T Nation

Election '08 - Hillary Watch

I think this thread would be good for interesting observations about people who consider themselves candidates in 2008. To start with, some observations about Hillary’s feigning move toward the center (but other candidates are good fodder too – Mitt Romney has been vacationing in MI, a big swing state, and NH, a huge primary state…):

http://slate.msn.com/id/2123392/

[Scroll down if you follow the link]

From Josh Gerstein’s N.Y. Sun report on Hillary Clinton’s speech to the DLC ( http://www.nysun.com/article/17534 ):

The potential candidates and their staffs were treated to a first-hand reminder of how Mrs. Clinton’s sheer star power threatens to skew any race for the nomination. The senator’s delivery yesterday was strong, but far from her most electric.

Is Hillary Clinton ever electric? I deny it. Her speaking style is controlled and insistent–at best, strong–and her substance quotient hovers close to zero. Expectations of electricity are expectations that will be disappointed. …

Update: Gerstein and other reporters ( http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-dlc26jul26,0,1878987.story?coll=la-home-headlines ; http://www.nydailynews.com/07-26-2005/news/wn_report/story/331560p-283341c.html ) saw in Hillary’s DLC speech more of her now-famous move to the center. Here’s Gerstein:

Mrs. Clinton also set forth the litany of socially conservative points that are part of her regular repertoire, such as a call to reduce the number of abortions and to protect children from destructive forces in popular culture. At moments, she voiced themes that sounded downright conservative. “We can restore America to its historic devotion to opportunity, responsibility, and the common good, with big dreams, new ideas, and old-fashioned values,” the senator said.

I’m not so sure. The speech (which you can read here: http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=241451&& ) doesn’t sound too conservative to me. For one thing, Hillary avoids completely the obvious hot-button move-to-the-right issue of immigration, a subject on which she’s made conservative noises in the past. Her language on abortion pledges to “support a woman’s right to choose”–as Joe Klein has noted ( http://www.time.com/time/columnist/klein/article/0,9565,1059000,00.html ), her abortion statements are “centrist” mainly in attitude, not substance. And if reporters are willing to give Hillary credit for being “downright conservative” just because she uses the phrase “old fashioned values”–well, reporters are cheap dates!

I’d always thought this Cheap Date Syndrome helped Hillary mainly with the Left, which loves Hillary so much it could conceivably be bought off with a bit of Bush-bashing that covers a dramatic Hillary shift to the right. But it’s now also clear that her shift to the right doesn’t have to be that dramatic, because the equally Cheap Date press is ready to interpret even the subtlest, most insubstantial shading as part of Hillary’s New Moderation. She can get credit for centrism without having to actually take too many positions that the left would disagree with (and hold against any another politician). Paleoliberals can love her, the DLC can love her, and she never has to say anything, either leftish or moderatish, that commits her publicly to a position that might annoy someone. Her primal drive for vagueness is free to trump her drive to the center.

The only problem is that the resulting biteless rhetoric is almost totally uninspiring. Read the speech, and see if you are actually moved to cheer at any point. (I was, only once, at the line: “The Republicans abandoned arithmetic; well, we brought it back.”) Hillary’s instinctive contentlessness is both the symbol and part of the substance of what may be the biggest doubt she has to overcome–not the issue of whether she’s right or left, or the issue of whether she’s “tough” enough on defense, but the issue of whether she’s tough generally. When has she told off or even firmly-but-gently rejected someone in her own coalition? When has she ever stood up, in public, against, say, a big union? When has she pulled off a difficult legislative triumph? ** We know she’s smart and cautious and flexible. We need to know she has balls. No more cheap dates!

P.S.: In the options-preserving department, Hillary’s DLC statement on Social Security does leave her a breathtakingly large amount of room to make major un-paleoliberal changes. Here is her vision of the Democratic future:

And in 2020, Social Security is safe from the ideologues. It is still providing survivor benefits and benefits for the disabled and providing millions of retired baby boomers with benefits without the threat of bankruptcy while all Americans, regardless of income, have more options to amass additional retirement savings. [Emph. added]

Note that this statement is perfectly consistent with a radical means-testing of the Social Security system, in which the affluent get cut out (but still “millions of retired baby boomers get benefits” because they’re not affluent). The non-Cheap Date Centrist version of this sentence wouldn’t simply (and covertly) leave the means-test option open. It would advocate or at least explicitly suggest cutting the benefits of the affluent. Even John Kerry did that much. You could call it starting a “National Conversation!” ( http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci.cfm?kaid=126&subid=166&contentid=253406 )

**–Don’t answer “welfare reform” to any of these questions. I do think Hillary favored the 1996 bill, but if so she did it in private, which allowed her left-wing Cheap Dates to tell themselves she surely must have actually opposed it ( http://www.kausfiles.com/archive/index.07.13.99.html ). Meanwhile, her strategic contribution to the bill was passive–she just didn’t block her husband. Not ballsy!)

Update: Ted Frank is not impressed with Hillary’s moderation on the medical-malpractice issue ( http://www.pointoflaw.com/archives/001378.php ). 5:25 P.M.

Hillary is a horrible speaker. The more she talks, the more she will get herself in trouble.

She has done a good job so far of criticizing Bush for the war effort without mentioning the war effort.

Her liberalism on many issues shines through. She only looks moderate next to the other leading voices of the Democratic Party.

She also has done a good job reaching across the aisle on non-controversial bills.

I find it utterly amazing that her potential competitors for the nomination keep cutting their own throats with their incediary speeches.

If the nomination was today, she would probably win in a landslide. I don’t think she can maintain what she is doing through the pressure of the primaries.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
She only looks moderate next to the other leading voices of the Democratic Party.[/quote]

A caller on a local radio show commented that one reason for the dems to keep screamin Dean around is sohe can say all the wild things, take all the flak and Hillary can look moderate by comparison.

If Hilary keeps giving speeches like the one yesterday, God help the Democrats!

But who are Republicans going to run in '08? That’s the connundrum:

Guliani (sp?) - Your prototypical opportunist, back-scratching, hand-shaking politician…he’d lose.

McCain - hell no! he’d lose (is he even are real conservative?).

Jeb - come 'on, nepotism issues aside, he’s a worse orator than both W and Hilary.

Please Colin Powell, please, please run for President in '08. You’re our only hope!

Hillary is the de-facto Democratic Candidate for 2008. It’s her nomination to lose.

She is a crafty politician and the consumate planner. Unfortunately she has had a lot of those plans go south due to bad advice, arrogance and Bill.

The shift to the center is interesting and not all unexpected. Bill was a centrist campaigner and he is no doubt tutoring her to do the same. The team she has surrounded herself with is suspect and I would look for a wholesale realignment after 2006. Her likely foes do not have the financial muscle to keep upwith her. That alone will insure a nomination. She is the star of the party right now and it’s kingmaker. I think her speaking style is weak and not at all at the level Bill could reach out to a crowd with. It will get better but she is no natural.

Bill is her greatest asset and biggest risk at this point. He may go before 2008 who knows. I don’t think she can count on the big union vote in 2008. That’s big. The Afl-Cio is splitting up and the majority of the rank and file do not share the Democratic Parties ideal any longer. Specifically gun control, gay marriage and at some level abortion. Hillary has a fine line to balance on with this block of voters.

The competition drops off steeply after Hillary. Kerry no doubt, maybe Edwards. A couple of others will also stake the flag in hopes of more exposure for 2012.

I don’t see a big name for the Republicans emerging yet. Love to see Rudi come out but he has a lot of baggage but it would be nullified by Hillary. Don’t know if the base would support him. McCain no way. He could run as a Democrat. Condi has potential.

My guess she’ll run and lose in 2008, then make a stronger run in 2012.

[quote]ScottL wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
She only looks moderate next to the other leading voices of the Democratic Party.

A caller on a local radio show commented that one reason for the dems to keep screamin Dean around is sohe can say all the wild things, take all the flak and Hillary can look moderate by comparison.

[/quote]

Probably. It wouldn’t be a bad strategy. I just wish the Democrats had a few more. Some ideas on policy would be nice as well.

[quote]PCH wrote:
If Hilary keeps giving speeches like the one yesterday, God help the Democrats!

But who are Republicans going to run in '08? That’s the connundrum:

McCain - hell no! he’d lose (is he even are real conservative?).

[/quote]

I wish they would. He is a voice of reason, and both parties respect him. He seems more honest than any other politican around and more likely to get bipartisan support and get things done. I don’t really identify as a Democrat or a Republican. I would most likely vote for McCain over any of the democratic hopefuls. I think a lot of people who DO consider themselves Democrats would as well.

Rick Santorum (PA)

I suspect Hillary is the person to beat in the Democratic primaries, but I have to think there is an ambitious Democrat thinking that Hillary’s baggage will condemn them to four more years of a Republican presidency and will decide to give her a real contest. Evan Baugh?

Also, the DLC has been making a lot of media noise of late, and I suspect a true centrist will get their backing.

As for the GOP in 08?

I’ll dissent from a lot of my fellow Republicans and defend John McCain - though I don’t think he will run. There is a difference in a maverick and a moderate, and I think he is much more conservative than most people think.

Condi? I’d be keen on that. She has quite a resume and is a genuine intellect.

Romney? I wish I knew more about him. I am sure I will get to learn in the coming years.

Santorum? I think he wants to run, but he will come off as a little too radical for his own good, even if he isn’t actually that extreme.

Frist? Smart, but I think a better legislator than executive. Does not appear to be a man of vision or charima, and that could hurt his chances.

[quote]ntroych wrote:

But who are Republicans going to run in '08?

Rick Santorum (PA)

[/quote]

Santorum might run, but I don’t see him winning the nomination.

He might lose his Senate seat too.

He is pretty loud and opinionated. That does not work well for Presidential candidates.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
When has she pulled off a difficult legislative triumph? ** We know she’s smart and cautious and flexible. We need to know she has balls. No more cheap dates![/quote]

As someone that lives in NYS, I can say that I’ve been very happy with the results that Hillary has gotten for us since she’s been elected.

I heard all the talk of “she’ll forget about NY once she gets elected” from her opponents.

And guess what, my father who works in the largest hospital in the Rochester area says that Hillary has been through there more than her predecessor ever was.

Hillary also was one of the key figures in the fight to keep some Upstate NY VA Hospitals that had been targetted for closure open.

Is she perfect? Of course not.

But, she has been a rather effective Senator from where I sit. Especially for a rookie Senator who was tagged as a carpetbagger who wouldn’t care about her district once the election was over because she had her eyes on a bigger prize.

I think Romney is a very interesting speculation at the moment.

He’s a Republican governor of the bluest of blue states; he’s very religious but he’s Mormon, not Catholic or Protestant; he hasn’t nailed down a position vis a vis abortion, and he’s handled the gay marriage stuff very well.

Plus he was a very successful businessman (a private-equity guy no less, from Bain Capital), and he just looks like a President (don’t discount that fact - the man is photo and telegenic, and in this era that goes a long way).

I’ve met him a couple times, as I volunteered a little on his gubernatorial campaign when I should have been studying for the Bar - he definitely comes across as a sincere guy in person.

An interesting question: How will his Mormonism play out?

Some intersting dark horse speculation: Governor Mark Warner of South Carolina, and Senator George Allen of Virginia.

ADDENDUM:

Here’s a link to an Atlantic Monthly article on Romney, which is interesting, and not too hard on him given The Atlantic Monthly’s general editoral leanings:

[quote]PCH wrote:
If Hilary keeps giving speeches like the one yesterday, God help the Democrats!

But who are Republicans going to run in '08? That’s the connundrum:

Guliani (sp?) - Your prototypical opportunist, back-scratching, hand-shaking politician…he’d lose.
[/quote]

First off he won’t run. I work for him, and I am certain he won’t.

I would say Mccain has the best shot. While he is not conservative, he is well liked by almost everyone, and that goes a long way. I found myself wanting to vote for him in 2k even though he was not conservative. I didn’t vote for him, but there was a short time there when it had crossed my mind.

Agreed, I don’t think he would have a shot either.

I think his days of running for office are over. He seems to have lost his passion and fire for a lot of it.

As far as the Dems go, here’s an interesting one to watch:

http://buzz.nationalreview.com/071034.asp

Mover and Shaker
07/27 01:25 PM
The Associated Press reports Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack has formed a political action committee, Heartland PAC, to help Democrat gubernatorial candidates in 38 states over the next two years ( http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050726/NEWS09/50726009/1056 ). As the AP notes:

The naming of the PAC is far from a coincidence. Vilsack and other potential Democratic candidates for outside of Washington often argue that Democrats must offer messages that resonate in the nation?s heartland.

This has definitely been a busy 2008 news cycle for Vilsack. First, he was named head of the Democratic Leadership Council. Then, news broke of his PAC and associated website. Finally, Vilsack has also announced he will not seek a third term as governor. All signs he is seriously moving towards a 2008 campaign. And coming from Iowa, he can at least be guaranteed a leading role in the primary state.

Boston,

Interesting piece on Vilsack.

And I think the DLC is primed for a big move for 08. Their press pieces of late are as critical of the current crop of the Dems as some GOP commentary.

The midterm 2006 elections will be a Little Big Horn for the factions of the Democratic party.

As things sit now, i.e. the Democratic Party in total disarray, I think the Republicans could go to any zoo in the U.S. and pick out a chimp and win in 2008.

The Dems have no message, no plan, and no leadership.

Sounds like George may be running too!

Pataki Says He Won’t Run for Re-Election By MARC HUMBERT, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 18 minutes ago

ALBANY, N.Y. - Republican Gov. George Pataki said Wednesday he will not seek a fourth term next year. “It’s the right thing to do,” he told The Associated Press during an interview in his state Capitol office. He formally announced his intentions later at a news conference.

“We’ve done a lot together, and yet there is always more to do,” he said. “But there is one thing I’ve understood from my very first day in public office: That as elected officials we are only temporary stewards of the people’s trust.”

When asked about a possible presidential run, Pataki, 60, said “That’s for down the road. I’m not ruling anything in or out, but my goal is to be the best governor I can be for the next year and a half.”

Recent polls in New York had shown Pataki trailing state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, in a possible 2006 gubernatorial matchup and the governor’s approval rating had slipped to an all-time low among New York voters earlier this year.

Pataki said he felt it was the “right time” to step aside.

Pataki brought down Democratic icon Mario Cuomo in 1994 and helped pull New York through the horror of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“We’ve been through very tough times since 2001 and now I can look at the future of the state with the confidence that you should have,” he said.

Earlier, Pataki began calling other elected New York officials to give them the news. The governor broke the news to more than two dozen current and former aides and advisers at a dinner Tuesday night at the Executive Mansion in Albany.

“I salute his years of work and dedication to the people of New York, and wish him and his family the best,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered a front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The governor was to meet with top financial supporters, who could bankroll a presidential bid, in New York City on Wednesday night.

Pataki had been under pressure from some fellow Republicans and others to make a decision about his re-election intentions to give the party a chance to be competitive against the high-profile Spitzer.

Melding a liberal social agenda that included support for gay and abortion rights with a tax-cutting, tough-on-crime conservatism, Pataki easily won re-election in 1998 and 2002 in a state where there are 5 million Democrats and 3 million Republicans.

In 1999, Pataki flirted with a possible run for the GOP presidential nomination, but finding few takers he quickly threw his support to George W. Bush.

A year ahead of Bush at Yale University during their undergraduate years, Pataki was included on the Texas governor’s short list of potential running mates in 2000.

Aides to Rudolph Giuliani, the marquee Republican of New York politics, have said the former New York City mayor is too busy with private business interests to run for governor. Giuliani has been leading in national polls looking at the race for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s Republican mayor, said earlier this week he has no interest in the governorship. Without Pataki, Giuliani or Bloomberg, the New York GOP may be scrambling for a competitive candidate.

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who moved back to his native New York five years ago, has said he would seriously look at running if Pataki bowed out. There has even been some talk of the party turning to billionaire B. Thomas Golisano, who has already run three losing races for governor as the candidate of the Independence Party.

[quote]rainjack wrote:
As things sit now, i.e. the Democratic Party in total disarray, I think the Republicans could go to any zoo in the U.S. and pick out a chimp and win in 2008.

The Dems have no message, no plan, and no leadership.[/quote]

Yeah-I agree. And the Republicans (at least a lot of them-not all) have bad messages, poor plans, and lousy leadership. I find it very disheartening.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
Yeah-I agree. And the Republicans (at least a lot of them-not all) have bad messages, poor plans, and lousy leadership. I find it very disheartening.
[/quote]

The Republican party(on the whole) is a well oiled machine compared to the DNC.

I will agree that on an individual basis, the current crop of leadership is sorely missing their cajones when it comes to leadership in Congress.

[quote]rainjack wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
Yeah-I agree. And the Republicans (at least a lot of them-not all) have bad messages, poor plans, and lousy leadership. I find it very disheartening.

The Republican party(on the whole) is a well oiled machine compared to the DNC.

I will agree that on an individual basis, the current crop of leadership is sorely missing their cajones when it comes to leadership in Congress.[/quote]

Yes. I don’t agree with all of the Republicans’ policies. Some of them I do agree with. But in terms of politicing (if that’s a word) and actually functioning, it’s not even close. The Democrats are just pathethic.