There's been a lot of buzz about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton announcing they're forming "exploratory committees" -- the first legal step to running for President of the United States. Not much is known about Mr. Obama in general, and it's because he is such a relative newcomer to the Washington scene that makes him appealing to a lot of people. But that could be his Achilles heel also -- having spent much of his life in politics in Illinois and not at the national level could prove to be his undoing.
It's the candidacy of Mrs Clinton, however, that troubles me. It's not that she's a woman -- maybe the White House could use a woman to shake things up. After all, the conservative Margaret Thatcher once said that it takes a man to say something but a woman to do it.
Rather, it's that Clinton remains such a divisive figure in American politics. And she's managed to make a lot of enemies along the way. Big Health hates her because she supports universal health coverage. The religious right hates her both for her strong pro-choice position and her refusal to divorce Slick Willy when he cheated on her. Even people in her home state of New York are rather ambivalent about her if for no other reason than the state -- especially upstate -- is still in a period of economic decline as the rest of the country seems to surge in growth. In other words, she was re-elected back in November because she had no real competition.
From a progressive standpoint, she may be seen as a classic tax and spend liberal, when most progressives emphasize social moderation coupled with fiscal prudence. It's doubtful America could go back into balanced budgets if she tries to push through her agenda.
Another problem is that if she does manage to get the Democratic nomination next year, and that's a big if, the Democratic party will come out of the convention extremely divided. Further, if she goes on to win the big prize, that will mean that just four people from two families will have occupied the White House over the course of twenty-five years. Is that good for democracy? No, it isn't.
I expect an anyone but Hillary movement will crop up very quickly. I also expect it will come to a head come the Iowa caucuses in January and people in houses, churches and bars will take a look at the junior Senator from New York and decide that she's not The One -- just like four years ago, when party members defied media expectations and shunted Howard Dean for John Kerry. Hillary is definitely Cabinet material. She just doesn't have what it takes to be President.
So what other women are out there? Maria Shriver -- naw, she's a Kennedy, and besides she's married to Ahnold. Dianne Feinstein? I think she'd do a good job, but there are enough Americans to ensure a Jewish person never sits in the Oval Office. Nancy Pelosi? I think she's happy just to be Speaker. Jennifer Granholm? Canadian (and therefore ineligible). The only good women I can think of right now are all Republicans, albeit in the liberal wing of the party: Christine Wittman, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (and it's because they are liberals in a mostly conservative party that ends their candidacies before they begin).
Burning bridges, as well as being way too stubborn and unwilling to compromise. These are not exactly the way to win friends in politics. I might vote for Clinton if she came out as the ultimate nominee because she'd still be better than anyone the Republicans put forward next year. But as the actual nominee? Nope. She's not my style.
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If Hillary gets elected, you can book my plane ticket to Canada.
Two Words: Condoleeza Rice
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