October 15, 2006

"The real question ... is whether she can put some great idea ahead of her own political upward mobility..."

"...whether there is a cause so important to her that she will risk her political security for it." The NYT wonders if Hillary Clinton will ever have a "a profile-in-courage moment." The answer is no, isn't it? Wouldn't she admit that to a confidante? She will probably some day have something that looks like a "a profile-in-courage moment," but when she does, it will be because never having one is perceived as more of a political risk than having just the right, precisely calculated one.

31 comments:

David said...

As a policy wonk she will always lack the vision and leadership it takes to capture the imagination of Americans and be a true leader!

The baggage she brings to national politics will bring her aspirations for the presidency to naught. Profiles in courage will probably not happen for Hilary. Courage is like riding a bike; the more you think about it the harder it is to achieve!

AJ Lynch said...

Holy smokes I am defending Hillary (in a way). Could the NYT ask this question about every one of our sound-bite scripted office-holders (except maybe Sen. Santorum)?

On the other hand, the question strikes at the heart of Clintonism because ..there are few core beliefs except it's all about winning".

JSF said...

Her husband planned the "Sister Souljah moment". Who is to say that (with help from the NYT) that she won't choose a moment like that against someone inococuous in the Dem party. She won't go after the Anti-Semites in the Daily Kos, firedoglake or James Wolcott. Instead, she will go after Harry Reid when it looks the tide will swing against him. The Hoouse of Clinton is loyal only to the House of Clinton and the NYT is their lapdog.

jjv said...

Voting to remove Saddam Hussein and sticking by it seems pretty courageous to me, given her party.

AllenS said...

I think her profile in courage will happen when the slaps the face of Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, editor of the Daily Kos. She's been known to go after Big Bill with lamps and frying pans, she'll have no trouble knocking Kos down. Giving her that all important "Sister Souljah" moment. Harry Reid has been known to fight back, with fists.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Stipulating that the Sister Souljah thing was cynically calculated... isn't it the sort of cynical calculation the Democratic Party could use more of?

DaveG said...

isn't it the sort of cynical calculation the Democratic Party could use more of?

Only if your wish is to continue the posing, poll-watching, race to spin every event, no matter how mundane, for cheap political points. After all, it really is all about winning, self-interest, and doing whatever it takes to assume what passes for power these days.

The health of the country be damned: there are elections to win.

Until a viable third party that is more interested in addressing the serious problems that face the country rather than pissing in the Wheaties of their opponents arises, we will continue our slide into the pits of political hell, dragging the entire country down with us.

But by all means, let's stress the need for cynical claculation above all.

PatCA said...

NYT: "We love her so much it hurts."

She's a careerist--nothing else is as important in the boomer ethic. But if the Dems take the House or Senate or both, it could be her worst nightmare. She and her party will have to actually govern; will she support the inevitable impeachment hearings and ending funds to continue the war? We shall see.

Meade said...

Her profile in courage moment came and went with "that woman" - Monica Lewinsky. Turns out the "vast right-wing conspiracy" was in of all places her husband's pants. Once exposed, Hillary chose the defense mechanism of denial -- her courage failed to overcome her fears.

It takes courage to stand up for and to one's self, courage to divorce an adulterous lying cuckholding sexual-harassing spouse after 23 years of marriage, and courage to remain true to one's principles - of equal rights and equal opportunity - and to refuse to enable a serial betrayer of those principles simply because he's the most powerful man in the world and you happen to be married to him.

Throwing lamps and frying pans does not reflect courage - it reflects loss of control and emotional imbalance.

Hillary may have had a moment of courage but she failed to display it. Those moments rarely come twice.

Finn Kristiansen said...

I agree with JJV that her sticking by her Iraq stance is courageous.

My guess is that Hillary, for now, is trying to avoid arming her opponents; she is going by the book and avoiding any great thematical or technical mistakes.

Further, you cannot really manufacture true moments of courage or passion. Do any senators really inspire, and if not, isn't that inherent in the job?

I've disliked Hillary forever, and voted for Bush, Bush, Dole, Bush, Bush going back the past few elections. But I do think she has the right type of detail oriented mind to follow through on the Iraq process. Bush, who is rather "big picture," left the details of Iraq to Rumsfeld, who has managed to create a disaster through sheer force of will. A great policy undone by incompetence.

Iraq may be Hillary's profile moment.

The Drill SGT said...

Hillary will never have a "profile-in-courage" moment unless it is passing on a run for the presidency.

In my mind a Profile-in-courage means to sacrifice political advantage to do what is right for the country.

A "Sister Souljah moment" is the opposite. A calculated ploy FOR political advantage. Bill was a master. Hillary learned from Bill.

George said...

The Atlantic’s new cover story focuses on Sen Clinton.

About 20 pp. Phew.

I settled in with it, thinking it would be a long praiseful piece.

Instead….jeez… Reading the article was like chewing sand.

On and on, the author went about how deferential she is to her male Senate elders. Zzzzz.

I got no sense that she’d sponsored any important legislation.

I got no sense that she was a leader with visionary ideas.

The author praised her for wearing a pantsuit to her swearing in. Insiders speculate that she may one day advance women’s rights by ignoring the unspoken rule against the wearing of open-toed pumps on the Senate floor. I’m not kidding. This was in a profile in The Atlantic.

And Karl Rove could not have picked more unflattering photos of her. She looked tired to the point of being unwell.

Am I unfairly recollecting this portrait of her? I was shocked to see such a slam in The Atlantic.

Doyle said...

Do you ever bother to put together any kind of supported argument about either Clinton?

Here, you're just speculating that she will never do anything courageous, because she's so calculating.

Groundbreaking stuff, Ann. I can see why Reynolds was so impressed.

Mickey said...

Sometimes we find what we need when we`re not looking for it.

Cedarford said...

HC is not a total lemon like John Forbes Kerry or "hold me down before I explode" Noble Algore.

It is said that Bill Clinton only triangulated, but he learned that later. He ran as a Centrist and was subject to considerable Left-wing venom for not just dissing the uncriticizable Jesse, but for talk of fiscal responsibility, saving American jobs, and being more like Perot than Bush was like Perot. Don't forget in the middle of the homestretch, he went back to Arkansas and signed the death warrant for some murderous thug - who the Left was trying to save on grounds he was black and discriminated against AND supposedly too stupid to execute - infuriating them.
Clinton took lots of risks. And they were to show that the Democrats were not their Daddy's McGovernites anymore. It worked.
What soured Clinton was once in office he caved to Dem careerists in DC and gave Congress whatever they wanted (sound familiar???) and veered away from the Center to pander to extremists. He was saved both by his brains and the 1994 loss of Dem Control of the House. And became a wildly popular President like Reagan...then like Reagan with Iran-Contra, had to get mired in a 2-year long scandal..which was the same sort of hardliner opposition that the public didn't share the anitpathy about. Polls showed if Americans could, they would have voted for Bill Clinton over Bush in 2000 and in 2004 by double digits.

Which brings up Hillary. What could be her Sister Souljah moment? Along with 5-6 other areas where her husband went against the Left base?

Some possibles:

1. Adaption of elements of Edwards "2 Americas" - ending the penalty imposed on income gained through labor vs. investment.
2. Her IT investment in health care, which she proposed along with Gingrich, to bring American health care costs down to what top Asian and European health care systems cost AND bring in the uncovered working poor (1/7th of the US population - and currently the US system health costs are 40% more per capita than the Japanese or Euro's way).
3. Ending the ban on negotiating drug discounts that costs us taxpayers trillions thanks to Big Pharma lobbying Republicans.
4. Declare an end to "no sacrifice" war that Bush promoted. That the wealthy will not be exempt from sacrifice for military adventurism - that there will be reduced tax cuts for the wealthy, average Americans will be asked to do more than "shop more", and two Army divisions and a 4% military spending increase will be implemented because "Bush I, Bill, and Bush II" cut too much in light of today's dangerous world..
5. Announce the Bush deficits are unsustainable and supply side economics built a permanent structural debtor government if it is allowed to continue - and for that reason, "pay as you go" will be the new standard.
6. Unveil a national energy program.
7. Announce that she will work with businessmen to reduce trade deficits and level the playing field.

Now, there are plenty of areas she can go to the Center on. Like when Bill Clinton ran, the Democrats were so hungry to end Republican rule that they swallowed their indignation whenever he whacked a murderer or reached out to independents. She has a lot of latitude.

Weighing against Hillary are three big things.

A. She's a woman. Yes, in many ways that is a plus - but if she has a single Pat Shroeder moment and appears not up to face down America's enemies - being a woman is a negative.
B. She is a horrible, grating speaker who puts off many listeners. As a moderate Republican, I can't stomach hearing her talk. Once she is forced to deviate from set speeches and ad lib, it is clear she is quite intelligent, but quite cold, and with a style like Dubya's of over-emphasizing words or phrases in case the morons she is forced to talk to don't get it.
C. America is not the place of Dynastic Politics some media lovers of the Kennedys think it is. Hillary will be running after 16 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush. It is all but certain Jeb Bush will not run because Dubya's years make him unsuitable as a family replacement. Hillary will suffer if she brings Bill's baggage with her or she reminds voters of the negatives of Clinton's mostly successful Presidency.

Mack said...

I don't have any great love for Hillary, but this is a bit silly. Hillary realizes, like everybody, that there are battles you can fight and battles you can't fight.

Actually, I would say it's extremely naive to think Hillary doesn't have any principles that she'll stand up for. Hillary strikes me as an extremely ideological person, who is forced to resort to her politicing exactly because of her ideology.

The time for courage is when you can take an unpopular stance, and really accomplish something important, even if to your own detriment. Some politicians are in a position that they can be more candid about their views. Because of a lot of things, Hillary currently isn't. If she ever became in a position where she could, though, in a way that wasn't just laughably futile, I think there's every indication she would take as strong stances as anybody.

(Besides, isn't the corresponding attack on Hillary that she's just faking it, and if she ever becomes President, she'll revert to the radical left-wing liberal that she is?)

Fenrisulven said...

Hillary strikes me as an extremely ideological person, who is forced to resort to her politicing exactly because of her ideology.

You nailed it. She has always been a coward - she won't show us what she really believes in. Like her secret meetings on health care. Expecting leadership and courage from her is like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.

That said, I think she will be the nom. The reason the Left hasn't developed a new idea is b/c they aren't interested in policy, they simply crave power. Watch how fast the Left Roots [Kos, FDL, Huff, et al] throw their principles under the bus once they realize her's is the path back to power. And it going to be fun watching Hillary demolish her primary opponents.

Maxine Weiss said...

Not another Hillary post....how many more Hillary posts from now till 2008 ???

Hey, you haven't done the obligatory post, yet, about Farrah's anal....

.....cancer.

Waiting on that.

Peace, Maxine

Paul Zrimsek said...

Only if your wish is to continue the posing, poll-watching, race to spin every event, no matter how mundane, for cheap political points.

And here I thought the Sister Souljah incident had to do with stepping away from the extremists in one's own party. Though even your oddly revised version strikes me as an improvement over what I hear from Democrats nowadays when they're speaking from the gut.

Theo Boehm said...

Ceadarford: Excellent analysis. I agree with your list of possible Sister Souljah moments. Most of them are near and dear to my way ot thinking. From what I've read of Sen. Clinton's positions, given the right conditions, she might just be the leader to get one or two of them implemented. Note what Mackan says above.

The problem with your list is that it is too much like actually governing, something that doesn't seem to have much utility these days.

My fear is, of course, that when the Democrats retake the House and possibly the Senate, they will be so into an impeach Bush feeding frenzy that politics will end up even more poisoned than they are, making future governance by any President extremely difficult unless he/she were to have commanding majorities in Congress. With a divided nation on the horizon, that doesn't seem too likely.

So, we could easily find ourselves in the position of electing a pre-hobbled President, with the parties in Congress at each others' throats, all the while corporate interests enjoying the gridlock, and our foreign enemies having a field day.

Am I being too pessimistic?

bearbee said...

DaveG said...
Until a viable third party that is more interested in addressing the serious problems that face the country rather than pissing in the Wheaties of their opponents arises, we will continue our slide into the pits of political hell, dragging the entire country down with us.

Amen


Finn Kristiansen said...
I agree with JJV that her sticking by her Iraq stance is courageous.

It is calculated........Bill Clinton is a big money draw for the Dems. This gives her insulation. People may not like the Iraq war but in general they do support the troops and a US win. A flip flop could be interpreted as desertion of the troops, US security and resurface 'The Path to 9/11' controversies. Last I read Bill Clinton backed the Iraq war.

By US security I mean that if the US were to lose, Iran would increase in Middle Eastern stature, gain de facto sovereignty over Iraq and as presently the worlds 3rd largest oil producer, with Iraq in its pocket it would rival Saudi Arabia in oil production and perhaps attempt to destablize the Kingdom and oil flow.

Cedarford said...
He was saved both by his brains and the 1994 loss of Dem Control of the House. And became a wildly popular President like Reagan...

It was the economy that made him 'wildly' popular. Would he have been re-elected had the economy lapsed back into recession? I doubt it.

The MinuteMan said...

The best thing about this Times editorial is that two years from now, when the Times endorses Hillary over John McCain, her absence of courage won't be an issue.

Tom Maguire

Cedarford said...

Theo - Thanks for the compliment.

The problem with your list is that it is too much like actually governing, something that doesn't seem to have much utility these days. (paraphrasing - With all the partisanship making straight governing harder)

I think by the time 2008 rolls around, we will be fairly sick of partisanship. You already have Dems like Markey, Nadler, Rangel, Conyers, Waxman, Wexler, Schumer
talking about the upcoming witch hunts they want to do. And they miss that people are beginning to think America is heading into serious economic and foreign policy trouble - not just from Bush's many mistakes and lack of fiscal discipline and favoring the wealthiest - but from Republicans in Congress AND Democrats serving special interests.

If there is a sense America is heading into serious trouble - and I think many Americans are beginning to believe that, as domestic and foreign policy problems mount - there will be less tolerance for the usual fun & games of rampant Party Partisanship. The voters will indulge partisans when things are running along OK, they have less tolerance when partisanship appears to be so over-the-top that it paralyzes America from moving forward (Iran-Contra, Clinton's impeachment), and absolutely no tolerance when the s__t hits the fan and the country is in serious crisis.

So I believe that people will vote for who they think can best bring the country together in 2008 and lead it in addressing the domestic and foreign policy questions that have festered for years. Many moderate Republicans have no problem voting for a good Democrat Centrist. And vice-versa. And I think 2008 will be a good place to pick a candidate that will pledge to lead all Americans, not just serve a narrow Base. The Democrats, in hindsight, should have won in both 2000 and 2004 but for the poor performance of Gore and Kerry...Gore was a bad candidate, but Kerry was worse..absolutely awful.

Hillary Clinton has of course indulged in partisanship, "vast right-wing conspiracies" and all, but she is far, far from the worst offender lists of both Parties.

Similarly, the Republicans would be well-served to remember that multimillionaires are less than 1% of the vote and the Religious Right only about 10%. So a good Republican candidate now that Dubya has ruined it for Jeb Bush, might be another moderate-Conservative that ticks off both the fatcats and Right to Life fanatics by not pledging fealty to them.

Mitt Romney impresses me. Mike Huckabee too, but he needs to establish some space from the Fundies.

The Republicans too in bed with the fatcats and Religious Right do not have electability. Though in many ways Dr. Coburn and soon to be out of a job Santorum are honest and refreshing. And McCain is too old and too treacherous. And Rudi has major skeletons in his closet. As does Newt. Newt or Rudi would make good VPs. Frist, Pataki, Brownback, and Keyes are roadkill.

altoids1306 said...

Call me crazy, but Hillary is one of my more-preferred Democratic candidates. Other than Lieberman, I would probably choose her over the entire Democratic field.

She's one of the only Democrats that understands the War on Terror. She's been studiously quiet about it - it might all be a ploy, but I think she understands that most Americans are not about to roll over and give up on Iraq.

While I question her motives, her very calculation makes her policy positions predictable. That makes her less scary than Dean/Pelosi/Boxer. She has a decent sense of where Americans stand on the issues, and won't stray to far from that. (For example, her ambivalence on abortion, or the death penalty.) If she wants to be popular, she won't make unpopular/crazy decisions. My only real concern is on the domestic side. Money buys popularity, expect an explosion of social spending.

Gerry said...

"her ambivalence on abortion"

And what ambivalence might that be, perchance?

Revenant said...

And what ambivalence might that be, perchance?

There is none. She uneqivocally believes the Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion.

She did take the empty slogan "safe, legal, and rare" and update it to "safe, legal, and never" -- i.e., she favors throwing enough tax money at sex education and birth control to completely eliminate unwanted pregnancy. But since since no amount of money or education will eliminate all unwanted pregnancies, the difference between Clinton's position and that of every other pro-choice politician is merely one of rhetoric.

Pat Patterson said...

Let's not forget that most of the original eight politicians profiled by Kennedy had taken stands that ended or constrained their political careers. Sen. Clinton will not take such a step unless by accident.

cyberbini said...

I've never been fond of Hillary. However, if she isn't trying to push her "Great Ideas" on the public, I may have to reconsider my feeling towards Sen. Clinton. It's the politicians with the "Great Ideas" that implement gigantic f**k ups. Isn't Bill Clinton's ever improving legacy built on the fact that he effectively managed the economy and didn't try to do more than tweak existing social policy. Give me boring competence.

Richard Dolan said...

To the extent HRC is capable of a profile-in-courage moment, she had it in 1992-93, when she was pushing Hillary-Care and gays in the military. As you will recall, that didn't work out too well for the Clinton Team, whereas small-bore triangulation did. For HRC, that's a painful lesson that, once learned, she won't forget.

For those who think sticking with her Iraq position may qualify, the problem is that she is already well on her way to dumping that position.

Theo Boehm said...

Ceadarford: Again, really good analysis. I hope you have a blog--can't tell from your profile.

Anyway, I agree with both you and Altoids about Sen. Clinton. I've been less than happy with her in the past, but it looks like the stars are beginning to align in her favor.

As a Massachusetts resident, I must say I'm not as impressed by Mitt Romney. He's a perfectly competent Governor, and an intelligent and solid person. It's just that his square-jawed, blow-dried style is very irritating to those of us used to...uh..."colorful" Massachusetts pols. Plus his twangy voice betrays him as Not Being From Here, something very suspicious to the locals. Romney is the last of a string of Republican Governors trailing in the long wake of Bill Weld and probably could not have been elected otherwise. Plus, his last opponent was a State House hack (female, not that it matters) with every loathsome piece of old Democrat insider baggage you can imagine.

Romney would have been an excellent Governor of Utah, but he's seriously wierd for Massachusetts. I don't know if his record or his style will play well on the East Coast, but he might be OK nationally. Of course his being elected Governor was not really about being Governor, but about grooming himself for bigger things.

Theo Boehm said...

Damn! I need an editor. That's "Cedarford." And while you're at it, strike that last "about" in the final sentence. Sometimes I read my own writing, I really do....