I Finally Understand About Hillary

I’ve never completely understood the absolute enmity so many conservatives have for the Clintons, and for Hillary Clinton in particular. I have always believed much of it to be due to sour grapes, because the Clinton Dynasty was really the first era of non-GOP leadership that captured the attention of the country since Kennedy. (No, Carter doesn’t count.) It had to be a rude awakening to go from Reagan/Bush to eight years of the Clintons.

Plus, considering the traditional social viewpoints of the GOP base, the fact that Hillary is a strong, liberal woman had to play a role as well. Whenever I have heard the “Hillary is power mad” line I’ve always cast it aside and assumed whoever was floating it to be a bitter conservative, a sexist, or both. In fact, I just did so last week, at length, on a post at Hyperbole.

Mea culpa. I was wrong. Sure, I do still think a lot of people dislike HRC because of their GOP or gender biases. But I can’t just shrug off the accusation that the Clintons are about the Clintons, first and foremost. Not anymore.

Why?

Let me count the ways. First, I’m tired of hearing that any state Obama wins is only because there were too many black voters, or because it was a caucus state, and caucuses are inherently anti-democratic. (Although I do personally believe they are.) Excuses, excuses. It turns out the only important states to HRC are the states that HRC wins or has a chance to win, like Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Absolutely, those are important states in any election, but why wouldn’t the Democrats seize a chance to compete in states they had previously written off? (And in the case of HRC, still are writing off.)

And then, there is this issue of the super delegates, which incidentally I think would be a great name for an adventure cartoon. HRC’s campaign has forcefully said this week they won’t hesitate to claim the nomination via super delegates, even if she has not captured the majority of the delegates selected through the cumulative vote counts. Now, that’s all fine and good, and it’s her right to do that, but how can you dismiss caucuses as “anti-democratic and elitist”, and then loudly proclaim you will use the party apparatus in such a way even if you lose the popular vote?

Then there’s Michigan, where HRC initially agreed with the Democratic Party that the delegates from Michigan won’t be counted as a punishment for moving the primary up. But then, HRC had her name added to the ballot late in the game, the only Dem to do so. And now her campaign wants to count those delegates, as well as Florida’s? Say what?

I suppose it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. When the Clintons were ruling the roost and fighting the good fight against the Gingrich-era Contract On America, Bill and HRC could do very little wrong in my eyes. But now I see them fighting a different fight, against not only the best candidate the Democrats can offer, but against the Democratic Party and Democratic voters themselves. That’s a very different situation, and it makes it hard to deny that she looks less like someone with the party and rank and file Democrats in mind, and more like someone with her own ambition in mind.

Clearly, if she cleans up in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the overall vote tallies are close, then it’s her right to fight and I can’t begrudge her that. That’s part of what makes her an attractive candidate in the first place, right? That she is tough and she won’t back down? But there is a time to back down and be a cog in the machine, and that time is when the overall cause may be imperiled by your own pursuits. Can you imagine what will happen to the Democratic Party if Obama ends up with something like 35 out of the 50 states, or 15% more delegates determined by the popular vote, and he loses the nomination because the Dem Party insiders decide to back HRC? Never mind what that would do for the general election in 2008–What will it do to the Democratic Party, period?

I’ll tell you what it will do: It will make Obama’s “politics as usual” saw more true than ever, and that new American Coalition he keeps talking about might just form their own tent, and their own party. Because the Dem performance since taking back the House and Senate in 2006 hasn’t exactly been a watershed, has it? Do you know a lot of Democrats happy with how things have gone since the party kicked ass in November, 2006?

I don’t.

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8 Responses to I Finally Understand About Hillary

  1. pipelineblog says:

    One note worth mentioning, and which I meant to put in the post, which is that Obama isn’t exactly removing himself from these backroom dealings for super delegates. Stories linked on TPM today indicate his campaign has donated substantially more money to the campaigns of super delegates since 2006 than HRC’s campaign has. So it’s not like he’s just a pure man of the people; he knows the superdelegates are necessary and he’s wooing them, just like HRC.

    But again, that’s not the issue. The issue (this particular one, anyway) is that she has brazenly and quite early on said that she does not consider the popular vote to be any kind of mandate, that she’ll be happy to take the nomination on the power of super delegates even if she loses the popular vote.

    You could argue that Obama hasn’t made that claim simply because he hasn’t had to make that claim, and that’s true. But I have a hard time seeing Obama play hardball, as a relative newcomer, in the same way the Clintons have, calling in all favors possible.

    Further, I have a hard time seeing Obama push the nomination if polls showed him as an inferior, and thus riskier, candidate vs. the GOP in the general election. We aren’t yet at the point where that’s really a consideration, but that will be interesting to see how HRC (and the super delegates that support her) justify her nomination if those circumstances still hold at the time the nomination is announced.

  2. david says:

    Doug – you’ve clearly drunk the obama cool-aid. that’s fine. he’s inspirational and it’s hard to not want something inspirational to grasp on to after eight years of bush. I’d rather have health coverage for my kids, but hey… A couple of points and then I need to rant.

    1) It is in no way clear who comes out ahead in the super-delegate count. Initially, HRC had the lead, but it appears that many of the uncommitted are coming out in favor of Obama. so there’s no point in getting indignant about HRC using the super-delegates, ’cause that may be the exact same thing that pushes Obama over the top.

    2) Don’t hate Hillary for working the system. She didn’t decide that Michigan and Florida don’t count, the DNC did. She didn’t create the super-delegate system, the DNC did. She didn’t get to select the super-delegates, the DNC did. She’s trying to win the election, dammit. And if she’s fighting against the Democractic party, then god bless her, because somebody has to lead that fight.

    3) There are several very different consituencies in the democratic party, so it’s impossible to paint HRC as either with or against the party rank and file. HRC speaks to the unions, the less educated, the Latino, and the working class. Obama speaks to the better educated, the white collar, the young, and the African-American. Many of these groups have different reasons for supporting their candidates. Those constiuents who live paycheck to paycheck have a really hard time understanding how Obama is going to improve their quality of life. The white collar constituency can afford to support hope and change, as opposed to concrete policies.

    Having said that, time to rail against the man… The nominating process looks to be the fine makings of a cluster-fuck of an event. By the way, I will be teaching a course in 2016 (year after I get tenure) titled “Cluster-fucks in American political history.” If we go into the convention with a draw between Obama and HRC and 1) super-delegates get to steal the nomination (for either candidate); and 2) neither Florida nor Michigan delegates get seated; there should be open rioting in the streets of Denver. The DNC needs to be slapped around by the common man.

    Why does a preening fool like RIck Stafford get a vote that is equivalent to thousands of Minnesotans? Why does the DNC get to decide when and how Florida or Michigan fit into the process of selecting the next POTUS? This whole system is archaic and corrupt and it needs to change.

    And yes, Doug, caucuses are anti-democratic and elitist and they need to change too. They worked well in the 1880’s, when women folk watched the kids and the (white) men decided who would lead our country. I was in Nebraska earlier this week. Their democractic caucus was on a saturday from 10 to noon. If you work at Wal-mart or Bob Evans or the furniture mart, you miss the caucus. If you work at a white-collar 9to5 job, you caucus. When only 10% of the electorate participate, who does the elected represent? We need an enormous political overhaul in the country and perhaps that needs to start with the current party system and how we (not they) elect our candidates.

    If the whole process ends devolving into a decacle and ends up with the creation of a new, legitimate third party, maybe that might be a price worth paying.

  3. pipelineblog says:

    Jane here. I agree to an extent, but I don’t blame her. You should check out the video Kelly links to on CampK re: Hillary/Reese Witherspoon in the movie Election.

    Here’s the real problem with Hillary: she uses a Celine Dion song as her official campaign anthem. Unforgivable.

  4. kelly says:

    David, I can agree with everything you said, and largely I agree with it in a vacuum. The thing that Doug points out, is HRC’s inconsistencies between what she advocates and then what she does. She supported Michigan and Florida being ousted from the primaries, and is now pushing to get them back in for example. I don’t hold her gamesmanship against her in pure form, its the double talk that pisses me off. And you have a clear kool-aid issue with Hillary. I don’t get how Obama doesn’t have a plan….. that’s Hillary’s assertion and I just dont see a single example of that.

  5. david says:

    Well, here’s the thing about HRC and MI and FL… when everyone agreed to boycott those states, HRC figured she’d easily wrap up the nomination without them. So, she would have been picking a fight with the DNC for no reason, and considering their influence over donors, advertising, and other resources, it’s suicide to pick a fight with them.

    As for the Hillary kool-aid, it’s just not the case… I’ll probably vote for Obama on March 4th, because I don’t think HRC can beat McCain. However, I don’t think Obama, given his complete lack of ANY policy success, either at the state or federal level, is the person to best lead the country. People in my neck of the woods need jobs, lots of them, and I’m still waiting to hear him offer a plan. Of course, I don’t expect he will. He will very likely win on his message of hope and change, whereas policy platforms would just expose weaknesses.

  6. Charley says:

    hmmm, HRC…..Celine Dion……Canadian….socialized medicine!

  7. kelly says:

    David, I hear you on the policy and experience front.

    So I guess I’m drawing a line in the whole games’man’ship assumption that HRC clearly isn’t, and where I get disenchanted. That line is generally ‘advocate for what you believe in’ …….. if Hillary wants those states back in because she needs their votes, she should say ‘earlier, I thought the DNC was too powerful and I agreed with their decision to eliminate those votes, but it was a mistake I now realize because I really need those votes. I finally understand what its like to be left out of the process’ ……. all the blathering about democracy and caucuses are just bs ….. she doesn’t really believe in those things, she simply wants to win. Kudos. Frankly I think she should be playing too her strengths, if ‘winning’ coincides with good policy and Hillary is a ‘winner’ than start being unapologetic and start being honest. Its possibly her only hope. But the double speak is going to continue to wash out her strengths and land her in Kerry land.

    On the ‘Obama Plan’ side, policy wonkishness simply isn’t a great way to get elected; and it makes for snoozer speeches in general. Most Americans want to hear something, but I’d hazard a guess that most of your neighbors in economic hardship don’t want to hear about the distinction between a $3,000 dependent tax care credit for families earning less than 60,000 and a $3,500 tax credit for families earning less than $55,000, providing that the family isn’t drawing medic aid. etc. etc. And if you look at his economic plan it would take half a day to get through it with any real detail.

    But if you did want to know about Obama’s economic plan, a summary of it is here:
    http://www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/EconomicPolicyFullPlan.pdf

    I’ll gladly endorse Hillary if she gets the nomination; and I like her a lot more than pipeline; but if she wants my support, I’m ready for the real Hillary. Oddly, when Obama speaks I feel like I’m getting the real deal…. the genuine guy for better or worse.

  8. Stanton says:

    Late post – I don’t know if anyone will see this other than Doug. But I have to take issue with the assertion that Obama lacks any policy success at the federal level.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/2/20/201332/807/36/458633

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