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January 20, 2008

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Unfortunately, the bases of both parties favor partisan verve and ideological orthodoxy in their candidates

If this was true, I think the Democrats would have nominated Dean in 2004. Maybe you intended "orthodoxy" to encompass "palatable to the party establishment."

If anything, I think that the tendency has been the opposite of what you describe -- that there's been an overwhelming push for the Democratic Party to nominate "safe" candidates -- though there seem to be wildly different theories as to what, exactly, constitutes "safe."

hilzoy,

You are onto something with the notion of the "predisposition to believe" -- but it is only the first edge-thread of a very large tapestry. Follow it where it leads. Everything you have seen so far is a mite on a flea on a fly on the tip of the iceberg.

Following that, Hilzoy, as quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.

After that, follow the white rabbit.

Then rub your stomach while you pat your head. And hopping up and down on one leg.

I can say no more. But be open! You are on the verge!

For novakant, here's WJC withdrawing his previous stance - slippery slope, no exceptions in policy, no call for Jack Bauer moments during his presidency or Bush's, one in a million, lone agent who felt it necessary to act would have to suffer the consequences (which would presumably reflect whether the agent saved a city), yadda yadda.

In real life terms this often means that they watdh TV, get an impression of personality and vote for the candidaate who seems like a person they like. This is why there were voters in NH that dithered between McCain and Obama.

I think this is true of less informed independents. But for moderate people who follow politics closely, I think the decision is made on the basis of who's got the most prudent and pragmatic approach to policy-making, and who's the least beholden to the extreme elements of their respective parties. On the Republican side that means McCain (willing to buck conservative orthodoxy in favor of moderate or even liberal positions on torture, immigration, taxes, global warming, campaign finance, etc.). On the Democratic side, that means Obama (willing to buck liberal orthodoxy on trade, entitlements, education, etc., willing to acknowledge that Republicans aren't bad people) I obviously don't agree with either on everything (i.e. McCain on the war, Obama on the size of government or its role in social welfare). On average, though, these two are, for the most part, the most moderate on the issues that matter most to me (Hillary is moderate, but on the wrong issues, and in the wrong way). Since I'd like to have the choice to vote for a candidate that's thoughtful and not reflexively conservative/liberal in November, were I a NH primary voter it would make perfect sense for me to have chosen between them.

If this was true, I think the Democrats would have nominated Dean in 2004.

You've got a fair point there - electability does seem to have been a big factor in Kerry's nomination. Keep in mind that Kerry's supposed electability was premised almost entirely on his biography, though - his voting record and platform were, except on a few issues, pretty much those of a mainstream liberal. I also think 2004 is a bit of anomaly - a lot of my liberal friends were so desperate to beat Bush that they were willing to accept a lot less than an orthodox liberal candidate to do it.

Here´s what I resent about Hillary: before she ran for the Senate in 2000, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, a hard-working paid her dues liberal non-DLC representative who turned out of office, Joe DioGuardi, (a guy who would make Al Damato seem moderate), was planning a run for the Senate. Then Chuck Schumer opened his mouth and suggested Hillary and all the star power of Hillary quashed Nita Lowey´s hopes of running.

As for BTD, on the subject of Hillary, I really don´t take him seriously, nor should anyone else.

Though I'm stepping into a different stream, I wanted to expand on a comment I made up thread to Redstocking that I hope will tie into all this.

To recap, we got into a discussion of the age group that the liberal blogosphere in general and ObWi in particular fell into. I'm a bit worried that Redstocking might think that the sharpness of those replies might be related to some sort of anti-Hillary animus. I don't think it is and here's why.

One of the primary pillars, it seems, of blog commentary, is the injunction against mindreading. This always seemed a bit strange to me, cause successful communication depends on some sort of mindreading, or at least understanding that there is a difference between the meaning of a statement like 'I wish Hillary would stop talking about X', depending on whether it is coming from a person who participates on conservative sites or coming from a person who participates on liberal ones.

But the prohibition is there, and so, when people get out on a limb concerning generalizations, there are always any number of people scrambling up the tree with a saw in hand.

There's been the implication that fervent progressives are, when they support Obama, shooting themselves in the foot (or feet, as it were) But, as I tried to point out, by campaigning on a notion of inevitability, she automatically pushes people who really long for wholesale change out of the tent, and I think the characteristic of the commentariat in aggregate here is not that we are pro Obama, but that we do want some sort of profound change. In that sense, it would be a rejection of our principles not to support Obama, if we are convinced, as I think I am, that he is more likely to bring about such change. How we know that is the big question, and at some level, it is just a gut instinct. But if that is the case, then suggesting that we are pro-Obama and therefore anti-Hillary puts the cart way ahead of the horse. What I feel is pulling a lot of people is this heartfelt desire for change, and we are going to look for the candidate who seems to best deliver on that. Whether we are projecting something onto Obama that is not there, or whether we are trying to knock down HRC in order to make Obama taller, I can only look in my heart and say that I am not, and anyone who I take to be a serious commentator has examined their own heart to see if such a charge is true.

Anyway, I wanted to say that because it may have seemed that you were getting piled on because of your support of HRC, but I don't think that is the case. It is more the case, I think, that people may feel that what they actually think and feel is not being accurately represented. This tends to provoke a strong reaction.

I'm an Obama precinct captain and think that I pay pretty good attention to politics and positions.

But even I didn't know about Clinton's reversals on DOMA, torture, etc., etc.

If Obama made the South Carolina primary about THAT, I think he'd make a HUGE impact on the base in his favor.

liberal japonicus,

Thanks for your post. I am going to stop posting at OW. I seem to arouse heat without shedding light. My attempts to discuss family, aging, and feminist issues have not been particularly successful; for me and for many older women they are make-or-break issues as much as torture or Iraq are for many of you.

What happens to old people in nursing homes in the US is another kind of torture. Yet in all the health care discussions, there has been almost no discussion of long-term health care for people who need custodial care. Their care is not covered by Medicare or regular health insurance.

That so many young children are diagnosed with lifelong mental illness and give dangerous, untested medications is a social issue, not just a health one. Diagnosing a 4 year old with bipolar disorder is another form of torture. What kind of society have we created for our kids? Does anyone discuss the insane C section rate when discussing health care? Are US women losing their freedom of choice about childbirth? Should obstetricians be allowed to use state legislation to drive midwives out of normal childbirth?

Agreed, Hillary is not campaigning on most of these issues. But 11 years ago, she wrote an excellent book called "It Takes a Village." I believe that a 60-year-old women will pay attention to these issues in a way that male candidates will not.

I will concentrate on my own blog. It's been interesting. I won't stop reading Hilzoy and Publius.

I will concentrate on my own blog. It's been interesting. I won't stop reading Hilzoy and Publius.

Redstocking,

I do hope you consider the silver lining here -- at times, many of the issues that you're concerned with have gotten submerged in discussions that are slightly orthogonal to your main points. Since I agree that your perspective and points are crucially important to discuss, I think it's unfortunate that they often have to compete for brainspace, particularly amidst the more inside-baseball-ish and abstract poli-sci topics. I hope that you don't stop commenting here, but I would like to see your thoughts hashed out in a more dedicated environment. Hopefully the mods will consider adding you to the blogroll as well.

Dear Redstocking,

I regret your experience at ObWi was so unsatisfying as to cause you to leave.

I seldom post because, as I wrote in another thread, I often find that others, and particularly hilzoy, express my point of view more eloquently than I could myself. Just writing "I agree with hilzoy" doesn't seem to add much to a conversation.

Regarding Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, I am torn. I hope that hilzoy is right, that Obama really is as she describes, but I also find myself resenting his apparent use of right-wing talking points, as highlighted by Paul Krugman.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, I have had a brief opportunity to see in person when she and then President Clinton visited our charter school. In that brief appearance she seemed to me very genuine in her dedication to education.

What I personally think of presidential candidates has little weight and those that appeal most to me are usually doomed.

I will relate one more data point -- a close friend, one I have known for many years, who is politically a libertarian-leaning Republican, recently told me he has registered as a Democrat (we live in California) and is seriously considering voting for Obama if he is the nominee. It hardly matters here, of course, as California is almost certain to vote Democratic regardless of who gets the nomination.

As for your participation at ObWi, I hope you will reconsider. On the whole it seems to me to be a friendly place, and any heat you may have generated is a small matter.

Shorter hilzoy:

I need to modify my behavior so that he stops beating me.

I believe that a 60-year-old women will pay attention to these issues in a way that male candidates will not.

I find that comment very offensive. There´s no basis other than gender and age preconceptions to make such a statement and if one is fighting gender and age preconceptions, then one should be wary of making the same.

I wasn't able to get into this discussion yesterday due to dog problems, so I will add my 1.5 cents worth here.

As anybody who has read my comments before, I favor Obama, and Clinton is currently 3rd among my preferences (she used to be 5th, but drop outs have changed that).

Anyway, I am not worried about the torture issue. If she wanted at all to have a second term she would have to do something very concrete about stopping torture.

All that said, she has been preaching change, but has not been demonstrating any change through her campaigning. With her it will continue to be politics as usual.

Also, even if she did win, I think her candidacy would have a reverse coattails effect. Enough people may be fed up with the Republican stranglehold on the WH, and all the Republican candidates have major flaws that would allow her to win.

But Congressional candidates (Republican) would really make hay out of the need to have a Republican Sentae or House to avoid too much of a Democratic stranglehold on the government. I think many people may vote for her, but split their ticket for other Republicans.

I don't think this would happen with an Obama candidacy, as voters would hesitate to send Republicans in who would work against him. At least that is my very humble opinion.

Shorter now_what: I can't be bothered to read Hilzoy's post.

I can definitely understand people being worried about Obama's "conservative" statements, especially if they simply follow the out-of-context creative interpretations of them on some blogs. What I can't understand is why they think Clinton is any better on that score. On Social Security, for example, her response to his "right-wing framing" was an even worse right-wing framing. Not to mention her embrace of pure Bushite fear-mongering, essentially saying that if you choose Obama, THE TERRORISTS WILL KILL YOU!

I believe that a 60-year-old women will pay attention to these issues in a way that male candidates will not.

This statement is utterly unsurprising, considering your total refusal to engage when anybody points out Clinton's actual record of governance in these areas is not particularly impressive or special.

Take custodial care, for example. Hillary Clinton gets more funding from the insurance industry - which is bitterly opposed to custodial care and always has been - than any other Democratic candidate and indeed most of the Republicans. But hey - Clinton's a sixtysomething woman, so therefore she must be willing to engage in custodial care.

(The fact that she's a stinking rich sixtysomething woman seems to be less important somehow.)

... but on the fact that they have not been demonized for the last fifteen years

I think you've got a good point here. It's not just a matter of building a positive image, but also getting rid of a long-time implanted negative image. And that's really, really hard.

For the effects of long-term demonization, just look to Iraq.

Will democrats once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? I sure hope not, but it's hard to stay optimistic.

mightygodking- Do you think any of the Dem candidates aren't stinking rich? If so please let me know who and what the cut off is.

"Do you think any of the Dem candidates aren't stinking rich?"

Well there is a magnitude difference between say Obama (very well off), Clinton (very rich) and Edwards (richer than you can functionally imagine, no... richer than that). But I think he was pointing out that it is odd for redstocking to believe that gender trumps class on what are essentially class issues.

(I don't actually believe that those type of identity issues trump anything in many politicians, but I'm trying to clarify what appears to be his point).

I don't know where the line is where wealth starts to stink, and I don't think it's that useful as a indicator of how much a politician cares about the poor (FDR was pretty wealthy), but Clinton ($10-50 million, ranking 14th in the Senate) is definitely a lot richer than Obama ($1.1-2.5 million, ranking 49th).

I don't know where the line is where wealth starts to stink, and I don't think it's that useful as a indicator of how much a politician cares about the poor

Folks should remember the old 90/10 rule for non-profits--90% of the gifts comes from 10% of the donors. In other words, you NEED rich people as a non-profit---and that includes groups that serve the poor.

In other words, look at the behavior, both as a politician and as a donor, and see if a candidate is part of that 10%.

Redstocking -- I hope you stay, even though I disagree with many things you say. The major part of what makes ObWi what it is is that all voices are allowed. If you feel that you're getting ganged up on, I repsectfully suggest that you make a stronger case. We're not all as pedantic as Gary [grin], but most of us respect valid arguements.

Now, on to those disagreements...

Older women are almost certainly underrepresented. I have taught about the Internet and computers for the last 15 years as a librarian, and older women need the most coaxing to actually sit down at the computer.

You'd have to explain that to my mom and her friends. She used the computer, and especially e-mail a lot more than my dad.

If someone associated with right-wing politics had written the above, would you nod and say "Of course!" or would you post about stereotyping older women?

By the time women are 40, they have learned how many battles feminism have yet to win.

Many of your comments support Hillary include references to feminism -- this in spite of HRC's dwindling support for feminist causes. I'm not voting for Obama because he's black, why should I vote for Hillary (in light of all good reasons posted here as to why I shouldn't) just because she's a woman?

I'll support the Democratic nominee, but will be more enthusiastic about Obama than Clinton.

My attempts to discuss family, aging, and feminist issues have not been particularly successful.

But you tie those to Hillary because of one book she wrote 11 years ago. To me, she is not the best candidate for those issues -- Obama has been better and more consistant.

===========================

If O'Bama wants to do what's best for the country, he should remove his skinny little rump from the race, and wait his turn another eight years

Is that what they mean by "black Irish"? [grin]

Great button, Gary! I don't think I can wear it to work, but I'll wear it before and after.

BTW, in a democracy, we don't "take turns" -- we vote for the best at the time.

================================

it's the appointments that matter and those will tend to be similar under any Democratic President

I don't trust HRC to make progressive appointments -- she's not shown that she has any interest in doing so.

I am in my early sixties, and in the early 1970's I worked on child care issues and was around to see Nixon veto a very good piece of child care legislation on the ground that it was "communistic." During the Clinton presidency, health care reform failed, a punitive welfare reform bill was passed with no adequate child care, and no effort--to my knowledge--was made to increase funding for child care programs that are so desperately needed, particularly by women struggling to support themselves and young children. I support Obama because I do believe he has been a more effective legislator--having accomplished more , ironically, in his short tenure in the US Senate that HRC seems to have in her much longer time there. More importantly, Barack and Michelle Obama are the parents of 2 young children; while well-off, they are certainly not so well off that they need not worry about child care and all the juggling issues that plague parents who hold demanding jobs and want to spent time with young children. Barack Obama is also quite familiar with the extreme difficulties faced in poorer communities by parents, mainly women, who are trying to struggle out of povery in a society that has pretty much turned the safety net into a piece of ragged macrame. But, back to his current situation, he is--as he said recently--still close enough to "normal" to remember what normal is. Hillary Clinton has, in contrast, never actually had the juggling experience that is normal for a parent of a young child. When her daughter was born, she lived in the Governor's mansion, had household help & drivers, etc., etc. I am sure it was immensely difficult to bring up a child in the fishbowl of politics--particularly with the fidelity questions that constantly arose about BC. But, whatever the difficulties, child care legislation is not something she has reported to have pressed for (correct me if I'm wrong) during the Clinton White House years. At the same time, the social support system for poor women was pretty much sold out in welfare reform.
I believe HRC is a tremendously accomplished and dedicated public servant. But I certainly don't see her as the obvious choice for feminists who care about child care or elder care issues. It is plain that she is not the choice for feminists who would expect that any mother--before voting to authorize someone like George Bush to use military force--would actually read the intelligence reports upon which the so-called case for force was based. At a time when the country needed representatives who did their homework, she did not do it. At a time when the country needed representatives to push back against the rush to make war on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, she not not push back. Instead, she joined the crowd. I do believe that it is time for a fresh start.

I am in my early sixties, and in the early 1970's I worked on child care issues and was around to see Nixon veto a very good piece of child care legislation on the ground that it was "communistic." During the Clinton presidency, health care reform failed, a punitive welfare reform bill was passed with no adequate child care, and no effort--to my knowledge--was made to increase funding for child care programs that are so desperately needed, particularly by women struggling to support themselves and young children. I support Obama because I do believe he has been a more effective legislator--having accomplished more , ironically, in his short tenure in the US Senate that HRC seems to have in her much longer time there. More importantly, Barack and Michelle Obama are the parents of 2 young children; while well-off, they are certainly not so well off that they need not worry about child care and all the juggling issues that plague parents who hold demanding jobs and want to spent time with young children. Barack Obama is also quite familiar with the extreme difficulties faced in poorer communities by parents, mainly women, who are trying to struggle out of povery in a society that has pretty much turned the safety net into a piece of ragged macrame. But, back to his current situation, he is--as he said recently--still close enough to "normal" to remember what normal is. Hillary Clinton has, in contrast, never actually had the juggling experience that is normal for a parent of a young child. When her daughter was born, she lived in the Governor's mansion, had household help & drivers, etc., etc. I am sure it was immensely difficult to bring up a child in the fishbowl of politics--particularly with the fidelity questions that constantly arose about BC. But, whatever the difficulties, child care legislation is not something she has reported to have pressed for (correct me if I'm wrong) during the Clinton White House years. At the same time, the social support system for poor women was pretty much sold out in welfare reform.
I believe HRC is a tremendously accomplished and dedicated public servant. But I certainly don't see her as the obvious choice for feminists who care about child care or elder care issues. It is plain that she is not the choice for feminists who would expect that any mother--before voting to authorize someone like George Bush to use military force--would actually read the intelligence reports upon which the so-called case for force was based. At a time when the country needed representatives who did their homework, she did not do it. At a time when the country needed representatives to push back against the rush to make war on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, she not not push back. Instead, she joined the crowd. I do believe that it is time for a fresh start.

Would one of the mods mind paragraphing that wall of text before it falls over and crushes me? (And maybe deleting the double as well)

Excellent post to start from Hilzoy. I agree that Democrats need to pick a candidate who can win in the fall, and I think the contest will be against McCain, so we need to pick someone good who can beat him. Overall I think Clinton's reasonably 'good' but no way on Earth can she beat McCain, for a number of reasons which have been described previously. Some of the main ones which come to mind are:

First, you can see it in the polling numbers already. Clinton picks up a lot of affection in the Democratic primaries, but the general electorate is much different, with a very high level of longstanding antagonism toward her. McCain, by contrast, has much better numbers with Independents and Democrats than does Clinton already, and will only improve as the Republican field gradually coalesces around him, as they will because he's the one who can win for them.

Second, there's no reason to think that the Clintons can do anything to change these numbers over the next ten months. Her negatives are not rooted in the details of policy positions or subject to re-evaluation in light of new economic or Iraq developments, but instead in how her CHARACTER is evaluated by voters. The swing voters don't have strong positive numbers for her now, and after the Republicans are done, her negatives will be extremely high, much higher then McCain's, who has relatively positive numbers on character and will be mostly immune from character attacks. Compared to him, her character will come off as untrustworthy, weak and ineffective. Just as often as they vote on policy preferences, independent voters choose on character contrasts, also, and there Clinton's a big loser because of her history and public image. It's too late to disavow Bill's adultery, her history as first lady, the bungled health care plan, etc., all of which have contributed to her current image for the general public. It doesn't matter that she comes off well in person or one-on-one, or that she makes points in debates-- her character is where she is vulnerable, much more so than her most fervent supporters seem to realize.

Third, as john miller writes, there's already evidence that Clinton would have a very strong reverse coattails effect at the top of the ticket. That's one reason why Democrats like Napolitano, Leahy and others have endorsed Obama.

Fourth, a significant number of voters (38% in the most recent poll of general election voters I saw) are concerned re 'dynasty' issues and uncomfortable with having two families monopolize the presidency for the past twenty years, as well as the next 4 to 8. Nominating Mrs. Clinton will perforce make the general election a referendum on the presidency of Bill Clinton, with tons of Republican ammunition becoming available, and efforts to make her the candidate of 'change' will be to no avail. Efforts by Clinton supporters to give her credit for things like the economy, etc., will also remind current voters that she is basically an extension of his own political legacy, and not truly an independent career politician who can make her own decisions no matter what he thinks or has done in the past. If things don't go well she can fire her advisors, but she can't fire her husband.

Anyway, the difficulties go on and on. I don't doubt that Mrs. Clinton has many terrific attributes, but I think we'd be better off going for Obama. People say he's untested, but he's already run for president just as many times as she has previously: none.

I don't doubt that Mrs. Clinton has many terrific attributes, but I think we'd be better off going for Obama. People say he's untested, but he's already run for president just as many times as she has previously: none.

Frankly, I think you can say that about almost ALL the presidential candidates on either side, with the exception of McCain.

Something in the vein of what AH just said highlighted for me one of the things that's been bothering me about the increasing visibility of Bill Clinton in the primary campaign -- Hillary's campaign, even more so with Bill's presence, is already turning the Democratic primary into a referendum on the Clinton years rather than on the Bush years, which isn't just objectionable on principle, but a recipe for disaster in the general election.

I'm not making the 'dynasty' argument. I'm saying that it's absolutely crucial, politically and morally, to confront the disaster of the last 8 years, and I feel that the more that Hillary leans on Bill and his legacy as a basis for her campaign, the less salient the much-needed national referendum on the Bush Administration will be. (Bush has barely been mentioned in 2008.) That prospect is just totally unacceptable to me.

there is limited humility in politics. thats wha king was about. my post about the King THANK WE FREE

Adam: it's absolutely crucial, politically and morally, to confront the disaster of the last 8 years ... Bush has barely been mentioned in 2008.

If there were the slightest desire to confront the disaster of the last eight years, the Democratic leadership wouldn't be rushing to push through FISA "reform" that will immunize criminal behavior by the telcos and seal off all hope of accountability by the administration for its criminal, constitution-shredding policy.

Neither Clinton nor Obama is likely to support Dodd and Feingold's fight with anything but lip service. This is one of those situations where Obama could reassure the democratic wing of the Democratic Party (and the genuinely libertarian wing currently without a party) that he'll fight for freedom. But he probably won't.

ObWi bloggers: Please, less horserace, more issues.

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