It's the Preparation, Stupid!

The first in a series of candidate blogs. I'll be focusing on specific strategies in future weeks, but thought I'd use this first one to talk about the big picture:

In my adult lifetime, I've lived through eight years of Nixon/Ford, eight years of Reagan, four years of Bush I, and eight years Bush II. I've seen my core values take a back seat to tax cuts for the wealthy, frightening Supreme Court nominees, and a relentless undermining of civil rights and progressive social policy. I've seen a parade of weak Democratic nominees from McGovern to Dukakis to Kerry -- all smart men who didn't have the first clue how to position themselves for the Presidency and counterpunch the Republican message. I've seen just two Democrats elected President, two men who campaigned by speaking to middle class issues and promoting a healthy business climate, while sticking to Democratic values on social issues. I will never forget the jubilation of election nights in 1976 and 1992. I want that feeling again.

I first considered supporting Senator Clinton on October 11, 2002 when I realized that she was serious about positioning herself to pull off the rarest of political feats: winning the Presidency as a Democrat. I knew that day that Senator Clinton understood what it would take to win the White House. She was using two terms in the US Senate to build the foundation of a winning message, brick by brick. A winning message to counter the Republican mantra in 2008: "Democrats are for bigger government, higher taxes, and waving the white flag in the Global War on Terror." She was already positioning herself to blow that cartoon caricature of Democrats out of the water. In short, she was a potential Democratic candidate who was taking preparation for the White House run seriously.

I have followed Presidential campaigns closely over the years and I don't recall ever seeing a non-incumbent campaign so disciplined in its preparation and positioning. Instead of jumping into the 2004 race before she was ready, she stayed in the Senate, honing her policy chops, positioning herself politically,  building a network across the country, and assembling the best campaign organization Democrats have seen in recent memory.

We know that the number one threshold any candidate must cross is "Presidential gravitas". Can voters imagine the candidate as commander in chief? This is especially crucial for Democratic candidates who have been consistently smeared as weak on national security. It is vitally important in the post 9/11 world with the country at war. Any candidate who cannot cross this threshold is doomed. Simple as that.

So, what has Clinton done? Gotten herself a seat on the Armed Services Committee and used it to build a strong resume on national defense. Built a network inside the Pentagon. Gained the respect of the military commanders. Even been hailed by Republican pundits for her diligence on national security issues.

She cast a very public vote in October 2002, the vote that caught my attention. In the grand scheme of things, her vote didn't really matter in a 77-23 result. But, it told the country, in no uncertain terms, that this was a female Democratic candidate who would be willing to make the tough decisions on national security. Strategically, she has reinforced that toughness by refusing to offer a politically expedient, and essentially meaningless, apology for that vote. She takes responsibility.

She has spent much of her time in the Senate voting for Veterans' services and for assistance to the firemen and police who responded to 9/11. She's championed issues of Homeland Security, fighting the Bush administration to implement and fund the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. She's toured Iraq and Afghanistan three times, meeting with commanders and the leaders of both countries.

To counter the perception of Clinton as a polarizing figure, she's worked successfully across the aisle, co-sponsoring legislation with a number of Republican Senators, including bills to increase the manufacturing base and Veterans Health benefits with Senator Graham in the key early primary state of South Carolina. The end result: 58% of those surveyed in a recent poll see her as having the experience to be commander in chief, more than any other candidate in the race from either party. A Democrat. A woman. Amazing.

The preparation has continued to rear its head in the campaign. In fact, Clinton's preparation is at the heart of her strategy and the reason she is leading the polls. We see it in the debates, where she uses her comfort with the issues to present a strong, commanding presence. We see it every day on the campaign trail, something I noticed back in February when C-Span broadcast the presidential forum at the Firefighter's Union. Even that early in the race, Clinton walked to the podium and told personal stories of her connections to key figures in the union and then, proceeded to push every hot button issue.

If it's a campaign stop in South Carolina, she tells stories of her family vacations to Hilton Head ("before all the traffic"). She tells stories of working with South Carolina native Marian Wright Edelman thirty years ago. She notes the presence of the Parris Island Marine Corps base and talks to veterans' issues (and working with Lindsey Graham).

If it's New Hampshire, she recalls the visit she and her husband made to that town in 1992 and talks about six renewable energy projects in New Hampshire. If it's San Francisco, she wows the scientists giving her a tour of the new green museum and the legislations she's introduced. If it's the week after a bridge collapse in Minnesota, she proposes emergency infrastructure legislation and rattles off statistics gleaned from her days on the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. If it's Nevada, she proposes Congressional hearings to stop the Yucca Mountain Project. If it's Florida, she instantly knows to attack Fred Thompson for comparing Cuban refugees to terrorists or Obama for being willing to meet with Castro.

Or, take the biggest issue of the race, getting out of Iraq. Clinton does her homework and knows the polling shows Americans are as concerned about getting out sensibly as they are about getting out soon. So, what does she do? She goes after the Defense Department to make sure they are actually planning a redeployment so that it can be accomplished safely. She has the perfect position on the issue, backed up by her actions as a Senator and member of the Armed Services Committee.

If Clinton is this prepared to run for the Presidency, I am confident she'll take preparation for Presidential decision-making just as seriously. Will she get all the decisions right? Nope. No President ever does. But, it won't be for lack of preparation.

Is her nomination a lock? Not by a long-shot. But, the other Democrats better get their campaigns in gear, because Clinton's diligent preparation is helping her to run circles around them on the campaign trail, against some pretty impressive Democratic challengers.

Tags: Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, president (all tags)



well, I agree that she's prepared

but the "positioning" you find so impressive leaves me cold. I think she's just alienated a lot of progressives without truly reinventing herself as a centrist. Polls show that most Americans (wrongly) think she is more liberal than Obama or Edwards.

Also, you make a virtue out of the fact that she didn't run for president in 2004 "before she was ready," but I think she was just afraid to take on an incumbent whose approval ratings were still over 50 percent.

I think if Hillary does manage to get elected, she will pull off a huge bait and switch--her supporters who were excited about her promise to end the war will find that we still have troops in Iraq at the end of her term, and those who were excited by her super-duper secret plan for universal health care will find that she proposes only minor changes in the system.

But if she does end up winning the nomination, I hope you turn out to be right about her and I turn out to be wrong. We really can't afford another president who does what the corporate lobbyists want.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-12 10:04PM | 0 recs
Re: well, I agree that she's prepared

she will pull off a huge bait and switch--her supporters who were excited about her promise to end the war will find that we still have troops in Iraq at the end of her term

Isn't it well-established that the 'top 3' all plan to leave troops in Iraq?

If anyone's going to pull a 'bait-and-switch,' it's Richardson.

by dblhelix 2007-08-13 12:30AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Polls show that most Americans (wrongly) think she is more liberal than Obama or Edwards.

Of course. Obama and Edwards haven't had Rush Limbaugh saying they are "too ul-tra-lib-ur-al" for 15 years.

One of the areas I'll probably blog about in the next few weeks is the rather stunning begrudging respect the Clinton campaign is gaining from centrist-Republican pundits. I'm not saying that any Republicans would actually vote for a Democrat, but the softening punditocracy has an impact on centrist independent voters.

by hwc 2007-08-12 10:15PM | 0 recs
don't you remember

when she first went before Congress to testify regarding her health care plan, a bunch of Republicans set her up with lots of praise? That lasted for a few days, but then they ripped her and her health care plan to shreds.

I think the pundits on the right are talking her up now because they want to face her in the general.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-12 10:53PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!
I find the data reported by zenbowl of dailykos regarding Obama's 6.7% polling among Iowa Republicans to be much more impressive than Hillary's popularity among Republican pundits.

If anything, praise from their pundits should be a red flag in this is the era of Rovian propaganda.
by anevarez 2007-08-13 10:23AM | 0 recs
Seems to me all her "preparations" ....

are all about "Hillary" and not the American people. THAT is the true difference between her preparation for presidency and John Edwards' peparation. Edwards preparation is totally ABOUT THE PEOPLE and not himself. His preparation came with PLANS of what he would do as president. It's almost like he actually respects the American people and is less interested in position polling and more focused on solutions to our many many many problems.

Sorry, I'm not interested in Hillary's "preparations". The do nothing for me or my family.

by cosbo 2007-08-12 10:29PM | 0 recs

"Edwards preparation is totally ABOUT THE PEOPLE and not himself."

This is just delusional. Edwards is like any other politician. He has been pandering to the left since 2004, and completely reversed his positions from before 2004. Edwards knows that he can only win by winning the leftist vote - it's all very calculated.

by Populism2008 2007-08-13 03:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Eh

The problem with this theory is that the issues he is running on now has been the same subject he's been addressing since well before his run in 2004 and were issues he ran on as a Senate candidate. You are entitled to view Edwards as you want. You aren't entitle to make up facts about him that aren't true to justify the believe and try to pass those made up facts as truth here.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Eh

Edwards has undeniably changed his positions on Iraq, universal health care, gay rights, felon voting, the DLC, and a host of other issues since his loss in 2004. I give him a lot more credit than Hillary Clinton, because his change reflects a move toward my positions and ideology, but I do recognize the reality that it is mainly about getting him elected. He was a DLCer when they were on the rise, and now he's a progressive champion following the Dean takeover and when Hillary has his former angle firmly within her grip.

by Max Fletcher 2007-08-13 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Eh

Edwards ran as a progressive even in his first Senate race in 1998.  He voted with the Republicans more often than you might like, but I think you're overstating the extent of his "transformation."  If we had had a Democratic majority all those years, it's highly doubtful he would have been voting against progressive legislation.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Eh
Edwards literally ran on a middle class platform in 2004. I have to agree with Max Fletcher on this.
by anevarez 2007-08-13 10:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Eh

I remember his 2004 campaign best for the Two Americas theme, and specifically for his speeches about Americans living in poverty.  That's what stood out for me.  

by Rob in Vermont 2007-08-13 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Eh

I do recognize the reality that it is mainly about getting him elected

"Reality".  "Mainly."

But that's wholly conjecture, isn't it?

Suppose this wasn't John Edwards we were talking about.  Suppose it was a Republican. Suppose some Republican who voted for the war, then came out and said giving Bush his vote was a mistake, a huge mistake. And he apologized for it.  Suppose, on a number of issues, this Republican began taking positions that were more and more liberal.  I think we'd applaud this pattern, wouldn't we?  I hope we would. I'd think, finally, here's at least one Republican who's taking intelligent, decent stands on the issues, instead of toeing the conservative line.

And, yet, if it's a Democrat, we have to conclude ulterior motives?  (Or is that just if it's a Democrat who's running for president, and he's not our personal favorite?)

by Rob in Vermont 2007-08-13 01:50PM | 0 recs
Yes, the right wing

says she is too liberal but everyone else sees her as not liberal enough.  She is thought of as Republican-lite in progressive circles.

I was reading election comments on an ultra right wing site this morning.  These are people who think liberals come from Satan (I'm not kidding).  They were saying if Clinton and Guilliani are nominated they would have a tough time making a decision...they don't see much difference between them.  This worries me.

Hillary should stop listening to losers like Harold Ford at the DLC and pay more attention to what American people are really looking for.  

by GFORD 2007-08-12 10:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, the right wing

My priority is seeing a Democratic nominee declared the winner on election night in November 2008.

I have little interest in ideological purity tests, especially when those ideological purity tests are usually what keep a Democratic nominee from being electable.

by hwc 2007-08-12 10:35PM | 0 recs

More often than not, it's the Clinton supporters who argue that Obama is unworthy or
unelectable precisely because he doesn't pass their ideological purity tests.

by horizonr 2007-08-12 11:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Curious

Who said that?

by world dictator 2007-08-13 05:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Curious

areyouready. But he's the only one. I haven't seen anybody else do it at least.  Most of the rest of the pro-Clinton posters seem reasonably positive about Obama.

by Ernst 2007-08-13 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Curious

What?  I don't recall every hearing that particular criticism about Obama.  I've certainly never made it. What is our (Clinton supporters) ideological purity test?  Did I miss a meeting?

by Denny Crane 2007-08-13 07:19AM | 0 recs
Be careful what you wish for.

Getting elected is not the end of the game. It's what they do afterwards that really counts.

Think Blue Dogs. And if you have a strong constitution, think Joe Lieberman who is still caucusing with the Democrats.

A party label doesn't mean anything unless the party's ideology goes along with it.

by GFORD 2007-08-13 09:42AM | 0 recs
Oh, good Lord

I don't think this could possibly more perfectly reflect the failed "centrist" framing of the DLC. This in particular caught my eye:

She cast a very public vote in October 2002, the vote that caught my attention. In the grand scheme of things, her vote didn't really matter in a 77-23 result. But, it told the country, in no uncertain terms, that this was a female Democratic candidate who would be willing to make the tough decisions on national security. Strategically, she has reinforced that toughness by refusing to offer a politically expedient, and essentially meaningless, apology for that vote. She takes responsibility.
First, why the circumlocutions? This "very public vote" was Hillary's vote for the war. Call it that. Second, giving this President authority to launch the worst mistake in American history does not make you "tough". It makes you - at best - misguided. And I say as someone backing John Edwards, who also voted for the AUMF. And third, that's why it's important that she hasn't apologized. An apology shows that you understand you made a mistake. Refusing to make an apology, again, doesn't make you "tough". Rather, it indicates that you probably don't really feel you made a mistake at all - and therefore will likely make that same kind of mistake again. The fact that John Edwards gets that is why I still back him despite his AUMF vote. And the fact that Hillary doesn't is the reason I will never back her, unless we are so unfortunate as to have her win the primary.

And as for the "electability" theme: Democrats don't win elections by following the advice of Harold Ford. Harold Ford himself demonstrated that for us.

by McSnatherson 2007-08-12 10:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

I think you've got it backwards. Harold Ford is trying to follow in the footsteps of the two DLC Democrats who successfully got elected to the White House -- the only two Democrats elected to the White House since I was in kindergarten.

by hwc 2007-08-12 11:01PM | 0 recs
Clinton accomplishments

Which two presidents would those be?  Surely you mean the same president twice.  At least the first time Clinton ran on a more progressive platform than he used in governing.  I'm not saying that makes him evil - governing is much more complex than running - but it does undercut the notion that winning requires DLC framing, which is your implication.  Also, she is not even a third into her second term, so the sly phrasing on her experience of two terms in the Senate is a bit much unless you mean running and winning twice.  I think in many respects, despite the wars underway, that 2008 is an election unlike most of the others you reference in placing Senator Clinton in context.

I do not agree with some of the points and assumptions about Senator Clinton in this diary but I really admire the way you make your case, with many strong points, and well written, with a personal touch.

The most impressive thing about Clinton as Senator and candidate is her discipline and preparation and that of her entire staff and campaign.  The second most impressive thing is the respect she has earned among the officer corps and the bureaucrats at the Pentagon.  Clinton-haters take note: That is a phenomenal accomplishment over a very short period of time, and something I would never have predicted.  I've followed politics pretty closely starting with the 1980 race and I have never seen anything quite like it on the presidential level, at least from a Democratic front-runner.

Not enough to earn my primary vote but more than enough to earn my respect.

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-08-13 03:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

Maybe this is a little before your time but he is referring to Carter and the second president.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 04:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

I know that, but Carter was not a DLC candidate.  The DLC came into being in 1985 I believe.

Even if the claim is the broader one that only "centrist" and "moderate" Dems can win the Presidency, I do not think 1976 proves that because it is a special election.

So in essence I think the DLC-framing has a very poor track record of success in winning elections.  I think 1996 is the best they really have and an empty bag would have had a fighting chance against Dole.

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-08-13 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

I think that those who believe that any candidate will win without the support of all factions of our party are bonkers. There are some issues where being far left is important and some issues where being moderate is important. The good things about the DLC are the economic positions: fiscal responsibility, targeted tax breaks, a balanced budget and creating a surplus for future generations. These are positions that our party should embrace. They make us strong. Some in the far left think we should ignore the deficit and continue down the path that Bush walked. I think that is a path to disaster because if we do there will be an economic downturn and the Democratic party will be blamed for it. We have to be careful to not abandon ANY Democratic principles. And to not allow our party to be hijacked by radicals from any faction.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 05:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

All factions are important, though numerically how significant are died-in-the-wool DLCers?  This is not 1992 and we now have a war to push many into our camp.

Spending on progressive programs does not necessarily represent fiscal mismanagement, though this is the line generally spread by DLC-inclined Democrats.  "Targetted tax cuts" could and should mean those directed at the middle class in the context of a very progressive tax system, one which rewards work and impedes the concentration of wealth in few hands.  And that produces sufficient revenue to both avoid excessive deficits and provide stable funding for needed programs.  Deficit spending per se is not bad; it is a question of what that deficit accomplishes.

Whenever there is an economic downturn, the GOPers will blame us for it and the media will all-too-readily push some of their characterizations, as will NAM, CoC, Club of Growth, etc.

So what we need to do is invest in ways that a) minimize the prospects of a downturn while b) funding policies that promote prosperity among middle and lower classes and that cushion both againts inevitable economic downturns.  So that when the downturn comes, we can pivot to saying it is a consequence of fiscal mismanagement and underinvestment by GOPers that we are working to correct and that we alone are willing to work to protect Americans from.  Construct a politics of contrast where our inevitable compromises nonetheless remain true to core progressive values.

The Clinton fiscal miracle is almost entirely a function of the tax increases on the wealthiest coupled with a strong economy (whose benefits were not broadly shared, at least until the very end of the boom).  I support more of the same on the revenue side, but a change in that more of the revenue be used in critical investments in the country that benefit primarily the middle and lower classes.  The modest restraint in spending growth on social programs, advocated by the DLC and its allies, played almost no role in the Clinton surplus because the figures were tiny.

I agree that no one constituency should dominate and that is one reason I abhored the behavior and attitudes of the DLC before they lost all credibility.  They presumed to have the only and best path to Democratic dominance and that all other constituencies needed to subordinate themselves to the corporate imperative.  When their counsel effectively gutted 40 years of Democratic congressional dominance and left the party adrift and increasingly disconnected from the base, others had to pick up the pieces.  When we did, DLC jumps in a takes credit for the resurrection.  Broad strokes, I know, but not altogether unfair.

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-08-13 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

Hey, I am not supporting the DLC. I agree with much of what you said except notably my objection to continuing deficient spending. In the abstract of course you are right to say that deficit spending is not "per se" bad. But what is without dispute is that our country owes it's debt to a repressive communist regime with essentially no environmental or labor laws. And very few human rights laws. We need to completely change all of that. All. of. that.

While you don't see the DLC crowd as having any real influence you are neglecting many of the older die hard Democrats that do believe in fiscal responsibility and a more moderate approach to issues. I am not saying that we should allow them or any other constituency to drive our party's politics. But we sure as hell can't leave them out.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

No actually economically speaking deficit spending is not a tool in the abstract. It's one that no President should take off the table when necessary. It's what makes things like Richardson's promise to try to pass a balance budget amendment so absolutely silly. If we did that- what happens in a down turn? What happens if we need to bail out an industry and that requires deficit spending? This is not an advocacy for such spending, but being realistic about the tools available and what one can do with them.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

I don't support Richardson's plan but I do support fiscal discipline whether you call it pay as you go or living within your means or whatever. It is smart policy to implement. I agree with you that there have to be exceptions when economic downturns, etc. make deficit spending necessary. But as a general policy I think that we should return to the sound fiscal policies that left us with a huge surplus in just 8 years.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

The surplus were due to a huge boom in the private sector. There are also structural issue such as healthcare which must be dealt with. This isn't hyperbole. The fact is 8.8 percent inflationary increases in premiums per year are not only not sustainable, they are dangerous .

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

I do agree with fiscal restraints- but I think alot of time peo say this without understaning what it means. As one Dem did- he point blank asked okay here's the budget- what would you cut? how would you raise taxes?

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

While I agree with most of your disclaimers you do paint with too broad strokes.

You are just a bit unfair I'd say. Problem with the DLC is that they don't know when to stop. The fiscal responsibility, targeted tax breaks, and surplus  budget are all positions the party desperatly needed. The rest of the positions they have are less positive. And the fact that they thought it fine that the democrats had no courage to stand up for their ideals is was also damaging. (Although not their doing, they did delay the regrowth) The reason why we lost in the nineties is basically because the republicans were better organized, used more modern technology, and had a far better media game.

In '88 with Gore and '92 with Clinton the DLC did transform the party for the better, had they changed their roles from guarding the purity of their message to a party building tool they would'vehad a more lasting and positive legacy. They overreached when they were ahead. Nowadays they are completley irrelevant, and there is some danger in that as the good things they did bring to the party are now tainted with association and in danger to be trown out with them.

If we continue the fiscal policies of Clinton we will break the backbone of the GOP for a generation or two. They'll be reduced to being the party of religious fanatics.

If we let the fiscal responsibility the DLC introduced go now, both the Dems as the country will suffer for it.

by Ernst 2007-08-13 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

"If we continue the fiscal policies of Clinton we will break the backbone of the GOP for a generation or two. They'll be reduced to being the party of religious fanatics."

Words of pure wisdom.

I agree with you that the DLC doesn't know when to stop but the same could be said about the far left wingers.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments
When you say that the Democrats will need support from everyone in the party what you actually mean is Democrats will need support from the center, because clearly Hillary does not have support from the left. For many on the left, Hillary is the worst candidate, and yet centrists and Hillary supporters prop her up by implying that she has the widest base.

Her base is much more narrow than Obama, who has legions of centrists as well as true liberals in his camp (and even some conservatives). Richardson likewise has a wider if shallow base.
by anevarez 2007-08-13 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

Actually, that is not true.

The latest Pew Research poll shows breakdowns for the Clinton Obama race by self-identified ideology among Democrats and Democratic leaning voters:


Clinton 42% (no change from March/April)
Obama 23%


Clinton 40% (up 7% from March/April)
Obama 18%


Clinton 39% (up 7% from March/April)
Obama 24%

Full report here: php3?PageID=1174

by hwc 2007-08-13 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

No I mean exactly what I said. If the left refuses to support her they will have betrayed the party and I do not suspect that they will do so.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

Jimmy Carter ran on a platform of middle class faith-based values, strong commitment to civil rights, and a pro-business/economy stance.

In many ways, his 1976 campaign was the prototype for Clinton's "southern Democrat" positioning in the 1992 race.

The issue is not Al From's group (the DLC). The issue is how Democrats have to frame their message to the broad middle class in order to have majority appeal.

by hwc 2007-08-13 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

He also lose 4 years later to a Republican who then was more conservative. I am fascinated by the US of what was essentially a failed President as a rationale for long term sucess.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

Then again- I just thought about it. Maybe that's the point- you aren't worried about the long term as much as this one election cycle.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton accomplishments

It used to be that Democratic Senators were synonymous with strong relationships with the Pentagon. I'm thinking legendary US Senators like Richard Russell and more recently, Sam Nunn and George Mitchell. Carl Levin has certainly earned his stripes. However, these were men who spent years in the Senate walking the halls of the Pentagon.

Clinton has earned the respect of the military in a very short period of time and is one of the very few Democratic Presidential candidates in decades to have done so. (I'd have to go back and do some research on Humphrey and Mondale).

I don't expect the Pentagon and retired officer corps to be strong supporters of Clinton in the election (they are, after all, heavily Republican). But, just as with the conservative pundits, just a show of begrudging repect helps undercut the demonization of the Democratic candidate. That's very important with the swing voters with centrist views.

by hwc 2007-08-13 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

The vote was not a vote for war. It was an authorization to use force if necessary to make Hussein comply with UN Resolutions. Bush ignored the will of Congress and the UN and started a war.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 04:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

Senators Byrd, Graham, Feingold, Reckefeller, Durbin, Boxer and many other Senate collegues saw the bill as an opened ended grant of authority to Bush to wage war in Iraq.

Why wasn't Senator Clinton able to see the same thing?

And why did she make her decision on the IWR without reading the complete NIE on Iraq as Senator Graham strongly urged?

I will of course support Senator Clinotn if she is our nominee, however, I will always believe her vote on the IWR has based on what was best for her poltial ambitions and not what was best for the country.

by Sam I Am 2007-08-13 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

Jeez, everyone in the country understood this was a vote for war.  Well, everyone except Hillary Clinton apparently.  You are not doing her any favors, DoIT, by painting her as a an easily manipulated fool.  

by Counterfactual 2007-08-13 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

Everybody knows that she is no such thing.  Well, everybody but a tiny minority with very little pull.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

Georgep - Go back and read what I wrote.  I said that if she did not realize that her vote for war was a vote for war (as DoIT seems to think), then she is a fool.  

I don't believe she is such a fool.  Of course she knew her pro-war vote was a pro-war vote (DoIT not withstanding).  The problem is since she knew what she was doing, and it is one of the stupidest decisions our government has made, why did she do it?  There are two answers, and they pretty much apply to almost all the Democrats who voted for the war.  1) Left over panic from 9/11, and 2) Panic over poll results showing a large number of voters favored the war.  Neither one reflects well on her.  

Of course the polls at the time showing large pluralities of voters in favor of the war vote also make hwc's statement that her vote shows "this was a female Democratic candidate who would be willing to make the tough decisions on national security" almost laughable.  Her vote showed that here was a candidate willing to stand up and vote the way that the polls showed was popular.  What a shocking change from the usual!  And then when the polls shifted to favor withdrawal, Hillary bravely stood up again and started touting a draw down.  I wish hwc would write a follow-up article explaining in a bit more detail how following the polls around by the nose establishes a candidate as a profile in courage again, as I am having a little trouble seeing it.  

by Counterfactual 2007-08-13 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

We have chewed this over and over here for at least 6 months already.  The AUMF was a replacement of another AUMF which gave Bush complete carte blanche and full authority to do whatever it is he wanted to do.  That AUMF already had enough votes to pass.  This second AUMF was at attempt at a compromise with Democrats aimed at getting inspectors into Iraq, getting the UN involved again, give diplomacy a chance to work before engaging in any war action.  It came with the explicit promise that all means of diplomacy would be exhausted first before engaging in any type of war action (Bush lied, diplomacy was never tried) and came underwritten from Colin Powell, who at the time was considered one of the most level-headed and honest statesmen of our lifetimes.

I suppose it is ok for the argumentation to be less nuanced, more broadly painted as black and white, but that does not mean that reality and the timeline were not a bit more complicated than those attempts at "simplifying" what occured would have you believe.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

Seriously, it was a vote for war.  Everything else is just spin.

I understand some Democrats presumed a certain amount of good faith on the part of the administration, or at least claim they did.  That's kind of part and parcel of the overall charge of "poor judgment."

by Steve M 2007-08-13 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

If that is truly what Sen. Clinton believed, why didn't she go to the floor of the Senate before the invasion and say "stop, there is no reason to go to war"?  That is why I hate this response, if you truly believed this was not a vote for war, you should have said something when the inspectors were in Iraq and finding nothing and Bush still wanted to go to war.  She didn't do that, so your point is not supported by the record.  

by squid696 2007-08-13 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, good Lord

I hope you don't really believe that.

by Max Fletcher 2007-08-13 11:46AM | 0 recs
Nice diary, but...

In the second paragraph, you write:

[Clinton] was using two terms in the U.S. Senate to build the foundation of a winning message....

Of course, a senate term is 6 years, so -- were Clinton to be elected president -- she would have served
less than a term and a half, when all was said and done.

You are not the first to imply that Clinton would enter the White House as a two-term senator. Some in the
media already are tagging her "the two-term senator from New York," when she has barely finished one term.

But this biographical fudge is typical of the slippery "rounding up" and "resume padding" in which Clinton and
her handlers perpetually indulge to make her seem better and much more experienced than she really is.

It's like the way Clinton claims, in debates, that she "worked on" Issue X or that she "supported" Issue Y, when
she simply cast a "yea" vote when the issue came before her committee or got her name tacked on to the end of
a bill at the eleventh hour. It's like the way HillaryHub, on a slow campaign day, has one of the same two or three
canned photos of Clinton, with an oversized "Commander-in-Chief" caption.

Hillary Clinton always manages to push it one step too far.

But let's bear this in mind, shall we? Clinton has been in the Senate four years longer than Obama. Had they
both been there for 30+ years, no one would see that as a distinction at all.

by horizonr 2007-08-12 11:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice diary, but...

You do, however, make a good point. The Clinton campaign has been amazingly disciplined about staying on message.

That's something I will probably touch on in the near future. For example, their efforts to make Clinton more likeable, especially by focusing on women voters, has been astonishing to watch. From the major NYTimes feature on the women in Hillaryland, her inner circle of advisors. To the "I'm your girl!" line.

by hwc 2007-08-12 11:34PM | 0 recs
yes, the message discipline is impressive

But you have to admit that Clinton has been aided by the pundit army that has been building her up all year and not knocking her off message.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-13 01:37AM | 0 recs
Re: yes, the message discipline is impressive

But you have to admit that Clinton has been aided by the pundit army that has been building her up all year and not knocking her off message.

I don't think Hillary Clinton has yet reached the "plus" column for her career in public life with the pundit class.

However, one thing that is helping her is that he political journalists following her campaign are very impressed with the organization and the candidate on the stump. Her performance in the debates. Her preparation. Her command of the issues. Her lack of mistakes. Her staying on message.

The political journalists travelling with these campaigns have usually seen a lot of candidates come and go. They know when they are seeing a campaign operate at a high level and they know when a campaign is shooting itself in the foot. That does impact the coverage, as it rightly should.

by hwc 2007-08-13 11:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Nice diary, but...

"Clinton has been in the Senate four years longer than Obama."

And it shows!

by DoIT 2007-08-13 04:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Nice diary, but...

Yeah, from flag-burning amendments to being "tricked" into authorizing the Iraq War, it sure does show...

by Max Fletcher 2007-08-13 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Nice diary, but...

You know Hillary opposed the flag-burning amendment, right?

by Steve M 2007-08-13 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice diary, but...

Generally, the phrase refers to the number of times a politician has been elected to the office. Thus, George w. Bush is a "two-term President" despite the fact that he hasn't completed his second term. He has won election to the Presidency twice.

Thus, Clinton is a "two-term Senator" because she too has won election to her seat twice.

by hwc 2007-08-13 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Actually, the "Commander in Chief" caption on HillaryHub links to major Boston Globe story about Clinton's strength as a potential commander in chief: es/2007/08/12/tough_talk_drives_clinton_ effort?mode=PF

It's a terrific read.

Facing liberal bloggers last weekend, Hillary Clinton reminded the crowd that she experienced firsthand the sickening smell and taste in the air at the World Trade Center site after Sept. 11, 2001. At Tuesday night's debate in Chicago, she insisted the United States needs to keep Al Qaeda "on the run" in Iraq. The next day, she stopped off for a private tour of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard before a stump speech in New Hampshire.

Clinton has taken extraordinary pains, not only on the campaign trail but in her years in the US Senate, to position herself as the candidate who would be the strongest commander in chief, even as she has infuriated some Democrats who believe her desire to appear tough made her slow to criticize the Iraq war.

Because she is a Democrat and the first serious female contender for the presidency in a time of war, convincing voters that she can be trusted with the nation's security is one of her biggest hurdles.

The New York senator seems to have won this trust, helping her jump to the front of the Democratic pack.

In several national polls and in Iowa, the first caucus state, she is the Democrat who most likely primary voters say is the "strongest leader," a term generally seen as encompassing defense know-how. And a New York Times/CBS News poll of Republicans as well as Democrats last month found that 58 percent of respondents thought it was somewhat or very likely that she would be an effective commander in chief.

by hwc 2007-08-12 11:31PM | 0 recs
Watch out what you wish for - the Senate goes Rep

If HRC gets the nomination and were to win, does anyone believe the Democrats will pick up more seats in the Senate and House?  

I fear HRC will be toxic to Democratic candidates for Congress in the South, Southwest, Rocky Mountain and Western states.  We could see the Republicans actually pick up seats in Senate.

Then what is achieved?  Even if the Senate stays under Democratic control, we need 60+ Democratic Senators.  With HRC as the nominee, we risk four more years of gridlock as Republican Senators stop HRC from enacting the far reaching legislation on global warming, energy, immigration, civil rights and health care, and blocking any liberals she nominates for the Federal judiciary.

Think I'm off target?  Read "Democrats quietly fear a backlash from Clinton" at

by Stephen Cassidy 2007-08-12 11:48PM | 0 recs
Watch out what you wish for

I have not looked at all the Senate seats up for grabs, but Clinton would be a huge plus Jeanne Shaheen's effort to knock off John Sununu in New Hampshire.

It would be a big mistake to underestimate the impact of increase female turnout. Women voters break strongly Democratic.

Here's an example of get-out-the-vote advertising put together in the 2006 election by Clinton's ad guy:

Because these ads are paid for by independent 527 groups and not subject to donation limits, I expect the Clinton campaign to orchestrate a huge get out the vote effort that will be very helpful for downticket races. The Clinton campaign is VERY good at this sort of stuff. Better than the DNC.

by hwc 2007-08-13 12:00AM | 0 recs
right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

As has been established, NH has already elected a woman governor, a woman to the U.S. House, and women speakers of the state legislature.

But what about the rest of the country outside the northeast? You think Hillary at the top of the ticket helps our statehouse and Congressional candidates across the midwest, west and south?

I am waiting for a Clinton supporter on this site to admit that she just might hurt some of our down-ticket candidates in many parts of the country. It amazes me that people refuse to recognize this.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-13 01:39AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

You will NEVER get them to admit she has any negative consequences to the party politically. To admit obvious factual truth of what you say is to amit she isn't the best candidate for the party or the country. It would mean admitting their is more to this than whether Clinton wants the job or not. That this is about party and country. Not Hillary Clinton. Again, never going to get them to talk about the larger picture of her impact of the party.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

This is downright silly.  How can one "admit" to something that hasn't happened yet?   The general election is 13 months away.  We can have opinions about what may or may not happen.  You obviously have a very strong antipathy for Clinton, so I expect your opinion to be tainted by that strong bias.  But there are no "facts" for anyone.  Nobody knows what is going to happen 13 months from now.   I personally believe and assume that Clinton will bring a record amount of women to the polls, many who have never voted in their entire lifes, which will probably lead to a lot of checking of Democrats across the board.  She will most likely also win a record-number of Hispanics, a number in that Demographic that we as Democrats have never seen before.  I also believe that that group is more likely to check "Democrat" across the board, but have no way of knowing for sure.   So, it is my strong belief that Clinton would help tickets down the line.   But, since the election hasn't happened yet I can't state that as "fact."   Nobody can cite "facts" here, just personal belief.

With your strong negative bias on such obvious display on a daily basis, your "belief" is taken into account with that in mind.    

by georgep 2007-08-13 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

I also think African Americans will turnout more than they have in the past during the general election. Remember Bill is the first "black President".

by world dictator 2007-08-13 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

You are probably right.   I find it a bit strange that the hand-wringers don't acknowledge that Clinton is prone to bring us Democrats record-turnout, which logically will help Democrats downrace.   On the other side, I don't see any evidence that a Clinton nomination will bring out a rabid, enthusiastic right-wing.   That notion seems far-fetched, but is used anyway.

by georgep 2007-08-13 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

The problem is that here in the blogosphere, where Hillary is unpopular, no one seems able to accept the fact that she has around an 85% favorability rating among Democrats.  You can talk all you want about what Independents will do or whether the Republicans will be energized, but there's no question she will bring out Democrats in large numbers to vote for her.

Kerry set a turnout record despite being a less than exciting candidate; we benefited as much from anti-Bush as pro-Kerry sentiment.  Hillary will run a strong campaign, punching back against attacks from the right, and should keep the base energized all the way to the finish line.

Personally, I think the theory that Hillary will energize the other side is somewhat overblown.  First, it almost doesn't matter who we nominate; we could put up a war hero with multiple Purple Hearts, and the GOP would persuade their base that he was the spawn of Satan.  So the fact that they already think that about Hillary doesn't amount to much.  Second, and more importantly, Hillary is spectacular at converting people.  Even in the Democratic primary, she's running a moderate campaign based around the theme of competence and a steady hand at the wheel.  A lot of people who think badly of her today are going to end up thinking she's not so bad after all once they hear her campaign.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

All good points, Steve M.  I know you are an Edwards supporter, but I appreciate your level headedness.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

I'm very comfortable with Hillary as our next President, and I'm increasingly of the belief that she will be.

I still think she's too cautious as a substantive matter, and I'd prefer a Democrat with more ambition to fix the things I see as problems, but I'm flat-out impressed with her ability to campaign and go about the business of politics.  She's extremely confident and there's no doubt in my mind that she will keep on giving the Republicans as good as she gets.  I just really hope she ends the war.

Plus, I have a daughter.  That counts for quite a bit, actually.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

"Plus, I have a daughter.  That counts for quite a bit, actually."

That counts for everything.  I have two, and my focus on them and their future will be a big part of the candidate diary I'll post later today.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

I look forward to it. The assignment from Jerome the first week was so broad that I had to narrow it down. That was one of the topics I kicked around.

But, having a daughter in college and seeing the incredible achievements of this generation of young women is one of the major reasons I am supporting Clinton.

Women are kicking the guys' butts in college admissions these days, to the point where many top colleges are having to use affirmative action to get an equal number of males. This after women were barred from most of the top colleges on the East Coast until just a generation ago.

It's about time we tap some of that potential in the White House. Having a mix of male and female talents in the Presidency would be a huge plus for the country.

by hwc 2007-08-13 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

African Americans will turn out in the exact same numbers as before. You over estimate what Clinton will bring to the table.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Is there polling evidence that new women voters will come to vote for Clinton that would not come vote for Edwards or Obama?  I see all the polls that she does well among women.  That is not the same thing as increasingly the pool of women voters.  

Also, in my social desirability bias diary I think you and Ernst (I think) made the only really good arguments against the caution that experiment suggests is warranted.  Most comments were of the dreaded "I don't like the results and they don't conform to my preconceptions" variety.  Shortly I will post a new diary that takes the arguments a little further.

His argument (paraphrasing) was that even if many women lie about their willingness to vote for a female candidate, among the ~75% declaring a willingness to vote for a female candidate, a larger than normal share would in fact choose to vote for Senator Clinton.  This argument is more plausible to me than the new voters argument, at least until I have seen some compelling evidence to that effect.

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-08-13 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

It's worse. The polling data indicates that women will not vote in any significantly different way than men. This is another of George's spin on polling data. Someone else diaried that very issue on the front page of this blog.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Could you link to that? because I think I know which diary you mean, and that one didn't say that at all. But I could be wrong, so a link would help.

by Ernst 2007-08-13 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

What that diary in fact was referring to was the opposite of what bruh21 claims here.  Namely, that while Clinton is showing a huge advantage with women she had shown a somewhat lesser appeal amongst men.  That has changed recently with Clinton showing a surge in appeal amongst men in some surveys, a positive movement for her which party explains why she has gone from 12%, 13% leads to 20% leads in all national polls.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Here's the link: 59/582

Check out the poll itself. Basically, there is more. George's whole thesis of how Clinton could win, as is bookgrl, is that she will bring more women to the table. There is no where near a guarantee of this assertion. Basically, they are playing identity politics where its not clear it matters. According to the poll 85 percent of each group, men or women, would vote for a candidate of their party regardless of gender. There is no increase of indies from what I can tell who will vote for a woman just because she is a woman as their choice.

In other words, his claim that gender will trump views or politics (which one would have to expect in a general for gender to be a factor as to why we should nominate Clinton for the general election) is uncertain at best, and wishful thinking at worse. People did the same thing with Ford in 2006 in TN.

Where George and others make their claim is among Democratic women. But we need more than that to win the general. Where they must also be staking their position is with a) low information women voters and b) Clinton's favorables with certain groups. Again, nothing certain or not subject to wishful thinking.

OT: This wishful thinking is not unique to just this the women will make up the deficits argument (At base what they are saying is exactly that- that new voters who we haven't seen participate before will make up for her other deficit with people who have voted before. An argue that is bizzare in that it relies on what would traditionally be a candidate who instills passion).  You can see that wishful thinking on the issues too. When asked about the imnpact of say her stance on NAFTA in a state like OH where we will need to win, George says that foreign policy will trump these concerns although in 2006 the two state wide wins by the Dems there were in part based on opposition to NAFTA and free trade. When challenged, George had little to say.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Yes I thought you meant that one. It doesn't show that men and women will vote the same. It shows that the maximal amount of votes you can get from men and women is the same.

It's a subtle difference.

the Trond Jacobsen diary was about the same subject. And it's absolutely true that the ceiling of votes will likely be the same. But that doesn't mean that the actual amount of votes will be the same as presidential campaign never hit the upper limit of possible votes.  It simply describes the upper limit possible.

Polling also makes it clear that Hillary gets does get a larger share of the women vote then the share she gets from men. Polls also indicate that her cross over appeal is stronger amongst women then amongst men, etc. whether it is enough to offset her weaker numbers else where is a different matter. (And something we'll have to wait a couple of months for to see how the current developments work out.)

So the dynamic here is that Clinton has a large share of women votes with less room to grow in that demographic as she's closer to to the maximum there

And that she has a lesser share of votes amongst men but with more room to grow.

But as she is still far from the numbers mentioned by Todd it doesn't show that they will vote the same, unless she maxes out both groups.

by Ernst 2007-08-13 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

The ceiling matters because for the new women vote argument to be true, you would need to change this dynamic. It's implicit in the argument. The votes are going to have to come from somewhere. No one is explaining where.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

And there are no polls showing "cross over" appeals.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH 070

I should make it clear - above I mean her lead is not that much greater than Democrats traditionally get. The real problem is that the gap you want to use - where does it grow enough to be a realistic help?

So where are new votes going to come to overcome her significantly high unfavorable ratings? This is the crux of why the argument fails. It's based on a false assumption that there is more room for her to grow in a group she is already getting the most votes out of.

Not perfectly comparable, but here is a comparator for a quick reference:

We are also not discussing either the bias or the issue of her reverse gender gap with men.  My data isn't perfect because I am doing this while working so there is more out there on how women typically are more Democratic. That means she can not simply rely on a gap that has favored us in the past, and expect that to be enough to win when in the past it hasn't been. It's things like the closing of the gap that matters and whether you touch on positions and policies (such as trade in OH) that seem to me to matter along with character and like the candidate issues.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Actually I think we partly agree on that. My belief is that she already has the new women voters in even greater quantities then we had the last two elections, so there will be a sight grow there but not much. Her real growth potentional is mainly amongst men.

So I agree with you there, but only with the qualifier that that is because she already has secured a sizeable amount of new women.

And if you read my comment history her high unfavorable ratings are my biggest concern in about her. If in late december there still is a significant difference between her and the rest of the field (both democratic and republican) I will certainly have my doubts about her viability, but not before. We have to wait a few months to see how she handles her unfavorable rating, but currently there is a lot of data that shows she is making inroads in overcoming it. If that trend holds she'll secure a larger percentage of men in the general then she has now. Combined with the amount of women she already has she'll should be at least as competive as any other democrat.

It all depends if she can lower and keep her negatives around 40 or lower.

by Ernst 2007-08-14 03:13AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Ridiculous.  Show proof.  Women are going for Clinton in a huge way.  Your argument here is laughable and provably wrong.  

Here just ONE of many examples how wrong you are:

"The New York senator and former first lady gets 63 percent of her support from women and has more than twice the female backing of her nearest rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in AP-Ipsos surveys. She has only a slender lead among men, who are splitting their allegiances about evenly among her, Obama and former Vice President Al Gore, who has not said he will run. thompson-winning-men-clinton-women

by georgep 2007-08-13 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Any data on first-time women voters she brings that Edwards and Obama can't/won't?

I do not think there is any doubt that many regular women voters like Senator Clinton.

Does she change the math?  That is the Holy Grail of Democratic elections and every cycle I here this that or the other group (poor white men, the young, disaffected Latinos, whatever) will be drawn into the process by some candidate's unique appeal...and then it seems like it's the same old voters and a few new ones who look like the regular voters.

Does she bring new women voters that would otherwise sit on the sidelines?  Where?

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-08-13 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Her strongest supporters are single unmarried women.  This group came out in record number last presidential election and accounted for 22% of the vote, and they still lagged.  In other words, there were still plenty who didn't come out, even though more came out than in several election cycles.  I think Hillary will bring the woman Kerry brought out and way more.  

by bookgrl 2007-08-13 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Ha ha, I said single unmarried.  Redundant.  I went youngish single.

by bookgrl 2007-08-13 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

It seems to me as though you could get virtually every college woman in America to vote for her.  That doesn't strike me as a demographic that normally votes in tremendously large numbers.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Every women's group in the country will campaign for her too. Except the Stepford wives, I mean the republicans.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 08:21AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Yes, absolutely.   I think it is logical to assume that she will bring in a lot of women who heretofore did not vote or voted non-Democratic before, just by the fact that this is a historical election for women in this country.   I think nobody can reasonably deny that logic, it would be the same for the first black nominee, the first asian nominee, the first hispanic nominee and the historical significance of those candidacies.  

 But, beyond that, the Clinton campaign is focusing on women outreach (particularly to gain new women,) like no other.  That is having a strong effect. ?id=10992 tent/article/2007/06/20/AR2007062002567_ pf.html

Naturally, the strong focus will have an effect on the numbers.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Yes, the logic can be denied by actually looking at whats happened in real races. I don't have time right now to do this, but googling the subject reveals the falsity of your claims for anyone who is curious. YOu are essentially relying on the "new voters" theory rather than on past behavior of actual voters. Assuming your argument is false, based on actual voters- what will happen and what does that mean for her chances?

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:24AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

You are certainly entitled to your opinion.  I believe it to be wrong.  All the "googling" you want to do won't change that fact.  Clinton has been bringing a lot of women into the fold.  You will deny that until you are blue in the face, but that does not make your position on this any more stable.   I chalk it off to major bias and move on.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 12:23PM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Nearly everyone of post in response to your question is based on wishful thinking. Notice none of them explains how they will change behavior. Only that it will happen because of Clinton being a woman. A slender thread on which to base a strategy.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Thanks !

by Ernst 2007-08-13 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

So- and I want to make sure you understand your own arguments- you are saying polls aren't worth anything? Because what I was referencing was the polling data and what it means.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

"The obvious factual truth," huh? I think that in order for something to be "fact," it logically has to occur.

I am a Clinton supporter and I happen to believe that no one can speak with any authority on this question because a lot can change in a year. Remember, in August of 2003, John Kerry was a war hero and a moderate Senator. On election day, 2004 he was regarded in many quarters as a punchline (at best) and not a viable alternative. And this brings me to my point- I think that assuming that Hillary would depress turnout more than the other leading candidates gives too much credit to this moment and to the other candidates. Take Obama for a moment- right now he is regarded by most people as a potential change agent, but also as inexperienced and prone to mistakes. You are giving him too much credit by assuming that his standing will be the same in November 2008 as it is today. By the time the Republican filth machine got done with Obama as a nominee, he could very well be a big depression on down ballot races. Obama has given them plenty of material to work with in the last month, but they do it to everyone. Edwards was number 2 on a ticket in 2004 that lost not only a Presidential election that they should have won, but lost 4 Senate seats in the process.

I think that your thesis, so much as you have one, is fundamentally flawed. I think that an increase in the turnout of women is inevitable. I think that it looks to be a year when the issues are going to play into the hands of Democrats, particularly one as credible on national security to the public at large as Clinton is. I think that Hillary is somewhat impervious to the hijinks of the Republican filth machine because they have been there and done that with her. We know her skeletons. We have heard about her issues as nauseam for years from the FOX news set. She can't be defined away because we "know" her. Those are several benefits she brings to the table that Obama and Edwards don't have.

Looking at the Congressional races more specifically, I am having a hard time coming up with a Senate race I think we are more likely to lose because Hillary is the nominee. I think that she actually helps Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana because these are states where an increased female turnout would be really helpful. She might help the candidate that ultimately runs against Gordon Smith in Oregon, because of the liberal bent of the electorate in that state.

But that is all conjecture. You cannot "know" anything yet. There are no "obvious factual truth"s here. That's why we have elections. I happen to think that our party will have healthier results with Hillary at the helm than with the other leading candidates, but those are my thoughts and could be very wrong. We won't know until the stage is set.

by arkansasdemocrat 2007-08-13 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

You make good points.  We know Hillary is a survivor, we know she has the ability to counterpunch and won't just sit there and ignore the Republican slime attempts.

I like Obama and Edwards just fine but I don't feel quite as confident about them in this area.  I thought John Kerry would be a fighter, too, and he turned out to be just a guy who said "fight" a lot.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

An excellent observation of facts. Thanks, a little sanity every now and then helps a lot.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Ever heard of the book Whistling Past Dixie.  You make it seem like the south and west is a lock if Obama or Edwards run, which we know is not necessarily so.  We all know that a lot of statehouse politics is just that, state house.  By the way, how many of those congress people who are from the south and west voted with the Repubs on the last Iraq bill, because they wanted to play it safe for the next elections.  Maybe this too will play a factor in the number of Democratic voters who feel betrayed.  There will always be hand wringers in the party who think they know what will win and what will lose voters,but they have no idea.  IMO, if Hillary wins the nomination, she will also inspire historic turn out, so we are all in the wait and see mode.

by Kingstongirl 2007-08-13 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Your post is interesting in how it avoids the subject while pretending to answer the question.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

IMO, I DON'T think she will be a drag on the ticket.  Your opinion is that she will be a drag on the ticket.  None of us have crystal balls, so these dire warnings of defeat and doom should Hillary get the nomination ring hollow with me.

by Kingstongirl 2007-08-13 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

Again thats not an answer. You avoid the subject by saying none of can know. This isn't about certainty. This is about probabilities. About knowing historical voting trends, what that has meant and understanding given what we do know what that means. Using absolute certainty as an excuse is as bad as guessing without any context at all. both requires you to not deal with facts.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

So what are your facts and voting trends to support your doom and gloom contention that she will be a drag on the ticket?  The last time I checked, other than Liddy Dole(hers was a joke), we haven't had a viable female presidential candidate.  The supposition is that the wingnuts hate the Clintons so much, they will camp out at the polling booth in droves to vote for the Repub nominee.  There can be an equal supposition that given the strong support Hilllary has with Democrats and polls showing her making in roads with Independents, that with her at the top of the ticket Landrieu may even keep her Senate seat.

by Kingstongirl 2007-08-13 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: right, she'd have coat-tails in NH

absolutely right! i am always skeptical of people who preach doom and gloom to come but have literally no facts or warrants to back them up. very well said!

by arkansasdemocrat 2007-08-13 01:14PM | 0 recs
Yes I do

We pick up seats in '08 for sure.  No question - and the ripest targets are in the blue states like New York which still has too many Republicans going to Congress.

Republicans are not evening playing down the notion of losing seats.  The optimistic ones are saying a "few" while the pessimists are predicting a replay of '06.

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-13 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes I do

The districts in question - especially in NY state- are purple districts. Yes there are Republican enclaves in the state. Hence why the GOP controls one of the state houses. You only add to the reason why the negative coattails is an issue by bringing up blue states. That's precisely the point- that even in blue states- so called- the reality is that to win in these purple areas- its about turn out and which base is fired up. Even in 2006 with our base fired up and theirs not, we didn't manage to win. What would happen with the reverse.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 07:08AM | 0 recs
I don't think so

I disagree with you totally.

Hillary is going to win NY by 15 over Rudy and over 20 with anyone else.  Add to it that the GOP is a mess in NY (not as bad as Ohio, but a mess - in debt, the whole nine yards).   Hillary will bring the Democrats surging to the polls to elect one of their own.

Republicans will be discouraged (are they are now).

Also, again, I think the President is over rated on the ticket as it relates to lower races.

My state, NC, saw gains for the Democrats, as Kerry got thumped.  That is just one example.  If the Presidential race was so important, why didn't Republicans follow Bush's lead in this red state and make gains?  

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-13 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think so

The question was down ticket, and its impact. Your disagree matters very little to the impact of what these districts are like. And in 2006 - in a wave year- we lost them. Next year is not a wave year.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think so

Are you kidding about the later point about the GOP making gains? And for that matter- do you know how to follow politics beyond 2 or 3 election cycles. I am being a smart ass about this because many of you seem fixed on either 2004 or after. The world didn't begin and end in this decade, neither should your analysis as to whether you are correct or not.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 08:59AM | 0 recs
The down ticket stuff is bunk

There are only a handful of elections every year where coattails matter (and some of those are reverse).

If the Presidential candidates weighed so heavily down ticket, you'd see a lot more freaky results in the past where a Republican trialing in the polls by 9% or 10% won a race down ticket because the Republican that won the White House carried him to victory.

Furthermore, if the Presidential candidate did play heavily down the ticket, and if Hillary is supposed to be so bad for it, why would all these elected officals ... who will be further down the ticket ... be endorsing her?  Are the suicidal?  No.

Lastly, don't talk to be about elections too far in the past.  I will admit, I wasn't alive when Kennedy was killed, but that isn't even the reason.  Politics has changed in the last 15 to 20 years.   Population shifts, demographic shifts, and gerrymandering of Congressional Districts has made a lot of the talk about what happened in the 70s or the 60s moot.

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-13 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The down ticket stuff is bunk

rather than arguing with your ignorance- here are some links: ctions/ m l-coattails ndex.html act/21/3/307 act/47/1/151 519/is_3_25/ai_n6075323

google the subject yourself. where coattails matters are in the so-called toss up districts, especially where there is an open seat. In other words, precisely at the margins in which many of us fear clinton's name will hurt us. Such as in the districts you try to use from NY state withou tunderstanding them.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 09:32AM | 0 recs
Check your articles - they conflict

The first one, the USA Today piece argues for Bush's coattails - given that the race in question was a midterm, following 9/11, with horrible leadership in the Hill, I don't buy the coattails in that midterm.  I think it was the time, the mood of the country, and one party recruting better candidate, spending more money, and using wedge issues in Congress (taxes, the looming war) effectively.

The last article argues that recent Presidents have not had coattails.  It also quotes Tom Reynolds as to why he thinks that is the case.  Me, I think it has a lot of to wit the gerrymandering of districts and the money now spent down ticket - candidates can run their own campaigns, get their message out, and differeniate themselves.

The last article said:  "Roosevelt had them, as did Truman, Kennedy and Johnson. Reagan had them once, but not again. Nixon never had them at all, and neither did Clinton or his bracketing Bushes.

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-13 09:44AM | 0 recs

Two others fail to back you up:

One says:  "We find that coattail voting varies with attributes of both the individual voter and of the electoral context."

I tend to take that as meaning you can't count on coattails.  How do you take it?

Another says: "Recent examinations of the coattail effect report conflicting evidence regarding the contemporary force of presidential coattails."  

It goes on to say that it appears coattails may be more at play in open seat elections.

From everything you posted, I take from it there is little recent evidence that coattails have an effect, and if they do it is minor, and specifically focused in only a few individual elections, and not a real force nationwide.

by dpANDREWS 2007-08-13 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Furthermore,

not it means the context matters. as i explain in my second post

by bruh21 2007-08-13 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: The down ticket stuff is bunk

in solidly GOP or Dem district one would expect none of this to matter- but its only in the toss up that you build a lead in candidates. This also doesn't take into account the percentage 2 to 5 percent shift that it would take to lose a toss up state. NY again is not applicable to such a discussion because its not a toss up state even if some districts are.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

To broaden the discussion a bit, I would be interested in hearing from supporters of other candidates:

Do you think your candidate has passed the "commander-in-chief" threshold?

If so, what has he done to establish commander-in-chief credibility?

If not, what steps is your candidate taking to move towards that threshold?

by hwc 2007-08-13 12:05AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

I'm not clear what you mean by the 'commander-in-chief' threshold or credibility. Is there a threshhold one must past to attain CinC credibility other than a majority of the electoral college?

by BingoL 2007-08-13 05:47AM | 0 recs

Threshold? Credibility?

I'm not sure I understand. The military will respect the chain of command and follow orders given by whomever is in office. If Clinton has a good relationship with the Pentagon, it might help in getting good advice and office politics, but it won't make them any more or less willing to follow her orders. These are serious people, and they'll follow any president's orders.

The issue is not whether a candidate is willing to be "tough." As the current president shows, anyone can be tough and play "Commander-in-Chief" and order young men and women to their deaths. It's not that hard to do.

The hard part is finding the wisdom to know when it is or is not appropriate to do that. That's the test, and it's a test I think Senator Clinton failed in 2002.

By the way, I'm undecided. Right this moment, I think I'd write in "Russ Feingold."

by Fitzy 2007-08-13 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: "Commander-in-Chief"?

It is a well-establish principle of Presidential politics that no candidate can get elected unless the public comes to view the candidate as having sufficient stature to handle an international crisis or war.

Everything else comes after that in most elections. Thus, any Presidential candidate must first cross that "commander-in-chief" threshold.

On the Democratic side, Clinton as successfully crossed that threshold. 58% of the American public views her as being a very effective or somewhat effective commander in chief.

I'm not sure whether Obama or Edwards has crossed that threshold. That's why I asked the question to get some opinions from a wider group.

BTW, this has nothing to do with the technical chain of command. It's a visceral threshold among the American electorate.

by hwc 2007-08-13 12:02PM | 0 recs

See, I misunderstood. With what you had said earlier about relationships with the Pentagon, I was thinking you meant "Commander-in-Chief threshold" in terms of post-election, not pre-election.

Still, I think it ought to be more about wisdom and making the right decisions, and less about looking "tough enough" to lead the military. I think that point still stands.

As far as whether Obama or Edwards have the gravitas to take on the role, I can't say. It's like when people talk about who looks the most "presidential." I don't think any good president looked quite right for the part prior to the election, but they grow into it.

I find it hard to believe anyone voted for the goofy saxophone-playing governor from Arkansas because he looked like a "Commander-in-Chief." They voted for him because they liked his policies better than the other guys and they liked him better than the others. The "presidential" look came as he became acclimated to the job.

That's what I saw, anyway.

by Fitzy 2007-08-13 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Ah

The 1992 and 2000 elections were a bit flukey. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, these elections were notable for their complete focus on domestic issues.

Of course, that all changed with 9/11.

by hwc 2007-08-13 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

 I agree with you that HRC is very smart, very well organized, and personally admirable.  But I think the only way she will be a good president is if there is a huge wave of progressives in congress.  She will not stick her neck out for us.

 I have heard that Franklin Roosevelt himself was not actually very progressive at first, but with an overwhelmingly progressive populist congress, pushing him, he did what had to be done, and he rose to the occasion.  I think the same would happen with HRC. I don't think she has the oratorical skills that FDR had, though.

 Both Obama and Edwards are better speakers.  Even Dodd.  She seems too scripted.  But I don't blame her, given what she's been through.

 I would really love a woman president.  I don't know if this is true, but I read an article once which analyzed women heads of state, and concluded that in countries where women constitute 40% or more of the parliament, the women were excellent heads of state, but in those with few women representatives, the women were substantially more bellicose.  And so HRC's rhetoric has to be more bellicose, because she is playing with the boys. And sometimes words lead to action.  It might be harder for her to avoid military engagement, given where we are as a country.

by prince myshkin 2007-08-13 12:23AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

I think you're right.  This is why, no matter who is President, we have to keep working night and day for a progressive majority in Congress.  If we don't get that, nothing else matters.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

In the grand scheme of things, her vote didn't really matter in a 77-23 result. But, it told the country, in no uncertain terms, that this was a female Democratic candidate who would be willing to make the tough decisions on national security. Strategically, she has reinforced that toughness by refusing to offer a politically expedient, and essentially meaningless, apology for that vote. She takes responsibility.

It's a good diary, but I'm sorry, arguing that her vote didn't end up mattering in the result is pretty weak.  If a lot of Democrats (including all of the then potential '04 contenders) had been a lot more skeptical of the intelligence and a little less concerned with political positioning, maybe the vote would have been a lot closer --- and at least it would have allowed the nominee in '04 to critique the war.  Kerry's contortions, among other things, cost him the race.

Maybe the only way to get herself elected is to portray herself as a Margaret Thatcher 'iron lady,' but it certainly won't earn her my vote.

by psericks 2007-08-13 02:20AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

3600+. Dead. American. Soldiers.  1 million plus dead Iraqis.  Half a trillion dollars down the drain.  Kiss my ass she showed toughness.  If that vote was borne of her need to show toughness we can not trust her around nukes..

by Todd Bennett 2007-08-13 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Or trade.

by Todd Bennett 2007-08-13 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

I don't think "positioning" is the right term, I think her campaign referred to it as triangulation in the after debate for the AFL-CIO.  And in my opinion that vote in October 2002 showed EXACTLY how flawed, shameless, and desperate for the White House she is.  She jumped on the Iraq bandwagon because she thought it would be a success.  All she had to do was ask Bill if any of this was true, a guy 20 months removed from being in charge and someone who still received daily intelligence reports (if he chose to receive them, since all former presidents may).

And we do not need another commander in chief president, we need a president for the people, not for the pentagon.  If she is running for commander in chief, why doesn't she just submit a resume for chairman of the joint chiefs, but if she is running for president then she needs to stop triangulating and start being bold.

by fakes seizures 2007-08-13 02:54AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Excellent read. Well thought out and presented. Very informative.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 04:15AM | 0 recs
I've often heard it said...
...that bad presidents run because they want to BE something; good presidents run because they want to DO something.
What does Clinton want to do?  Why is she running?  I know why Edwards is running.  I even know why Kucinich is running.  But Clinton?  What's the point, other than that she thinks she can win?  That's not a good enough reason.  And for all the talk of her "electability", I think it bodes badly for her election.  Look at Kerry and Dukakis, 2 other candidates who couldn't tell anyone why they were running or what they wanted to do.
Now, that isn't to say that she can't be elected; Neither Bush ever ran on any platform of actually doing anything; they just wanted to be president.  But I think the least we can ask of somebody running for our highest office is that they ban tell us why they're running.
And if she's in office in 2010, it could be a bad year for Democrats...
by Mumphrey 2007-08-13 04:19AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Dog whistle politics.

That's what it sounds like to me. She's playing a tune that only you  think you and selected others are uniquely able to hear. She does what she does because its the only way to become the Trojan Horse that gets a liberal into office by being "prepared." I say that word "prepared" in quotes because its just your trying to redefine triangulation. You are trying to make sticking your finger in the wind a virtue. In some cases, it maybe necessary, but it's not a virtue for leadership. That's what prepared means to me, and I suspect most Americans would agree with that. Please don't cite Democratic primary polls as proof that my opinion is wrong.

There are several problems with this. The first is real trust. Do you think the American people are that stupid? Yes, they can be fooled, and they may even vote for you. But then what? But stupid enough to then trust the party brand? Look at what Bush's fooling them as done to the GOP brand. Admittedly that's because the GOP brand was always extremist. But if Bush had been wiser he could have continued down this road of GOP dominance for a decade or too. Thankfully he wasn't that wise.  You would have us commit strategically his same mistakes.

The second is- well, let's look at the judgment, stupid! The record you are tauting as a proof of her accumen actually is only okay. It's not bad. It's not great either. Just okay.

Not that any of our candidates have really strong experiential records to run on that matters for the Presidency of the United States.  There's no testing ground for that. You seem to think there is. Worse yet, you seem to think the Senate, a legislative body, that's not about leadership by its very nature except in the actual leadership roles, is an indicator of her presidency. I have no idea how you come to that conclusion. I read your analysis, but it makes no sense to claim votes are a sign of leadership. Leadership is going above and beyond, not doing what the job description says you must do.

This is one of those little hidden secrets that none of us wish to discuss. None of our candidates are greatly 'qualified' to be President on the level of experience. But, guess what, that doesn't matter. Great presidents do not always seem apparent from their resume.

Those are just some of my thoughts. Nice diary, but it seems in accurate on many levels as to what it is trying to assert about leadership.

by bruh21 2007-08-13 05:09AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Nice job, hwc.  You did a fine job of articulating exactly why people like me support Clinton.  She has command of the issues and she does her homework.  You can't make good decisions without the information, and you can't ignore the data that doesn't agree with your pre-determined course.  We've seen enough of that over the last 6 years, and we don't need any more of it.

I first heard Hillary speak in 1992 in Kansas City, and I've been a big fan ever since. Of course, that didn't guarantee her my support in this election.  But one of the reasons I was seriously considering her was the fact that she's not afraid of the right wing nutjobs who'll tell every lie they can in order to smear the Dem nominee.  I was furious with John Kerry for his total failure to smack down the swift-boaters, and I knew Hillary would have kicked them right in the teeth.

That's a critically important point for me.  We can't have another nominee who'll just ignore the opposition - it doesn't work.  you have to confront their lies immediately and forcefully, and that's exactly what Hillary does.  

We have a very strong field of candidates on our side of the political spectrum, and Hillary is doing a fantastic job of running her campaign.  Obama and Edwards are both excellent candidates with great ideas, so it's clear that anything could happen in this race.  But I think Hillary's preparedness and control of her campaign is making the difference.  Her lead is growing in both the national and state polls, and I think she has an excellent shot at making history.  I think she's the right person to reverse the disastrous course this country has been on and to give our country some hope.

by Denny Crane 2007-08-13 05:23AM | 0 recs
I would not brag

about her AUMF vote.  it was wrong then and is worng now.  You said:

She cast a very public vote in October 2002, the vote that caught my attention. In the grand scheme of things, her vote didn't really matter in a 77-23 result. But, it told the country, in no uncertain terms, that this was a female Democratic candidate who would be willing to make the tough decisions on national security. Strategically, she has reinforced that toughness by refusing to offer a politically expedient, and essentially meaningless, apology for that vote. She takes responsibility.

Edwards knows the vote was a mistake.  She should, but will not admit her mistake.  One more reason not to vote for Hillary.

by TomP 2007-08-13 05:36AM | 0 recs
Hillary is worng now

I totally agree with you: She was worng! And she is worng about health care and worng about lobbyists and worng about being worng. She is just worng.

Hillary is the worng candidate at the worng time.

Worng I tell ya.

Worng, worng, worng!

by DoIT 2007-08-13 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Great piece.  I don't know how old people are here but the misconceptions about Bill Clinton astound me.  Bill Clinton simply knew how to build a broad coalition, and clearly Hillary does, as well. I don't think you need to defend Harold Ford.  Hillary isn't the DLC candidate. They represent a small part of her very broad coalition.

You're right about that vote.  It's kind of a double edge sword.  If she hadn't cast it or had apologized for it I think the press would be asking "is she tough enough?" over and over again.  Also, there are many here who seem to belive that being tough means she'll be jumping into wars all over the place.  However, if you listen to what she's said about Pakistan and Darfur, and what she said about Iraq prior to the war, this is a woman who will proceed with caution.  She's not likely to easily committ the US to another war, and she's not a big believer in unilateralism.

by bookgrl 2007-08-13 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

fantastic writing. Her refusal to apologize is a great asset in my book.

by areyouready 2007-08-13 06:42AM | 0 recs
Great job!!!

Great job, HWC!!!  I can see I'll have something to look forward to every Monday morning!

By the way, the daily Rasmussen is out.  Hillary's back up by 20 points, matching her 20+ lead in other recent national polls.

by markjay 2007-08-13 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Most of what you said rings true.  But I can't believe you would cite her war vote as a positive.  That's really sad.  You seem to be verging close to suggesting that her vote for the war was part of her preparations to run for President, which would be a really foolish thing to say, I hope you realize.

A lot of sins have been committed over the years by Democrats who wanted to "prove their bona fides" on national security.  We should never forget the lessons of LBJ, who had a great liberal program for the nation, but decided he had to follow the right wing's lead on Vietnam in the meantime so he wouldn't look soft on Communism.  We all remember how that turned out, right?

by Steve M 2007-08-13 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

But I can't believe you would cite her war vote as a positive.

I can only speak for myself. That was the day I started taking Clinton seriously as a Presidential candidate. In fact, I remember talking about it around the dinner table. As in, "Wow...she's really serious about getting elected as the first female President."

Keep in mind that not only does she have the Democratic Party cross to bear ("weak on security"), but the threshold is even higher for a female candidate.

BTW, I believe that all Congressional votes are "political". They have to be...we have a representative democracy. The entire system was designed by the Founding Fathers for our leaders to represent the views of their constituents. Thus, it is impossible to divorce policy from politics. The founding fathers thought that was a good thing and I have no reason to disagree.

by hwc 2007-08-13 12:09PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Okay, but I assume you were also in favor of the war at the time.  But looking back today, do you still feel good about that vote?

I wasn't really informed enough myself to oppose the war back then.  But in retrospect, I'm disappointed in the people like Hillary who didn't show better judgment.

If nothing else, maybe this war has taught us a lesson about the folly of treating war votes as a proxy for seriousness on national security.  Yes, everyone knew in 2002 that if you wanted to run for President, voting for the war was a no-brainer.  But that doesn't make it right.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

I opposed the war from the beginning but I support Hillary.

by bookgrl 2007-08-13 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

But when people ask you why you support Hillary, you probably wouldn't tout her war vote as a positive, right?  That's why I took issue with the diarist on this point.

by Steve M 2007-08-13 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

I am right there with you on that. I support Hillary because I trust her to do what is right for our country.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

I think a better way to put it was that I was not opposed to the war at the time.

The simple fact of the matter is that few could have predicted, in 2002, the degree of deception and incompetence of the Bush administration. Sure, it's easy to look back with hindsight and see the stranglehold Cheney and the neocons had on the goverment. It's easy to see the complete lack of post-invasion planning. It's easy to see the distortion of intelligence.

But, that was not so easy to see in 2002 when you have respected, experienced people like Colin Powell and George Tenent leading the charge.

From the five or six books I've read so far on the inner-workings of the Bush administration, I'm stunned. I've read the kiss n' tell books about every administration since Kennedy. I've never seen anything even remotely like this crew.

by hwc 2007-08-13 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Excellent, concise essay, which I find personally totally unconvincing.  

Your starting thesis in supporting a candidate appears to be the standard DLC thesis: people want a Republican by default.  The appeal of Clinton's positioning, triangulating, and being "tough on defense" all springs from this.  

I'm not going to argue Hillary can't win - I honestly think she will win.  However, I think that we are in the midst of a re-alignment so grand that I think any of the major Democratic candidates will beat the Republican nationally by at least five points - if not a landslide.  When you add together the change in party ID, the depressed mood of the Republican party, the disgust with Bush, and the simple eight-year itch that usually causes switches in the presidency - it's simply time for a Democrat.  

So I think who is "electable" matters far less in this primary than who will govern well.  I'm confident that Clinton is a competent manager who will run government a thousand times better than the Bush Administration.  However, two areas trouble me.

One is vision.  The next president will need to engage in a major overhaul of the U.S.  First, the damage Bush did - from civil liberties to supposedly non-partisan government agencies to Iraq - needs to be undone.  Secondly, issues like the health care crisis, global warming, and the economy in general need to be addressed.  I simply don't see in Clinton anything suggesting she has the desire to notably change the course of America - and four years of Bill part two won't be enough to heal things.  

The second is something you laud - her AUMF vote and her refusal to apologize.  While his stupidity and incompetence have been terrifying to live through, Bush's worst character flaw has been his inability to admit any mistake.  While Hillary is smart and competent, I see quite a good deal of Bush-like arrogance in her - actually, quite a good deal more than I see in her Husband.  And, while I don't know what it will end up being, it's almost certain in between 2009 and 20013 there will be at least one crisis, political, economic, or international, that will require a complete 180.  

My greatest fear with a Hillary Clinton Presidency though is simple - the economy will fall through the floor, and she won't be willing to try progressive economic solutions to solve the nation's problems.  In disgust, people vote for a Republican in 2012.  

by telephasic 2007-08-13 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Your starting thesis in supporting a candidate appears to be the standard DLC thesis: people want a Republican by default.

How could I have any other thesis. For the entirety of my adult lifetime, the Republicans have been the default party in Presidential elections.

IMO, the Democratic Party deserves much of the blame for that in their frequent failure to frame issues to speak to the broad middle class. For example, an "anti-business" message is just stupid in capitalistic economic system. After all, most Americans work for businesses.

by hwc 2007-08-13 12:12PM | 0 recs
One of the many things that bothers me about Clinton is that it seems to me--and I could be wrong--that becoming president is the whole point of her campaign.  It doesen't strike me that she really cares much about doing anything when she's there.
After 8 years of this catastrophic misadministration, we need somebody with some vision to lead us and get us going about fixing the mess Bush has wrought.
I think Clinton's a born manager, an administrator.  She might be great at a time when things are going fairly smoothly already, and all we really need is somebody at the helm to keep us heading the right way.
That isn't what we need right now.  We need a president who can get fired up and get US fired up.  With Bush having befouled the Republican party's reputation for a generation if not more, we have a chance to steer this country in a progressive direction--maybe the best chance since 1932.  Clinton isn't the one to do that; it isn't in her nature.
by Mumphrey 2007-08-13 12:57PM | 0 recs
Good Diary

I would "rec" it, if I could.

by iamready 2007-08-13 07:28AM | 0 recs
What's Hillary's plan...

... to restore Constitutional government?

Does she have one?

Or does she not think there's a problem?

by lambert 2007-08-13 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

I don't share the Clinton nostalgia...Nafta sucked then and sucks now...What is your favorite Bill Clinton speech demanding Kyoto?

As for Hillery most electable...I truly believe the top five Dems are very electable...

Your admiration is based upon her setting up the campaign....I still support candidates on the specificity of their vision and their courage
to talk about it....
The only campaign sticker I have so far is
"Don't force me to vote for Hillary"

by DenverD 2007-08-13 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

However of all of the democratic candidates, Clinton's proposals and where she would lead the nation is the the most bare bones for specifirty and with no arching theme except that she is experienced.

No Health plan
Very little in the foreign policy area
Education there is nothing much at all.
Energy is so general it could pass as a republican plan

Finally their would be very little change from Bush, except incrementally.

by BDM 2007-08-13 08:17AM | 0 recs
I call Bullshit

Go back, consult the record.  The record shows Bullshit.

Team Hillary is also team Terry Mcauliffe, does anyone remember that guy?  Anyone remember the DLC and how they ran the Democratic party into the ground?  

I call Bullshit.

Read your damn article!  Parse it for what it really says.  The purpose isn't to inform anyone about Hillary.  This sounds like it draws from Clinton campaign resources in order to play the reader, to treat them like clay to be molded into a Hillary supporter.  It has that stump speech/focused grouped sound to it, where they try to suck people in.  It sounds like astroturfing.

I call Bullshit.

You talk about a stupid procedural vote as a reason to support Hillary, but when she had a real chance to stand up to Bush, she caved in a craven vote to authorize this war.  She was warned that this war was bullshit, and at the time she went right along with the GOP in knocking down people who questioned it.  And now she claims, she was only authorizing "coercive diplomacy", and never expected Bush to go to war without letting the inspectors do their job.  Any moron with half a brain remembers at the time that this was a defacto declaration of war.  The had the troops primed and ready on the border.  Combat logistics were already flowing into Kuwait.  Everyone knew that if that resolution passed Congress it meant war.  At the time, she was more hawk on this war then Joe Liebermen.  She stood before the American people and made a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I call Bullshit.

Pure, unadulterated bullshit.  

by pjv 2007-08-13 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: I call Bullshit

Well isn't that special.

by DoIT 2007-08-13 08:57AM | 0 recs
Where she lacks preparation

Sen. Clinton hasn't said why she wants to be president. The other candidates say why at every opportunity. Mrs. Clinton says that she has the experience - but that isn't a reason, that's still in the desire column.

There is a lot she doesn't say; for instance, what is in her health care program?

If the candidates can't produce in writing, with the platitudes edited out, the plans for universal health care and for trade, taxes, military spending, Iraq, foreign relations, worker rights, and how they intend to win red states for the Democratic Party, then I say they are wasting this long long campaign, because they aren't prepared.

The operative word for the Clinton campaign is Clinton, the name, not the person. The person stays safely tucked behind the persona.

by mrobinsong 2007-08-13 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Where she lacks preparation

I could not disagree with this post more.

1. All candidates have stated why they want to be president.  To claim that the others have while Clinton has not is ridiculous.   It makes no sense.   What quotes can you bring for the other candidates that I would not be able to match with quotes from Clinton?   Let's have at it then, so you can prove your point, ok?

2. Health Care Program - Clinton's health care program is being unveiled in three parts.  We have not seen part 2 and 3 yet, but they are coming, so to claim that there is nothing because it has not been released yet makes no sense.  It is coming, so be a bit patient and you will be rewarded.  

3. Taxes?  Are you kidding me?  Foreign relations?  Iraq?  

Clinton has been very forthcoming about these things.  In fact, even though her "residual forces" plan is basically indistinguishalbe from Obama's and Edwards' her fleshing out what that actually might mean while other candidates are never forthcoming is what her opponents make hay with.  Do YOU know how many troops Obama will be keeping in Iraq as part of his residual force, how many he will remove from Iraq, and when?   I have not seen a thing, and it is interesting to see that even his supporters seem very nonchalant about not needing to get the true nuts and bolts from Obama in regards to this.

As to taxes, Obama wants to "sunset" Bush's tax cuts, which means not renew when they come up for renewal.  That leaves Bush's tax cuts in the books until 2011.   In contrast, to finanace many social programs both Clinton and Edwards have called for an actual immediate repeal of Bush's tax cuts, which means taking away the tax breaks, which were meant only as a temporary stimulus, in 2009, a full two years before Obama envisions working on the Bush-tax- cut issue.  

The operative word is that you need to delve deeper into issues before making sweeping claims.  

by georgep 2007-08-13 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Where she lacks preparation

If Obama had delayed his healthcare plan everybody would have been all over his ass for not having one at this time.

When his her plan coming, after Feb. 5th?

by BDM 2007-08-13 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Where she lacks preparation

Why?  He is constantly unveiling "new initiatives."  I am sure he will be doing so until the election.  The lack of whatever it is he is proposing that given month before "the big speech" is not used to his detriment.  

I see that you are not addressing Obama's major shortcoming on his Iraq proposals re: residual forces.  Do YOU know how many residual forces he intends to keep in Iraq for the various projects he envisions?  Do you not think that he should explain much more about his Iraq plan (like Clinton did in the NY Times piece)?  Seems counterproductive to give him a mulligan like that.

by georgep 2007-08-13 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Where she lacks preparation

She just say's she is in it to win. She never talks about where she wants to take the american people. Their is no vision like JFK.


by BDM 2007-08-13 11:10AM | 0 recs
DLC Code

...Democratic candidate who would be willing to make the tough decisions...

When ever I read or hear about "tough decisions" it always seems to come from a Blue Dog or DLC Democrat who is about to vote with the Republican party.

by michael in chicago 2007-08-13 10:11AM | 0 recs

These votes are then always rationed away as "not meaning anything" anyway.

by michael in chicago 2007-08-13 10:12AM | 0 recs
The weakness of this post
stems from the fact that the part of the thesis implying that the other candidates, framed as "weak Democrats", cannot match the Republicans blow for blow, is not supported by anything that follows it. hwc provides no evidence that Obama or Edwards or Richardson fail to meet this criteria.

This is typical frontrunner logic that presumes that those who are lagging in polls and/or funding are weaker.

I will admit that Hillary looks better than the rest of the crowd in debates, but in the general that will have no impact, except perhaps a negative one for Hillary, as illustrated in the past two elections, and in 1988 when Dukakis was wiping the floor with George "Thousand points of light" Bush. If anything, the debating styles of Obama and Richardson will be much more effective in the general election, considering middle America's desire to elect someone they can have a beer with. Clinton will never be a hit with these folks.
by anevarez 2007-08-13 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The weakness of this post

hwc provides no evidence that Obama or Edwards or Richardson fail to meet this criteria.

It's not a diary about Obama or Edwards or Richardson.

Although I have my lapses in the comments (forgive me lord, for a I have sinned), I really don't have anything bad I want to say about the other Democratic candidates.

And, I made a conscious decision when I agreed to do these front page entries that I was going to stick to Clinton's positives. I'll let the Tuesday, Wed, and Thurs. diary writers handle the other candidates. I don't think that slamming the other candidates is really what Jerome had in mind when he extended the invitations.

by hwc 2007-08-13 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Well, if what you say is true, then Hillary won't really prepare to make good decisions until a little over five years from now.  Why?  Because since 1950, only two Democrats have won second terms, and since she'd rather get elected than make right choices on things (e.g. Iraq), that will continue to be her position until November 9th, 2012.

by notapipe 2007-08-13 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: It's the Preparation, Stupid!

Hey, check out this short, satirical "You Tube" video blasting O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and other right-wing pundits.  You'll love it!  And, it's done by an evangelical pastor! E

by thetruthsetsfree 2007-08-13 01:28PM | 0 recs


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