Bad Branding

That bastion of journalistic repute, the New York Times, printed this today:
“Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now in what most agree are the waning days of her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. To use her own phrase, she has been running ‘to break the highest and hardest glass ceiling’ in American life, and now the presidency — even a nomination that once seemed to be hers to claim — seems out of reach.”

Oh, please.

I am so tired of hearing that reason HRC can’t win is because of sexism as opposed to any of the following:

1. We are all sick of the Clintons. Bill’s campaign appearances did much to erase the cloud of rose-colored nostalgia that surrounds him (and that he earned primarily on the basis of Bush’s utter boobery and not on his own merits).

2. Politically, Hillary is an asshole. Yes, nearly all politicians are assholes. I imagine even the late great Wellstone had his moments. But Hillary said anything to get elected, continues to say anything to get the nomination, and never apologizes for the horrible decisions that saying anything resulted in.

3. For someone campaigning on her plain-speaking, she sure has a selective memory. Also heavy on the blame/whine front. And sort of a giant hypocrite. Well, not sort of.

Purely from a branding point of view, she’s a mess. She doesn’t really seem to know who she is, or perhaps does know and doesn’t want the rest of us to know for fear the truth is not electable. But the whole point of good branding is not to find out what people want and then pander to their taste based on focus groups. It’s to make people want what you’re selling. Hillary’s not selling. She jumping down your throat with her comfortable pumps when you haven’t even expressed any interest in what she might have to offer. She’s insisting you want her without asking in the first place what we do want. And she’s not really selling anything other than this bizarre concept that she deserves to win, and her main reason for deserving is that she’s a woman.

Obama’s got the brand thing down. Also, he writes his own stuff and he’s a good writer, which softens me up a little bit. But the biggest thing he does is give the appearance that he’s listening. I hope it’s not just appearance, but whatever it is, it’s pretty damn convincing.

Think of them as a couple of cars. The Hillary is a dowdy model running on 70s-era feminist fumes that promises to take you, at best, back to the “golden” days of the first Clinton co-presidency. Her transmission runs awesomely in neutral and reverse. The Obama looks OK if a little geeky, has a great sound system, definitely seems to be able to move forward, and has a hell of lot less baggage attached.

Neither one’s a hot car, let’s face it. But this isn’t a contest of the lesser of two evils. One car make some sort of sense. It’ll probably have all sorts of shit go wrong with it as soon as it’s driven off the lot, but at least you can drive it off the lot. You only pick the other one out of pity, guilt, or fear. And I got none of that when it comes to HRC.

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