Hillary's Record of Failure
by bored now, Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 05:42:49 AM EDT
many supporters cite hillary's experience as a reason they support her. i have a little test when i want to understand something -- i ask my neighbors. what, i asked, is hillary's experience? first lady (most common answer). hillarycare (second). senator. sure, what did she do as senator? she voted for the war.
this is not a record of accomplishment. now let's be upfront. i'm not talking about hillary's actual experience, which is certainly something she can be proud of. i'm talking about voter's impressions of hillary's experience. the reason for this is that hillary is so well known that people have firm impressions of her, impressions that they are unlikely to abandon, no matter what facts are presented to them.
hillary's experience, from the electorate's point of view, can be summarized in two words: iraq and hillarycare. this is not a record of accomplishment or a record that democrats want to run on.
hillary's work on national health care probably makes her most vulnerable. in a secretive commission, much like cheney's energy commission, hillary devised one of the most complicated and convoluted health care initiatives ever. president clinton, if he had one, had a mandate for delivering health care reform on the national level. but the problem, the failure, was the lack of leadership that followed.
i'd mention that hillary was an awful saleswoman for her health care proposal, but that's not important. what was important is that it gave her a reputation for being extraordinarily secretive and for not building coalitions behind her initiatives.
hillary's attitude was, 'i solved the problem, here it is.' oh, and accept it. you're either with me or ag'in me. does this sound familiar? when the bushies did it, we were up in arms. well, lots of people where up in arms when hillary did it, too. health care reform was defeated by a broad coalition of opponents, not because health care reform was a bad idea -- even major corporations support the concept -- but because hillary exhibited inept leadership. she didn't build a broad coalition and she didn't think she needed to. she was the decider. and she was stunned when democrats in congress didn't fall in line.
is there anything to learn here? i won't pretend that hillary didn't learn anything from this debacle. but she never learned to build broad coalitions in the proposal process. she's still secretive about policy making. she still feels that she needs to be. she's still arrogant about her own analytical abilities and doesn't really appreciate the legislative process (at least that's what the senators i talk to say). she is still seen as a bully. hillary did learn that you need to count votes, and it seems that she's gotten better at this. but this doesn't make up for the other weaknesses that still continue.
then there is hillary's vote on the war. i don't need to mention that she didn't read the nie. she was pre-disposed towards attacking saddam, who had been a thorn in the side of the clinton administration. she shared the pent-up anger at saddam with the bush administration. this guy had been poking the usa in the eye for more than a decade.
i'm sorry, but i'm not impressed by anyone who gets conned by a guy with, what, a sixth grade education? there was plenty of reasons to doubt that iraq had wmds or that they had any connection with al qaeda, including the fact that her church declared an invasion of iraq immoral and sought to involve her in delivering that message to the president. but if you are pre-disposed towards seeing them, that's what you see. hillary wasn't objective and she exhibited poor judgment here because she had (too much) confidence in her own experience as first lady.
what is more problematic is that hillary refuses to learn any lessons from this failure. she wants to blame someone else. bush misled her, she says. hillary relies on fatally flawed logic to reach that conclusion. she bullied others with her own experience in the white house, talking about all the intel that the white house has access to, spinning a yarn that helped bush mislead the nation. she forcefully argued for the invasion, based on her experience in the white house and how saddam acted during that period.
hillary's experience, meaning the experience that the electorate recognizes, is a record of failure. by devising an extraordinarily complicated health care proposal, she reinforced the narrative that liberals want to increase taxes and institute big government programs. she did not build confidence in the fact that there are things that government needs to do, including health care, and that they can't be done more efficiently by the market. and she was just plain wrong about iraq. unlike edwards, hillary forcefully argued the case to invade iraq and used her own white house experience to back it up. this is not a record to be proud of.
hillary has more experience than the other candidates, there is no question about that. but she has demonstrated bad judgment in the course of that experience, which negates any natural advantage that her experience brings to the table. one of the things i see when i look at hillary's experience is some of the worst things i see in the bush administration -- secretiveness, arrogance about their own decisions, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to build broad, even multipartisan (because i'm thinking internationally, as well) coalitions to achieve their goals. clinton partisans will no doubt be offended by comparing a hillary administration to the bush administration, but will hillary really be different from the bush? really?
how can we tell? because i don't derive that difference from her record...