Monday, October 15, 2007
In Defense Of Hillary, From The Left
Be that as it may, I am heartily sick and tired of Hillary Clinton catching it from both sides. We know she's got it coming from the right wing freaks, and that is as it should be. If the neocons started touting her that would cause me concern. But my brothers and sisters in liberalism are giving her grief for not being lefty enough. While I might agree with my compatriots when it comes to Sentaor Clintons take on several issues, I don't think that ideological purity from a liberal perspective should be the end all be all when considering who we support for President.
I think Senator Clinton has her eyes on the ultimate prize, not the way points along the way to that prize. The ultimate prize is winning the majority of the vote in the general election, not just winning the majority of the vote in the primaries. She is trying to make herself acceptable to centrists, and trying to peel off segments of the Republican coalition, even before she wins the nomination.
George Bush took this tactic in the 2000 election, which he admittedly lost but would have lost even worse if he had not presented himself as a bipartisan uniter, compassionate conservative, against nation building, humble foreign policy candidate. Bush said what he had to say to get selected and then ran the show like he freaking well pleased once he was given his prize.
The Republicans find themselves in a dicey spot because to win their nomination one must appeal to the right wing freaks who have done so much to turn off the rest of the nation. We will see a stark before and after in the Republican nominee. Before wrapping up the nomination the candidate can't get away from President Bush's failed policies or he will be rejected by the wingnuts. After the nomination is a done deal that candidate will race to the center or be rejected by 2/3 of the American electorate. Senator Clinton is calculating that she can appeal to the 2/3 right now, getting a big head start in winning hearts and minds. She is presenting an acceptable alternative to the insufferably rabid crowd on the right right now, even as the Republicans actively promote their pro Bush credentials, which most of the nation rejects.
Barack Obama would like to do this as well, but he wants to do it by playing nice and trying to bring harmony to the nations political scene. I certainly think this is a wonderful goal and I very much anticipate the day that our disparate pols link arms and sing kum bay ya as we forge a bipartisan consensus on the nations business. BUT... I am not looking forward to throwing my support behind another idealistic campaign which stays above the fray as the nutso right tears them to shreds. If Obama wins the nomination, I'll be there supporting him to the hilt, but I'm certainly not going to follow his high minded example and disarm in the hopes that the other side will start playing nice.
Senator Clinton on the other hand is not disarming from the partisanship, but she is trying to make it possible for sane members of the Republican coalition to cast votes for her in the general election. She is polarizing because that is true of any candidate the Democrats nominate. Does anyone think Obama or Edwards will not be unfairly nuked repeatedly by the Republicans in the general election? It was not Democrats unfairly belittling John Edwards haircut during a debate. That was Mike Huckabee who is trying to be the nice guy in the Republican nomination. The slanders against Obama (OSAMA... oops we meant obama, attended a madrassa, is a Muslim as if that should automatically of itself be an automatic disqualifier... etc etc etc) have come from the right wing of the political divide as well.
So Senator Clinton knows what is coming, and she is trying to take votes from the Republicans even as she weathers the storm. This is triangulation, and that is a dirty concept for my fellow lefties. At this point however I am willing to forgive the centrism and obfuscation necessary to follow this strategy in order to put a Democrat into the White House.
I understand liberal dissatisfaction with Senator Clinton on various issues. But I ask you to consider what will actually happen if or when she takes office in 2009. She will nominate a Secretary of Defense, and I can assure you it will not be Donald Rumsfeld. Picture Eric Shinseki as Sec Def. How about Joe Biden as Secretary of State with Bill Clinton globe trotting as an emissary trying to patch things up following the Bush disaster. This applies to all the other cabinet and executive offices as well. Even if Senator Clinton tries to run the country like Bush III, she would have to fight her own administration every step of the way to do it. Do you think a Sec Def Shinseki is just going to roll over and let Clinton start poking the Iranian hornets nest? I am convinced that having Democrats running the executive will result in markedly better policies than we have labored under with President Bush, even if Senator Clinton is a bit to the right of the standard liberal line of demarcation on sundry issues.
I suppose this all boils down to a simple question. How badly do my fellow liberals want to put a Democrat into the White House? Do we want it badly enough to accept some ideological impurities (many of which may be in the name of triangulation in order to reach the ultimate goal)? Or will we assist tearing down our front runner from the left as she is also savaged from the right?
Besides which, wouldn't it be fun to have Hillary Clinton, who has only married once, run against some Republican who has married multiple times? (The only way that doesn't happen is if Romney manages to win the nomination, and that looks less likely with each passing Romney gaffe.) I can not imagine how maddening it will be for the rabid evangelicals to have the Clintons as an example of the very family values which their own candidate is so obviously a wretched failure at. And won't it be fun to watch the Malcoulhanireillynites melt down with Hillary as President?!
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