There are two Clintons campaigning these days and they are both named Hillary. The Hillary you've been hearing a lot of lately is putting on a moderate face - expressing reservations about abortion, appearing at events with Newt Gingrich and being a strong supporter of the war in Iraq.
While Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stall the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Clinton makes repeated public and private appearances on behalf of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While the Left made its critical push on filibusters, Clinton was nowhere to be seen on camera. And there were a lot of cameras. In fact, Clinton was getting some credit in the mainstream media for presenting Democrat proposals on immigration reform. Not enough to please the issue's stronger critics, but enough to show she was serious about the issue.
The effort has seemingly paid off. Recent polls by Gallup and Fox News show Clinton with a net positive approval rating. Those same Gallup findings claim a majority would at least consider supporting Hillary for president. And unlike her potential rivals for the 2008 Democratic nomination, Clinton doesn't have to worry about securing media attention or a strong base of fundraising support.
It could be tempting to see Clinton's reported political concessions as genuine. After all, Bill Clinton based his entire political philosophy on triangulation. Even if most dismiss Clinton's sincerity out of hand, there is no doubt her influence dominates Democrat circles and any moves to the center are worth noting. However, the temptation to credit Clinton fades when you measure both sides of her campaign strategy.
Though she has remained publicly quiet on both issues, Clinton will vote against the nomination of John Bolton and would support maintaining judicial filibusters. And while she has made verbal concessions to pro-life voters, nothing in Clinton's voting record or stated views on abortion has changed.
Away from the cameras, Hillary Clinton gives her supporters something far different than her recent persona suggests.
Clinton let loose at a "Women for Hillary" fundraiser last weekend. Her rhetoric shifted quickly from someone in the center left of American politics to someone finding greater affinity with Howard Dean than Bill Clinton. Starting on the Bush administration, Clinton told supporters, "There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda." Clinton went on to describe the GOP as "power hungry." And while keeping criticism of the U.S. Senate mostly in check, Clinton described the Republican leadership in the House as, "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership."
The appearance and content of Clinton's speech seemed far from the "centrist" image the public has been presented with since at least 2002.