Favorite

Time for another talk 

click to enlarge HUFFINGTON POST
  • HUFFINGTON POST

As Bill Clinton started his 1982 political recovery following his shocking defeat to Frank White two years before, he took to the airwaves of Arkansas with an atypical campaign advertisement: He looked directly at the camera and apologized for having been out touch with Arkansans during his first term, including his damaging decision to raise vehicle tag fees.

As Clinton wrote in his autobiography, "I then said that when I was growing up, 'my daddy never had to whip me twice for the same thing.' " Clinton had a fight at every stage of his 1982 comeback, but the ad was crucial to inoculating him from critiques of his first term and allowed him to go on the offensive against his primary and general election opponents.

Sixteen years later, Clinton was again on his back politically — this time because of his falsehoods regarding his inappropriate sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Once again, he talked straight to the camera and admitted his failings, this time in a short address from the White House just hours following his August 1998 testimony to the grand jury investigating the case. The speech didn't immediately rehabilitate his reputation with the American public, but it was crucial to making the case that it was time to "move on." Indeed, the web-based organization MoveOn.org — crucial to setting the stage for the historic Republican congressional defeats that fall — opened for business only days after that speech.

Eighteen more years have passed, and it is time for a different Clinton to talk directly to the camera, crisply take responsibility for her errors regarding her use of email during her time as secretary of state, and move the American public toward thinking anew about her candidacy and her prospective presidency. Unquestionably, the notes from Hillary Clinton's FBI interview regarding her email practices released late last week demonstrate that no matter how sloppy the decisions, intentional wrongdoing was absent. Moreover, as Paul Krugman's much-discussed New York Times column over the weekend sharply argued, the media regularly engages in innuendo regarding Clinton's email practices and the dynamics surrounding the Clinton Foundation, while Donald Trump's own "record of bilking students, stiffing contractors and more" is ignored. While few voters see Trump as either competent or truthful, the coverage of the Clinton email controversy has taken a toll on Clinton and helped Trump cut her national polling lead in half since the immediate aftermath of the Democratic National Convention.

To turn the tide, Clinton's campaign should invest in a national two-minute ad in which she talks directly to the camera. She is very, very good in such a setting (indeed, better than her husband), as Clinton showed in her excellent ad announcing her candidacy last spring. Once and for all, she should acknowledge her regret that she got some things wrong regarding her email practices, defend the Clinton Foundation's work, and commit she will never break trust with the country as president. Then, she could close the message with a tweaked version of the close of her husband's 1998 address in which he asked the American public to "to repair the fabric of our national discourse, and to return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century." Hillary Clinton's trustworthiness numbers bounced upwards as a result of the messaging from the well-crafted Democratic National Convention, suggesting that voter perceptions of Clinton are not yet cemented and could be shifted by such an effort.

To be clear, Hillary Clinton will likely be able to win this general election without taking such a step. Barring an episode during the upcoming presidential debates that jars her advantaged position in key state polls, Clinton seems poised to hold on for an Electoral College victory over Trump. But, this isn't just about winning an election; it's also about removing the albatross that her perceived untrustworthiness will present to her presidency. At a time when Americans' faith in their governmental institutions is challenged like never before, it's important not just for her ability to get things done, but for the country to truly begin to "move on."


Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Jay Barth

  • Gun politics

    "You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you." Despite that promise by President Trump at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in April, the days ahead are going to produce challenges for the gun rights lobby.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • A failed experiment

    Many consequential news events — from local to international — are getting lost in this era of nonstop, overlapping "breaking news" stories regarding all things Donald Trump.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • Press slammed

    Last week, the American media got another battering, in the form of a Montana congressional candidate's brutal attack on a young reporter simply doing his job.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Jay Barth

  • Gun politics

    "You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you." Despite that promise by President Trump at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in April, the days ahead are going to produce challenges for the gun rights lobby.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • A failed experiment

    Many consequential news events — from local to international — are getting lost in this era of nonstop, overlapping "breaking news" stories regarding all things Donald Trump.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • Press slammed

    Last week, the American media got another battering, in the form of a Montana congressional candidate's brutal attack on a young reporter simply doing his job.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Heather Wilson, blacks have NOT been prevented from pursuing the skilled trades as a result…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Gee, so you were there when Jesus spoke - how old you must be. First-person…

    • on July 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation