The XX Factor

What Hillary Clinton Learned from No-Drama Obama

Hillary Clinton in New York in 2014.

Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign started with great media fanfare over the weekend, although the announcement itself was notably anti-fanfare. The two-minute video, in which Clinton only appears toward the end, strikes a note of boring optimism: people starting jobs, starting retirement, starting families, starting businesses, and oh yeah, almost as an afterthought, Hillary Clinton starting her campaign. In a political environment in which a Clinton run is being variously treated as doomed from the start or a sign of the apocalypse, the launch feels like it floats above the haters, as if Clinton doesn’t notice all the carping.

The question on the minds of politics watchers is whether Clinton retained any lessons from her failed bid against Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries. This announcement shows that she’s learned at least one: how to be chill. Obama fairly earned the nickname “No Drama Obama”; his 2008 campaign was marked by his general unwillingness to acknowledge people dishing out haterade. Even when the campaign felt forced to respond to attacks, such as the racially loaded ruckus regarding comments made by his minister Jeremiah Wright, he always highlighted his persona as the only grownup in the room, reducing both Wright and his attackers to the role of children throwing tantrums. This is why the Obama “I got this” meme has flourished.

Clinton may not brush the dirt off her shoulder so easily, but trying an above-it-all approach is a smart campaign move. There’s no doubt that the conservative attacks on her will be all about derailment and drama, not policy. The next 18 months are going to be an exhausting litany of attempts to create scandal around Clinton, and even if there’s no substance to the attacks, the relentless harping will make people weary of hearing Hillary Clinton’s name. So here’s hoping she can resist the urge to tangle with her detractors, and instead resolves to treat them like a bunch of online trolls—a no-drama approach is the likeliest one to get her into the White House.