As Hillary Clinton continues to lose ground to Barack Obama in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, the tone of her campaign continues to darken. Increasingly, it seems, Clinton is attempting to battle confidence and hope with cynicism and fear; and in doing so increasingly echoes scare tactics used by the Republicans against all Democrats, including Clinton herself. In the lead-up to the March 4 primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont, Clinton has injected a new element of fear into the race with a new TV campaign ad clearly designed to play on voters' fears of terrorism, and to convince "security moms" in particular that Hillary is the only safe choice for President of the United States. With the images of sleeping children and the ominous ringing of a telephone in the background, the ad is reminiscent of those used by Mr. 9/11 himself, former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani:
"It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call, 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's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?"
I want Barack Obama answering the phone. The tactics Clinton is attempting to use against Obama are tactics from the era of Bush, Cheney, and the Patriot Act - the era of 9/11, an era which is thankfully passing into history, though not without leaving us with quite a big mess to clean up. The beginning of the end for that era came on November 7, 2006, when the Democrats won control of Congress and began their campaign to win the White House. An ad like Clinton's would have worked well for Bush/Cheney in 2004; today it is a joke.
Today, in fact, it is Clinton herself who most has reason to fear: New poll numbers today indicate that, while Obama's lead in Texas has increased from 4 percentage points to 6 since yesterday, Clinton's lead in Ohio has slipped from 5 percentage points to 2 since Monday. The latest national polls, meanwhile, show Obama beating Clinton for the Democratic nomination by at least 3 and as many as 16 percentage points; and head-to-head polls consistently show Obama the favorite to beat John McCain in November. Events are quickly slipping out of Clinton's control and leaving her behind, while she tries desperately to hold them back. History demonstrates, however, that this is usually a loser's game.