On Hillary Clinton's Positives

I'm with Atrios. I like Hillary Clinton, I just don't like the people who advise her campaign and I tend to disagree with some of her political judgments.  Mark Schmitt has a great rundown of what a problem Mark Penn really is, including the corporate conflicts of interest implied by his role in her campaign.  The Democrats fell apart in the 1980s for a variety of reasons, but one of the manifestations of the collapse was the increase of influence of relatively non-progressive centrists like Penn, who were often on retainer to tobacco, telecom and pharma because it was good business to have influential consultants on their payroll.

I've done a fair amount of blogging about the Democratic machine and what a problem these people really are.  While Hillary Clinton is in bed with these people, she has also had a long career in Democratic politics.  She faced the smear machine in the 1990s way before any of us were organizing on her behalf.  For better or for worse, Mark Penn had her back at that time, and that matters to Senator Clinton.

I don't agree with her policy choices and judgment, and I often question her character in this context.  But she's also a gutsy and extremely intelligent politician, and we ought not to forget that.  You cannot discount what it means to have a woman running for President, and how she brings intelligence, resolve and poise to that role.  It's our role in politics to bring her to a different place, to show her that progressive politics can be done with progressive structures, and that the perceived double-talk on single issue micropolling is no longer necessary or productive.  Ultimately, and this may not be possible though I think it will be, we will have to figure out how to work together as strong allies.  Both Clinton and the blogs went through the crucible of the right-wing smear machine, and it's hard to discount that.

Tags: Atrios, Hillary Clinton, Iraq (all tags)

Comments

36 Comments

Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

It's our role in politics to bring her to a different place, to show her that progressive politics can be done with progressive structures, and that the perceived double-talk on single issue micropolling is no longer necessary or productive.  Ultimately, and this may not be possible though I think it will be,

How?  What do you propose?

we will have to figure out how to work together as strong allies.

Why?  Are you saying that you believe her nomination to be inevitable, or are you speaking less about Senator Clinton, the presidential candidate, and more about the party establishment in general?

I don't understand what you're getting at.  For my part,I've been inclined to steer clear of primary candidate endorsements, while pressuring any of them as seems most appropriate, and in that context, I'm just not sure what you're saying.

by Pachacutec 2007-04-30 03:00PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Why?  Are you saying that you believe her nomination to be inevitable, or are you speaking less about Senator Clinton, the presidential candidate, and more about the party establishment in general?

No she's not inevitable.  I think we have work to do convincing the establishment not to use people like Penn.

by Matt Stoller 2007-04-30 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

So I ask myself who are already established pollsters who haven't participated or bought into the let's take no chances, let's be careful, let's never use the words liberal or progressive meme.

And I don't know enough of what they do to be sure. Mark Mellman, Kerry's pollster, knew enough to know Fox News wasn't anything but Pravda.

Celinda Lake works for Emily's List a lot on women and the vote...other stuff I don't know.

Stan Greenburg initially polled for Bill in 92.  In the losses of 94, Bill was disillusioned and stopped using him.  He used to be the most consistently progressive pollster...but 1. he works with Carville (ok not necessarily bad) 2. He has worked a lot for foreign elections.

There are some folks here I know in NY, but they are also careful.  The problem is that polling for polticians is just not a full time, put food on the table, send the kids to college kind of job. That's why they work for businesses, etc.

The present polling cohort has issues. However I have a slightly crazy idea.  Chris Bowers loves to analyze polls.  I think Chris, even when he's wrong...(like the inflated Hillary theory) 1. He knows how to test his hypothesis and 2. He admits the potential error.

 Indeed I think the blogosphere might be a place where we could do some progressive framing of the issues and put that into a polling context and present it to the Democratic candidates.

If we think that there are testable issues and testable frames that will help the progressive wing of the party maybe we should figure out ways to do it.  And use not only the power of blogs in making an argument from "borrowed" evidence, but present some of our own.

by debcoop 2007-04-30 10:50PM | 0 recs
Polling is us

"It's our role in politics to bring her to a different place, to show her that progressive politics can be done with progressive structures, and that the perceived double-talk on single issue micropolling is no longer necessary or productive."

I agree with this because I do think that Democratic politicians from Hillary Clinton to Charlie Rangel to Chris Dodd to even Rahm Emanuel would actually use and maybe even embrace progressive language on the way to achieving progressive solutions.  I think a lot of Democrats, in their heart, would prefer progressive solutions.  However they have spent decades having it beaten into their heads that there are enormous impediments that just make that impossible.  I remember Harry and Louise( the deceitful face of the health insurance industry)  (oh and Bill Kristol, Newt Gingrich and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, yes Daniel Patrick Moynihan!) killing Hillary's health care reform.  

Pollsters have played a role in making that political interpretation the only political reality.  The reality is different now...and I think the blogs could have a role in both proving that and then helping to form a new poltical reality.

by debcoop 2007-04-30 11:15PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Senator Clinton obviously has a strong inclination to engage in politics, but I've never noticed that she has any real aptitude for it.

by Stuart Shaffer 2007-04-30 03:04PM | 0 recs
Mark Penn

I like anyone with a proven track record with getting Democrats elected, including Mark Penn.

by ChicagoDude 2007-04-30 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Mark Penn

I dislike characters like Penn, even if their candidates lose all their primaries and win all their generals. He is a leaky faucet, a mole, a stain on the carpet, a break in the fence; maybe Hillary can trust him, but I can't.

I do not believe that one individual person can be such a political genius that we could not do without him.

by msnook 2007-04-30 05:03PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

It's our role in politics to bring her to a different place, to show her that progressive politics can be done with progressive structures, and that the perceived double-talk on single issue micropolling is no longer necessary or productive.

This aspect of Hillary gives me strong flashbacks to Gore 2000. Everyone I know who's been close just loves her, and in the rare unguarded moment that gets captured by the wider world, I imagine I can see why. But her public persona is so obviously a constructed facade, and not even a very well-made facade, it causes me to recoil.

by Josh Koenig 2007-04-30 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Thats pretty much how I feel about her.  She probably wouldn't be a bad democrat, but she is bad at campaigning.

by sterra 2007-04-30 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Well, I should also say that -- again, like Gore -- I'm really rooting for her to make a big brave choice and come out as a human being on the campaign trail. I think it would be awesome, but I also know the odds are against it.

by Josh Koenig 2007-04-30 10:30PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Despite some misgivings about her when she was in the White House, in general, she seemed like a pretty decent figure in D.C. during the 90s. She was certainly one of the better first ladies since Eleanor Roosevelt. She has been a better mom to Chelsea than the so called family values First Ladies of the last few decades.

However, you are the company you keep. And she is keeping some bad company. She has acted atrociously with respect to Iraq. And she looks worse when she tries to insult our intelligence with pitiful explanations of what we know know and what we knew then and what we knew in 1000  B.C. or whatever. If she looked more polished than the other Dem candidates in the first debate, it's because she didn't have to answer anything in detail and she has had only 10 years experience of preparing herself to be a Presidential candidate. So she has the advantage off the bat. I am still not going to ever vote for her in any election.

I also dislike the way she rarely springs to defend other progressives. Fine, hire Mark Penn if that is who she feels gives her the best chance to win. But how does that stop her from coming to the defense of a fellow progressive? She never sticks her neck out. She is so single minded in her ambition to become President that she forgot she has to be a leader before becoming a President.

by Pravin 2007-05-01 08:11AM | 0 recs
by jed 2007-04-30 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

I like Hillary personally as well, she is a great senator and would make a fine majority leader, I don't believe she had great qualities for a president though even though I would vote for her in the general. I think she is a terrable candidate for 2008 when dems have a chance for a kickass win and her base of support is in the Northeast which has been the problem of our losing nominees for decades.

by nevadadem 2007-04-30 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

I like what you have to say here. Clinton is not my favorite of the Dems by a long shot, (maybe fourth out of eight?), but that said, she'd be a solid nominee, I would say, better than Kerry (who was a perfectly decent and plausible nominee). We are fortunate this cycle to have a really strong raft of candidates, certainly the strongest in my short voting lifetime (although a little before my time, Clinton, Tsongas, and Bradley wasn't too shabby a slate, I guess) with a number of viable candidates with compelling stories. I prefer Richardson, personally, but would have no real objections to any of the top-tier candidates, except a distaste for the hawkish rhetoric I hear from Clinton (duh) and at times Edwards (viz. Iran, a few months ago. Ick.).

Clinton may well be our nominee, and if and when that happens, we need to fight tooth and nail to get her in. It would be good to be already thinking about the (substantial) common ground she shares with those of us to her left.

by nvalvo 2007-04-30 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Kerry would have been a good president in many ways but his campaign was horrible. He does not have a good political ear.

by robliberal 2007-04-30 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Thank you. I agree most-heartedly! (We should cut campaigns some slack for their employee choices; can we not find faulty staff in each camp?)

I agree with Joe Biden that Republicans are foolish to wish for Hillary's nomination. Do not doubt the Clintons will hit back hard against attempted Swift Boating. I'll add I think she would do well in a bar fight. Part of the pressure we put on her, though should remind her that we will have her back if she has ours.

That said, I understand the appeal of our other choices.

by domma 2007-04-30 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

I agree that she'd fight her corner if need be. The problem for me is that I'm not sure she'll do it until the inevitable attacks come. She's attempting to pursue a conflict-free nomination and general election campaign, whereas I'd prefer for her to aggressively mark herself out as something substantively different and better than the Republicans (as opposed to moderately different and better in terms of competence).

The problem she has with the netroots is our preference for aggressive campaigns attacking the Republicans whenever possible, whereas she's tended to go for aggressiveness mostly in defence. I think to an extent she's still tied to a 1990s model, before brand Republican was weakened enough and alternative media structures were in place to allow it to be beaten on its own turf.

by Englishlefty 2007-04-30 03:59PM | 0 recs
This Is ABSURD
I don't agree with her policy choices and judgment, and I often question her character in this context. But she's also a gutsy and
extremely intelligent politician, and we ought not to forget that. You cannot discount what it means to have a woman running for
President, and how she brings intelligence, resolve and poise to that role. It's our role in politics to bring her to a different place,
to show her that progressive politics can be done with progressive structures, and that the perceived double-talk on single issue
micropolling is no longer necessary or productive. Ultimately, and this may not be possible though I think it will be, we will have
to figure out how to work together as strong allies. Both Clinton and the blogs went through the crucible of the right-wing
smear machine, and it's hard to discount that.

You "don't agree with her policy choices and judgment,"
and you "often question her character in this context"?
What other context is there?

We "cannot discount what it means to have a woman
running for President, and how she brings intelligence,
resolve and poise to that role"?
Do you mean she's clean and articulate?

We "will have to figure out how to work together
as strong allies"?
Because...?

This is a democracy, not a monarchy.

This is an election, not a coronation.

This is not Hillary Clinton's "turn." She has to earn the presidency.

Like everybody else.

by horizonr 2007-04-30 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is ABSURD

My read: Matt, Atrios et al have to leave the bridge unburned to Hillary in the event she is the eventual nominee.

by johnalive 2007-04-30 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is ABSURD
Yglesias has the best response to this:
"I like Hillary," writes the mighty Atrios, "I just don't really like the people she surrounds herself with (with some notable exceptions). As the campaign goes on it'll be harder and harder to rationally distinguish between the two."
I'm not sure I really grasp the content of the distinction. Mark Penn doesn't become a person's political guru by accident. It's worth noting that the general approaches of the sort of political consultants who might do work on a presidential campaign are sufficiently well-known that, by hiring the strategist who determines the strategy, the candidate is, in fact, determining in advance which strategy he or she will be advised to adopt. In short, you don't run a certain sort of campaign because you hired Penn, you hire Penn because you've decided to run a certain sort of campaign. This phenomenon become famous with regard to Bob Shrum, but it's more-or-less true for everyone in the business.
by johnalive 2007-04-30 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is ABSURD

This really is a tired stick. I don't recall anybody here saying that it is her turn, or that she doesn't have to earn it. Or that she will get a coronation.

She is busy earning it, as are Obama and Edwards. That's what primaries are for. She is working hard, to earn that nomination in the same way that all other major candidates are working hard to earn it.

The only people who keep that coronation myth alive are the one who have faux outrage anytime somebody says something about the possibility that Hillary will win.

You want her to be a normal candidate? When somebody says something halfway nice about her act just like people do when there are comments about how Obama or Edwards might win.

Yes, this an election and that means Clinton has a place in it as well.

Like everybody else.

If she is just a regular candidate, you too have to treat her as one as well.

by Ernst 2007-05-01 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Hillary's been beating men at their own game for most of her life.  To do that, she has had to be twice as good, twice as smart, and twice as tough to even be considered their equal.  

Is it any wonder that she appears guarded, calculated, or tough?  

She has a long history of progressive causes on her resume: including work on behalf of migrants, the poor, children, and women's rights.  She campaigned out west for McGovern, and, her first job as a lawyer was as a member of the inquiry staff advising the House Judiciary committee during Watergate.

She took every sling, arrow, and punch thrown at her and her husband by the GOP and still ended up beating them.  If she wins the Democratic primary, I don't doubt that she would beat them again.

by ChicagoDude 2007-04-30 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

That's a juvenile response to a reasoned post.

I oppose Hillary's nomination, but 'you drank the koolaid' isn't an argument, it's a schoolyard taunt.

Do you disagree with the statement that Clinton's been beating men at their own game? That she's had to be twice as good to be considered equal, because she's a woman?

Do you disagree that her history includes fighting for progressive causes?

by BingoL 2007-04-30 06:20PM | 0 recs
Twice as smart?

She sure looked like a major dumbass for her comments on the Iraq war over the last 5 years. When some committed activists from Codepink who are sincere, but let's face it, amateurs, can analyze a situation better than a career politician like Hillary who has the counsel of an ex President at her disposal, I would like to know how you can say this woman is smart.

by Pravin 2007-05-01 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

I will take a large Hillary Kool-Aid to go please.

by Kingstongirl 2007-04-30 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

My problem with Clinton is the same as my problem with Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004 -- she's running hard to not blow it.  With each election, there is more and more pressure on Democrats to win the election and with that comes the pressure to play to not lose.  That's what Clinton is doing by playing it safe.  I think she'd be a great President, but until she breaks out of this shell, and, to use the baseball term, tries easier, Clinton won't win.

by Jim Treglio 2007-04-30 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Mark Penn is the Karl Rove of the Clinton team. Same model that GW Bush has used and continues to use in The WH.

by BDM 2007-04-30 06:18PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

If true, that's the most attractive thing I've heard about the Clinton team. You mean he'd try to destroy the Republicans, constantly striving to strengthen our natural allies (unions, Blacks, gays, Jews, the urban and the environmentally responsible and scientifically-minded and underinsured) while trying to undermine their alliance of Big Pharma and Big Oil and Big Religion and Big Bad?

Somehow I think he's not our Rove, and would try to align Clinton's campaign with the Democrat's natural enemies instead of friends ...

by BingoL 2007-04-30 06:25PM | 0 recs
Hillary's failure is trying to justify her vote.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war,  which by itself isn't a deal-breaker since other establishment Democrats did the same.  She is a failure, not because of the mere fact of her vote, but because she keeps trying to justify it using the excuse of  "what she knew then."

Like hell. This is just BS.

I'm one guy sitting in my living room in Colorado just  before the war. I could see the Bush war-propaganda machine coming down the tracks like a locomotive. I'm not privy to Congressional hearings and I'm not part of Bill Clinton-administration war councils, so I don't have any special insider information.  Even so, I knew at the very beginning that George Bush was lying and Iraq was a fiasco waiting to happen. WTF when our Democratic, political leaders are so blind. This is even more true for Hillary Clinton who was on the receiving end of a lot of right-wing nonsense, and should have seen it coming.

In other words, if she is claiming that "what she knew then" justified voting for the war, then she really is saying that she trusted George Bush, Cheney, the neo-cons, and the Republican Party. Why was she so stupid or craven to buy their line?

I think she was just trying to roll with the political waves. This does not demonstrate appropriate leadership skills. And even today, she still wants to be against the war, but not really be against the war.

Either stand up to Bush, or get out of the way.

by MetaData 2007-04-30 06:31PM | 0 recs
Calculus

She voted for the war to cover her ass and protect her political viability.  She knew as much as we opponents of the war did that there was no merit to W's arguments, but she bet that it would be better for her long term political viability to be on W's side on that vote than to vote against the war.  She took into account how many US soldiers and Iraqis would die because of her vote, and she decided that it was more important that she become President than that those people should live.

And that's why I will never vote for her.

by Flatiron Dante 2007-04-30 11:35PM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

1)rssrai, the ONLY reason people would be tired of the Clintons, is the garbage piled onto them during Bill's administration.  You have MUCH to complain about due to Bush Sr's and Bush jr's tenure, but Bill?  He did ok...

2)Ok Calculus, so who ya gonna vote for then?  The pickings are pretty slim, and please please please do not throw out "well, Obama's" blah blah blah.  Have you LOOKED at his voting record side by side, in comparison to Hillary's?  They're identical.  IDENTICAL.  Except for 4 votes, which were not big issues...the major votes they weighed in on, formed the basis for predicting their voting trends.  Obama would have voted the same damn way as Hillary, and I suggest you get over the "she voted for the war" mantra, cuz that dog ain't huntin.

3)What's good...THIS is what's good; ok, maybe by extension, but if you want to know why Bill Clinton was essentially a good President, do two things..one, pick up a newspaper from his administration days, and notice the G8 summits..7 other world leaders were all somber, but there's Slick Willy smiling as big as can be.  America needs that right now.  Ok, more tangible to his effectiveness, read the ABA's report on signing statements.  There is one in particular that shows Bill's complete delineation for individual American civil liberties, and in comparison, bush really is a power hungry prick. Go ahead, read it.  So Bill, attached to Hillary, and vice versa..America at this point NEEDS two Presidential-caliber people.

I am NOT saying disregard the huge f*ckup that has been Iraq, and all the people with blood on their hands, but I'm saying deal in reality, and go for the greater good.  If Russ Feingold is not running, you're pretty much not voting then, huh?

Hillary '08

by destardi 2007-05-01 12:40AM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Referring to Bill Clinton as "Slick Willy" is repeating Rethug talking points from the 90s....  How about "Big Dog"?

Remember people, language is important.

by Taylor26 2007-05-01 02:43AM | 0 recs
sterra wrote:

"Thats pretty much how I feel about her.  She probably wouldn't be a bad democrat, but she is bad at campaigning."
_________

I have been impressed with the way Hillary has been campaigning since she threw her hat in the ring three months ago.  In townhall format and smaller venues, she is well received and has been getting her message out effectively.  She has certainly been successful when it comes to reaching out to union members - great performances in all the forums and conferences thus far; and she clearly did well during the debate in S.C. last Thursday.

I expect she would also do very well in debates against the Republican nominee, if she makes it that far.  

Whether one likes Hillary or not, for whatever reasons, she is the consummate politician; knows her stuff; can recite from years of experience with policy issues.  I also appreciate that she is strong and manages, probably better than any other candidate, to distance herself from the madness of the media.

by samueldem 2007-05-01 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: sterra wrote:

She is probably a decent campaigner, but she doesn't come across on TV as very likeable. I hear in small groups she comes across as warm and much more likeable.

My young daughter was watching her on TV and is thrilled that a women is running, but she said that when she listened to Hillary her voice  was to harsh or loud to her ears. She liked Obama because he had a nice smile.

Perceptions are very important and most people un-fortunately make their decision on in-tangibles  such as likeability and a gut feeling.

I felt Bill really mastered TV and was extremely likeable.

by BDM 2007-05-01 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

Great post. As a Clinton supporter I  respect your analysis, especially your unease with the endless strategic tacking and triangulation around Republican and corporate agendas. Not a very satisfactory means to the end, but a necessary skill to have given the structure of mainstream legislative politics bar a sizeable Democratic majority next time round.  I do agree that progressive blogs such as MY DD would have a crucial role to play in a Democratic administration not only in terms of keeping the Democratic establishment honest and not distracted, but also in terms of policing the media and healthcare and environmental corporate interests. I hope whomever wins the nomination (Hillary I hope) will seriously engage with the liberal and progressive blogosphere.

by superetendar 2007-05-01 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: On Hillary Clinton's Positives

The argument goes that somehow 'amateurs" and others sitting around with a beer in hand  "knew" that the WMD threat was false and that Bush et al were lying; so "pros" like Hillary must be either stupid or venal to have given authorization.

The problem with that analysis in my mind is that early anti-Iraq war beliefs on the part of many emerged more from preexisting ideological biases rather than objective looking at data.

It's fine to believe that it's never ok to respond militarily to a national security threat, but I think most Americans would not agree with that viewpoint.

I think that a leader-progressive or not-who refused to look at "what I knew then" from existing intelligence estimates around the world because it didn't fit idealogically is not one I'd be comfortable as president.

by cwille 2007-05-02 09:43AM | 0 recs

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