Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hillary Resisting: Pulls Away From Left; Pulls Farther Away From Rivals

Here is an interesting essay that I ran across earlier this morning. It is written by Martin O'Malley, Democratic governor of Maryland, and Harold Ford Jr., a former Democratic member of the U.S House of Representatives from Tennessee and current president of the Democratic Leadership Council. It appears in this morning's Washington Post.

I think it makes some valid points that are very much worthy of some consideration.

The main theme comes in the form of a plea for Democrats (and the candidates that are vying for the presidential nomination) to think back to what got Bill Clinton elected, in 1992. Both of these tow writers fully realize the importance of embracing the center and rejecting the message and tactics of the extremists.Pandering to the Netroots movement within the party will only serve to alienate swing voters, which is something, I think Hillary Clinton is starting to realize.

Polls are showing her steadily pulling away from her closest rivals, mainly because of her distancing from their irresponsible comments and accusations which are clearly designed to ignite the Kos crowd's emotions. And while this extreme wing is capable of making a lot of noise in the primary process, it remains yet to be seen that their bitter discourse and far-left ideology can deliver votes in the general election. It didn't for Ned Lamont, despite Connecticut being a blue state.

And from what I've been able to ascertain from all of this is (so far), it is my firm belief that it will not in the 2008 election, either.

While Obama and Edwards seem convinced that they cannot win the nomination without the blessings of those that deliver the attacks on Sen. Clinton, it is refreshing to see that she has not succumbed to this miscalculation. For this reason, I can honestly say that I have developed a certain measure of respect for her, if for nothing else, for the way she has handled her campaign up to this point.

Don't get me wrong here. I am far from being a supporter of hers. I still have some staunch disagreements with her on a lot of issues, most of which have to do with specific stances she is taking (especially in the area of economical issues). In my opinion, she still fronts a more liberal agenda in those kinds of things (and others), than I would like to see in a candidate. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear her hold her own, when she addressed questions at the Kos convention last weekend and from what I was able to catch from the AFL-CIO debate, earlier this evening. She did not back pedal, she made no excuses for her disagreements with them. She knows where these guys are in the minds of most Americans, she knows they are in the minority.

Most moderate Republicans may not support her, but if she defines herself in such a way that she calms some fears in those that want this country to be safe, she may win a few over.

What I try to emphasize here, though, is simple. I am a proponent of the free-market system. I have always and will always reject the temptation to have government be the sole solution to difficult problems and turn things towards a socialist answer. If people want to think I am this evil person because of it, I cannot help that. That's not on me. But in all the things I have read and learned in my experiences and travels, one thing rings true: I believe that government is so inefficient and so directed towards empowering itself, it cannot meet the needs of the people as well as the free market can. This is where I truly believe that I will differ greatly with Sen. Clinton, when the time comes to cast my lot.

But that doesn't mean that I think she's a bad person for her beliefs, either. I honestly do not think that the netroots people are necessarily bad on a personal level, some of the people I like very much are aligned with this movement (and they are some of the most likable people you'd ever want to meet). But where I part company with all of them is in the political realm of operation and thinking. I think they have allowed their hatred for George Bush to cloud their sensibilities, sufficiently enough, that they have allowed themselves to be overcome with indignation. And we all know that angry people often do not always have the ability to think clearly, and reason well.

As I have already said, I cannot say whether or not I will support anyone at this point. I have ruled out two candidates right now and two of them have been named prominently, in this piece. Many more are lurking, there could be a sleeper candidate arise, on the GOP side. But on the Dem side, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that it is Hillary's to lose. She is successfully distancing them selves from the left-wing of her party and still leads in every poll (and it ain't even close).

Any political assessment of her campaign, up to this point, would certainly need to include that her team has advised her well (from a political and strategic standpoint). They have been well adept at reading the power and strength of the moderate voices. In fact it's nothing short of masterful if you think about it.

By rejecting the message of the noise-makers, she stands a good chance of being able to persuade independents that belong to no party to vote in the primaries (where it allowed for them to do so). In states where it is not allowed, some may even join the party just be able to vote for her. But to get this done, she will need to keep distancing herself from the far left and their groups. Not only that, she will need to start to develop some specific proposals and talk about them in front of the American people. Most of all, she will need to assure people that she will continue the war on terror, in some form or fashion.

She can feel free to change courses, but it has to be fought, somehow, someway. She cannot deny that it is a reality, and she will need to seek competent advisers that can develop a strategy that can both protect the homeland and chase down the bad guys. She cannot change the objectives, she can only change the methodology of waging this fight.

So, the bottom line is, nothing is set in stone yet and it won't be until the votes are counted. Only time will tell. But things are looking up for Sen. Clinton right now. And if she does in fact win the nomination, she will need to be careful who she picks as her running mate. With all of the crazy things being said by those that are catering to the clamorers, it would make no sense whatsoever to beat them by presenting herself as a more moderate alternative, and then turn around and pick one of them to be her sidekick. If she is smart, she will look at someone that can win landslide elections in a red state. One of those, is Evan Bayh. Pick him and her chances go up instantly.


Greg said...

What's comforting to me is not that Hillary is trying to own the middle ground, but rather that her tactic is working. Americans are still firmly planted in the middle.

The tactic is most notable on Iraq, where she has desperately held onto the very small amount of ground in between the defeat/retreat crowd and the stay-the-course/surge works crowd. She wants to withdraw almost all the troops, but still keep them close and leave a few trainers inside Iraq. It might not make sense as a viable solution to our problems in Iraq, but it appeals to Americans who don't know what the hell we should do there.

This translates to almost every issue you can think of. She identifies the positions on the left and right and immediately attempts to stand in the middle. Her opponents are either too dumb or too principled to do the same. Or at least, they aren't as good at it as Hillary is (eg., Obama's "bomb Pakistan" comments).

For the Republicans, I think Romney is best at this game.

LASunsett said...


Some of his proposals are worth a look, especially on healthcare. But, when I see and hear him speak, his image as a politician shines through. Every hair in place. His voice even resonates like a politician. for me, it's hard to get past that.

Leslie Bates said...

Even if Hillary is beaten in 2008 I don't believe for a second that we will see the last of her. If history has taught us anything it is that those who see power over others as the central value of their lives (Lenin, Hitler, Castro, Chavez, et al.) will continue to work toward that goal until they have achieved it.

That means if we are lucky Hillary will become the Harold Stassen of the Democratic Party, doomed to perpetually run for the office of President. If we're not lucky, she'll win the office of President.

(Yes, I know it wasn't nice to compare her to Harold Stassen. But then I'd dig him up vote for him before I'd vote for Hillary.)

LASunsett said...


As I said, I am not her biggest fan. But still, I find her much more preferable right now than Obama and Edwards. I say this only because she is not taking her marching orders from Kos and Kompany.

Obama is a greenhorn that will screw everything up worse than we can ever imagine, due to his inexperience and inept approach to foreign policy. And Edwards? Well, he is nothing more than a 21st century snake oil salesman.

A.C. McCloud said...

My 2 cents..
Hillary has no choice but to pander to the nutroots at this point but with nomination in hand she'll throw then under the bus. It's clear these BDS people would never vote for a Repub so any backlash can be weathered and younger voters are notorious for not turning out anyway.

If she wins she'll attempt to be the most socialist president ever and may succeed if the Congress remains Democratic. She won't hesitate to use the military since she'll not suffer and recrimination from neve serving.

Right now, with Thompson's fading star and no standouts at the debates it looks pretty bleak.

LASunsett said...


If she wins she'll attempt to be the most socialist president ever and may succeed if the Congress remains Democratic.

Hillary being a socialist president would be no real surprise. She has made many many statements that would lead me to believe this is true. But I think the Dems are running a real risk of losing one house if not both, so getting support for her agenda will not be so easy. Approval ratings for Congress is the basis for my argument on this, The American people feel like they were lied to by Reid, Pelosi, and Company and with good reason. They haven't kep their word on 99% of their bold and daring promises.

A.C. McCloud said...

But I think the Dems are running a real risk of losing one house if not both, so getting support for her agenda will not be so easy.

Too close for me to call. Still not sure whether the voters will carry residual backlash over Iraq if things turn for the worse, and some voters may still harbor bad feelings against Repubs for dropping the ball on immigration.
And if Hillary is elected sometimes there's a coattails factor, as you know.

As to Hillary's leftist tendencies, you're right but I was thinking more in terms of how she'll position herself to win the general election compared to how she'll actually govern.

LASunsett said...


//I was thinking more in terms of how she'll position herself to win the general election compared to how she'll actually govern.//

Triangulation is her middle name, as it is with most pols these days. It's a crapshoot though. If she does this, she risks being a one-termer.