Friday, August 12, 2005


Clinton-Pirro Reality Check

The incredibly wise Erick at Red State accurately handicaps the New York GOP's chances against Sen. Hillary Clinton.

And he wrote this before Pirro's embarrassing "Do you have page 10"
flub that was a nicely-wrapped gift to tabloids, "Imus In the Morning" (he played the clip twice) and the New York State Democratic Party (happily posted it to their website).

Should a mistake like that be fatal to a campaign? No. And this one needn't be. But the reason why the state party practically dragooned Pirro into this contest (as opposed to running for attorney general, a race she actually would have a good shot at winning) is, only partly because she is female.

It is the whole package: A poised professional woman who has made a name for herself as an articulate district attorney prosecuting sex offenders. It wasn't essential for her to know all the issues off the bat.

All she had to do in her debut is to carry herself as a tough, charismatic woman unafraid to take on the tough, charismatic (as perceived by New York Democrats) incumbent. Instead, the prosecutor looked exposed without her script. The missing page suggested lack of preparation for a moment she knew was coming for weeks. Worse, one would expect that a seasoned lawyer would be able to improvise a few lines, until she got back to the right spot.

But, no, instead, an announcement that included a 32-second pause, ironically, on the phrase "Hillary Clinton," could not possibly have gone worse.

Yes, she can recover. But, she can't do it alone.

The best thing that can happen to Pirro and the other announced Republican candidates, John Spencer and Ed Cox, is for the state GOP to permit an actual primary to take place -- force the candidates to go across the state and make their case. The person who emerges from such a contest, rather than irredeembably wounded, could actually be battle-tested and much sharper to go after Hillary.

Would that person win? No.

But the race could be far more interesting and would at least force Sen. Clinton to spend some time campaigning.

But will the party allow a primary to occur? Contested Republican primaries are rare occurrences in New York. State party chair Stephen Minarik has already declared his preference for Pirro.

Well, given this Friday story to emerge on his declared "best candidate," Minarik might yet see the wisdom of having a wide-open process.

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