Desperately Seeking Hillary

They yearn for Hillary.

" What would Hillary have done ? "

" If only Hillary had won,…."

" Hillary would have…"

Who are 'they'?  Democrats, of course.  And, interestingly, some Republicans.

But she didn't win.  Get over it, and tip-toe back into reality.

And, to help you with that painful exercise, let's take " If only Hillary "  out for a test drive and see where we wind up.


First, before we turn on the ignition, let me state in the interest of full disclosure that I have nothing against Hillary. I would have voted for her against McCain, but not in preference to Obama.  So, while I have serious concerns about Obama's performance and prospects, I am not of the buyer's remorse crowd.  I am not of the buyer's remorse crowd because I have not seen ANYONE substantially better qualified, AND who has the prospect of doing much better in the current national and world political and economic context .  With that said, let's begin the cruise.

First, let's touch base with history.

Item 1: Hillary's presidential primary campaign, if you recall, was not a masterpiece of tight management execution.  If that is a prototype of a possible presidential tenure, it shows that her time as First Lady and senator did not prepare her sufficiently better than Obama. In fact, many of the " If only Hillary " ( hereafter designated IOH ) crowd are bitter veterans of their own failure.

Item 2: Obama has borrowed much of his administration's staff from the Clinton Administration, for better or worse. So Hillary groupies cannot postulate that she would have led better with better personnel.

Item 3: Hillary bungled health care reform, with no small assistance from a Republican party that was as eager to kill her husband's administration as it has been to kill the current one.  Obama passed an imperfect bill.  Hillary, to my recollection, has never sponsored anything as senator that is remotely as comprehensive or impactful on the country. The only thing she may have learned from her own health care effort was a degree of humility and pragmatism, which are valuable for any leader.

Item 4:    Bill aimed and missed. Barack shot and killed.

Item 5:    The economy- Bank deregulation and the Internet Bubble set the vehicle of false growth that   Dubya drove off the cliff.

Item 6:    Don't Ask; Don't Tell. A triumph of form over substance.  Not Barack's creation, but his problem to solve. Thank ya very much.

Caveat: Items 4 through 6 are not Hillary's policies, but they are part of the legacy of the Bill-ary dynasty and brain trust, which Obama has had to clean up. We can argue whether he did it good enough or fast enough, but we cannot argue from whence these issues came.

Enough of that history stuff.  How about current events.  Hillary holds a vital position as Secretary of State, but it is an narrower role than President.  How's she doing in that.  Let's take a trip around the world:

Iraq and Af-Pakistan: Still crazy after all these years.

Israel and Palestine: Where's the magic?

North Korea:  See Iraq and Af-Pakistan.  Literally.

Iran:    Status quo, with two hostages as a side show.

China:    Status quo.  Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Europe:    Status quo. See China.

War on Terror:    If anything, Hillary has occasionally talked with more saber rattling bluster than the President.  Probably because he has to look at the check book balance more frequently than she does. Obama's position on Libya specifically and the Arab Awakening in general probably reflects more Obama's recognition of the US's true capacity to intervene effectively than Hillary's.

In sum, Hillary has done a respectable job as Secretary of State, perhaps better than many.  She's certainly earned her frequent flier miles and a few days off. But she has not done spectacularly better in her job, limited as it is, than has Obama in his.  Why? Because she can't, nor could anyone else working under the same constraints.  And she and Obama both share those constraints to a significant degree.

This brings us to the next leg of the fantasy journey.  Could she have done better as President. Let's look at the fixed and variable factors. First the Fixed.

1.    The Economy.  This is the premier fait accompli presented to either Democrat.  In fact Obama is frequently bashed by many erstwhile Hillary admirers for retaining in his stable of economic advisers the very people who laid the regulatory groundwork of our economic decline under Bill.  What would Hillary have done?

2.    The Republicans.  Oh, yes, Bill-ary got along famously with them in their last sojourn at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The fact that Hillary and John McCain can toss a few shots together ( so I've read; I wasn't there ) doesn't augur a bi-partisan love fest on a Hillary watch.  In fact, the only reason that Republicans profess their ' respect ' for Hillary is quite likely to sow seeds of dissension among Democrats who are stupid enough buy the line. When Hillary was campaigning in the primaries, many Republicans were relishing the prospect of ripping another Clinton presidency to shreds, while regarding an Obama presidency as…improbable.  And any endorsement by Cheney is de facto suspect of credulity.

3.    International Affairs. Hillary's image as a tougher voice on foreign affairs, and more willing to use force than Obama has two possibilities:

3.1  She plays the bad cop as Secy of State to loosen up the dynamic for negotiation. 

3.2  She continues her posture from the Senate, which was a posture of necessity to prove she could be as tough as any man on military force.  Proven, rhetorically, but not necessarily appropriate in all circumstances, for men or women.

Further, Hillary has had to modulate some of her more aggressive positions, as with China on human rights. While she portrays herself as a staunch friend of Israel, she has not been tough enough to do what a friend must sometimes do: to tell another friend what they don't want to hear but need to know.  In Israel's case, it is that Israel is its own worst enemy; that it is playing into the story line of the extremists; and that the US is not particularly fond of having a friend shoot both of us in the foot.

Now for the variables:

1.    The Democratic base.  It shouldn't be a variable. In fact, it's a wild card.  Who knows if they'll show up to play.  Too many of them are looking for Santa Clause; not a president. They refuse to take responsibility for electing a Congress as well as a President. Hence, 2010.  Apparently, neither the Tea Party nor the Democratic rank and file comprehend the Constitution if they have in fact read it.  But at least the Tea Party understands the need to elect a Congress. The Democrats need to follow that Tea Party political strategy, but not the ideology.

2.    The voting public at large.  We are, as they say, in uncharted waters.  Nobody, except the fanatics, likes anybody any more. The atmosphere in Washington is poisoning all incumbents. Beyond the hardest party lines, Hillary might win the next election based on a cross-over of female voters as desperate for ' one of theirs ' as minorities were  for ' one of theirs '. 

But on the day after the inaugural balls, we will all wake up to the same truths: Business is not creating jobs, and the President cannot create jobs without Congress.  If Congress remains an unruly mob, Hillary too will be its captive.

But then again, aren't we all, at least for the time being…..

Onward.

 

20110918

 

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