Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hillary Clinton's 2008 prospects

Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times writes Hillary Clinton could be president, and here's how 02/18/07:

She's too polarizing and her negatives too high, her fellow Democrats say. She's too cold and calculating. The right-wing attack machine will grind her up. Her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war - and reluctance to admit a mistake there - will sink her in the primary.

Nonsense. First of all, the Republican brand is so badly tarnished right now that Clinton is only one of several Democrats well equipped to win the presidency in 2008. Second, polls consistently show Clinton is nowhere near as polarizing as she's so often pegged.
Smith notes that Clinton is a "fierce campaigner". This is important, given the well-practiced Republican sleaze-and-trivia machine, plus so much of the press corps still operating on Clinton Rules, by which you can say anything as long as you say it about the Clintons. Smith quotes Paul Begala and Mark Penn, "One thing we know about Clinton campaigns: Nobody gets Swift Boated." Not because they won't try. But because she's willing to stuff it back in their faces.

He also asks, sensibly enough:

If states like Kansas, Arizona and Alaska can elect women governors, isn't it safe to assume America's ready for a woman president? The latest Fox News poll found that of all the Republicans and Democrats running, voters said Clinton would be the toughest on terrorism.
Republicans would polarize against her, of course. Republicans polarize against all Democratic candidates by the time Election Day arrives. But the electoral map looks good for her:

John Kerry won 252 electoral votes from 20 states in 2004, and 60 more votes in Ohio would have put him above the winning 270-vote threshold. It's a good bet Clinton would win the same states as Kerry and, based on 2006 midterm results, have a swath of other states with strong potential to turn red to blue. Those include Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.
Clinton is also taking a more aggressive stand against the Iraq War (Clinton urges start of Iraq pullout in 90 days ABC News/Reuters 02/17/07):

"Now it's time to say the redeployment should start in 90 days or the Congress will revoke authorization for this war," the New York senator said in a video on her campaign Web site, repeating a point included in a bill she introduced on Friday.
Bob Somerby takes even Paul Krugman to task for falling into a false press corps script about Clinton and her 2002 vote on the war resolution in The Daily Howler 02/19/07. I think he's right in this case. There are good reasons to criticize Clinton's vote in 2002. And reasons to be concerned about her foreign policy perspective. But this press mantra about how she refuses to admit a "mistake" over that vote is silly. Somerby says:

All the way back in 8/04, Clinton said there would have been “no basis” for that vote if we’d known there were no WMD. There wouldn’t even have been a vote, she told Russert (also Wolf Blitzer). Since then, she’s continued making that statement, even spelling things out for the very slow by adding the obvious corollary—she herself would have voted “no” if she’d known there were no WMD. Do you mind if we make a simple statement? In our view, Clinton did "say that she was wrong to vote for the Iraq war resolution" when she made that statement to Russert. (When she said she’d have voted the other way if she knew about the WMD.) Indeed, we were actively impressed with Clinton's formulation; at the time, we’d been wondering why Dems weren’t offering this obvious presentation. For the record, Edwards was still saying that he would have voted "yes" on the war resolution even if he knew there weren't any WMD. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/8/07. Cover the eyes of the children.) It would be fifteen months before he wrote the column in which he finally said, "I was wrong."

So yes, for our money, we think that Clinton has basically copped to her error. We think she did so years ago. Other voters might share that assessment — if they were told what Clinton has said. But never once, in Krugman's whole column, does he quote a single word the lady has said. ... He doesn't tell readers what Clinton has said. They only get his account of her statements.
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