To sabutai, to David, and to many others that were Hillary supporters or otherwise highly critical of my 2008 criticism let me make a mea culpa.
I still contend that the pro-Iraq War, DLC led, mandate supporting, lukewarm progressive Hillary Clinton would have been another centrist moderate like her husband and the real progressive choice would not have been her. It also would not have been Obama. So far, as President, I am convinced there is nothing President Obama has done differently than she would have as President. More importantly, she would have been far more effective and successful on a political and tactical level even if the policies would have been the same. The 2008 facts as I saw them that turned out to be Myths:
- -Obama was a dove on Iraq and a hawk on Afghanistan, Hillary was not->perhaps the biggest contrast in the primary was on Iraq
Yet the DLC led, CFR ‘consensus’ foreign policy team was the same team Obama choose. Anthony Lake and Brent Scowcroft were nowhere to be found. Instead we had Hillary at State (evidence enough her foreign policy views won), a pro-Petreaus, pro-Gates administration from day one (both are great leaders, but arguably Obama should have picked his own people not continued with Bush’s), and a continuation of Bush tested and DLC approved war on terror policies including: Guantanamo, escalation in Afghanistan, a much slower drawdown in Iraq, warrant less wiretapping, overseas assassinations, etc. I am convinced President Clinton would have done nothing differently, though arguably had she been weighed down by domestic concerns with a less capable State Secretary this area might have actually been weaker under her.
- -Healthcare->Obama was more vocally supportive of single payer and opposed mandates and Romney/Hillarycare
Under Obama we had a gutless mandate plan, similar to Romneycare and Hillarycare 2008 Edition. While better than nothing, it was certainly not what progressives wanted. Here though the difference would have been clear. Hillary would have realized that the biggest foe was not unsatisfied liberals wanting universal care but the vast right wing/corporate conspiracy to kill any kind of public health care system and any kind of reform. She would have been tough as nails, would have had her own plan day one, but would have shoved it through a compliant Congress. No doubt Pelosi and Reid would have been her bitch, along with Baucus and Lieberman who were old Senate friends, not the other way around. I am even confident the Maine twins and even McCain (had he not been elevated to her cabinet) might have gone along with it since they respected her so much and would have wanted to get the feeling in their arms back (after her twisting was over).
-Economy and job-> While not a big issue in the primary, we did know he was lukewarm for the bailouts and stimulus
One big similarity for the worse is that it would have been the same loser Clinton econ advisers (Rubin, Summers, etc.) coming back to haunt us. The difference would have been the political team. Unlike Axelrod, who as a Daley adviser never dealt with real opposition before, Carville and Begala back in action, with Bill of course, would’ve been so much smarter and would’ve made jobs the priority day one and gotten a lot more stimulus passed early. The girl raised in the Heartland would’ve made emotional appeals to actually sell the auto bailout, and Bill would’ve rallied his old blue collar white base around the plan. I think unemployment would be a little lower (the overall picture would’ve been roughly the same), and the indicators would be moving in her direction. I also think this traditionally Democratic strength would have been maintained.
-Spending and debt crisis->Not even a big 08′ issue showing you how strong the Tea Party is at shaping White House priorities for the worse
Hillary would’ve have cared little about deficit spending. Her political idol is LBJ and she would’ve done everything she could to build great stimulus programs and would’ve fought to fund them. A fighter, compromised by some hawkish foreign policy views, but a fighter for working people all the same. This just never would have happened with Obama who actually is sincerely committed to a bipartisan budget solution and entitlement reform ideologically and not just as a matter of compromise. Not hampered by that admirable but politically flawed view, Hillary would’ve seen the debt debate for what it was: a power grab by evil Republicans putting their party over country and taking the economy hostage to politically destroy a presidency. And Hillary doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.
Other mea culpas:
-My Personal dislike
I didnt like the Clintons and didn’t want their entitled butts back in the White House. I think I never got over the fact that Bill Clinton cheated and lied about it, and for me at eight years old it was one of my earliest political memories knowing that my President lied to me. A lot of that made me dislike the man,and later as I learned more about politics his third way politics during the build up to the Iraq War, dislike his policies as well. That said, Bill’s presidency was incredibly successful and his philanthropy is admirable and far more enduring than the philandering. He also he ran as the right kind of Democrat, not a right wing Democrat, but a progressive that de-emphasized cultural issues and emphasized the economy front and center. Hillary would have kept that specific theme through a general election in 2008 and delivered on it in 2008.
-90s are so over
I feared a return to the Ken Starr like obsession by the media and national press over the Clintons, their sex life, and their drama. One key thing I forgot is that they never brought this drama on themselves, rather it was a sustained and planned assault on the legitimacy of the Democratic presidency by his Republican opposition. It was naive to hope this would not happen to Obama, but I felt perhaps that he had more Republican friends and did not have the character deficiencies to make him vulnerable. I was wrong. From birtherism to communism, all sorts of ridiculous charges have been flung his way, and unlike the battle tested Hillary who would never have been out flanked by two bit Gingrich impersonators like McConnell, Cantor, and Boehner; Obama tried to meet these morons half way which is the equivalent of FDR meeting Stalin halfway, I’d use the Chamberlain analogy but these guys aren’t half as sophisticated and certainly not as evil as the devil he did business with. My point is appeasement is always a path to failure and never satisfies power hunger vultures out for blood. Hillary would have known this and fought fire with fire, and drew pools of blood for every pint they pricked from her.
When I thought of Hillary adjectives like ‘craven’, ‘unprincipled’, and ‘overambitious’ came to mind frequently. Well, those are traits I actually admired in Obama though under different names like ‘post-partisan’, ‘non-ideological’, and ‘nuanced leadership’. In the end, I am afraid it was simple sexism that drove me to this point then, and concede a variation of it might be driving me into Hillary’s arms now. Her far more direct and effective pragmatism stands in stark contrast to the wimpy, effete, professorial style of the President.To put it bluntly, Carville was right, there are three balls between the two of them, and Hillary has two. I am no longer threatened by this and frankly think she had far more experience, ability, and political skills than he ever did because of what she went through in the 90s and because she lived a much longer life in the arena. Her tenacity is reminiscent of a Harry Truman or T. Roosevelt, our most masculine President. Now, whether preferring her masculine qualities over the effete ones Obama has is also a form of sexism, is another debate entirely. I do know that consciously or not a power hungry female rubbed me the wrong way the way it didn’t with a power hungry male, and that will not happen again.
In Closing: I am Sorry
I now know I would have preferred a President Hillary right now and hope the actual President adopts some of her best qualities as he campaigns again, and hope she seriously reconsiders a 2016 race if its open, and especially if she is running against an incumbent President Romney (a 50/50 shot at this point). The era of fresh inexperienced faces is over. I voted Capuano for Senate, attended a fundraiser for Emmanuel for Mayor, and will vote for Warren for Senate. Speeches are nice, but at the end of the day people want their potholes fixed and their jobs created. America needed a plumber not a poet, and Hillary was the right man for the job.