Hillary Clinton Plays the Fear Card in Texas

Hillary Clinton Plays the Fear Card in Texas

March 01, 2008

I hate to sound like a Hillary basher. Really, I am not. In fact, I used to truly admire the woman. But I’m simply astonished that she has stooped to Karl Rovian fear-mongering tactics in her now desperate bid to derail the Obama juggernaut.

New York Times

February 29, 2008
New Clinton Ad Prompts Reply From Obama

WACO, Tex. — Playing on anxieties about national security, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has produced a “red phone moment” advertisement that suggests she would be better able to respond to a crisis than Senator Barack Obama.

“It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep,” says a narrator as threatening music surges over dark black-and-white images.

There’s a world crisis and the White House phone is ringing. “Your vote will decide who answers that call,” the narrator says. “Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military — someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.”

It ends with a photo of Mrs. Clinton wearing glasses and picking up the phone.

Mr. Obama, responding to the ad during a stop in Houston, said it raised “a perfectly legitimate question.”

But, he said: “We’ve seen these ads before. They’re the kind that play on people’s fears to try to scare up votes.”

What’s even worse than the ads, however, was Senator Clinton’s politically tone-deaf response when Senator Obama called her on her obvious attempt to use fear to motivate voters.

“My opponent says it’s fear mongering to talk about national security and the fact that we’re at war,” Senator Clinton told a crowd at the historic stockyards in Fort Worth, according to the Political Swamp blog. “Well, I don’t think people in Texas scare all that easily.”

Her response is so patronizing it made me cringe. But beyond that, it also makes me want to ask: “Where has she been?”

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have demonstrated exactly how easily the American people can be scared and how powerful fear is when used as a political weapon. The war in Iraq, the attack on our civil liberties, the attack on gay rights, the loss of other freedoms, even the very re-election of GWB, were all products of the GOP’s well-oiled fear machine.

Senator Obama, on the other hand, confidently says Clinton’s gambit won’t work — and I think he has that right. He seems to understand what Clinton does not: that we are all just sick and tired of being afraid. We want a different, better, more uplifting type of national leadership, leadership focused on what we can hope for, what we should strive for and what we can accomplish as a nation, rather than a leadership this is all about why we should be afraid.

Senator Clinton’s approach is woefully out of touch with the mood of the country — and clearly out of touch with the mood of the Democratic Party. Sadly, it appears Hillary will go out, at least if there is any justice she will go out, playing a fear card that is likely to backfire. It also raises the question many of my friends have been asking for weeks now, which is: “If Hillary is really ready to be president on Day One, why wasn’t she ready on Day One to run a better campaign?”

About the Author /


My published work since 1985 has focused mostly on public policy, technology, science, education and business. I’ve written more than 600 articles for a variety of magazines, journals and newspapers on these often interrelated subjects. The topics I have covered include analysis of progressive approaches to higher education, entrepreneurial trends, e-learning strategies, business management, open source software, alternative energy research and development, voting technologies, streaming media platforms, online electioneering, biotech research, patent and tax law reform, federal nanotechnology policies and tech stocks.

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