In a way I’m kinda glad that the first really extensive overview of what Hillary Clinton’s campaign is going to look like–or more specifically, which Democratic political semi-celebrities will get what job–was penned by Mr. Win-the-Morning himself, Mike Allen, the champion of knowing ephemeral things fifteen minutes before anyone else. He is the appropriate chief manufacturer in the cottage industry of Hillaryland speculation, which is about one-third real and relevant political news, one-third show-business-for-ugly-people, and one-third war-mongering, or trying to identify and promote internal battles in HRC’s supposed Team of Rivals.
Allen, of course, must report that Hillary 2.0 is reporting itself extremely focused on avoiding the mistakes of 2008, including the separate Bill and Hill power centers and other problems with “structure.” (It’s funny to me that nobody in or even writing about HRC’s campaign seems willing even to utter the name “Mark Penn” any more; maybe they’ve made Not Going There a condition of access to the candidate). But, of course, there are clouds on the horizon:
A trio of people with substantial juice will be above campaign manager Robby Mook — with Podesta, who is leaving his West Wing post as counselor next month for a short stay at the Center for American Progress until the campaign formally launches, serving as chairman; longtime family counselor Cheryl Mills serving as a top adviser, regardless of whether she is on the inside or outside (a possible title: co-chair); and longtime close aide Huma Abedin, the most important non-Clinton in her orbit. (When the White House wants to reach Clinton, Abedin gets the call.) Philippe Reines, one of the longest-serving Hillary whisperers, will be another crucial outside adviser.
Toss in Bill and Chelsea, and it’s clear why structure is such a stress point.
Ah, yes, the raw materials for court intrigue are still there!
There is this interesting nugget about the campaign’s external, intraparty strategy:
One component of Hillary Clinton’s emerging strategy involves quietly but aggressively courting key endorsers from the left, who could help increase progressives’ comfort level and take the wind out of a potential challenge. Two top targets: Robert Reich, the economist and former labor secretary in her husband’s administration, and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon. In December, she won public endorsements from former Democratic National Committee Chairman and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
A few more substantive steps in the direction of Elizabeth Warren’s agenda–her early endorsement would, of course, be a big deal–would be even more effective in taking the winds out of any challenger’s sails.
But treating her campaign as a matter of personalities jockeying for position just will not go away. Get used to it.