March 16, 2005

President H. R. Clinton? Not Likely

PITY THE DEEPLY CONFLICTED NICK KRISTOF IN TODAY'S NEW YORK TIMES' Who Gets It? Hillary. Indeed, pity all Democrats who, in their quixotic quest for the White House in 2008 feel the need to look towards their chameleon candidate, Senator and Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Kristof begins by noting, as others have, Hillary's coming out... for God, that is:

"I've always been a praying person," Mrs. Clinton declared recently. Of course, this approach works in her case only because her religious faith is longstanding.
Is it? I suppose eight televised years of attending services with her husband as part of the ritual duties of First Lady could be seen as such, but does that really measure well against the much more (some would say too much more) religious faith of George W. Bush? Many people of faith would have their doubts about Hillary's calling. especially when looking at her voting record and affiliations over the years.

Speaking of affiliations, Kristof notes the much bally-hooed shift of Clinton's position on abortion into the "Pro-Not-So-Much-Choice" crowd that occupies the middle: "Mrs. Clinton took a hugely important step in January when she sought common ground and described abortion as a "sad, even tragic choice to many, many women." While it is gratifying to see her assume something approaching a sensible stance, it is also the case that many in the right, left and center will not believe her.

Do these maneuvers alone make Hillary electable? Kristof expresses his limited reservations.

Still, I doubt that Mrs. Clinton can be elected president. I use my hometown, the farming community of Yamhill, Ore., as my touchstone for the heartland, and I have a hard time imagining that she could do well there. Ambitious, high-achieving women are still a turnoff in many areas, particularly if they're liberal and feminist. And that's not just in America: Margaret Thatcher would never have been elected prime minister if she'd been in the Labor Party.

In small towns like Yamhill, any candidate from New York carries a lot of baggage, and Mrs. Clinton more than most. Moreover, television magnifies her emotional reserve and turns her into a frost queen. Mrs. Clinton's negative ratings nationally were still around 40 percent at last count, and Hillary-hating thrives.

Well, you can't go wrong citing "negatives," can you? Nor are you mistaken to say that Hillary-hating thrives. Kristof's been off the farm too long though if he thinks that ambition and achievement are negative factors that will work against Hillary. It's not those things at all. If that was the case, Secretary of State Rice would not be glanced at as a possible Republican candidate. What Kristof can't say, what no Democrat can say, is that the single thing that makes Hillary unelectable is the Humiliation Factor.

What the Democrats are dealing with here is the most famous serving Democrat in the country. The problem is that her fame rests, in large measure, on being the most publicly humiliated woman, wife, and First Lady in the history of the world. The length and depth of that humiliation were of an epic quality and will not soon be forgotten or forgiven by the largest voting bloc in the country, women.

It's a romantic country notion to "Stand by Your Man," but I don't really think the songwriter, singer, or female listeners to this anthem took it to mean 'stand by him even while he's lying, cheating, and doing you wrong from earth's four corners on all news outlets foreign or domestic.' And yet she did and they are married still. On the one hand, you might feel that this is a testament to the strength and enduring nature of the Clinton's love -- though that is mighty hard to see when they do, on rare occassions, appear together. On the other hand, it is also easy to see their marriage as a sham that they stay in because it was part of "her deal" -- 'Me President first, you President later.'

Either way, I don't think it parlays into a Presidency for Hillary no matter how "realistic" that may appear to a party desperate for someone, anyone, who can win. In the end, I don't think she can carry enough women to counter the forces arrayed against her. It may have been true that American women once felt that you had to "stand by your man," but there's a whole new world out there when it comes to women who have let themselves be the patsy on the Adultery channel.

It's true that people vote the issues, but they also vote their gut, and there's not a lot of gut support for Hillary out there. Nobody gets elected President because "Hey, its my turn." Presidents get elected because a majority feel, in their gut, that the person has the judgment necessary for the job. I don't think that letting yourself be humiliated speaks for a person who has that judgment. It could be that, given Bill Clinton's health, he could help his wife up by checking out, but a widow's weeds does not a President make unless it is fortunately timed -- say October 10th, 2008.

Absent something as dramatic as that, I don't think Hillary is going to find fulfillment from her makeover, no matter how extreme. Nor will she gain happiness from her relentless drive to the center. What will stop her, ultimately, will be the legions of women who know the limits of standing by their man; those women that know that when the going gets really tough, the tough move out.
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Update: In the comments, Allah disagrees very persuasively with plenty of reasons: "... she seems to me to be almost a sure thing."

Update: Captain Ed has a much more detailed examination of the Kristof column at the aptly titled: Captain's Quarters: Democrats And Kristof Still Don't Get It

More to the point, Kristof wants Democrats to change their rhetoric while keeping to the same core values that marginalized them in the first place. In other words, he wants Democrats to lie; does anyone expect Hillary to press for abortion limitations? Has she voted against NARAL positions since being elected to the Senate? Not according to her NARAL rating -- 100%.

Posted by Vanderleun at March 16, 2005 6:42 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Many people of faith would have their doubts about Hillary's calling, especially when looking at her voting record...

Such as what votes exactly?

Posted by: Steve M. at March 16, 2005 8:47 AM

Good point. I'll rescind that.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at March 16, 2005 8:56 AM

I agree with the Humiliation Factor being of some import ... but
at the risk of being offensive, I'll quote my 80 yo Mother re Sen
Clinton, 'She's a c--t and will NEVER be President'. I'll call that the
C factor. I think it is more determinent than anything else.

Posted by: Steel Turman at March 16, 2005 10:14 AM

Kristof wants Democrats to lie?

This is news? That's what the 2004 Democratic Convention was all about, one big "Trojan Horse" lie.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at March 16, 2005 10:44 AM
Nobody gets elected President because "Hey, its my turn."

No, but parties do. Republican fatigue affected the '92 election and it will certainly affect the next one. Also consider:

1. There are few stars in the GOP galaxy. There's Giuliani, who will have been dormant for eight years, and there's Rice, who might have trouble getting the more retrograde elements of the party to vote for her. Beyond them, who? George Allen? Frist? They're no-names. You want to beat a star, you need commensurate star power. Ask Cruz Bustamante.

2. She's the human incarnation of every shallow liberal benchmark of progress. Think of how many prefab storylines she brings to the table: "First woman president," "intellectuals back in power," "Clintons return to the White House," etc. Her only "failing," as it were, is that she's white, but that can be remedied with an appropriate running mate. In short, the media's going to go into a fucking swoon for her. (Rice, needless to say, is the natural choice to mitigate this effect.)

3. Hillary's drift towards the center isn't as risky as it might have been had Dean not been elected DNC Chair. Once she gets the nomination, she and Howie can play a form of good cop/bad cop where she makes noises about religion and defense to attract the centrists while Dean reassures the moonbats that she's a fellow traveler at heart and won't abandon the cause. Thus is the base appeased and at least 47% of the vote locked up.

As for the Humiliation Factor, I think it's a dead issue and grows deader with each hawkish word that she utters.

Honestly, she seems to me to be almost a sure thing.

Posted by: Allah at March 16, 2005 12:57 PM

Allah is disgustingly persuasive. If that happens I may have to MOVE TO CANADA! no FRANCE! er, no, that's not right.... TIERRA DEL FUEGO? Ah, the hell with it.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at March 16, 2005 1:31 PM

I think that she gets the nomination for sure. I don't see any Democrats who can beat her there. If they want to win, they must de-rail her, and quickly. I don't see that happening. As for the general election, I am not sure yet. Those high negative make me wonder, but lets not forget Bush had high negatives as well.

Posted by: Final Historian at March 16, 2005 1:53 PM

Australia mate, it would be time to move to Australia. We could always go to the pub with Tim Blair...

Posted by: Final Historian at March 16, 2005 1:55 PM

C'mon Allah, Rice as Vice teamed with Ridge, or Jeb or Perry or Owen would kick her butt. You're not factoring in the shift in party identification either. That's a pretty solid 5% move that the Reps have never had before. If they can beat the Dem's while trailing by 5 why should they lose when they've pulled even? Hellary would energize the Rep "over my dead body" vote better than Kerry did. It doesn't mean a damn thing for her to hold the blues - although she won't do that either. Which reds do you figure she can pick up?

You don't have to move, Gerard - and Costa Rica beats Tierra del Fuego by a rather large margin if worse comes to worst.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at March 16, 2005 1:58 PM
Rice as Vice teamed with Ridge, or Jeb or Perry or Owen would kick her butt.

Rick. Dude. The surest way to ratchet up Republican fatigue to election-losing proportions would be to nominate another Bush. As for Ridge, or Romney or Pataki for that matter: they're charisma black holes. They make Bob Dole look lifelike. They're Al Gore drained of joie de vivre. And re: Perry and Owen -- who?

I think Hillary's nomination is a fait accompli, which means Rice has to be on the ticket. It's essential. Otherwise you're going to end up with two more rich white stiffs in suits, and the contrast with the Democratic ticket will only underscore the old complaints about Republicans being exclusive and patriarchal. Not something you want to advertise when your chances at victory depend upon centrist voters, many/most of whom are hawkish but socially liberal -- which is precisely how Hillary is positioning herself right now. Add to that the fact that the war on terror is likely to be a losing issue for the GOP in '08 (either because it's failing, or stagnant, such that voters are open to a change of leadership or because it's succeeding so well that we don't need serious hawks in charge anymore) and I think we're looking at trouble.

Also, I think you're underestimating the extent to which many disgruntled liberals who crossed party lines and voted for W. last time will be looking for excuses to "come home" to the Democrats in '08. I'm not so right-wing that I'd categorically refuse to vote Democrat in an election, but if I did, I'd be searching for any signs of improvement in the GOP over the next four years to justify a return to the fold. Hillary gives them that justification. I don't believe for a minute that she's really all that hawkish (or, at least, as hawkish as a Republican would be), and I doubt that any disaffected libs believe so either. But the mere pretext, the mere effort on her part to appear that way and thereby indicate that the Democrats have moved away from their Michael-Moore-ish tendencies at even a superficial level, might be sufficient to draw them back to where they feel they naturally belong.

Posted by: Allah at March 16, 2005 3:34 PM

Allah,

Which red states would go blue for Hilary? Romney and Pataki weren't on my list and the guys who are match Hilary's "charisma" quite well. At least they don't start with a dirty laundry list as long as my arm.

I agree about the Dem crossovers but they were not material in the key states in '04. As far as I can tell the Reps out registered the Dems in new voters by about 3 million. Those aren't crossovers.

We don't even know what the defining issues will be in '08 so it's very hard to say who will make the best Rep candidate. If Hilary takes the nomination it won't make much difference - if Rice is on the ticket.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at March 16, 2005 4:29 PM

Hillary has a core group of supporters. That group will never grow. Hillary is a never will be.

Posted by: mark butterworth at March 16, 2005 8:02 PM

well, we could always change the constitution to allow Awnold on the ballet.

Posted by: Justin Moser at March 17, 2005 1:00 AM

everyone should remember that this is the wife of a turncoat president who apoligised to japan because we used the atomic bomb to the end the war with them and saved a tremendous amount of american lives. now she is promising to help our vets and i for one have great doubt that she means any part of what she spouting.

Posted by: yoyo at December 23, 2007 5:11 PM
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