In a remarkable news story in Sunday’s Washington Post, “The making of Hillary 5.0: Marketing wizards help re-imagine Clinton brand,” reporters Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan reveal that “two of corporate America’s branding wizards” are being consulted to help develop a brand, slogan, logo and the like for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. These consultants, who have worked for corporate behemoths such as Coca-Cola, Southwest Airlines and Wal-Mart, specialize in making what is old look new again. I guess it isn’t surprising that the campaign would solicit some input from experts such as these, but the fact that the Clinton operation would talk about it, even on background, is stunning. It suggests, among other things, that the campaign already has a problem with internal message discipline. Frontrunners’ campaigns are plagued by people who want to take credit, embellish their own role and cultivate an image that they were essential to the victory they think is likely. This won’t be new for some of the pros over there such as John Podesta, but that doesn’t mean it will be something that can be purged from the self-obsessed Clinton operation.

Anyway, nothing about publicly acknowledging the need to consult mega-corporate image strategists on how to make a big, tired brand seem fresh is flattering for Clinton. I guess so far it hasn’t occurred to anyone in the Clinton operation that they might want to play down the idea that the Clinton campaign is a colossal, impersonal machine. And oh, by the way, aren’t Democrats supposed to be the anti-big corporation party these days? Will the pricey big corporate consultants be able to craft a clever image and slogan that precisely captures the anti-big corporation sentiments among the liberal voters Clinton needs to attract? What am I missing? I suspect the Elizabeth Warren sympathizers are howling with delight.

The whole exercise seems flawed, but it also suggests that Clinton doesn’t quite know who she is. I guess Clinton Inc. sees no downside or even irony in recruiting “corporate branding wizards,” having the biggest staff, the tightest organizational chart, the highest number of consultants and a fundraising plan modeled after mechanized strip-mining.

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For at least a while, the liberal media will applaud everything Clinton does, and her first few appearances will be celebrated as near-perfection. But sooner or later, reporters and others will be forced to notice if the applause is synthetic, if the speeches are too rehearsed and if the laugh lines grow stale. This will become undeniable — even among her most zealous supporters in the media and the commentariat — as Clinton makes her fair share of mistakes and has to spend more time on the defensive. The best corporate image makeover artist that money can buy won’t make any difference if Clinton doesn’t know who she is and doesn’t have anything new to say.

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