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Stacy Parker Le Melle Headshot

The Quick Fix for Clinton that Might Actually Help

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Mrs. Clinton: with your back smack against the wall, don't you think it might be time to do something so daring, so risktaking -- that yes, the whole world might just crumble around you if you do it, but at least you'll know you used every weapon in your arsenal before getting creamed by the younger, dreamier version of your husband?

It's simple. Tonight, find a way a way to be humble. If you can, find a way to admit to a mistake. Go so far as to actually admit that you lost in Iowa, but that you *learned* from the experience. That voters told you something you actually heard.

Let me ask you: are you irritated by all those people who keep calling on you to show some vulnerability? At first I was annoyed, too. But now, I think I know what they mean. They don't want you to cry. They don't want you to be submissive or weak. They want you to show us that you know how to own your mistakes, to take responsibility the times you do less than well.

Your world is not going to fall apart if you do this. I promise. We all promise. And if it does, maybe this just isn't the job for you. The guy we have right now can't admit to mistakes, and no one thinks the job is for him either.

Unfortuantely though, if today's Note is any indication, humility doesn't seem to be on tonight's menu. When talking about your Iowa defeat, you didn't seem interested in acknowledging either culpability or lessons learned:

"The bruised-but-not-beaten narrative would seem to be the favorite storyline -- but Sen. Clinton isn't leading with humility. Rather than acknowledge defeat and say she's learning from the licks she's taken, she's...slamming Iowa? Imagine how badly Clinton would have lost the caucuses if these sentences were uttered 24 hours earlier: "You're not disenfranchised if you work at night," she said of the New Hampshire primary. "You're not disenfranchised if you're not in the state."

If somehow you learned in your youth that apology = weakness, please, de-learn this. Fake it if you have to. We're on our eighth year of this. The least we can expect from our leadership is a little humility, because no matter how smart and experienced they are, they are still human, they are still flawed, and the universe is going to find ways to stump them, maybe even knock them out.

Last February, William Saletan wrote a powerful piece outlining your apology problem. His piece was primarily about your refusal to apologize for your Senate resolution vote authorizing force in Iraq, ultimately comparing you to George Bush. His conclusion was pretty withering:

"Voters just repudiated a president who thinks that stubbornness is responsibility and that admitting mistakes is groveling. The way to act responsibly is not to act like him. It also happens to be the way to get elected. And if you don't understand the former, you don't deserve the latter."

Media Matters took interest in Chris Matthew's curious insistence that you refuse to apologize for fear of gender-based attacks. If that's true, you need to jump over that shadow pronto. You should know by now that *no one* thinks of you as some ditzy, dithering, weak-willed woman. Right now, you come off as mighty stubborn. And no matter how much we may be in agreement with many of your objectives, that stubbornness, that freight train one-way energy, that "you're either with us or against us" sabotages working relationships with other decision-makers, and clogs up your ability to take in new, vital information at critical points in time.

In my experience, the problem with people who know "everything" is that because they know "everything," they'll see the cliff ahead and keep on chugging because all their beautiful learned calculations say stay the course. The cliff may be fully visible, but that same beautiful mind will excuse the cliff away as immaterial -- and shush away well-meaning calls of warning. And there they go: chug, chug, chug right over the cliff. Problem is that when you're president, you take us all with you.

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