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September 05, 2006

Is Hillary Clinton wavering?

Is Hillary Clinton having second thoughts about her presidential bid? This article in the Sunday Times didn't convince me that Clinton is less determined than she ever was, just that some of her "friends" are starting to wake up to the fact that she could sail through the primary and tank in the general election. Under anonymity, these friends are rather blunt and patronizing, but they're talking sense. Hillary Clinton is not necessarily the most electable candidate in a general election.

Friends of Hillary hint she may pull out of presidential race
Sarah Baxter

FRIENDS of Hillary Clinton have been whispering the unthinkable. Despite her status as the runaway frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president, some of her closest advisers say she might opt out of the White House race and seek to lead her party in the Senate. [...]First, however, she has to win the election. Some Democratic party elders — the American equivalent of the Tories’ “men in grey suits” — say Clinton may back out of the race of her own volition.

“I would not be surprised if she were to decide that the best contribution she can make to her country is to forget about being president and become a consensus-maker in the Senate,” said a leading Democratic party insider. “She believes there is no trust between the two political sides and that we can’t function as a democracy without it.”

As senator for New York, Clinton has forged alliances across party lines with leading Republicans such as Senator John McCain and Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives. In the eyes of the electorate, however, she is a potentially divisive figure. [Times Online]

The article obliquely refers to a more self-serving reason why Democratic insiders might be prefer Clinton didn't run. She's raised a huge amount of money for her senate reelection race, most of which she spend. Obviously, a lot of people would rather see Hillary to drop out and spread that money around rather than roll it over into her own presidential campaign fund.

Clinton's anonymous friends seem to know her much better than the public at large. She's a center-right Democrat who gets along really well with Republicans. The right wing noise machine has convinced the public that Hillary is some kind of liberal firebrand.

If we're going to nominate a candidate who will be perceived as a liberal, we might as well run a real liberal candidate.

[Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.]


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She's a center-right Democrat who gets along really well with Republicans.

This seems unfair. She an opportunist, and the opportunities she sees depend on action in the center to center-right field. But she's clearly pretty liberal, and has spent most of her life prior to 1992 not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

I'm not a big fan of hers, but I think she does have committments, they are sincere, and they are on the left side of the Democratic Party.

People, I said it here first, and I told you to mark my words; she's not running for president, she's running for vice-president.

I also said, here first, that even the reptilian brain responds to symetry, and there's nothing more symetrical than a Gore/Clinton ticket. In that order. While Clark anywhere on the ticket would be my personal choise, the Gore/Clinton ticket is UNBEATABLE. (Pardon me for raising my voice here.)

Fasten your seatbelts.

I like the Gore/Clinton idea. You're combining a man who's not running for the Presidency with a woman whom he'd never choose as his running mate. (Do you really think after being in Bill's shadow for eight years he'd pick Hillary as the VP????)

I tend to view a Hillary candidacy as a lose-lose proposition. We get the vitriol of the right-wing poured mercilessly on her for a year plus and don't even have the possibility of having a leader who could guide the party out of the wilderness and beat back the hate-filled hordes. And the odds of her actually accomplishing anything would be very slim.

What does Hillary Clinton bring to the table? Lots of money, name recognition, and more political baggage than anybody else in the Democratic party. She also brings a history of compromising progressive principles if and when she believes that doing so makes her look tougher. (The support of the Iraq war is only the most prominent of these flaws - she never supports the progressive position unless it's already won a wide majority of support.)

She seems like a competent Senator. Why, other than name recognition, does that translate into a good President? I think the GOP really, really wants to run against her. Mind you, I think she'd put up a tough fight, but I think any Hillary Clinton administration would be beset witht he flaws and weaknesses of her husband's administration. Namely, an over-willingness to "triangulate" and sell out the left in pursuit of her own agenda.

I hope she doesn't run; I think she'd make a very poor candidate. (Unless, that is, she allows herself to learn some important political lessons over the next two years.)

I don't like her, for Lindsay's "center-right" reason (especially the studied vagueness of her current position on the war.) Having said that, I have to say in her defense that there was at least one recent poll showing her running pretty strongly agaisnt McCain. I think it's rash to assume at this point that she would be a weak general-election candidate. And if she's seeing polls of her own with results anything like the one I just mentioned, it would be even more rash to assume that SHE thinks she'd be a weak general-election candidate.

Still, I really hope eventually to see the opposition to her coalesce around a strong "stop-Hillary" candidate. Who that will be, will depend on the early primaries.

I actually doubt very much that Hillary would sail through the Democratic primaries, especially given the new primary schedule.

She has the money, she has the name recognition; and they're the best things to have. But the netroots is a thing of the future. And if she doesn't get a piece of that action, she risks everything she has. I mean not now, but ten months from now.

I tend to view a Hillary candidacy as a lose-lose proposition. We get the vitriol of the right-wing poured mercilessly on her for a year plus and don't even have the possibility of having a leader who could guide the party out of the wilderness and beat back the hate-filled hordes. And the odds of her actually accomplishing anything would be very slim.

Precisely. The argument I find myself repeating to my pro-Hillary friends is that, even if I were to accept her as "progressive" in any meaningful sense of the term (which I emphatically do not), and even if she were able to win (and I agree with those above that she's a fair-to-poor candidate in most ways), her chances of getting anything whatsoever accomplished in four or even eight years would be almost nil. The right wing will mobilize to destroy her in a way that will have us all nostalgic for the relative calm and civility of the mid to late 90s.

Right, worst of both worlds. A completely compromising politician with the baggage of having been completely demonized as a crazy liberal, closet lesbian, murderer, swindler, etc. etc. Anything she says that would make her appeal to a Republican will 1) not be believed by any Republican and 2) will erode support from Democrats.

And then, her defeat in the General Election would be portrayed as the public's complete rejection of all Democratic values and an embrace of the Republican agenda. When, in fact it would be a rejection of Republican-Lite in a Democratic label.

My dad, who is infuriatingly and smugly wrong about a lot of politics said that "she's positioned herself extremely well". He sees himself as a moderate, but doesn't see how far to the right the center has been pushed.

As a New Yorker, I have to say I like Hillary as my Senator (although that Iraq war vote is a horrible blot on her record that she ought to be working hard to erase - do good Hillary! do good!) I would be sorry to see her run for either President or VP.

Does the Democratic Party really need its own Margaret Thatcher? Can't we succeed without a Dem presidential ticket trying to out-militarize the GOP? Hillary may be a wonderful person but her foreign policy statements are somewhere right of Reagan. And her domestic pronouncement are heavy on censorship and vaporous on defending civil liberties. GOP-lite is not the way to go!

It's not "can't we succeed?", Baked Potato. The Democrats can't win with Hillary, who will be correctly perceived as deceitful, spineless, and unpresidential. The Democrats can win with Warner, and they can win with Feingold; everyone else, except maybe Gore, will be too unelectable.

everyone else, except maybe Gore, will be too unelectable

Cue Neil the Ethical Werewolf in 5... 4... 3...

No wonder we lose elections, you guys are harping on the wrong meme. The Hillary for president meme is a republican meme, and you're all falling for it, hook, line and sinker.

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