So it’s a moment for miracles. And there’s really only one thing Hillary Clinton can do, perhaps, to pull one off. That is to play to her greatest strength–her Clintonian credibility on the economy. The economy, after all, was her husband Bill’s pride and joy during his eight years in office, it is probably her own area of greatest expertise, and now it is the issue of greatest concern to voters. Not surprisingly, the Clinton campaign has spent the last several days discussing how to handle the financial crisis that KO’d Bear Stearns and has dominated the headlines this week. “We’re quite concerned that more action is needed. And we’re spending a lot of time with large numbers of experts on what’s the best framework” for the relief plan, Gene Sperling, her chief economic adviser, told me. Those experts–led by Sperling, former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, former House majority leader Dick Gephardt, former chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors Laura Tyson and former deputy secretary of the Treasury Roger Altman–came up with a new $30 billion emergency fund to help states buy foreclosed properties and provide mortgage restructuring. “There will be more in the weeks to come,” Sperling said.
In order to do that Sen. Clinton would need to accomplish several things simultaneously in a perfect veronica. First, she’d need to have a plan. That’s probably the easiest part of the manoeuvre and plays to Sen. Clinton’s policy-wonk strengths although I continue to wonder if she’s ever taken an economics course.
Second, she’d need to convince both Wall Street and Main Street that the plan would work, no mean feat. Not to mention that instilling confidence has not been Sen. Clinton’s strong suit lately.
Finally, she’d need to be able to blame the current situation on the Bush Administration and dodge the charge that the Clinton Adminstration’s policies laid the groundwork for the crisis. That, it seems to me will be the most difficult move. It’s one she hasn’t accomplished with respect to Iraq.
Meanwhile, Hail Mary passes have a low likelihood of completion.