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August 24, 2007

Fear Itself

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

After seeing Barack Obama get nitpicked for saying sensible things about foreign policy, I hope that Hillary gets a lot more grief for saying things that are worse:

"But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," Clinton told supporters in Concord.

"So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that," she added.

This is what it looks like when a candidate is simply running scared from the Republicans on foreign policy issues. If Republican incompetence results in loss of life due to terrorist activity, it ought to put them at a disadvantage. A candidate who has confidence on foreign policy issues will be able to make that happen.  And it's absolutely essential that it happen, for the safety of Americans. 

Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson have been criticizing Hillary's remarks, and good for them. 

August 24, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

That really is nitpicking, Neil. What Clinton said isn't worse than Obama's fowl-ups, which aren't sensible, and which he defends despite their not being sensible. I don't think we'll have demonstrations in Pakistan over this. This doesn't commit Clinton to foolish foreign policy ideas.

Your interpretation of Clinton's remarks isn't supported by what she said. There's no indication at all that she's running scared from anything. Republican incompetence should have cost them support after September 11th, but it didn't. No amount of Democratic self-confidence could have changed that. Pointing to Republican incompetence was widely interpreted as taking political advantage of a tragedy that it was felt called for unity. If there were a similar event now, who knows how people would respond?

This isn't to say that Clinton's point is as good as she tries to make it. What she's saying is that she presents the strongest alternative to Republicans in the face of terrorism. Polling results on leadership qualities support that. But she overstates the likelihood that an attack would help the Republicans. It might have the opposite effect, as you suggest it should.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 24, 2007 9:47:23 PM

It's a hell a lot worse. What she says is that only she, Clinton, can save the Democrats in terms of foreign policy. In other words, we are weak, but for her. It's classic triangulation, and its at its worse form- Democrats are bad on foreign policy, but "i am special."

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:12:45 PM

By the way, let's be even more clear- there is not a dimes worth of difference between what she said and what Chenney said in 2004 when he said of people didn't vote for Bush, then we might just wake up with a mushroom cloud over an American city. It's the worst kind of fearmongering, and I honestly can't believe she said that. It's trully fucked up.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:14:59 PM

I think akaison restates Neil quite well, but I'm not sure it makes much more sense - she said that she was the best, and only, candidate for the job. Color me surprised. I wonder where she got that idea... oh wait.

I don't think what she said was remarkable. I also don't think she's correct, for a number of reasons... but I think what's worse is that vague"certain things" construction in her argument; if she's got something in mind (does she mean a terrorist event in the US? elsewhere? what is she driving at?), why not say what exactly she's thinking of? And anyway, when did we all agree that if some terrorist event occurs its curtains for Democrats (or at least, swags)? I don't automatically think Democrats are lost if something happens... so if you don't buy the premise, is she still the best Democrat? I'm thinking no.

Still, I don't see how other candidates will make much hay from Clinton essentially saying she thinks she's the best person to be President, under whatever circumstance she thinks up. I kind of thought she thought that anyway, and really, that seems quite beside the point at this late date. If she thinks someone else is better, she should probably quit now.

Posted by: weboy | Aug 24, 2007 10:27:19 PM

HRC is absolutely correct. She is not the only candidate out there who can protect us from the terrorist, but she is the only one who can protect us from the Republicans after another major attack. My support for Edwards has always been fully informed with the knowledge that as the nominee he would get his hat handed to him after a 9/11 event in say Swpt '08. Giuliani would beat Edwards with coattails. Like. A. Drum.

Russert:"And how many more Americans will have die, Senator Edwards, before you are willing to defend America?" They would eat him alive. Jesus, folks, they destroyed Kerry, and if you think Kerry ran a bad campaign, they painted Max Cleland as a coward and a traitor. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Edwards, for me, was always a peace candidate, only electable if America didn't feel threatened. I wish I could pray.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 24, 2007 10:38:59 PM

here's what she should have said: I think the GOP has done poorly on foriegn policy. I think I am the best candidate to get the job done. That way it sounds like she's being, you know, positive about her own party, rather than reinforcing a frame that we are all a bunch of inbreeds exept for her and the horse she thinks she's riding in on. It also means she's not engaged in fearmongering by having mushroom clouds dance implicitedly in our heads. either that or repeat her faux mantra that she doesn't answer hypos.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:43:10 PM

bob what the fuck are you talking about? serious, where is Edwards a peace candidate except in your own imagination?

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:44:46 PM

anotehr question- clinton as strong on foreign policy? are you serious? to whom? don't confuse what's happened in the primaries with what will happen in the general where they can go full force after he last than stellar recrod in the subject.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:46:44 PM

Have you paid any attention for five years?

America is directly responsible for the death of a million, the displacement of three million, the suffering of another five. It wasn't an accident or a mistake.

For nothing. For the thrill. For kicks. This is what we are. You aren't goin to change us overnight.

You think Clinton is ugly, vicious, murderous? Duh.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 24, 2007 10:51:07 PM

one other post I swear for now- let me just add you commit the same mistake many do- we don't live in a post 9/11 era. We live in an ongoing Iraqi War era.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:52:23 PM

Sanpete, think of Katrina. If administration stupidity causes lots of human suffering, we'll want a candidate who can do that. Democrats did that during hurricane Katrina, as well they should have.

There's no indication at all that she's running scared from anything.

When a candidate says that another terrorist attack "will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again", she's not confident in her ability to hold Republicans accountable and turn things to their disadvantage. She's far too fearful of supposed Republican advantages on foreign policy issues that allow them to defeat any Democrat who stands up against them. And that's exactly what I mean by "running scared".

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 24, 2007 10:54:10 PM

(The second sentence in my above post should've been: "Democrats held Bush accountable for his mistakes there.")

weboy, I think that akaison's points and mine are somewhat different.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 24, 2007 10:56:15 PM

Okay you respond before I finished, but let me add one other than now that you have. No, I don't think Clinton is any of the things you describe. I think she's been competent to incompetent in foreign policy. I mean at best she would get a draw with a GOP'er. That's assuming a perfect storm where no one bothers to point out the obvious stuff like her vote, and other issues. Now, you may be thinking "but how can they run on that?" It's called doubt. Working the angle thats already underneath for somewhere near 50 percent of the population. Is it 50 plus one, or 50 minus 1? who knows. the point is to throw as much shit as you can at her as the GOP will do, and see what sticks. they want to run against her- not only because of teh shit they can throw, but because her moves will be so predictable;.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:56:18 PM

yes they are- neil. her point wasn't that all democrats are fearful or will be ineffectual. her point is that all democrats besides herself will be is her point. so we are all chicken shit except clinton.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 10:57:56 PM

"where is Edwards a peace candidate except in your own imagination?"

Yes, Akaison, I believe that Edwards is more likely to end or drawdown the War in Iraq, and prevent future wars, than either HRC or the Republicans.

I gather you are telling me I am wrong. If so, I am withdrawing my support for Edwards. Thank you.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 24, 2007 10:59:02 PM

akaison, while I agree with you about the badness of what Hillary is implying about other Democrats, that isn't really what I was saying above. I was just saying that Hillary is basically conceding her own inability, as a general election candidate, to properly hold the Republicans accountable.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 24, 2007 11:02:20 PM

Neil, the Republicans have an irradicable advantage because they are willing to kill innocents indiscrimately and immediately. They didn't lose in 2006, and won't lose in 2008, because Americans care big bunches about the little brown people.

If more Americans die on American soil, or if a large number die in Iraq, or if a carrier is lost, you have to be just about willing to nuke or lose the election. Nuke who? Doesn't matter.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 24, 2007 11:04:29 PM

This is one of the smartest thins I have heard HRC say. It shows she understands. The Republican candidates aren't running as racist killers because they are idiots or desperate. It is because they know Bush is going to help them out before the election. Apparently Hillary knows too.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 24, 2007 11:28:31 PM

By the way, let's be even more clear- there is not a dimes worth of difference between what she said and what Chenney said in 2004 when he said of people didn't vote for Bush, then we might just wake up with a mushroom cloud over an American city.

She said nothing like that at all, akaison. And she didn't say anything about Democrats being bad, only that she's the best.

if you don't buy the premise, is she still the best Democrat? I'm thinking no

Weboy, polls do support her on this--she gets by far the highest marks in leadership qualities related to this, such as strength.

Neil, Clinton wasn't talking about something like Katrina. She was talking about a terrorist attack, which has different baggage. The national shock caused by Katrina was nothing like that caused by September 11th.

When a candidate says that another terrorist attack "will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again", she's not confident in her ability to hold Republicans accountable and turn things to their disadvantage.

We apparently disagree about September 11th, which no amount of Democratic ability would have turned or did turn the way you suggest here. That includes those now running for President who, except for Obama, were already on the national scene. Nothing Clinton said shows her to be running scared. She just sees the political reality a terrorist attack might entail.

I was just saying that Hillary is basically conceding her own inability, as a general election candidate, to properly hold the Republicans accountable.

She's saying the opposite. She's saying that she's the best to do that.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 24, 2007 11:49:16 PM

"Yes, Akaison, I believe that Edwards is more likely to end or drawdown the War in Iraq, and prevent future wars, than either HRC or the Republicans.

I gather you are telling me I am wrong. If so, I am withdrawing my support for Edwards. Thank you."

This shows you are confused. being against the war in iraq isn't being about peace. It has nothing to do with 9/11. Which you started with, but drift now to Iraw. His being against the war isn't about taking the military off the board when needed. it's about not wasting our time where we shouldn't be. 65 percent of the american peo agree with that position, and its not a position of "let's not go after the terrorists." It's a position of understanding what a monumental mistake Iraq was to that goal and what a monumnetal mistake it is to convince one self that one can complete end terrorism.

In the case of the later, in 2004, that may have fallen on deaf ears. In 2008, in a never ending war, not so much. You fundamentally- and indeed CLinton fundamental misunderstands the times. We aren't in 2001 where peop are going rah, rah rah. Nor if an attack happend would you see what happened wth Bush from 2001 up until 2005 happen again. The GOp is not trusted anymore on these issues than we are. its 45 44 GOP to Dem. A statistical tie. And nor is it clear that the public again while Iraq is occuring will go rah, rah rah for the GOP. That's clinton fearmongering.


And if you believe Edwards is a peacenik then yes you do need to withdraw your support. I've never read anything he said that suggests he's not going to pursue Al Qaida- his point is the means. not the ends. No American president would ever take the stick off the table. His point is to also use the carrot.

Honestly, you seem to be mixing things together. First you start off about 9/11,b ut when challenged you bring up Iraq.

By the way, if you believe this is "smart." Then the fall out of this must make her so smart, and the back peddling such a genius that I am not seeing. Or frankly her team. But well, there you go- she's smart. And a great campaigner. No one pay attentiion to the wizard behind the curtain! Close that damn curtain!

Neil,

She specifically says at the end she is the one that is capable of addressing these issues. It may have been a tack on once you realized her gaffe, but she seems to be implying she is the only person who can get the job done. Of course, her problem is that the perception on this issues will not play well with the base. Thats the thing about many of her comments. They play better for the general. Not the primaries. What will happen in the primary is that as we get further into the fall and these comments end up in commercials, she's going to have to do a lot of explaining right at th etime she will also have to contend with people's nervousness over her electability.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 24, 2007 11:49:59 PM

We apparently disagree about September 11th, which no amount of Democratic ability would have turned or did turn the way you suggest here.

No, I'm with you on Sept. 11. But a terrorist attack in 2008 would come after seven more years in which the Bush Administration had their way in building an anti-terror policy. People are willing to spot the GOP 9/11 because they'd only had power for 8 months, and because it was such a shock to everyone. A terror attack now would be a whole different thing.

She's saying the opposite. She's saying that she's the best to do that.

Then why has she conceded that it won't work and that Republicans will end up with the advantage?

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 25, 2007 12:32:28 AM

I agree that an attack now would probably bring a different response, at least among many. That was my objection to what Clinton said as well. I don't doubt that among some voters it could still bring an adavantage to Republicans, at least initially. Clinton's point is that she's the best of the Democratic candidates to overcome any such advantage. She hasn't conceded that they'll end up with the advantage.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 25, 2007 12:42:07 AM

Neil, when Bob Altemeyer documents that nearly every kind of crisis tends to increase "right-wing authoritarian" attitudes, is he "running scared"? Hillary Clinton pointed out that Republicans have not made us safer, and in fact have done the opposite by their mishandling.

Posted by: hf | Aug 25, 2007 2:58:50 AM

hf, this takes me back to the special thing about presidential candidates.

If she gets the nomination, Hillary Clinton will be the person in the universe in the best position to call Republicans to account for what they've done wrong. Bob Altermeyer will never have that power. And there will be ways in which the tide can be turned against the tendency towards right-wing authoritarian attitudes in times of crisis. Katrina, for example, didn't help the right-wing authoritarians that much.

I don't want to give such a singular position to someone who isn't confident in her ability use it effectively.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 25, 2007 4:34:21 AM

I don't want to give such a singular position to someone who isn't confident in her ability use it effectively.

Again, nothing she says implies that at all. She's confident that she's the best one to do it.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 25, 2007 4:41:46 AM

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