Saturday, March 01, 2008

How Hillary Clinton could win my vote

It's not with silly attacks on Obama, like the 'red phone' ad she's currently airing. (Obama's response to that was spot on, by the way.) And it may be too late for her to make any convincing argument at all at this point, but here is what I see as her main advantage over Obama, and how she could have capitalized on it.

She could say something like: "Obama talks a lot about wanting to restore bipartisanship in Washington DC. That's great, but what I want to do is get some good legislation passed--whether the Republicans like it or not. The Democratic party has been pushed around by the Republicans for a long time. When I'm president, the Democrats are going to do some pushing back! Like Obama, I'll extend my hand across the aisle to work with the opposition. But we're likely going to have Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 2009, and if the Republicans aren't willing to work with us, we'll work without them. I'm not going to bend over backwards to work with them, just so I can say I've 'changed how Washington works.' As you know, my family has been on the receiving end of some of the worst the Republicans can dish out. We survived. In 2009, if they are still determined to pander to the right-wing extremists of their party, we--the Democratic majorities in Congress and me in the White House--will show them (and Senator Obama) that Washington DC can work just fine, as long as there is the will and discipline in Congress, and a strong, determined leader in the White House."

[updated to spell Hillary's name correctly in the title, and a couple other minor edits.]


christian_left said...

I like the way you put that. If Clinton were to take the approach suggested here, instead of her current ridiculous scare-mongering, it might swing me into her camp too. I do like how, with an eye towards Ohio and especially Edwards's supporters there, Obama has picked up a stronger rhetoric for economic populism more recently. But I worry about his apparent desire to put conciliation with Republicans over getting things done the right way.

A perfect illustration of your point: I worry ESPECIALLY about what kinds of bills we will pass on crucial issues such as climate change, with Obama's conciliatory attitude. (See this recent article in The Nation on-line for what I mean.) Following Edwards's lead, both Obama and Clinton have supported 100% auction of carbon permits in a cap-and-trade plan, rather than giving away permits free to polluters. We could then use the revenues to cushion the energy price increases for working Americans, to avoid turning this desperately needed environmental solution into an exasperating class war on the poor. The 100% auction is in everyone's interests, except the fossil fuels industry. But if we water down the bill (as in the current Warner-Lieberman version) and conciliate to win over Republicans bought and paid for by the fossil fuels industry, then we will end up with a bad bill and poison the well for working-class support of environmental reform. So we absolutely need a tough approach that says, "We'd love to have you on board, GOP, but we will proceed without you if you won't join us, on issues of great importance for America's future."

Oops...this comment is turning into a post itself! I like your approach, though, and it seems immediately applicable to the climate change issue, which I deeply care about. Thanks.

christian_left said...


And now that Clinton has regained some momentum (not necessarily by following your advice or mine), it looks like we PA voter are really going to matter, big time.

I'm still undecided. And now that we've commented on what Clinton could do, perhaps I can add my perspective on what OBAMA could do to win my vote. I like John Nichols's approach, reported in The Nation, which is to stake out a stronger economic populist position on trade and other kitchen table issues for working Americans. I like this idea not just because I agree with it (yes, please, ditch those centrist economic advisors, please, please, Obama) but also because I think it would play well in Pennsylvania more generally. No more of this crazy double-talking NAFTA nonsense where Obama says one thing and his advisors seem to tell elites the opposite behind closed doors.

It's a shame (though perhaps not a surprise) that the corporate media has decided that Clinton won by fear mongering, ignoring the other obvious factor, which Nichols points out: lack of trust for Obama on economic concerns. We need the Wisconsin Obama back again...