MR. Binay needs a lifeline to survive all the messes built around him and his family to be competitive in 2016. It may be time for him to drop the “Jojobama” moniker and run as a version of Hillary Clinton. Portraying his candidacy as something like the Clinton 2016 run will be a bit of a stretch. But it is the only way to survive. And politics – even presidential campaigns – are not really about running on the plank of genuine truthfulness.
Why the Hillary Clinton model? Because it is apt for the campaign of Mr. Binay.
The Clinton campaign has convinced a sizable slice of the American electorate that there are so-called “Clinton Rules.” Journalists and pundits, motivated by a bias against the Clintons, consider any move, statement, initiative coming from the Clintons as motivated by vested interests and self-aggrandizement. That much of the US media view the Clintons as up to no good –and every move they take is in sync with that narrative– is part of the “Clinton Rules.”
Whereas the major policy and personal failings of Republican presidential hopefuls are mostly ignored by the mainstream media (except for progressive bloggers and commentators), reporters and pundits have a vengeful set of standards for the Clintons. Everything they do is scrutinized and vested with a certain degree of vehemence and venality. Even Hillary’s supposed shift to the Left on issues was doubted after her first major campaign appearance. They failed to note that, historically, Hillary has always been left of President Obama on economic policies.
Taking down Hillary Clinton, according to a DC-based pundit, is actually the role that the media want to play in 2016. According to the late Washington Post columnist Dave Broder, the Clintons “ruined this town” (Washington, DC) with their lack of civility and should be driven out of town.
Still, Hillary Clinton, with all the smear around her and her family, is leading the race because the Democratic Party base believes that such rules indeed exist – the pundits and the mainstream media be damned.
What should the Binay campaign learn from the success of Hillary Clinton? For one, this: that even a campaign dragged down by a heavy moral baggage and identified with all sorts of deviltry can survive. The pundits and the mainstream media are not the final arbiters of truths and falsehoods – and the votes of the electorate.
Mr. Binay can go out and say (with some amount of truthiness) that “ Binay Rules” exist. While other candidates are treated with kid gloves by the media and shielded from real scrutiny, he can say that he and his family have been falsely associated with all the wrongdoings in this world. He can wave off thick headlines that have been alleging, on a non-stop basis, that he is the blackest man, literally and figuratively, among the presidential wannabes. He can claim, with a certain amount of truth, that while the others have escaped scrutiny (like the Republican rivals of Ms. Clinton ), he has been recipient of every dirt, the kitchen sink included.
If his campaign can convince the electorate that the pundits and the media are out to get him and drag him down into infamy because of a bias against him, his campaign will survive. And recapture the ground lost to the incessant media play on his supposed corrupt and venal acts.
You know what? The Clintons have been accused of every form of sleaze – from corruption (Whitewater) to murder (Vince Foster). I think Mr. Binay has been accused of all forms of sleaze, from massive corruption to murder.
Binay, like Hillary Clinton, can seamlessly transition into a candidate of the Left. His ideological moorings were pro-union, pro-workers and pro-poor. Many of his friends from the anti-Marcos struggle are still behind him, though grudgingly. The political friends he gained in the 80s, the Laban people who marched with him, are now orphans that can be drafted into action anew. It would not be tough for Mr. Binay to relive the rhetoric of the anti-Marcos struggle and his own proletarian moorings.
Some doubt whether he can still do that, what with his immense wealth and long years as a member of the Top 1 percent. Maybe his wealth and power have dulled the insurgent in Mr. Binay. Maybe his association with the Erap group has blunted his deep ties to the underclass. But there is no harm in trying. Because adopting the model of Hillary Clinton is right now the only route to survival and probably victory.
More, the imagined ties of Jojobama to the real President Obama are skin-deep, based on the shared skin pigmentation and hue.
But adopting the Hillary model is about presenting a candidate dragged down by a seemingly insurmountable moral baggage. But one refusing to back down and quit. I am many things, said Ms. Clinton. But not a quitter.