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Posted by on Apr 20, 2008 in Politics | 13 comments

Of The Remaining Two, I’ll Go With Hillary

In a great field of potential Democratic nominees, a field that originally included Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and John Edwards, the Democratic Party’s politically-correct activists (We have to have a woman President! We have to have a black President!), melding perfectly with a press obsessed with novelty and gotcha-ism, managed to leave us with the two least experienced, least qualified, least likely to be elected pair of survivors—Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

So be it. Like many long-term Democratic voters I’m used to not ending up with the best choices. We got what we got. And of these two survivors I opt for Clinton. Reluctantly.

The reason is simple, and to my way of thinking obvious. She has a better personal grip on foreign policy than Obama, who I believe has her trumped in most other respects. The foreign policy hole that has been dug for this country is now so deep, so filled with horrible consequences if steps to rectify the damages Bush & Company hath wrought are not taken immediately, that a new American president can’t be left to learn on the job—the way our present decider had to do because of his own lack of experience in this realm, and indeed, the way John F. Kennedy had to do after he was elected President.

The Obama people say that their man will be surrounded by foreign affairs experts from the get-go. That these experts will certainly not be of the sort found in the offices of Cheney and Rumsfeld who Bush was obliged to fall back on because of inexperience. Granted. But ultimately, in our system, for better or worse, it is the President who makes the decisions and the advisers who then all fall into line and publicly agree.

Would I prefer that people of the caliber of Richardson and Biden, rather than either Clinton or Obama, were in this ultimate decider position? Oh yes. But of the latter two I have to give the edge to Clinton. She knows the world players longer and better. She also knows the preferences of our own foreign policy experts and is thus better able to accept the good nuances of their advice while ignoring the quirks that fill any expert’s professional resume.

So when I vote this Tuesday in Philadelphia I’ll pull the Clinton lever. And hope like hell that if Obama ultimately gets the nomination nod (as I believe he will) he proves up to the the incredibly difficult task of rescuing the country from the foreign policy morass into which his predecessor has led us.

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  • PaulSilver

    I respect your criteria for your difficult choice. For me it is also foreign affairs that makes me favor Obama because I believe that how he looks and talks and thinks will give him the benefit of the doubt from those with open minds who are inclined towards cooperation and collaboration. It seems to me that this would be helpful in building leverage for dealing with those around the world who are not inclined towards cooperation.

  • joegandelman

    I don’t leave a lot of comments on tmv due to time but I want to applaud you for the tone of your post. I only wish more people in this campaign expressed themselves (Obama supporters, Clinton supporters and McCain supporters) the way you do. You didn’t write a post demonizing another candidate, trying to discredit the other candidate and your tone is not one of scolding or anger at those who dare to see things differently. You’re not suggesting that if the candidate you vote for doesn’t win the United States of America will perish. You laid out how you see things and what you conclude. BRAVO for your thoughtful approach and argument .

  • I’d like to second Joe’s sentiments. If more people laid out their reasoning in a thoughtful manner and avoided focusing on attacks and distractions (Bosnia, “bitter”) that inevitably surround these elections, the process would be a joy to follow, rather than the exhausting circus that it’s become.

  • aba23

    I think you make a valid argument that Clinton probably has the edge in terms of the quantity of information she may be able to draw upon, not only in foreign affairs but across the board–they don’t call it experience for nothing. I only hope that, should she be the nominee and win the election, she will put that knowledge to a more scrupulous analysis than she has in the past.

    We need leaders who are not only able to arrive at good policies, but also ones who have the capacity to garner popular and legislative support for those policies as well as ones who have the will to carry it out despite strong counteracting political influences.

    When I weigh all those factors, I respectfully disagree with your outcome.

  • runasim

    It’s corect to say that Clinton appears to know more facts re foreign policy. (It’s unfortuante than Obama has had to spend so much time campaigning that his necessary study tome has probably been curtailed. )
    What matters, however, is judgment.

    Clinton has been sort of a Republican-lite on foreign policy, criticizing more than differing. Her voting record (not just the Iraq vote) bears that out.
    Concernong Iraq, I thought that a change meted out in increments rather than making a U-turn would be what it takes to get bi-partisan support. for a change of policy and withdrawal. I believed that gaining bi-partisan support was more important than being right, in order to avoid decades , if not centuries, of partisan warfare on the subject. I thought Clinton was the right person to get that kind of support.

    .During the campaign, she has changed her position dramatically. She and Obama have both locked themselfes into a promissed firm timetable, a naive mistake for both to make. You always have to leave wiggle room for the unexpected develpment, IMO. Now, it’s a question of guessing (and it’s pure guessing) how each would deal with the unexpected reallities of tomorrow.

    Leaving Iraq aside, I don’t see where Clinton’s knowledge and experience have borne any fruit. The ‘no talking and preconditions’ stance of the Bush administration, from which Clinton differs little, has had no results, not with Iran and not with the Hamas-Israeli stand off. .

    Of corse, no one should expect that just talking or negotiating can always succeed. It is, however, an opportnity to avoid catastrophic conflict and warfare. In that regard, Obama would have the advantage of being the new guy on the playing field, providing an opportunity for a fresh start with new ideas. He has also shown an ability to listen, not just preach, an important asset in adverserial situations. Clinton, I’m afraid, would represent too much of what we’ve seen during the Bush years.

    On foreigh policy, then, I’ve had to withdraw my appreciation of Clinton.

    ,

  • mikkel

    joe and ryan, I feel I have to play devil’s advocate.

    It is easy to sound respectful and high minded when writing something dogmatic (the final two are the least qualified; Clinton has a better personal grip and Obama will be forced to rely on his advisors, etc) and entirely something different when forced to argue the reasoning behind the established thinking.

    I’m not saying anything is wrong with Michael’s piece and indeed I respect it, but ultimately I find it unconvincing — well I find 95% of things unconvincing in any direction — because it does not critically address other viewpoints in a way that shows their weakness or the strength in his. It is supremely hard to retain the same sort of tact and high mindedness when actively challenged and your goal is to change someone’s mind.

    That said, it is often even harder when people have core differences in how they perceive the world. It is hard enough for people to actually realize the basis for their thinking and judge for themselves whether they think it is good, but even once this is done a lot of times people just disagree about the fundamental axioms in life. Figuring out how to work together when people disagree on this level is one of the hardest things there is and is very rare (this is why you don’t talk religion or politics at the dinner table).

  • mikkel

    runasim I think they are both being disingenuous in their absolutism.

    This appearance by Powers is how I think Obama would proceed. However, the one thing she failed to highlight is his strategic goal. From my understanding, when she says “the best case scenario” she means when it comes to being able to withdrawal troops safely. Of course he would pay attention somewhat to the internal Iraq situation, but (at least he says) it’s not his primary focus.

    On the other hand, I think Clinton is much more likely to decide that staying in Iraq is necessary on a strategic level based on her past. In general I disagree that Obama and Clinton’s policies are nearly identical, but if you can fit a dime between their proposed Iraq strategies then you could take over David Copperfield’s job. In cases like these it is impossible to not judge on some gut feeling. My gut feeling is that she would alter the strategic goal, but I am absolutely willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    Of course it is perfectly valid to believe that she is more likely to change strategic goals in a constructive way compared to Obama, but that is a different and ultimately nebulous debate. The one thing that I did find offputting was that she strongly criticized Powers for suggesting that Obama would alter his plan based on facts on the ground. Of course that’s offset by my annoyance at Obama not mentioning this in his speeches.

  • runasim

    Mikkel,

    I think, we’ve agreed, that it’s basically a matter of guessing what each would do in as yet undefined circumstances.
    That’s a dismal place to be after months of campaign speehces. Their websites notwithstanding, we still rely on gut feelings.
    Politics, it turns out, is every bit as bad as it’s cracked up to be.
    ——————————————————————————————————–

    Re: your devil’s advocate comment

    Life view differences, dogmas, biases and opinions notwithstanding, I find it absolutely blissful to read posts and comments composed in a civil and respectful tone.

    .

  • Slamfu

    Obama has shown in his past actions and decisions and speeches that he has a pretty solid grasp on situations as they are and how to deal with them. Clinton has shown me she knows how to read polling information and adjust her campaign accordingly. That is how Gore and Kerry ran their elections and its a loser strategy which I have associated with a lack of real leadership ability and the democratic party in general. Also, Clinton assures us of more of the same dynastic politics that the nation has grown so weary of. Do we really want the right wing media using her as a wedge for the next 4 or 8 years? No effin way.

  • mikkel – I was also put off by the opening “least experienced, least qualified, least likely to be elected pair of survivors” and the insinuation that Obama and Hillary are the two left standing mainly due to race and gender, but overall it was nice to see a posting that supported a candidate that was mostly thoughtful and respectful. Holly’s rants against Obama and many of the “Hillary is evil and dishonest” postings from other authors have generally lacked any semblance of respect for the other candidate, and in many cases have provided little substance for discussion; Michael’s posting at least laid out his reasoning, and while I may disagree I can at least better understand his thought process.

  • elen

    I am embarrassed to say that I have never before looked at issues as closely as I have in this election. I think both health plans need work and this is surprising because Sen. Clinton has been working on this issue a long time. I want to see more censure for all in current authority for the abomination of torture, I want to hear more about the candidate’s plans to address economic woes….and how to bring our own back from these wars. I really don’t care about lapel pins or other insubstantial issues. Unfortunately, lacking a clear feel for the above, my ultimate decision will be based on no more than dissonance and gut feelings. I believe one candidate has lied more and more deliberately, I believe the other can be less divisive. Since most of my concerns cannot be addressed without an effort to bring our Country together and that cannot happen without a trustworthy candidate…, I will vote for Obama.

  • PaulSilver

    One reason that candidates may sound nebulous about policy is that circumstances at the time the policy is considered are decisive. If the Democrats achieve 60 votes in the Senate we will see significantly different policy than if they only reach 55. As the pressure to compromise is reduced the more aggressive will be the policy on Health care, Energy, Immigration, Foreign Affairs, etc..

    This is also one of the main reasons I support Obama – I believe his coattails are more influential than Senator Clinton’s at this time and in this election.

  • In a great field of potential Democratic nominees, a field that originally included Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and John Edwards, the Democratic Party’s politically-correct activists (We have to have a woman President! We have to have a black President!), melding perfectly with a press obsessed with novelty and gotcha-ism, managed to leave us with the two least experienced, least qualified, least likely to be elected pair of survivors—Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

    Funny that you left Gravel and Kucinich off that list, but included Edwards. Edwards has less experience than Obama or Clinton. I also find it more than a little curious that you would claim that their race/sex has anything to do with their success among the voters. You don’t think it could have anything to do with their oratory skills, fame, or spouses? And what about the polling numbers for Obama would lead you to believe he has the least chance to get elected among the people you’ve listed?

    She has a better personal grip on foreign policy than Obama, who I believe has her trumped in most other respects. […] a new American president can’t be left to learn on the job—the way our present decider had to do because of his own lack of experience in this realm, and indeed, the way John F. Kennedy had to do after he was elected President.

    Clinton’s supposedly immense foreign policy experience didn’t help her when it came to her vote on the Iraq invasion.

    The Obama people say that their man will be surrounded by foreign affairs experts from the get-go.

    I don’t hear a lot of Obama supporters making this argument in the place of an argument about decision making, but for the record Obama has already surrounded himself by experts from the Clinton administration that opposed the Iraq war from the outset. Clinton has mostly done the opposite.

    But ultimately, in our system, for better or worse, it is the President who makes the decisions and the advisers who then all fall into line and publicly agree.

    And what Obama people say is that Obama has shown superior decision making. Iraq is the prime example.

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