Just Say No

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Democratic Party

The question at hand: What does Hillary Clinton want? Karen Tumulty writes in Time that Bill Clinton thinks his wife should be Vice President.

In Bill Clinton’s view, she has earned nothing short of an offer to be Obama’s running mate, according to some who are close to the former President. Bill “is pushing real hard for this to happen,” says a friend.

However, the Senator is harder to read, her friends say. And if she wants to be on the ticket, her recent behavior seems, um, counter-productive. Jaws are still dropped over her bizarre performance in Florida the other day, in which she compared the “disenfranchisement” of Florida and Michigan delegates — an act in which she was fully complicit until she realized she might lose the nomination — to the Florida recount disaster and historic civil rights milestones.

Josh Marshall has a post up that deserves reading all the way through, but I’m just going to quote the last line —

What she’s doing is not securing her the nomination. Rather, she’s gunning up a lot of her supporters to believe that the nomination was stolen from her — a belief many won’t soon abandon.

She’s like a cult leader who’d rather kill himself and his followers than allow the cult to be broken up. Note to Clintonistas — beware the Kool Aid.

Jonathan Chait:

This gambit by Clinton is simply an attempt to steal the nomination. It’s obviously not going to work, because Democratic superdelegates don’t want to commit suicide. But this episode is very revealing about Clinton’s character. I try not to make moralistic characterological judgments about politicians, because all politicians compromise their ideals in the pursuit of power. There are no angels in this business. Clinton’s gambit, however, truly is breathtaking.

If she’s consciously lying, it’s a shockingly cynical move. I don’t think she’s lying. I think she’s so convinced of her own morality and historical importance that she can whip herself into a moralistic fervor to support nearly any position that might benefit her, however crass and sleazy. It’s not just that she’s convinced herself it’s okay to try to steal the nomination, she has also appropriated the most sacred legacies of liberalism for her effort to do so. She is proving herself temperamentally unfit for the presidency.

I used to think that, although she was far from my first choice, she could do the job of POTUS competently. Now, I don’t think so. Bill Scher notes that “Everyone is focused on how to handle Clinton to avoid deep fissures in the party.” If she had her head screwed on straight she wouldn’t need to be “handled.” And who’s going to “handle” her if she’s POTUS?

Is she trying to blackmail the Obama campaign and the DNC into giving her the veep spot? If so, that’s just one more reason Obama should just say no. First, giving in would make him look weak. Second, having Billary with him on the campaign would seriously compromise his message of change. It would signal he’s going to be forced to compromise with Old Establishment Washington, after all. And the two of them would upstage him every time he turned around.

Here’s another question, asked by Marie Cocco in today’s Washington Post: If this woman, Hillary Clinton, is not an acceptable presidential candidate, then what woman would be acceptable?

Let’s think — how about one who doesn’t mismanage a campaign? One who doesn’t have to pad her resume? One who isn’t playing identity politics even as she complains about sexism? One who doesn’t have a long history of taking positions based on what she thinks is politically expedient rather than on what’s right? You may be able to think of some more attributes we’d like to not see in a future woman POTUS contender.

She doesn’t have to run for the Senate again for four more years, and maybe by then her public image will have been rehabilitated. But, frankly, I think she’s not only hurting the Democratic Party, she’s also hurting herself.

Update: See Jonathan Alter, “Popular Vote Poison: How Hillary’s latest math hurts the party.”

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. fidelio  •  May 22, 2008 @12:50 pm

    You know, the thing that turned me dubious about Clinton’s capacity to handle the job was the shortcomings of her staff, because if they’re picked for loyalty, rather than capability, and she keeps them around even when they mess up and so screw her over–will she keep doing that as POTUS? Seems to me we’ve had enough of that aleady/

    VPOTUS may seem more prestigious, but I have to say I think the smarter choice would be for her to push for Senate Majority Leader, if there’s any chance of her getting it. She’d have all the power she could stand, for as long as she shows she can handle the job, and I think it would make just as many heads explode.

    Just because the Right made their lives a living hell during Bill’s terms does not entitle the Clintons to a do-over, and I keep hearing more and more things that sound like that what some feel she’s supposed to get out of this election.

    Also, for better or worse, the 1960s are over, and I’d like a president who gets that. I’m just sayin’.

  2. Kevin Hayden  •  May 22, 2008 @2:00 pm

    One can claim to promote unity just as one can claim to be opposed to the war on Iraq.

    But everywhere I look, I see dead people.

    While Obama campaigns in Florida and Michigan so Rome can be united, someone asks for the role of understudy? Not to worry… Brutus always accessorizes with daggers.

  3. moonbat  •  May 22, 2008 @2:10 pm

    In a way, it’s good that this primary season has dragged on so interminably long – because it’s shown us – and I hate to say this – just how crazed Billary can get when push comes to shove. They say power corrupts, and I’m thinking this is what 8 years at the top of the world did to these people – they think they are owed this election. They apparently so very badly miss living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and will say or do anything to regain it.

    I wouldn’t want either of them near any levers of power. Chris Dodd is my choice for Senate Majority Leader, and he can’t take the reins of this job from Harry Reid any time too soon. It would be grand if Bill at least could morph into Jimmy Carter, Nobel Prize Winner, which could still happen, but both Clintons have sadly become caricatures of themselves this year. I’m hoping that Obama wins not just because he’s the better candidate IMO, but because the Clintons need a good dose of humble pie.

  4. Preston  •  May 22, 2008 @2:41 pm

    As long-standing candidate for the Democratic nomination, she certainly deserves, and Obama has alluded to, consideration for the second place on the ticket. That’s all. On the basis of her reluctance to cede the nomination to Obama, that we may be looking at an attempt to have the courts overturn the primary/convention results a la Bush 2000. It will get nasty, my friends.

    A joke heard on a local radio this morning: A reporter asked Bill Clinton, “where does Hillary find the strength to continue fighting?” Bill replied, “Our marriage is none of your business.”

  5. Swami  •  May 22, 2008 @3:06 pm

    Character is the most important quality of leadership. It’s easier to build experience than to rehabilitate a flawed character. I hear that Obama seeks imput from all quarters because he understands the value of counsel that doesn’t tickle the ears. Unlike assholes like Bush, or McCain who demean people of contrary opinions because they think their own status and power imparts some sort of infallability. Hillary is no different.. she doesn’t understand the power of humility. you can’t benefit from other peoples knowledge and experience when you’ve got all the answers yourself.

    Obama is.. “yes we can”, “si, se puede”..inclusive, offering us a sense of empowerment rather than coming off as a big daddy,messiah, decider, commander guy, sheepherder. I want somebody who at least recognizes that my voice should have a place at the table of the American dream. McCain and Clinton won’t want to know me after they’ve gotten my vote. They’ll love me all the way into the voting booth.

  6. mikefromtexas  •  May 22, 2008 @3:14 pm

    Also keep in mind that this is a fight to the death for the DLC. After how badly they have botched her campaign, why would anyone ever hire Penn, Wolfson or any of these other morons again. It’s more than just the Clintons.

  7. uncledad  •  May 22, 2008 @7:40 pm

    I still stand by my theory thatMcCain, Hill and Bubba have signed a deal with bu$hco to let all the past indecresions (umm understatement) remain uninvestigated. If she wants on the ticket it is only to have the best position to undermine Obamas chance of winning. I hope Obama is tough enough to keep her at arms length, oh and don’t turn your back!

    The political establishment aint just afraid of Obama, they are afraid of the past. It haunts them and they won’t stop running from it.

  8. Swami  •  May 22, 2008 @8:46 pm

    Ha, McCain kicked Hagee and his highly coveted political endorsement to the curb. “Get thee behind me Satan!”? Gee, I wonder why McCain found it offensive that Hagee said Hitler was doing God’s will in conducting the holocaust? It amazes me that McCain would turn from the truth of God’s holy word for the sake of political advantage. Weep for the Daughter of Zion.

  9. biggerbox  •  May 22, 2008 @10:03 pm

    What woman would be an acceptable candidate?

    Well, how about one who hadn’t acted like she deserved the nomination from the start, one who doesn’t seem a little miffed that everyone doesn’t automatically agree? How about one who can hire campaign staff as competent and populist as Obama’s, instead of bozoes like Mark Penn and Terry McAuliffe, (apologies to Bozo and clowns everywhere.) How about one who didn’t vote to authorize the stupidest military misadventure in American history? How about one who could, after positioning herself for the job for close to a decade, was actually able to convince an overwhelming majority of the party that she really was the one they wanted? (I mean, come on. It shouldn’t even be close, given how long she’s been planning on this campaign…)

    Seriously, the idea that there couldn’t be a stronger female candidate than Hillary strikes me as the most bizarre sexism. It’s not about her being a woman, it’s about her not being as good a politician as she thinks she is.

    As for the veep slot, the traditional way one applies for that job is to end one’s campaign as soon as it’s clear you can’t win without extraordinary measures, and to give your endorsement to the one you want to run with. NOT by continuing to slam the most likely nominee, and sending protesters to the Rules Committee meeting to game the system. I think Bill Clinton is a real smart guy, but sometimes he is completely idiotic, and this is another one of those times.



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