I’ve seen a lot of “if only we’d elected Hillary” whining lately, so it is good to see someone who supported Senator Clinton for the nomination in 2008 admit that’s a stupid argument. Rebecca Traister writes,
The empirical choice between Clinton and Obama was never as direct as those on either side made it out to be; neither was obviously more equipped or more progressive than the other. The maddening part, then and now, is that they were utterly comparable candidates. The visions â€” in 2008, of Obama as a progressive redeemer who would restore enlightened democracy to our land and Hillary as a crypto-Republican company man; or, in 2011, of Obama as an appeasement-happy crypto-Republican and Hillary as a leftist John Wayne who would have whipped those Congressional outlaws into shape â€” they were all invented. These are fictional characters shaped by the predilections, prejudices and short memories of the media and the electorate. Theyâ€™re not actual politicians between whom we choose here on earth.
If she had won her partyâ€™s nomination and then the general election, Hillary Clintonâ€™s presidency would probably not have looked so different from Obamaâ€™s. She was, after all, a senator who, for a variety of structural and strategic reasons, often crossed party lines to co-sponsor legislation with Republicans, who voted to go to war in Iraq, who moved to the center on everything from Israel to violent video games. You think Obamaâ€™s advisers are bad? Hillary Clinton hired, and then took far too long to get rid of, Mark Penn. And her economic team probably would have looked an awful lot like Obamaâ€™s.
Thank you. I would add, to those who believe a President Hillary Clinton would have been “tougher,” take a look at her senatorial career. If you can identify a single piece of unambiguously progressive legislation that she sponsored, fought for, and won, do let me know. And she spent eight years in the Senate.
And I’ll say one more time, if we want a more progressive president after 2012, stop navel gazing over President Obama and work to elect a more progressive Congress.