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February 01, 2005

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Here's my personal opinion on Hillary as presidential candidate:

Pros:
1) She's a woman (and if you're not a woman, you may not know what that means to me to have two xx chromosomes run for President)
2) She's all brains
3) Universal health care!

Cons:
a) She's part an ex-President's immediate family. Too much power in one family. It's undemocratic -- shows how much the US does really have its own aristocrat class (yes, Bush clan, I also mean you)
b) She comes across as a cold fish.

I really don't think she's got a lot of potential as a Presidential candidate. She's got all the Clinton-hatred baggage without Bill's personal charisma to overcome it -- I don't think she can get a single vote from someone who isn't already a committed Democrat.

On the gay-rights front, I agree that I don't like her speech. She can acknowledge the deep religious objections of those who object all she likes, but I want her to acknowledge that marriage-rights supporters are also basing their position on deep moral values like justice and equality. In New York State, that wounldn't lose her any significant number of votes. (That said, I'm reacting to your post and the quoted article, rather than to the text of a speech. She may have said exactly what I wanted her to.)

Hillary won't win the south, no matter how much she panders to them with religious views. She also won't win the west, and risks losing the sections of the midwest that have swung for Kerry lately.

Please, please, for the love of God, American Democrats: don't push Hillary for the 08 Candidacy. 2016, no problem, if she really must run, but not 2008.

Another Con:

c) She voted for the war.

I am not a woman, so I don't really understand, but women having been running in and losing US presidential races for more than a hundred years. (Non-US candidates, and winners, in that link too.)

I voted for her for Senate, and probably would for President, but she is definitely a lesser-of-two-evils candidate for me. And I think she's less electable than Kerry was.

First things first: I very much hope that Hillary Clinton does not run. The Republican Party leadership will demonize whoever we run, and I see no reason to make their job easier by nominating someone who is, as it were, pre-demonized. (Fairly or unfairly.)

That being said, I think she's getting a bad rap on this stuff. According to me, there is good triangulation and bad triangulation. Good triangulation is trying to figure out how you can use your (unchanged) core values to recapture an issue that your side has wrongly ceded to your opponents. The classic example is Bill Clinton on crime: we had wrongly conceded that issue back when being in favor of 'law and order' was a synonym for being in favor of racism, and Clinton thought: no, crime wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone it touches, but especially on those who are less well off, and there is no reason at all for Democrats to concede this issue. And he was absolutely right.

Bad triangulation is when you compromise your core values in an effort to get closer to your opponents' position. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was, imho, bad triangulation, although it's not clear what better alternative would not have led to a really disastrous showdown with the uniformed military at the time.

Now: I can't find the original speech in which Hillary Clinton talked about the need to acknowledge the deeply held beliefs of those who oppose gay marriage. Therefore I can't tell whether or not she also said: people on the other side need to acknowledge that those of us who support gay marriage also do so because of deeply held beliefs. Since I can't check, I don't want to make assumptions one way or the other.

But her speech on abortion Is online, and I recommend reading it. There is nothing in it that suggests that she's willing to compromise on the legality of abortion. What there is is a desire to find ways in which people on both sides can work together to minimize the number of unwanted pregnancies. She talks specifically about ensuring access to family planning, especially for people who would otherwise be unable to afford it; making Plan B available, especially to victims of sexual assault; and providing access to prenatal care.

I think she's absolutely right on this. Abortion is a lousy choice that should be 'safe, legal, and rare'. Recognizing that it's a lousy choice (by which I don't mean, wrong in a given situation, but rather something you'd never choose if you had a good alternative; something that is always at best the lesser of two evils) is completely consistent with thinking that it must remain legal. (I mean: no one thinks that it's morally neutral: that if, for instance, my hobby was trying to have abortions in as many states as possible, that would be just quirky, not abhorrent.) And I think it's also very good strategically: by really working to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, we not only do the right thing, but also present our opponents with a choice: either work with us, or have it become clear that one salient difference between us is that they are opposed to abortion but not willing to do what's needed to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that make it seem necessary in the first place.

So here I stick up for her. But, as I said, that doesn't mean I want her to run for President.

With Hillary, it strikes me that you get all the electoral costs of the right's white-hot hatred of liberals, without the possible benefits of actually electing a committed liberal. And she seems to have all of her husband's willingness to compromise for political gain, without the benefits of his charisma.

The early leader in the race for "losing Presidential candidate who Katherine supports in 2008" is Russ Feingold, who I think is more liberal than Hillary, more willing to take political risks to do the right thing, and more electable. Kerry won Wisconsin by .4%; Feingold won by 11.2%.

Hi Amos, thanks for the link. I looked at the list of women presidents/leaders off it, which is just a page long, and the countries listed in chronological order are:
Mongolia, China(Taiwan), Argentina, Bolivia, Iceland, San Marino (7x)*, Malta, Guinea Bissau, Philippines (2x), Haiti, Nicaragua, East Germany, Ireland (2x), Burundi, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Ecuador, Guyana, Switzerland, Latvia, Panama, Finland, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Austria

*Ok, so San Marino has a wierd system. Captain Regent is a joint position with a 6 month term.

Looking at that list, it's so disparate. It would be an interesting study, to see what factors lead to acceptance of a woman haed of state. Of course Prime Ministers head of states ought to be included.

I like Feingold, too, Katherine; just thought I'd note.

Gary, if you do decide you want him to win you'd better convince me to support someone else.

(glad to have you back by the way.)

I understand why you guys dont think shes a committed liberal, not liberal enough, etc... but from my perspective shes about as liberal as you can get without becoming TERRIFYING. Im not saying shes not scary, she just doesnt qualify as TERRIFYING yet.

briefly:

"She comes across as a cold fish."

So did Kerry

"She voted for the war."

So did Kerry

I dont think you guys are being honest with yourselves when you question her Liberal credentials. She isnt a rabid march against the war, peace in our time, republicans are evil and must be destroyed liberal like the people that marched in Washington during the swaring in. She is about as close as you can get and still be credible.... infact, shes probably MORE credible than Kerry simply because she didnt participate in that post Veitnam BS. You can focus on her healthcare and pro abortion rights standpoint - and call her a centered and focused candidate.

Oh, I'd vote for Hillary if she ran BUT -- just doing some unofficial, unscientific polling at work -- so far no men, who voted for Kerry last year, have said they would vote for her if she ran.

I assume most people throwing out opinions on this blog are male. And in the political realm most of the players big and small are also male. So I think most opinions on the viability of a Hillary's candidacy are jaded.

My girlfriend is a libertarian. As a member of “the cult” she votes Republican for reasons I cannot to this day fathom. In one recent dinnertime politics discussion I asked her if she would continue voting for republican candidates running on platforms that at best represent half of her political views or if she would vote for Hillary if she ran.

And for the first time in a long time she paused before responding. After a few moments silence she told me she didn’t know how she would vote if Hillary ran. And that’s something no-one seems to consider. Will women consider voting for a Hillary even if the platform she is running on differs from the platform women voters typically support? I certainly haven’t seen the results of studies looking into the possibility of how Hillary will influence female voters. But if she runs middle of the road just like her husband then she will only be slightly left of where the majority of people stand on the right.

And the major criticism constantly thrown in Hillary’s direction is the way her personality polarizes the voting public. Anyone think that maybe the people most likely to hate Hillary are men and the people most likely to love her are women?

I actually think Hillary has a good shot at the White House whenever she decides to run (given the fact that I am not sure who is most likely to run against her). The republicans need to be careful when attacking her because when you attack Hillary you are not just attacking a presidential candidate. Negative attacks may very well run the risk of alienating an important part of the republican voter base as a gifted campaign staff should be able to call into question the motivation behind any negative attacks.


Concerning votermon's "list of women presidents/leaders" I was quite surprised to find my country on it. Please read the entry on Austria. It's a joke. 2 days as one member of a three person panel which acts as substitute if the president dies. Give me a break.

The only genuine female leader in Austria was IIRC Empress Maria Theresa.

Concerning votermon's "list of women presidents/leaders"

It's not my list, it's a link off the link Amos posted. But now I me wonder how accurate it is. I can vouch for the Philippines, though.

Gary: I like Feingold, too, Katherine; just thought I'd note.

He's a cool guy. We carolled at his house this Christmas; he said he'd invite us in but his wife was out of town and all he had was some leftover Chinese food. Which he was eating while we sang :)

[Darn fine Senator, too.]

Hillary's biggest con as a presidential candidate is the surreal hatred and anger that she arouses in the right.

But could this also be her biggest pro? After all, George W. Bush incited an enormous amount of anger on the left -- anger which translated to a lot of hard work and increased turnout -- but he won nonetheless. And anecdotally at least, the anti-Bush enthusiasm may have swayed some voters in his favor.

Maybe the Democrats could *use* a candidate who makes the wingnuts even nuttier, discrediting them in the minds of more moderate voters...

so far no men, who voted for Kerry last year, have said they would vote for her if she ran

I did. But I said "probably", so let me explain what I meant by that. If it really hits the fan on Bush -- if we cut and run from an erupting Iraq, if the dollar tanks and the economy with it, if Jesus Christ himself couldn't win on the Republican ticket -- then I would probably go third party, as has been my practice every year except 1972 and 2004 (when I voted Dem). Otherwise, I'll vote Democratic, be it Hillary or someone else.

I do think there is a nonzero chance of all that happening by 2008, so ... only probably for Hillary.

I wonder about that list. I didn't see the UK on there and I seem to remember, oh, was it Hatcher...

The first female president of the USA will not be a Democrat. She will be a conservative republican who doesn't challenge everything that a certain class of Middle American White Males happens to hold dear.

Sad, but I am very inclined to believe it true.

OK, that's the third time I've read the title of this thread as Hilzoy: A Sheep in Wolves' Clothing. Mighty confusing.

And McDuff, for a while I was making book that the first female US President was going to be Condi Rice on exactly that presumption. I don't think that's too likely now -- her incompetence is too spectacular and too well-documented, I think, for a successful run -- but it's still possible and, if not her, I'd expect someone similar.

With Hillary, it strikes me that you get all the electoral costs of the right's white-hot hatred of liberals, without the possible benefits of actually electing a committed liberal. And she seems to have all of her husband's willingness to compromise for political gain, without the benefits of his charisma.

This expresses my views exactly, only much more politely and concisely than I've been able to so far. I'm in your debt, Katherine.

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