Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hillary Clinton Never Takes a Stand and Other Democratic Debate Thoughts

Sometimes art imitates life. But, as I keep learning, a lot of times, life imitates art. And with the current fight for the Democratic nomination for President, this is really starting to look like a flashback of Senator John Hoynes' failed nomination fight on The West Wing, shown during the series second season.

Josh Lyman: Senator, you're the prohibitive favorite to be the Democratic Party's nominee for President. You have 58 million dollars in a war chest with no end in sight, and... I don't know what we're for.

Senator Hoynes:

Josh: I don't know what we're for, and I don't know what we're against. Except we seem to be for winning and against somebody else winning.

Hoynes: It's a start.

I just watched the great two-hour MSNBC Democratic Debate, and other than coming away thinking that Tim Russert should moderate every debate, I have a few other thoughts. The first of which is, like the quote from The West Wing's second season above, I don't know what Senator Clinton is for. And I don't know what she's against. She refuses to answer anything, and unlike most of the other candidates, she doesn't even try to hide it. "I won't answer that . . . That's a hypothetical and I don't discuss hypotheticals . . . I won't put anything on the proverbial table . . . I won't negotiate against myself . . . I don't discuss the private conversations between myself and my husband."

Is it smart politics? Yes. By not saying anything, she can't get tagged later in the general election. But, as much as she wants to be the Democratic nominee for President, and as much as she thinks she already is the Democratic nominee, and no matter how many polls put her 20-points or more up on the field, she is not the Democratic nominee. And I don't understand how people can support a candidate who is running for President who doesn't tell people what they are for and what they are against.

Somebody needs to challenge her on that and it's becoming obvious that Barack Obama won't. And he's never going to win the nomination without going on offense at some point. I know he wants to come across with a "new kind of politics" and "turn the page" on the politics of the past, but he can't neuter himself. You can attack Clinton's policies without attacking Clinton the person and he can't be afraid to do that. John Edwards did a great job of that tonight.

Edwards, as well as Joe Biden, had good nights. I like Biden more and more every time I see him. Sure, he's not going to win, but he's the only one, especially when compared to Clinton, to actually answer questions, and he's incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to Iraq and foreign policy. Would he make a good President? I don't know. But he needs a prominent role in our government.

Using the West Wing quote to start this entry is a great comparison I think to this nomination fight. The start of that scene was Josh debating with other advisors to Senator Hoynes that Social Security needed to be front and center of the campaign. Senator Clinton, like Senator Hoynes, doesn't want to put any issue front and center, because she has such a big lead, that the more people learn about her, the more likely it is, they'll go to another candidate. I really believe that. She started with such a big lead because of her reputation, and name recognition, and the great work her husband did. So it allows her to take an "above the fray" approach. And unless somebody knocks her down a peg, she'll stay up there until she gets into the White House.
Josh: Mark, at 400 billion dollars Social Security represents one-fourth of the federal budget, and it's gonna be bankrupt in exactly 17 years. Right around the time you're going to check your mailbox, half of the elderly population will be living in poverty. This now, qualifies as a priority, and running for President of the United States not putting Social Security front and center is like running for President of the Walt Disney Corporation by saying you're gonna fix the rides at Epcot.

Mark: We're gonna get to Social Security, Josh. It's a long campaign. For now, we focus on the tax cuts.

Candy: It's what magicians call 'misdirection.'

Josh: Really? 'Case it's what the rest of us call bull--

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