Saturday, January 19, 2008

Summoning Truman's economists...

Harry Truman once lamented that no one would bring him a one-armed economist, because the ones he consulted were always saying something apparently definitive, only to add, “On the other hand,” and completely muddy the waters. Harry S. was a simple and direct man, so you can see how that would’ve tormented him. On what this has to do with the price of tea in China…I wish I could say definitively that Mrs. Clinton would not become the Democratic nominee, but the win in Nevada certainly gives her the momentum going into Florida, California and New York for Super Tuesday, since women and Latinos are plentiful in all those places. So I’ve been asking myself what would those wishy-washy Truman economists say about Mrs. Clinton?

Item: Of all the candidates, she is LEAST electable because of her high negatives. At least half the people in my small town, and possibly the nation at large, believe she is the anti-Christ, and even though she is double-standarded on everything—“She is up to something, she thinks she can be PRESIDENT” is unacceptable from her, but not from the men in the US Senate—it is a fact that lots of people, LOTS of people, do not like her. They think she is ruthless, calculating, cold, etc. etc. etc. So how is she supposed to attract the essential independent and crossover voters in the general? And isn’t it likely that people who dislike her will come out of the woodwork to register to vote for the sole purpose of making sure she NEVER gets into the White House?

OTOH: Mrs. Clinton has apparently worked hard in the Senate to assuage the concerns of the constituents who did not vote for her in the Senatorial campaign—the upstaters and Long Gislanders, who tend Republican. I don’t know the particulars of her voting record on their issues, but it is a fact that she won re-election with 78% of the vote. She must have done something to win the support of a significant cross section of voters during her first Senate term. New Yorkers are a critical and exacting group…if she attracted bi-partisan support in New York, could she not do the same on the national stage?

Item: Contrary to what she says non-stop, ad nauseum, she doesn’t have tons of executive experience. It can be argued that she knows how the Senate works, because she worked well with her colleagues and co-sponsored quite a few pieces of legislation. But she was FIRST LADY, not PRESIDENT, and so all those trips abroad, all those conferences she sponsored, all of her initiatives were pretty much second-tier, unofficial. She certainly didn’t make foreign policy, and the one domestic project she headed—health care—failed spectacularly. So her most forceful argument—experience counts, Ready on Day One—is fundamentally bogus.

OTOH: Bill Clinton assured voters in ’92 that if you bought one Clinton, you got one free. Mrs. Clinton at the very least observed a lot of key Presidential decisions, especially those having to do with foreign policy. She knows something of the dynamics of crisis management in the White House. AND, it can be presumed that Bill Clinton, no slouch of an intellect, would be her principal advisor—to paraphrase Lyndon Johnson’s observation about Bob Kennedy, “Bill is the boy she listens to.” Could we really lose with the Clinton team back in place?

Item: She voted for the war, even expressed enthusiasm for it, later admitting that she hadn’t even read all the way through the thick stacks of briefings that cast doubt on the stated rationale. She didn’t ask any questions, didn’t try to slow down the stampede to war, just went right along and cheered on cue. She subsequently refused to apologize for the vote, couching her refusal in semantics, and has rattled her sabre several times since, e.g. voting for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. In other words, there isn’t a lot of daylight, historically speaking, between Mrs. Clinton and the White House on using the military to whack people and/or solve difficult problems.

OTOH: Any female candidate is going to face a higher standard in proving her national security bona fides. In other words, she is going to have to talk tough consistently to be taken seriously as a potential President, lest she be perceived as weak or unwilling to pull the trigger on big, bad men threatening all of us. In this interpretation of her votes, she will return to the road of diplomacy and dignity in world affairs in the White House, using military solutions as a last rather than a first resort. No need to worry about her continuing in the Way of the Cowboy.

Item: This is the Republicans’ preferred opponent because they have so much experience in, and get such a kick out of, finding negative material about her(and Bill)to use in ads and the Repub nominee’s campaign. She’s ruthless, she’d run over her own grandmother to win, he wants to be the eminence grise/shadow president, she’s crooked(remember the lucrative, alleged insider stock trade), he’s an inveterate womanizer who would disgrace the country again(no, they didn’t start any wars, but YOU KNOW WHAT WE MEAN!!), they’re wine-and-cheeseing elitists, limousine liberals who don’t share our values, they’re YALE LAW SCHOOL(!), she hates traditional women, she was so ambitious for herself that she shamelessly stood by him after Monica, Whitewatertravelofficemarcrichlincolnbedroom. Oh, yes, and she HATES our troops and everyone in the military.

OTOH: They could do this and worse to anyone else, and at least everything negative or unflattering about her has surely already been found and publicized for everyone’s “benefit.” There have been dozens of hatchet job books on her the past few years, and there’s no sign of that trend slowing down. The Republican attack machine is ecumenical in its hunger for Dem blood…

I’m vaguely aware that there isn’t a lot of enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton in this forum, so talk to me, tell me where I’ve gone awry or off the reservation. I’m just trying to talk myself into liking what I might end up having to accept, or accepting what I might have to like, or something like that. Truman’s economists are good at least for working that out.


Blogger betmo said...

i am an upstate new yorker who voted for hill for senate. i actually voted tasini in the primary but he obviously didn't win. she has been a decent senator and with her and chuckles shumer working together- they got stuff done. i won't be voting for her for president because i don't trust her and bill's political alliances. it's like a marriage- you aren't just voting for a president- it's also whoever they bring in. she has too many aipac and other interests throwing money at her. at the same time, obama has been channeling his inner republican with the homage to reagan and the ad on the drudge report before that. my vote won't count her in new york state- so i am voting my conscience- kucinich.

10:41 PM  

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