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Saturday, May 26, 2007

WSJ mistakes Hillary's latest zigzag as being a meaningful, principled hard-left turn

Today's WSJ OpinionJournal features an editorial headlined "The end of Hillary as security hawk." I'm not sure if that's just headline-ese and the regular English language version would read, "The end of Hillary as a security hawk," or if they indeed meant to refer to her as, say, the most prominent "security hawk" of the Democratic Party. At any rate, the event being marked in the editorial, of course, is Sen. Clinton's vote this week against the supplemental war funding bill (ellipsis by the WSJ):

So all of the Iraq maneuvering was merely for show to appease the antiwar left that elected Democrats. Ms. Pelosi couldn't even deliver a majority of her own Members for the war spending bill, and she voted "no" herself. Thus she can claim to oppose the war but also sleep easily knowing that others voted to fund it. The troops will be funded because 194 Republicans joined 86 Democrats to support it. Two Republicans and 140 Democrats opposed it.

At least Majority Leader Reid voted for the bill, which passed 80-14 in the Senate. To his credit, so did Joe Biden. But the main story in that body was the "no" votes by Presidential candidates Chris Dodd, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The vote won them praise from the likes of MoveOn.org, which threatened not to support anyone who voted for the bill. "Senators Obama, Clinton and Dodd stood up and did the right thing--voting down the President's war policy," said Eli Pariser, MoveOn's executive director. "They're showing real leadership toward ending the war, and MoveOn's members are grateful. This bold stand . . . won't soon be forgotten."

The WSJ's editorial board is undoubtedly correct that Sen. Clinton's vote was designed to keep her competitive with present and former Sens. Obama and Edwards for purposes of the Democratic primaries. But I think this editorial is short-sighted in its political handicapping. There's no doubt in my mind that Sen. Clinton will eagerly score cheap points with the Hard Left on occasions like this one — that is to say, when she can do so without any demonstrably adverse consequence for American military and security interests, as viewed through the eyes of moderates and conservatives. But she also will campaign hard during the primaries to grab every moderate Democratic vote, and the "pragmatist" votes from even the Hard Left, by painting Edwards and Obama as being unelectable in the general election because they will cut and run from Iraq immediately, without any regard for the military, geopolitical, or humanitarian consequences. Mark my words: The claws of that argument, largely sheathed now, will come out as the Democratic primary elections approach — and they'll be wielded occasionally by the candidate herself, but relentlessly through her proxies.

Then, if and when she has the Democratic nomination in hand, she can tack back hard enough further toward the right for the general election to ensure that she can hold her own party's centrists, avoid terrifying independents and left-leaning Republicans who might be inclined to sit this one out, and even pick up a few from those ranks who might be willing to cast a vote to punish the Republican nominee for Bush-43 Administration policies they've hated. And she would thus be the one potential nominee of the Democratic Party whose general election candidacy could conceivably weather a major change in the landscape like another 9/11-scale terrorist attack on American soil.

I think the WSJ's editorial board is just being naïve, however, if it genuinely meant to suggest that this vote actually represents some significant and even semi-permanent "turning point" in her overall political philosophy and career, or her position on national security/GWOT issues generally, or even in her position on the Iraq War specifically. I'm not much of a sailor, but if I can extend my shaky nautical analogy: They may think Hillary has actually come fully about to the hard left, when in reality she's just beating a course back and forth upwind against the currently prevailing squalls in the Democratic Party.

Hillary is Mrs. Captain Triangulator: If there's any politician in the Democratic Party who can nimbly tack left and right and at every angle in between to try to grab forward momentum from every passing gust of wind (and who's not prohibited from running for President by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment) — it's her. In that respect, she makes John Edwards — who's equally insincere, but in this election already committed to being a one-trick pony — look like the rankest of amateur sailors.

It's a strategy that will require a genuinely masterful political seamanship to pull off, but I think the harder part of it by far will be in the Democratic primaries. And were I a betting man, I'd bet against her getting the nomination right now, simply because I think there are too few Hard Left pragmatists and the rest of the Hard Left have driven the moderate Democrats from prominence and influence (in the same way the McGovern/post-Watergate Democrats did in 1972 and 1974). If Obama capsizes early, Edwards might still ride the Hard Left gusts in ahead of her. But if Obama stays upright, my money is still on him for the Democratic nomination. Those squalls are just blowing too hard right now, and he's got the sails to run with the wind.

And as a Republican, that's frankly what I hope will happen, because I'm convinced that on that point, Sen. Clinton is correct: Obama can be beaten in a general election precisely because he's not just weak, but absolutely hollow, on national security issues.

(Real sailors among my readers are welcome to sharpen or correct outright my feeble nautical metaphors here. I'm not sure of the terminology; I just know that the hard winds buffeting the Democratic Primary aren't representative of the wind pattern in the country at large, and I know that Hillary knows that too.)

Posted by Beldar at 02:01 PM in 2008 Election, Global War on Terror | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to WSJ mistakes Hillary's latest zigzag as being a meaningful, principled hard-left turn and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Carol Herman made the following comment | May 26, 2007 3:07:00 PM | Permalink

Gee, I once remember reading a piece you wrote; about being inside the courtroom. When something goes wrong. And, the case "goes south." But everybody just keeps on going. No one gives out a signal that the game is lost. And, the judge doesn't ask the side with the blooper, made, to "throw in the towel."

While I don't see Hillary as an actual candidate. First off. Because the media is mostly left wing nutters. They're attitudes do not match the rest of the country's; even if you throw in San Francisco. So, "something went south."

The other thing? Drudge spent many a Sunday night, asking how hollywood moguls could be so stupid as to "give" Jennifer Anison the job of opening movies. I think this went on for 8 separate movies. ALL LOST MONEY.

Is 8 the magic number?

I'd also bet that while Nancy Pelosi scares the dickens out of anyone daring to challenge her; this is not true in the senate with Reid.

While, yes. In the House, even though Nancy is a ball buster; there's the reality that "the whole house goes up for re-election in 2008."

What makes you think they're all willing to follow turkeys?

No. I have no idea what happens "next" because "next" is in the future. But I wouldn't bank on status quo.

Sure. Bush is no great shakes at the presidency. Man seems to have lost all ability in atually talking. Unlike Jimmy Carter, who can't shut up. But both are failures.

And, Americans have grown cynical. Way more cynical than I remember; when the donks would run Adeli Stevenson. Who only proved "egg heads" can't get elected to the presidency.

While there seems to be no egg heads left, to run.

It takes more than money to win. (Probably somewhat true even in the court house.)

While I do appreciate what money "buys." George Soros is out there looking for a pay off. Ditto, the Saud's. (But if you asked me? All they buy is terrorism. They don't buy devotion. And, they, so far, have not purchased any leaders of note.)

Even where politics is a rich man's game; we don't know what can happen "next." Nor do we know the price the GOP's social conservatives will pay for the junk they sold the public. Somebody's gonna get caught out for having promoted Bush in the first place. Beyond just the Saud's. It's gonna fall on the social conservatives. And, we're probably looking at the changes that will be wrought by the Net.

Hillary runs? Did Howie Dean?

(2) DRJ made the following comment | May 26, 2007 5:33:14 PM | Permalink

Hillary Clinton certainly comes across as manipulative and self-centered. It seems Roger L. Simon also holds her in low regard: http://www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2007/05/hillary_goes_of.php

(3) DWPittelli made the following comment | May 27, 2007 6:11:54 PM | Permalink

Although, as a classical liberal ultra-hawk, I am at least as opposed to Obama as to Clinton on a substantive level, I do not loathe the prospect of an Obama presidency as much as I do a Clinton II presidency. I would walk through broken glass to vote against Ms. Clinton, even though as a resident of Massachusetts my vote is irrelevant. Obama, I think, has about as much appeal as Clinton to those who like her, without polarizing an opposition.

Obama also has the advantage that he has not had to tell the world a lot of ridiculous lies, because he has not had much to lie about, in terms of flip-flops or personal corruption. For example, he has not had to claim he did not know the "Authorization to Utilize Military Force" was about authorizing military force. And he does not face questions like, "when your brother was receiving six-figure loans and payments from people whom your husband was pardoning, did you know about this, or were you out of the loop?"

I agree that Obama's resume shows a lack of qualification to be President, or at least, to be commander in chief of a nation in serious times. But not having shown that you are qualified is better than having actively disqualified yourself.

(4) Carol Herman made the following comment | May 27, 2007 6:14:32 PM | Permalink

Well? Perhaps Hillary "shatters the glass ceiling?" But then? Gravity takes over. And, everybody walks on broken glass.

Besides. Before Hillary, there was the Edsel.

Young enterpreneurs beat the pants off big-style management types, every single day.

In a different venue. At a different time. The comedian Alan King faced a lawsuit. Because he "came from the airport, where his luggage was lost."

So on air he made a joke. And, the airline SUED.

Why such a long story? Well, why not? It's funny. And, it will prove my point.

Alan King made enough money as a comedian, that he sent his brother to law school. And, who'd be cheaper? His brother owed him, RIIGHT?

So the day comes they are in court. And, Alan King noticed his brother didn't look as good in his store bought suit; as the dudes from Haarvard. That the airline hired. So you think they were the "A-TEAM, huh?"

Nope. King's brother won the case. Slam Dunk, actually. Because the SAME AIRLINE also lost the judge's luggage. Proof like that is 9-10th of the law. Outcomes don't get better than that.

Now. My point. If a woman could win? It would have been Eleanor Roosevelt. Ya know? Her husband couldn't walk. Eleanor walked EVERYWHERE. And, she shook hands, too. Even in the Pacific Theater. Where she went to army hospitals. Without tiring. From bed to bed.

But Eleanor couldn't run. Because a woman doesn't have a chance.

Can't convince the management types, though.

But when we come to the crunch? I think McCain, until his blossom faded, was thinking of walking across the aisle, for the top spot. Now? It won't matter.

It's way too early to be counting chickens, anyway. Other than what Bush broke. Because he took all those "compassionate conservatives" with him, down. On his ship.

Next time pick someone who can write his own material. And, someone without the elitest idea that Ted Kennedy is a "working partner." And, meeting the queen amounts to a hill of beans.

(5) nk made the following comment | May 28, 2007 8:54:05 AM | Permalink


On your writing style. Are you a Glen Cook fan too? Because I have to resist the urge to write the same way. It's infectious.

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