lame tweets, furiously planning the launch of her new and different presidential campaign, Democrats wonder if they can find a 3-D printer that could produce a new Candidate Hillary. Hillary 2.0 would have the same resume, capability and fundraising prowess — and would definitely still be married to Bill Clinton, of course — but she would like voters, believe they deserved to know the truth through open records and a free press, and would at least be able to fake the appearance of enjoying answering the public’s questions.

Democrats know what’s coming, just weeks from now when Clinton announces her run, and it won’t be new or different. They’ve got only one candidate, who already ran and lost, whose policy positions of key interest to Democrats are not yet known, whose candidacy is based on her gender, desire for the job and feeling that it is her turn, and who is launching as she’s responding to a congressional subpoena. 

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Formidable and inevitable? Maybe not. 

Her press conference last week, a repetition of lawyered talking points she even had to look down at while answering questions, was disappointing. It was, after all, an effort to calm a firestorm over her decision as secretary of State to hide her government-owned communications in a private server for the sole purpose of thwarting investigations. In her parsed answers, she admitted destroying emails she took the liberty of determining were private, indicated she surely did use personal email for classified information (by insisting she never “sent” classified material, which means she received it) and said no she would not turn over her private server to those trying to locate a trail of pertinent work-related communications related to Libya, or anyone else, for that matter.

Democrats didn’t have to read between the lines, because it all meant one thing: You cannot teach a paranoid, secretive politician who makes her own rules new tricks. 

A reformed Clinton, who transforms her standard operating procedure as president, is beyond the imagination — even for loyal Democrats. Meanwhile, where will she take the party next year? Hell if they know. 

What we do know is she is consulting with 200 experts to find a message and a platform. Loyal progressives, including her dear old friend and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, have wondered on the record what positions she will take on key policy questions factions of the party continue fighting over: financial regulation, the Keystone oil pipeline, trade and how to address income inequality. “If she were to become a candidate, she could go in either direction on these core questions,” Reich told Bloomberg.

Despite the concerns of Democrats — about the email scandal, lack of agenda and her (un)willingness to be accessible to voters — Clinton is doing more of the same. She appears with friendly audiences, avoids the press and attacks Republicans in tweets. 

Campaigning solely on Twitter can’t begin to match what GOP candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are doing for themselves day in and day out. Democrats in primary states now well-trodden by the Republican field are hoping Clinton gets there soon. Her people assure them she will, just as they assure them she is going to hunker down with the public and chat and “earn every vote.” Clinton has hired a new press staff of Democrats known to have strong relations with the media. That doesn’t mean the campaign will be forthcoming with information, however, because staffers cannot override dictates from the top, particularly when they work for the Clintons.

Democrats hope things will improve when there is an official campaign apparatus in place. They will probably need to hope for more.

Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.