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« That loud sharp sound you just heard was the sound of millions of Democrats slapping their hands against their foreheads | Main | How smart I'm not. Part Two. »


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Stewart Dean

Lance, I'm a New Yorker as apparently you are, and, in this column, you say you appreciate Hillary.
"She's been my senator for seven years. She was the admirable, engaged, intelligent, activist wife of the only successful Democratic President I can remember. As far as my experience goes, Barack Obama might as well have fallen to earth in 2004."
Hillary says she's the experienced Dem candidate. Would you (since you appreciate her) or anyone else, *please* outline what she has actually done and taken the lead on, what her superior experience consists of?
I don't see it. Yes, she has been articulate and present during Bill's presidency. Yes, she's been a decent senator for NY. But experience usually means more than just being there, any more than taking a shower means you're experience.
What leadership, what initiative has she taken, particularly as a senator? Being at Bill's side, even being his confidante and adviser is *not* really a "I can and have done it" achievement.
Yes, she did the Health Care Project...and botched it royally, pi%%ing off everyone.
What major bill, major project has she created and spearheaded (not just sponsored) as our Senator? There were are are targets of opportunity without end....but I can't think of one example of her raising the Democratic banners of idealism, fairness, equality and justice in concrete action?
In our local area, there was a big corporate push to build an enormous coal-fired cement plant on a n unspoiled stretch of the Hudson River. The local environmentalists got nothing from her but avoidance and empty promises until they fought it down on their own....whereupon she showed up at the celebratory dinner and gave a speech! I'd be happy to send you an first person email from someone that was an eyewitness to it all.

From what I have seen, Hillary is, pure and simple, a power operative who thinks first and last of her power...and never really uses it except for her own aggrandizement, like Mario Cuomo.

She talks of her "experience"...but saying something doesn't make it so. Please show me the beef.
Granted, Obama hasn't much in that arena either, but it's Clinton doing the 3AM phone call thing, claiming experience...which I don't see her having. I just don't see any there there....

Honestly wishing to know........


Lance, I totally agree with everything in this post. I am a Hillary Clinton supporter because I truly believe she would govern well, especially with a big Democratic majority in the House and Senate. I am not sure about Obama because, as you have said, he seems to have sprung from the head of Zeus in 2004. I know nothing about him but if he is the nominee, I will vote for him.


My first choice out of the Democratic field was Clinton. My second was probably Edwards. Many moons ago, when this lava bath first began, however, I was prepared to vote as happily for Biden or Richardson or Obama - anyone, really, provided he/she didn't come with an "R" trailing his/her name.

But especially not Thompson or Giuliani or McCain. Most especially not one of them.

Worms, though, seem to have this habit of turning. Contrary to popular belief, I don't find Hillary to be the most cutthroat, negative candidate. I do agree with you that she is often clumsy, at times even ham-fisted, in her handling of the press, and lacking the happy-shiny-oratory of Obama, necessarily comes off as less than she is. She also has a public history that follows her, replete with anti-Clinton invective and right-wing fairy tales made up to scare us all back under the covers, lest the witch actually find us at home in our beds.

By that same token, Senator Obama is a masterful orator. If nothing else, the national worship of Reagan as the Great Communicator proves the value we put on such things. Obama could give a speech about anything, up to and including the birthing process of chickens, and he would probably command a rapt audience. I say this not to denigrate him, but as a testament to his very great skill. He has little public history and therefore very little baggage (for now). He has also done a better job of corralling and taming the press.

There came a point, however, when the soaring oratory and lack of baggage and press command could not, for me, overcome the belief that his campaign was, in fact, more divisive than Clinton's, that his "new politics" were nothing but silks for the Emperor, that his promised "change" meant the news at seven instead of six. And at that point, the point where his campaign dared me to dislike him, I finally, reluctantly, took them up on their offer.

I wanted to like Obama. I wanted to vote for him with all of the joy my silly little heart could muster, but his campaign saw to it that such would never be the case for me.

So if he's the nominee (which seems likely), I will vote for him. I will vote for him because of the coattails you mentioned, and the Supreme Court, and healthcare, and because McCain is such an utter wanker. I will vote for Obama if he's nominated because I will not have a better alternative.

But I will not *enjoy* it, not as I once could have done.

I wish all of his supporters could understand how much that truly, deeply saddens me.


Well, Lance, you're lucky--I think--at least to HAVE a candidate to support.

My candidate of choice was Gore. I gave money to the Draft Gore movement, I prayed, and held my breath until I turned blue. I thought that his years in the wilderness had taught him some key truths about himself and the political process, and that he would make a better president in 2008 than he would have in 2000. Unfortunately, one of the key truths Gore learned was that he didn't want to be in politics any more. One down.

My next candidate was Edwards. He seemed to talk about the issues in a way I liked--in fact, he seemed to talk about the issues, period, while Obama and Clinton were sniping at each other. But he didn't even last long enough for me to vote for him on Super Tuesday.

I mostly liked Hillary during Bill's presidency. Not always, but mostly. I thought she was smart and seemed to have a good sense of humor about herself.

I first heard about Barack Obama in an almost reverential New Yorker profile written about him when he was still an Illinois state senator. It was really clear that the author of the piece expected great things from him, saw him as a different kind of politician, one who continued to listen and act long after the campaign was over.

But I didn't want either of them to run for president. Yeah, Hillary's been a good enough senator for NY for these past 7 years--but so was Al D'Amato, the original Senator Pothole, and I wouldn't want him for president. I didn't vote for Hillary the first time around because I felt she was a carpet-bagger, and I didn't vote for her the second time because she'd voted for that damn invasion of Iraq and didn't seem to regret it for a moment. Virtually no important vote of hers on foreign or domestic policy has been in line with my own progressive politics. And when I send her emailed comments I get facile letters back defending her bad judgment.

I ended up voting for the Green candidate both times. So how can I vote for president for someone whom I never could support as a senator?

I kept waiting for Obama to do something to impress me. He did the day of his speech about race, although I found myself wishing he'd become a leader of the American black community, in the mold of MLK jr, so that they had a true, intelligent, insightful person to follow, instead of Jesse Jackson and *shudder* Al Sharpton (sorry, Al; you are NEVER surmounting Tawana Brawley where I'm concerned). But, while I'm more impressed with him as an orator and a thinker than, necessarily, as a politician or a potential leader of the free world, he hasn't really done anything to piss me off yet.

Clinton has. From the tears to the whining to the employment of the bludgeon of fear as if Rove himself were creating her campaign ads, she's made me queasy. The queasiness began, actually, about 2 years ago, when her presidential ambitions were first being whispered about, and she suddenly appeared at a Congressional hearing without her traditional neck scarf but with a honking great gold cross around her neck. Can anyone say "pander"?

And from that moment onward I think that she has been about as naked a political animal as it's possible to be. Even more naked than Bill (whom I loved), because she lacks his compensatory charisma. And when, recently, she pulled out that "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen" line on Obama, as if none of us remembered that a scant month or so ago she was kvetching about unfair coverage in the middle of a freakin' debate--to the point that SNL parodied it--that was pretty much it for me. That's when I decided that I couldn't in good conscience support her. Because she disgusts me.

Oh, if she ends up being the candidate against McCain, of course I'll vote for her. But it will be with me holding my nose. If Obama becomes the candidate, I'll vote with bated breath, too, but it will be from anticipation, expectation, and a touch of anxiety.

Bill Altreuter

Seriously, can you name two things that HRC has done as a senator that you like? I've said before that I wish I liked her, that I like the idea of her-- but when it comes down to what she has actually done in office that I support or agree with she has been a sad disappointment.

It seems to me that it is the idea of Hillary Clinton that people are voting for-- particularly women. I know a lot of women who are extremely motivated Clinton supporters, and I am consistently surprised by it. These are people who are every bit as liberal as I consider myself, who seem to be moved mostly because they have been waiting all their lives to vote for a woman. I wonder if they'd have felt the same way about Elizabeth Dole, but I'm afraid to ask because I don't want to sound as though I'm being reductive.



She voted against John Roberts, she voted against Sam Alito. She voted against the bankruptcy bill (and would have voted against it a second time if she hadn't been in the hospital waiting room while Bill was having his bypass). She has an 80 plus percent positive rating from the Drum Major Institute on issues important to the middle class, and it would be higher except that she missed that second bankruptcy vote. She challenged the Bush Leaguers long and hard over post 9/11 funding for NYC and the victims' families. There's no getting around or away from her vote on the AUMF and the flag burning thing was infuriating. She's been a good if not great Senator. This is more than I know about Obama.


HRC's legislative record has been mostly undistinguished. It's her work as a Senator that impresses me. She shows up, masters the details, does the homework. What this tells me is that she will be a not particularly innovative President and probably a more cautious one than I'd like to see. But she will pay attention to the details, she will tackle many if not all the issues I care about, she will be on the right side of most of the debates, and she will work well with the Democratic leadership in Congress.

As for issues affecting the Hudson River, Robert Kennedy Jr's in her corner, I figure he knows something.

And on Hillarycare '93. I'm convinced she's learned a lot in 15 years, but that's just me. But, while she could have done a better job, it wasn't her fault that a whole bunch of conservative, business-friendly Democratic Senators who hated her husband from the get-go voted against the plan. Btw, one of those Senators is advising Obama on his health care plans and another one, Sam Nunn, just endorsed him.

But all that is part of my main point---I don't care which one wins as long as the Democrats pick up a bunch more seats in both houses.

Bill Altreuter

Okay, I'm a victim of my own hyperbole. HRC has voted like a Democrat, and that shouldn't be too lightly dismissed. I'll add that she worked quietly to keep the upstate military bases open. That's pork barrel stuff, but the loss of these would have doomed the economies of a couple of areas that are already about as far gone as going gets.

And I'll give you that she is solid on the actual work of governance. It's the least we should expect, but because it is rare, I suppose she deserves points for that, too.

Nevertheless, when it has been time to take a tough stand she has been no better than okay, and when the country was being railroaded into this horrible war she went right along, and I have a real hard time getting past that. One principled stand on something else might have softened my opinion about this, but I'm not seeing any in the list you proffer. Voting against Roberts and Alito was too easy, too late to count.

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