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November 05, 2007

The Case For/Against Hillary Clinton

Tom Watson makes the case for Hillary Clinton. I don't disagree with much of what he's said. My problem is what he hasn't said. That Hillary Clinton, when she declares that Iran cannot be allowed to procure nukes and military force will be used if necessary, is lying. That and health care are my threshhold issues. Clinton has convinced me on health care. In some ways, I think she's the best of the set on the issue, and the most sophisticated in her political approach to it. But on foreign policy, her advisers, and many of her statements, scare me. When Holbrooke says, “she is probably more assertive and willing to use force than her husband," what comfort am I to take from that? When Clinton votes for Kyl-Lieberman -- being the only Democrat running for president to do so -- what am I to say?

I'm open to being convinced. On some level, I have trouble believing that Clinton would be stupid enough to bomb Tehran. But I can only take her at her word, at her advisers, and at her votes, and they all point in the same direction.

November 5, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Clinton has convinced me on health care. In some ways, I think she's the best of the set on the issue, and the most sophisticated in her political approach to it.

I find this somewhat surprising. HRC no doubt knows more on health care. But the President's job isn't to write out the policy plan in detail, it will be to best communicate principles to the public and win the political battles.

The plans are similar.

HRC's baggage on the health care issue-- fair or not-- makes her less likely to win the political battles. You could argue she's more prepared for them, but the linkage to '93/socialized medicine/and the rest will better work against her than the others.

I'm real curious what you mean by "most sophisticated"-- you mean the tax breaks for small business? What do you mean here?

Posted by: wisewon | Nov 5, 2007 1:00:07 PM

Wisewon, I'm curious what you think her "baggage" is that differs so much from hurdles that the Democrats will face generally (unless there are substantial majorities in both houses) in making major changes to health care. I have my issues with Clinton's proposals, but in terms of who might be able to get things done, given her experience and her work as a Senator, I tend to think she's got more going for her to get something done, not less. It's what she might do (or be willing to accept) that concerns me.

As ofr Ezra's points, I'm curious as to why everyone's so sure she wants to bomb Iran a week into office; it strikes me that everything she's said is, again, not remarkably different from anyone else - that diplomacy is thekey here, but all options, even military ones, have t be an option. I'm not sure why that's so objectionable, except that in these days when Bush says "diplomacy" and means "that's not going to work" that we take the "all options" to automatically mean bombs are going in. I don't think she's said that.

Posted by: weboy | Nov 5, 2007 1:12:14 PM

Understanding of the political and congressional mechanics involved.

Posted by: Ezra | Nov 5, 2007 1:12:54 PM

I'm curious what you think her "baggage" is that differs so much from hurdles that the Democrats will face generally (unless there are substantial majorities in both houses)

Fair point, to a certain degree. The difference is, while there would be "fear" by some people of government taking a more active role in health care with Obama and Edwards, Clinton actually tried. And parsing through the differences between what she advocated then, versus what she is advocating for now, is more complicated than simply refuting what an Obama/Edwards plan is not.

Posted by: wisewon | Nov 5, 2007 1:30:08 PM

Ezra,

Another related thought, I was going to say this differently in response to weboy but think it makes more sense like this:

Why doesn't the Iran concerns actually bleed into concerns on health care reform?

When I pushed you before on your approval of Clinton's plan (I thought it wasn't that ambitious), your support really boiled down a belief in a so-called "sequentialist approach."

What makes you believe that there's more to her plan? Perhaps you're happy with this reform being the only reform over the next 10 years. But if not, doesn't her predilection towards straddling the middle give you pause on the health care issue?

Posted by: wisewon | Nov 5, 2007 1:43:48 PM

If there's not at least a casual relationship between what politicians say and what they do, then there's no reason to judge them by their statements at all.

In other words, to assume that Hillary is lying in the face of her consistently hawkish stance on Iran shows either an unwillingness to accept anything she says at face value, or an extreme indulgence in wishful thinking.

Posted by: lux | Nov 5, 2007 1:46:39 PM

...diplomacy is thekey here, but all options, even military ones, have t be an option. I'm not sure why that's so objectionable...

Well, it's not.....unless you believe are simply anti-war, believing that there are never any circumstances in which force is necessary.

It' a reasonable position.

Posted by: El viajero | Nov 5, 2007 1:52:32 PM

Looked at from not-quite geosynchronous satellite orbiting the Clintonian planet, Hillary has two related problems: Dems are generally viewed as 'softer' (read: ineffective in using military power) than Rethugs; and women are generally considered as 'softer' than men on use of force issues. If she doesn't counter these two minuses against her election, it doesn't matter what she really would do as an elected President with Iran (or similar thorny foreign policy issues) if she doesn't get elected. In this situation, hawkishness is the byword.

Similarly, once elected, she will have to immediately start the 2012 election campaign, and everything she does will be fodder for the media that leans against Dems and against women in high office. Once again, some degree of hawkishness will be the byword.

But (BUT!) the President has great latitude on war and peace issues, so if she wanted to rely mostly on diplomacy, alliances, engagement and carefully balanced carrots and sticks, she could, if so inclined, to govern effectively and get reelected sounding very hawkish but acting very responsibly from the realist mild-leftish point of view.

I'm inclined to cut her lots of slack on what she says about Iran and Iraq in particular and generally about terrorism. She really has no choice if she is to be elected. Do I trust her to act more modestly than she talks in the campaign? Yes, tons more trust for her than GW Bush or Rudy Guliani.

What about Obama and Edwards. We have no real idea how they would really act as President on foreign policy issues - although possibly more dovish in execution than Clinton. But can they be elected with a higher degree of probability? That's not so clear - both have gaping foreign policy/military affairs holes in their experience. Put flatly, as first lady Clinton was clearly in the loop on decisional issues; she was an active actor on the world stage, and her Senatorial position has strengthened her exposure/experience to national security. She is a far better known commodity in this area than Obama or Edwards.

Could I be fooled (more than once)? Yeah, but the alternatives for Dems are not so clear either. And the alterntives in the GOP are just awful.

I often hate historical personage comparisons, but it seems Hillary is playing the Margaret Thatcher (or Golda Mier) role in this campaign - in relation to national security. That's not a bad role for her given the climate of our electorial process and the relatively small amount that the public knows about effective conduct of foreign policy. We don't exactly have lots of positive role models in former Presidents since, like, Eisenhower.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 5, 2007 2:00:36 PM

The most compelling reason NOT to vote for Hillary is Mark Penn.
Other than that, I really love the idea of a woman president.

Posted by: gonzone | Nov 5, 2007 2:09:26 PM

Nobody ever really knows how a potential president will run foreign policy. One can claim this is true for all issues, but foreign policy is really a special case. So much of actual diplomacy is rhetoric and they need to keep their options open. I'm not even sure the candidates themselves really know what they will do as there is no substitute for actually being the one in charge.

I don't believe Clinton will actually invade Iran. But that isn't based on much.

Posted by: Mark | Nov 5, 2007 2:24:30 PM

Isn't there strong, specific language in Kyl-Lieberman precluding the use of military force against Iran without Congressional approval? My understanding is that Kyl-Lieberman is a diplomatic chess move, the sort of move we should be making insteal of all the bellicose saber rattling the White House is so into.

Posted by: Sharon | Nov 5, 2007 2:31:17 PM

AIPAC'rs...all.

Posted by: has_te | Nov 5, 2007 2:33:39 PM

diplomacy is the key here, but all options, even military ones, have to be an option. I'm not sure why that's so objectionable,

It's objectionable because military action against Iran simply shouldn't be an option. Yes, it would suck and all that if Iran gets a nuke, but even in the extremely unlikely scenario that they couldn't be bargained out of it, attacking Iran is simply not a reasonable course of action.

That said, it's not completely out of bounds for a president to SAY that military force is on the table, even if it's not - i.e. as a kind of bluff. MAYBE this is what Hillary is doing. But to attribute this motive to her involves an extraordinary degree of trust that she simply hasn't earned. I, too, would like to think that there is no way Hillary would be stupid enough to attack Iran. But given what has transpired over the last six years, I'd say the burden is on the candidate to demonstrate that he or she has the wisdom to be trusted on matters like these.

Posted by: Jason C. | Nov 5, 2007 3:07:01 PM

"In some ways, I think (Clinton is) ... the most sophisticated in her political approach to (healthcare)."

Clinton may have a wonderful theoretical model of how to politically achieve healthcare reform, but the best actual means to politically achieve healthcare reform is to walk into office in 2009 with a whole bunch of new Democratic Senators aside you.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 5, 2007 3:19:45 PM

"I find this somewhat surprising. HRC no doubt knows more on health care. But the President's job isn't to write out the policy plan in detail, it will be to best communicate principles to the public and win the political battles."

Yup. And I think Senator Clinton is significantly more likely to trade away crucial elements in the quest to get to 60 than John Edwards.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 5, 2007 3:28:53 PM

Where is Hillary on the Other War, the bigger more detructive war: Democratic Candidates are Deafeningly Silent on the Drug War
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/the-other-war-democratic_b_44063.html

“While all the top candidates are vying for the black and Latino vote, they are completely ignoring one of the most pressing issues affecting those constituencies: the failed War on Drugs, a war that has morphed into a war on people of color.

Consider this: according to a 2006 ACLU report, African Americans make up 15 percent of drug users, but account for 37 percent of those arrested on drug charges, 59 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: America has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70 percent) are black or Latino.”

“You might have thought this would change during a spirited Democratic presidential campaign. But a quick search of the top Democratic hopefuls' websites reveals that not one of them -- not Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, not John Edwards, not Joe Biden, not Chris Dodd, not Bill Richardson -- even mentions the drug war, let alone offers any solutions. “

Posted by: Floccina | Nov 5, 2007 4:17:15 PM

I find all this talk about how Clinton must appear hawkish a bit of wishful thinking. It's possible to appear protective of the US without voting for Lieberman stunts. It's also possible to avoid saying you'd use nuclear weapons in Pakistan. And it's pretty damn easy to say "no permanent bases in Iraq" but she has said exactly the opposite. Further, while people complain about her being inconsistent, the one thing she IS consistent about is use of force--early and often. So with all due respect I think all of you who think she is just employing a hawkish strategy to get elected are whistling in the dark.

Posted by: sparky | Nov 5, 2007 4:53:32 PM

"Yup. And I think Senator Clinton is significantly more likely to trade away crucial elements in the quest to get to 60 than John Edwards.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 5, 2007 3:28:53 PM"

And thus why I'm losing respect for the A list bloggers such as the one who posted this diary on the subject. I am resigned myself to the fact that by 2012 or 2016 the Party will suffer major loses because of the disconnect between verbiage and action.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 5, 2007 4:57:38 PM

I have to ask- do any of you bother to really pay attention to what the public is saying- i don't mean what candidate they say they support- but what they say they support versus what the candidates say? I do. This disconnect is going to eventually hurt us really badly.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 5, 2007 4:59:27 PM

Petey,

"...the best actual means to politically achieve healthcare reform is to walk into office in 2009 with a whole bunch of new Democratic Senators"

That is exactly what happened in 1992, but Hill & Bill thought Health care should wait until after they had enacted Republican policies that got 54 Democratic congressmen their walking papers...that's why health care failed.

Somehow the Hill and Bill fan club manages to erase this inconvenient truth.

Posted by: S Brennan | Nov 5, 2007 5:02:35 PM

Which advisers are you speaking about specifically. Wes Clark has Hillary's ear and her recent talk on Iran has been sounding more and more like what he's been saying for years. He also happens to have set up a website devoted entirely to prevent war with Iran.

I'm not sure that I follow you re: Hillary. Taylor Marsh had Larry Johnson on her show who said that he could live with Clinton but not Obama because of Obama's neocon foreign policy team. I was wondering what Hillary was doing on the K-L amendment in shock. Then I actually read the thing and it set out specifically that we needed to pursue diplomacy. Sure, Bush may use that to wage more war, but he will do that regardless. While I find it worth pausing to consider Bush's interpretation of K-L, I thought that progressives should have been spinning furiously that the passed K-L amendment was a victory for anti-war policy. Instead, progressives used it to attack Hillary and gave credence to the thought that it was really a pro-war vote. Progressives still haven't figured out how to effectively use the media, I guess. So it goes.

Posted by: gq | Nov 5, 2007 5:05:55 PM

With Clinton, there are as always two possibilities: she's stupid or she's lying. Whether she really is a neo-con, or just plays one on TV, either should disqualify her. If she's unable or unwilling to make a compelling case for what she believes on critical issues, what good will she be when she actually does enter office and confronts such difficult and divisive questions?

Really, these are the same problems as faced liberals in the 2006 election. The Dems in Congress were clearly willing to sell out constituents and Constitution at the earliest opportunity. Dems dutifully trooped to the polls in Nov and gave them control of Congress. A year later, they've continued in more-or-less the same vein as before. Yes, they have been slightly less enthusiastic than the Republicans on eliminating liberties and freedoms, but in the end, the result is pretty similar.

Posted by: faux facsimile | Nov 5, 2007 5:13:38 PM

I'm inclined to cut her lots of slack on what she says about Iran and Iraq in particular and generally about terrorism. She really has no choice if she is to be elected.

So, her agenda is so radical and different from the voters that she has to lie about it? She doesn't need to be elected if she is so far removed that she must hide her agenda in a dishonest way to win.

Posted by: El viajero | Nov 5, 2007 5:32:02 PM

The great lie of why people support her:

"She really has no choice if she is to be elected"

She has a choice. And she can be elected on that choice. You confuse what you are afraid of with what is reality. I can say until I am blue in the face (a mean feet considering I'm a black guy) that you need to follow the disconnect between where y ou think the electorate is, where the electorate is and what she is doing. If you bothered to test your assumptions - just once- rather than repeat talking point or worse yet get lost of the forest of justifications and/or wonkishness then you would know your fundamental premise to be a false one. 70 percent of the American public -- 70 PERCENT- wants us out of Iraq now. When testing for various wording, strategies and permutations- that number stays almost as high. There is absolutely nothing that justifies her beliefs electorally at this point other than her supporters a) willful ignorance of the rest of the population and what they think and b) the DC CW she has become a part of.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 5, 2007 5:42:30 PM

One other thing about this phrase:

"She really has no choice if she is to be elected."

The danger of it is- what won't you justify to get her elected? What if the GOP somehow is able to gain control of the public discourse on Iran- will you justify a war because it will help her electorally? What about healthcare. What if the insurance companies are able to poison the well again- will you justify doing nothing on the issue? What about any number of things for which she can throw any number of people under the bus? where is the line inthe sand? Do you have one? it doesn't seem like it.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 5, 2007 5:46:30 PM

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