Obama vs. Clinton on Putting Legislative Machinery to Work

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hillary clinton epw committee.jpeg
Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the clear frontrunners in the Democratic primary race, and the comparisons between them are going to be tough-edged over the next couple of weeks.
I have been very critical of both, and applauded both. I did not like Hillary Clinton’s embrace of the Bush administration’s policy of keeping Cubans isolated from us while nearly every other nation in the world — even Israel — is engaged commercially and increasingly culturally with Cuba. Cuba itself may not interest many or may seem irrelevant to the biggest debates of the day, but it provides a template for candidates to demonstrate whether they will sculpt a foreign and national security policy in the future that leapfrogs out of today’s morass or whether they are going to continue a policy of incrementalism, thus reinforcing and validating many of the errors and missteps of the Bush administration.
That said, there is a great deal I do admire in Hillary Clinton — and one of the things that simply can’t be disputed is her work ethic. I’ve met her a number of times, usually at receptions — and each time I decided not to waste the moment with trivial banter but to throw an idea at her or mention a person or issue that would help me understand how real, how informed, or alternatively — how contrived — she was.
Every single time she jumped on the issue I brought up and expressed two or three dimensions to the issue that showed she was deeply steeped in this or that policy. In my New America Foundation role, I helped build and support programs as diverse as debates about genetic scientific advancements to family work issues, health care, and wireless spectrum — not to mention my own core interests in foreign policy, national security/defense issues, and international economic policy. Hillary Clinton and I have had quick encounters that involved her sharing incredibly diverse and serious policy commentary.
The last time I had such a discussion with her was after she had won her last Senate race in New York, and she and Bill Clinton were a bit early to a UN Foundation reception honoring Muhammad Yunus. We had a really interesting discussion about what should be on a roster of 21st century threats and how our national security and foreign policy resources should be reorganized to deal with future challenges rather than keeping vested interests tied to old threats well funded. Her quick grasp of what I was trying to get at — and a detailed response that was serious and level-headed — really surprised me as I’m used to politicians who typically have to fake their way through detail.
I get the sense that Barack Obama is also extremely intelligent, though I’ve not had the same kind of encounters with him that I have had with Hillary Clinton and thus can’t give personal commentary.
But I am convinced of something about Hillary Clinton’s commitment to use every lever and every aspect of government machinery to push her legislative and policy work that I’m disappointed to say that I can’t find as strongly in Barack Obama’s profile. My concern has to do with the fact that as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee on Europe, Obama has held zero hearings — at least that is how the record appears to me.
Compare this to the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe, which is having constant hearings — or to the Senate Subcommittee’s work before Obama became Chair — or to a comparative commitment of Hillary Clinton on a Subcommittee she chairs, and the zero hearing detail is disconcerting.
By the way, I have to praise the Environment and Public Works Committee for its website. I wanted to know what role Senator Clinton had played in the Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health and not only found testimony of all involved but found photos showing who was there.
I’m not trying to find a minor, nuanced difference between Obama and Clinton and inflate that to inappropriate levels. I am a fan of some of Obama’s foreign policy positions — though I think that I tend to appreciate his speeches influenced by Zbigniew Brzezinski that reflect tough-minded thinking and hard choices rather than those influenced by former Clinton National Security Adviser Anthony Lake that seem to want America to rush into every global cause without clear delineation of priorities and an accounting of potential costs and consequences to our national interest.
But the question of how a Chief Executive would utilize the machinery of government towards the public good has always been of interest to me. Senators do have the opportunity to demonstrate executive-style leadership (or not) in how they deploy the resources taxpayers provide them in pursuing or informing legislative process.
The first day I started as a staff member in Senator Jeff Bingaman‘s office more than 12 years ago, I was given a copy of Eric Redman’s The Dance of Legislation, a chronicle of Redman’s experiences and insights into legislative process during a two year stint he had in Senator Warren Magnuson’s office decades ago. Jeff — as we all called Senator Bingaman — personally inscribed the book to me with a word of welcome and something along the lines of “we expect good work from you in the Senate.”
I found the book gripping — and it motivated me to move out of the predictable contours of legislative process. Redman tried some creative approaches to getting his legislation pushed, and I tried the same in projects I had to work on. In another essay one day, I’ll share some of the unusual tactics and vehicles we used in Senator Bingaman’s office to push our agenda while in the Minority.
I was a foreign policy and economic adviser to Senator Bingaman — but I worked in many legislative arenas and felt that it was my responsibility to use every possible vehicle, legislative technique or trick, and support service — particularly the Senate Parliamentarian, the Legislative Counsel office and Congressional Research Service — to make our office an active place and not just reactive, passive, or floundering like so many other Senate and House offices I saw.
Senator Obama has a great team. Some of his staff are friends and former colleagues of mine — though i can say the same about every one of the presidential candidates in both parties.
But his not calling any hearings in a Senate Subcommittee he chairs ought to raise some questions that he needs to respond to. His Subcommittee deals with Europe, with NATO, with various related political and security matters — and he’s got the gavel and can set the agenda.
Given the stress NATO is experiencing today on many fronts — from the question of Europe’s evolving security identity, to NATO’s deployments in Afghanistan, to the evolving question of how to deal with Russia, Kosovo, and other common challenges — it seems inconceivable that Senator Obama would not want to highlight important policy concerns by way of hearings.
I hope Senator Obama looks at this post as something to respond constructively to — as we need to understand how this gap would be fixed or translate into a White House setting.
But while I want Hillary Clinton to get more creative (and Nixonian, in the good sense) in looking at foreign policy deal-making through a different lens, particularly on Israel/Palestine matters and Cuba — which are important opportunities to telegraph change in America’s posture to the rest of the world — I want to commend the fact that she does work every aspect of the legislative machinery and knows these policy issues well.
Next time I see her, I won’t be surprised at all when she teaches me a lot I didn’t know about the Superfund.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

57 comments on “Obama vs. Clinton on Putting Legislative Machinery to Work

  1. Kendall Johnson says:

    Yup!!Hillary’s the one!!!!! There are too many problems and Obama is too green to handle them.
    Hillary knows the machinary and she has the policies to get it done!!!! I don’t agree with some of her forign policy positions, but I trust that she is not the hawk that the Obama fans think she is. I feel the same about her mistrust for many of the middle eastern countries!!! It’s hard to think of some of these countries as being reasonable, when the enslave half of their population. The misogyny is more than disconcerting, it’s a window into their mind set. So to some extent, its like trying to reason with the KKK. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean that I condone everything Isreal does to the palastinians, but its much more complicated. I think she will be caucious and deliberate about forign policy. She will listin to others and be very careful.
    But most importantly, I think she will be more likely to move us towards alternative energy, particularly green energy. This will help our forign policy dramatically, because she will make us less dependent on forign oil. Although the pundits would insist that the working class is voting for clinton because they are racist, the truth is that they are voting for Clinton because she is the candidate who is telling them in very specific terms how she will invest in them. I beleive that she can move this type of policy through. One thing I always liked about both Clintons is that they understood the value of human capital and were and are willing to invest in the american people, including the little people. This is the very essence of the Clinton appeal to working class america.
    I have no faith that Obama could do the same. I’m a mother and I understand that the planet’s future will depend of alternative energy. Obama’s whole sale sellout on the Bush/Chaney 2005 energy bill has made me lose full faith in him.
    Hillary maybe tough on forign policy, but at least she has a plan “B”. And, at the end of the day, she will get more done!!!! Obama doesn’t even seem to have a plan.

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  2. Hank in PA says:

    Winterhunt, you got that EXACTLY RIGHT!!
    Obama has no business running for president. He is like a green peach — NOT READY TO BE WHAT HE NEEDS TO BE TO BE IN THE KITCHEN!!!!!!!!!

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  3. Winterhunt says:

    Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
    Does this name ring a bell????? It should, it is Senator Obama’s Spiritual Advisor, and the title of Senator Obama’s book comes from one of his sermon’s. He baptised Senator Obama’s Children married him and his wife….
    Senator Obama, The Unifier, is advised on spiritual matters by a man who considers Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan “an unforgettable force, “a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose.” The same Louis Farrakhan who in 1996 told a Tehran newspaper that God would “bestow upon Muslims” the honor of “destroy[ing] America.” and who In February 1998, he sent a cordial and supportive letter to Saddam Hussein, calling him a “visionary” who had earned the Iraqi people’s “love,” Who Also has referred on many occasions to the ” white “blue-eyed devils” and Jewish “bloodsuckers” and who has referred to white people as “the skunks of the planet.” Fine if that is his opinion, as everyone is entitled to their opinion, and free speech is what this country is built on.
    Still is it not a bit disconcerting that a unifying canidate would be advised spiritually by a man who admires and has accompanied Mr. Farrakhan on a 1984 trip to meet with the Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, whom Mr. Farrakhan considers to be his trusted “friend,” “brother,” and “fellow struggler in the cause of liberation for our people.” In 1996, the NOI leader formed a partnership with Qadhafi, who pledged $1 billion to help Farrakhan develop a Muslim political lobby in the U.S.
    If anyone doubts any of this information, just do a quick Google search yourself…. Senator Obama is by his own admission advised to this day by Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. To The Senator’s credit, he says that he differs in his opinion with many aspects of Rev. Wright’s statements, yet still keeps him as his Spiritual advisor.
    To me this is a far bigger story than Hillary’s disclosure of her taxes……
    I am a registered Democrat, and of course no one in the Democratic Party or the Clinton Camp will touch this story as then they would be labelled out of hand as a racist. But you can be darn sure The GOP will if Senator Obama secures the nomination. And, I really hate to agree with them on anything, but they will be right to do so.
    Can you imagine if Hillary Clinton had a Spiritual Advisor of a similar ilk, and made such statements, about African-American Society as a whole??????? Do you think maybe that might be newsworthy??????
    I liked Senator Obama. He is a likeable, and charming man but whenever I asked any of his supporters what he has done that would back up in action what he speaks of in rhetoric, the best I got was, he was a Labor Organizer in Chicago, a good start to be sure, but that coupled with 2 years as a Sentor and that qualifies him to run this country????? .
    In truth this Obama campaign is the biggest sham, I have ever seen in my lifetime. The best shining example of “Cult Of Personality” that one could ever find. A man who is simply a gifted orator with absolutely no accomplishments to speak of on his resume that would qualify him to lead this country except a scant 2 years in the Senate where as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee on Europe, Senator Obama has held zero hearings.
    Yet Hillary has spent 35 years in public Service, has an actual resume that is public record. But Senator Obama is the “Inspirational” one because he is a gifted speaker????? To me hard work and dedication is “Inspirational”, not just words, but deeds as well. And now he is ducking debates with her????? We don’t need another President who is all talk. We just had 8 years of that.
    Since when would a Woman as President not be an “Inspirational” event????? I say this as a man, but women really get such scant respect in this society. This is just such a sad era for this country…..

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  4. Kathleen says:

    Carroll… this peititon is different because it calls for hearings on impeachment, not impeachment. Harder to argue against.
    It also is being run by a member of the House Judiciary Committee, not some Loonie-Lefty group.
    Nixon’s impoeachment came by Senator Lowell Weicker calling for hearings on Watergate and impeachment followed. It’s step one.

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  5. calguy says:

    Jimmy Carter? Please. Apart from the rather specific fact that both are fine men and inspirational, there is a world of difference between Obama and Carter. In addition, as an experienced legislator of a large and diverse state and a sitting (3 years) US senator, Obama is in a different position than Carter, whose immediate experience before becoming president was as governor of Georgia (true, he did have those two terms in the Georgia senate…).
    Nonetheless, I do believe the problems of Carter’s presidency are generally overblown. Let us not forget that quite possibly without the October surprise we would have had no President Reagan.

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  6. ArtinRI says:

    Barack Obama’s candidacy reminds me of Jimmy Carter’s run in 1976. Jimmy Carter made us feel clean when we had been feeling particularly dirty after Watergate. Obama makes us feel clean after Bush. Jimmy Carter was a fresh, friendly face, iconoclastic, moderate, unthreatening to the opposing party. So is Obama. Jimmy Carter represented a Presidential glass ceiling breakthrough for a portion of the population, the Deep South, that had long been excluded from the Oval Office, and yet he made little of the fact. Ditto Barack Obama for African Americans. Funnily, I also expect Obama would make a great Ex-President, just like Carter has. And finally Jimmy Carter was a good, honest, brilliant man with great ideas who was singularly inept at managing Washington, hammering out deals with Congress, getting things done. I fear the same may be said of Barack Obama.
    With the mighty fine mess that Bush and the Republicans have gotten us into, the last thing we need is another well-meaning but in-over-his-head Carter type. We need someone who feasts on the nuts and bolts of governance and deal making. We need another Clinton, and by George, we’ve got one! Hillary, Now More than Ever!

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  7. calguy says:

    This is an excellent post. I am concerned that you have picked a narrow aperture through which to view Obama’s career in the senate. I certainly agree that it is troubling that Obama’s subcommittee has not met. At the same time, I know of the picture provided by Hilzoy above and what I have read in Obama’s book. The man does appear thoughtful and capable of generating corresponding legislation. In addition, I agree that LBJ was the consummate insider, and that this helped him push through the Great Society legislation and the Civil Rights act. It did not prevent him from sending himself to an early political and literal death via Vietnam. I am not entirely sure that FDR can be put in the same category as LBJ-he spent time in DC as assistant secretary of Navy, and he did run as a VP candidate (losing to Harding/Coolidge) in 1920, but not as a senator or congressman, and his executive experience was otherwise limited to a single term as governor of NY. Almost certainly there is value to being a governor in a state where that office is strong (as opposed to Texas), but was he really the consummate insider? I think the New Deal passed because in a time of crisis FDR emerged as an inspirational if relatively inexperienced leader who could marshall the government to move by his words.
    That sounds a lot like a very inspirational senator from Illinois to me, and not so terribly much like a hard working wonky senator from NY.
    Work ethic is very important, yes, but I have known plenty of workaholics paralyzed by the inability to act because of the inner conflicts they faced as their depth of knowledge presented too may solutions.
    Just a few thoughts.

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  8. informedlawyer says:

    The question is whether Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama wish to emulate the centralized, top-down environmental and health regulatory model of the European Union, premised on the sustainable development-laden Precautionary Principle, and rely upon it as a model for future U.S. regulation. Perhaps these candidates and their supporters have something to say to the American people about this??
    Well, we do…
    Precautionus Principilitis:
    A Psychosocial Disorder Causing Luddite Psychobabble ©
    By Lawrence A. Kogan, Esq. and Robert Stein, PhD [1]*
    Precaution as a Way of Life
    The moral, social and environmental cognoscenti of the new communitarian[2] movement for global governance hold the precautionary principle as a doctrinal article of faith. The philosophy advocates a ‘Better Safe than Sorry’ ethos to modern day living. One public relations expert remarked several years ago that Europe’s unilateral efforts to establish the precautionary principle as an absolute global legal standard reflects a deeper institutional and cultural aversion to risk not found in the United States. Sharp demographic differences between the two powers appear to support this fact; “European electorates are aging must faster than America’s, making Europeans more risk averse.”[3] As a result, geriatric Europeans reflexively fear the myriad uncertainties surrounding new technologies and industrial processes, especially unfathomable risks that populate the distant future, and potentially affect their health and environment, even though no actual proof of imminent risk of harm is present. Because of this fear, European elites and like-minded American Europhiles argue that such advances should be shunned, even if it means grinding global societal progress to a halt.
    FOR THE FULL VERSION OF THE ARTICLE SEE:
    http://itssd.blogspot.com/2007/12/precautionus-principilitis.html

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  9. DLT says:

    Steve:
    It would have been nice if you reference what Obama’s committee was doing prior to his chairmanship. I could only find one NATO hearing in 2006 (when Republicans were in control). It would also be nice to understand how Biden runs Foreign Relations. I’m not disputing your commentss. It’s just that a more complete picture would be nice.

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  10. pauline says:

    Steve,
    I’m confused.
    You wrote, “she does work every aspect of the legislative machinery and knows these policy issues well.”
    How does that, in and of itself, guarantee level-headed, truly innovative, problem-solving in foreign policy, in healthcare, in solving the gargantuan foreign trade debt, in solving the current housing market crisis, or, in solving…you name it?
    While I’m agreeing with your Obama-shows-no-experience comments in regards to his Chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee on Europe hearings, I think HRC is given way too much credit for her gutsy political lifestyle that somehow now magically (poof) she becomes the best presidential candidate this side of sliced bread. And as many know, her and hubby have kept a political rolodex that started decades ago and both have added to it with all the friends/enemies from Arkansas to DC.
    (I sure don’t want my name on that rolodex, especially when people/events aren’t pleasing to HRC…talk about an ugly attitude…)
    She’s not going to (1) end the war because the war economy’s biggest players provide her tons of dough for continual and out-of-control DOD contracts, (2) end monumental financial support to the 51st state which means true ME peace won’t follow, (3) stop following the wishes/demands of AIPAC so ME peace is only fictional, and (4) find a national healthcare solution that doesn’t guarantee astronomical control and profits for Big Pharma. SHE JUST AIN’T GOING TO END any of them…
    Gee, but she studies her rolodex and her staff works late getting her stats on leading issues. My, oh, my, when is the presidential pantsuit fitting?

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  11. Michael says:

    It seems as though my link didn’t take, so here’s a link to that Hilzoy post:
    http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2006/10/barack_obama.html

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  12. Michael says:

    Steve–while I think that’s a valid concern, I also think it’s a rather limited framework within which to view the way each Senator pushes the levers of Congress.
    Read Hilzoy for an alternative take:
    But I do follow legislation, at least on some issues, and I have been surprised by how often Senator Obama turns up, sponsoring or co-sponsoring really good legislation on some topic that isn’t wildly sexy, but does matter. His bills tend to have the following features: they are good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems; they are in general not terribly flashy; and they tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely trying to craft a solution that everyone can get behind.
    […]
    I can’t remember another freshman Senator who so routinely pops up when I’m doing research on some non-sexy but important topic, and pops up because he has proposed something genuinely good.
    […]
    The way to a wonk’s heart: campaign on securing Russian loose nukes. — In any case, in addition to working on nuclear non-proliferation, Obama and Lugar co-sponsored legislation expanding the Nunn-Lugar framework (which basically allows the US to fund the destruction or securing of nuclear weapons in other countries) to deal with conventional arms.
    There’s much more in the whole post. Read it in it’s entirety.

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  13. Carroll says:

    Of all the despictable things we have seen and learned about our congress and presidents in the last 6 years Israel is in the top ten if not at the head of the list.
    Bush I was the last president to take any action to enforce US rules in aid to Israel by holding up their annual billions because of their continued settlement building. Our Israeli occupied congress put such pressure on him he eventually caved.
    We give billions to Israel with this condition attached to it every year and they ignore the condition every year and we continue to give them billions anyway.
    Who is going to put a stop to this besides Paul, anyone? Usually he who has the gold makes the rules and ultimately the American taxpayer has the gold, congress has none that we don’t give them.
    Cut off the money. We all recongize that congress is funding Israeli terrorism and genocide and killing people with our money for the lowest of all reason..sheer domestic special interest political pandering…you can’t get any more immoral or criminal than that.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/935491.html
    Last update – 03:29 18/12/2007
    Officials: Israel to allow construction in existing W. Bank settlements
    By Reuters
    Israel will allow construction within built up areas of existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but will not expand beyond those areas, Israeli officials said on Monday.
    The position could widen the rift in U.S.-backed peace talks launched by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a regional peace summit held in Annapolis, Maryland last month.
    The Palestinians say the negotiations, the first in seven years, hinged on Israel committing to halt all settlement activity, including “natural growth,” as called for under the long-stalled road map peace plan.
    The Bush administration has likewise urged Israel to stop settlement expansion.
    A senior Israeli official said “We don’t need American approval if we are doing something that we think, as a sovereign state, we should do.”
    *Did I mention funding genocide…with our money? That is what it is you know. No matter how they spin it, it’s not spinnable.
    Uri Avnery:
    “For every Israeli military or political planner, the Gaza strip is a nightmare. It is about 24 mi. long and 6 mi. wide. In this 140 square miles of parched desert, hardly twice the area of Washington, D.C., there are crowded 1.5 million human beings, almost all of them destitute, who have nothing to lose.
    This week I heard a report from one of the most credible individuals in Gaza – Dr. Eyad Sarraj – a well-known psychiatrist and peace and human rights activist. Here are some of the things he told a small circle of Israeli peace activists:
    Israel blocks all imports into the Strip, except for a short list of about half a dozen basic articles. Nine hundred trucks used to be employed daily for the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip, but now their number is reduced to 15. For example, no soap is allowed in.
    Local water is undrinkable. Israel does not let in bottled water. Nor does Israel allow the importation of water pumps. The price of water filters has gone up from $40 to $250, there are no spare parts at all for filters. Only the well-to-do can still afford them. However, chlorine is let in.
    There is no import of cement. When there is a hole in the ceiling, it cannot be repaired. The building site for the children’s hospital stands silent. There are no spare parts of any kind. A medical instrument that goes out of order cannot be repaired. Not even incubators for babies or dialysis equipment.
    The severely sick cannot reach hospital – neither in Israel, nor in Egypt or Jordan. The few permits issued are often delivered after a deadly delay. In many instances, patients are condemned to death.
    Students cannot reach their universities abroad. Foreign citizens who happened to be visiting Gaza cannot get out if they have a Palestinian ID. Palestinians who have contracts to work abroad are not allowed to leave. Some Palestinians were allowed to pass through Israel on the way to Egypt, but were not allowed in by the Egyptian authorities and had to return to Gaza.
    Practically all enterprises have been closed and their workers thrown onto the street for lack of raw materials. For example, the Coca Cola factory has closed down. After 60 years of occupation – first by the Egyptians and than the Israelis – almost nothing is produced in the Strip, except oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, and the like.
    Prices in the Gaza Strip have risen sky-high – fivefold and even tenfold. Life is now more expensive in Gaza than in Tel Aviv. The black market is flourishing.
    How do people exist? The members of extended families help each other. Well-to-do people support their relatives. UNRWA brings in the most basic foodstuffs and distributes them to the refugees, who are the majority of the inhabitants.”

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  14. Kathleen says:

    There is a lot to be said about knowing how to work the system, if you want to be effectivre in moving legislation along. That is true for office holders and citzen-advocates as well.
    When working on a cause, I always prefer to contact the Ch. and RM of the relevant committee and the committee majority and minority staff because they are much more knowledgeable about the nitty-gritty details and status of a a partiucular piece of legislation, than the regular staff who answer phone calls at random in the rep’s. office. If you want specific answers to questions, it’s best to talk to committee staff.
    I think the point is, if Hillary learned how the system works in the Senate, she is likely to do the same thing, in the White House. She has some experience at learning that, by being First Lady. As a Senator, she’s learned how the Executive works from the other side.
    I’m not a Hillary supporter because I think it takes more than mechancis to be a good president. It is good to know, but in and of itself, it isn’t enough. I want to hear something new, not that we’re going back to the 90’s which she said in the Iowa debate. Backwards doesn’t cut it.
    I’m very proud of my Senator, Chris Dodd for knowing how the system works, too. Connecticut is the Constitution State and it’s nice to see the Spirit of The Charter Oak, alive and well.
    The Charter Oak incident in Connecticut was the very first act of defiance of American coloinists against King George, when they refused to surrender their land grant to the King’s envoy by snuffing the candles and making the Charter disappear.
    Now you see immunity, now you don’t.
    Works for me.

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  15. Carroll says:

    Posted by liz at December 18, 2007 06:12 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yep, the dynasty thing is a big minus when doing the pro and cons on another Clinton WH.
    We need new blood.

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  16. Carroll says:

    Sign the on-line petition to Congress for Impeachment hearings being sponsored by Congressman Robert Wexler, D-FLA. House Judiciary Committee.
    Kyl-Lieberman.. why Harry Reid ever let that come up for a vote, without insisting that congress be proivided with a current NIE Report first, is beyond me. How can that qualify as leadership?
    Posted by Kathleen at December 18, 2007 01:22 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
    O.K. …but I have signed a hundred of these damn things to no avail. The Dems aren’t’ going to impeach Bush-Cheney, not impeaching them and allowing them to continue has been the Dems ticket to the WH…shedding all those tears while stepping over the dead bodies in Iraq and emptying out the treasury.
    From what I have read from reliable sources some in congress had advance knowledge about what the NIE report would say and that was the reason for the flurry of resolutions against Iran. Switching or adding Iran’s threat to the US in Iraq and labeling the Iran Guard as terrorist because the NIE would show no immediate nuke threat from Iran so they had to pump up some more reasons.
    Instead of trying to impeach Bush we should be calling to impeach congress for not impeaching Bush. Or we could just go with my suggestion and burn them all to the ground and start over. I doubt anyone would miss congress if it was out of commission for awhile.

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  17. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican at December 17, 2007 10:29 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Maybe, but I am not so sure. By how she has voted on Iran in the senate one would think so.
    But for all her “contained-ness” in her public personna and pandering positions I think Hillary is capable of using exceptional deception to get what she wants and then doing a 180 on someone. You think she doesn’t know she is being politically minipulated by the jewish interest on US ME policy for instance, of course she knows. You think she doesn’t know that US support for Isr in the Pal occupation is a step away from genocide lite? She knows.
    There is evidence that Hillary does have compassion for people and underdogs in some regards. There is also evidence that she is a totally calculating political animal who puts her ambition first. There is also evidence she has a temper, hidden from the public as it may be.
    So again my question is when she get pushed, whether it is on some issue she thinks will hurt her politicaly or some issue in which she sees herself being pushed into betraying who she personally thinks she is as a moral person, how would she use the power of bully pulpit? She’s cunning and she could use it to minipulate her minipulaters into corners on both the political and personal Hillary.
    You are probaby 80% right but I still think there is a 20% wild card question on how the personal Hillary would act out.

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  18. Kathleen says:

    Two words on why Hillary is losing the lead…
    Kyl-Lieberman.. why Harry Reid ever let that come up for a vote, without insisting that congress be proivided with a current NIE Report first, is beyond me. How can that qualify as leadership?
    Impeachment Will Trump Executive Privilege
    Date: 12/14/2007 9:29:48 PM Pacific Standard Time
    Ted Lang, Online Journal, Dec 14, 2007
    The arrogance and unrelenting contempt that the Cheney-Bush administration has for the American people and the people’s Congress, continuously verified and on public display, has reached exceedingly dangerous levels.
    It should be clear that by now the hatred, contempt and fear the international community once attributed solely to our government leaders, has progressed to where we as a people are the ones now being hated….Whatever happened to our world class ability to correct errant government, never mind a rogue and out-of-control state run by mass murdering genocidal maniacs?
    Why must Congress now enact a federal statute prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment when this prohibition is already in our Bill of Rights?! Is Congress familiar at all with the United States Constitution that Cheney, Bush and Gonzales have abolished, relegating it to just a “goddamned piece of paper?” Is Congress attempting to rewrite the entire Constitution because Cheney-Bush ignore it and Congress is unfamiliar with it? It would seem that not only do we have just “a goddamned piece of paper” for our nation’s rule of law, but also a goddamned stupid, ignorant and treasonous Congress run by stupid, ignorant and treasonous Democrats as well!
    Now offered, merely as a point of reference, is the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights: Search and Seizure — “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. [Emphasis mine.]
    And never mind that Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Israel did not. Never mind that Israel has somewhere between 200 and 400 nukes, didn’t sign NPT, and has never allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear activities as Iran has. Israel and Cheney just know Iran is bad and needs a preemptive attack with real nukes to avoid the risk posed by Iran’s thinking about them!
    Of course, the only blame for the American dictatorship’s successful launch of World War III will now rest entirely on the backs of the despicable Democrats who support Cheney-Bush’s need for time to construct the needed agitprop for the war with Iran. Only the Democrats are left to stop Cheney-Bush! Will Democrats act? Will they finally come through for us and impeach Cheney-Bush? Consider their leadership: Pelosi, Reid and Leahy. Pogo was right: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”
    Down with Dopey and Darth. I’m ready for a God Damned piece of Impeachment.
    Sign the on-line petition to Congress for Impeachment hearings being sponsored by Congressman Robert Wexler, D-FLA. House Judiciary Committee.
    http://www.WexlerWants Hearings.com

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    If I were voting for “America and good government” and without any consideration for who would best “for me” and my personal pet peeves and desires who would I vote for?
    My sole bottom line requirement in a candidate would be:
    Who would do something about the Corruption of our government and political system?
    I can’t think at the moment of any pressing issues that affect the Entire country that haven’t been in large part brought about by the corruption of government by special interest politics…the ME, immigration,economics and financials, health care, religion vrs. State… and on it goes.
    The only two I have heard speak to this are Edwards and Paul.
    Has anyone heard any of the “frontrunners” address this??
    The one thing I am most tired of hearing from spinning politicans is that “reasonable people can disagree”..because that is only half of the sentence…the other half is that there are some basic things on which reasonable people “Cannot” disagree. Corruption, torture, lying the nation into a war to name a few.

    Reply

  20. Bill R. says:

    Steve, you made a great argument that Hillary is a disciplined policy wonk and perhaps a wonderful senator. That doesn’t make her a great leader. Ronald Reagan was an idiot on policy and considered “lazy” by many. Yet he is also known as the “great communicator.” Right now we need a great leader and a great communicator who can engender trust and who can leave the policy and its implementation to competent advisors. I’m thinking more and more that Obama can transform politics both domestic and international. Clinton can be a good “maintenance” person, but it may be her true calling is to be Senate Majority Leader.

    Reply

  21. Forest Ranger says:

    While I agree that Senator Clinton’s efforts are more substantive than Senator Obama’s, it’s also a leap of faith to think that a good, strong legislator will make a good President. Put another way, her policy wonk credentials work well in setting like the Senate, but would they translate as President? In my opinion, the answer is no.

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    John o…
    Kudos to Dodd for having the balls to stand up to Bush on the FISA matter. Its a shame that the insipid mewling coward Reid left his balls in Roberts’ trophy case, for if we ever needed left swinging balls in Washington, nows the time.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And thankfully, I doubt anyone with the name Bush will ever be elected nationally again.”
    We still “elect” our President? Somehow, I honestly doubt it.

    Reply

  24. john o. says:

    THREE CHEERS FOR CHRIS DODD — A REAL DEMOCRAT AND A REAL PATRIOT!! KEEP LEADING BY EXAMPLE CHRIS!

    Reply

  25. liz says:

    No more Bush/ Clinton/ Bush/ Clinton…. there are still too many of them left. This is not a dynasty country. Just because your last name is Clinton doesn’t mean you are ” supposed” to be President. And thankfully, I doubt anyone with the name Bush will ever be elected nationally again.

    Reply

  26. PTB says:

    POA,
    Just checking in on you guys. $6 million in 24 hours, no MSM or OLD media if you will? The revolution will not be televised! I hope you support the good doctor he needs men like you.
    non-intervention foreign policy
    sound money
    constitutional government
    It’s not a perfect package but seems much better than all the rest.

    Reply

  27. easy e says:

    3 comments:
    – what does hrc’s “work ethic” have to do with her judgement, wrong-headed policies (think neocon) and ill-fated votes?
    – this country can no longer afford to “roll the dice”.
    – totally agree with poa.

    Reply

  28. RonK, Seattle says:

    This clarifies an important distinction.
    In certain quarters there’s a tendency to either deny the Clinton Administration’s successes, or ascribe them to historic dumb luck. If there was a secret to their success — especially in the much-derided epoch of microinitiatives — it was their capacity and willingness to do the work.
    They worked the levers of policy and delivered improvements for ordinary people … often several a day, almost all below big media radar.
    Obama’s new politics and new diplomacy lack definition. Nothing wrong with that at the brainstorming stage, but when you ask people to invest their futures in an innovative framework you should have more definite answers. How is it different? How would it work? How do we know that it would work? What are the pivotal obsstacles and potential unintended consequences? And if it’s such a good idea, why hasn’t it already come to pass?
    As Paul Simon wrote:
    Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance
    Everybody thinks its true
    What is the point of this story
    What information pertains
    The thought that life could be better
    Is woven indelibly
    Into our hearts
    And our brains

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “To a voter like myself voting for Hillary is rolling the dice.”
    Not really. All you gotta do is look at her performance (or lack thereof) in regards to actually offering some substantive opposition to the Bush Administration these last seven years. Look back, and what you see is what you get.
    No thanks.

    Reply

  30. Carroll says:

    There is one thing I will say about Hillary. There is no doubt in my mind that she “runs” her staff and knows how to pick people that have a lot to offer and she gets the most our of them …..she may listen, seek out opinons, hear experts out, turn the in’s and out’s inside out …but in the end she “will” make the decisions…so the question in the minds of most of us is when she makes that decision…will it or won’t it be based partly on her own 2nd term ambitions?
    I don’t think anyone outside her most intimate circle and maybe even some in it know exactly what Hillary would actually do on some foreign policy issues. For all that has been written about and studied about Hillary she is still anything but easy to pigeon hole.
    To a voter like myself voting for Hillary is rolling the dice.

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Where were Obama and Clinton when Conyer’s was holding hearings on the blatant and irrefutable theft of a Presidential election?
    Where were Obama and Clinton when that sleazy bastard Roberts was screwing us out of the Phase Two Report?
    Where were Obama and Clinton when the Downing Street Memo surfaced?
    Where were Obama and Clinton when Feingold was trying to fillibuster the Alito confirmation?
    Why aren’t Obama and Clinton raising holy hell about the NUMEROUS subpoenas this Administration is IGNORING. Does this mean that they think that they too can ignore subpoenas?
    Screw these two, they are no better than the criminal we are trying to replace.
    Wake up, people.

    Reply

  32. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Barack made the following statement to justify his lack of support for impeachment….
    “I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president’s authority”
    That statement alone should disqualify Obama for ANY public office. There can be absolutely no contest of the FACT that George Walker Bush has committed “grave and intentional breeches of the Presidents authority”. PERIOD. If Obama doesn’t believe that such breeches have occured, then he has absolutely no respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, the people’s right to privacy, the Geneva conventions, human rights, the integrity of the Justice Department, and our right to have our votes counted.
    Further, I find it irresponsible for any Washington insider, pundit, campaign employee/ volunteer, or blog administrator to discuss Obama’s candidacy without raising the issue of Obama’s statement in regards to impeachment and what constitutes “grave breeches of Presidential authority”.
    If Obama does not feel that Bush or Cheney’s criminal conduct does not meet this “standard” of impeachable offenses, then what sort of standard can we expect Obama to hold HIMSELF to?
    Obama completely disqualified himself for the presidency by uttering that one single sentence. And any patriotic American that believes in the rule of law, the Constitution, and the checks and balances that ARE SUPPOSED TO BE incorporated in our system of government, should be appalled that Obama fails to consider the abuses of this President as impeachable offenses.
    And quite frankly, that applies to ALL these damned cowards that have allowed Bush to commit these “GRAVE AND INTENTIONAL BREECHES OF HIS PRESIDENTIAL AUYTHORITY” without holding him accountable.
    And don’t even get me started on this posturing fraud Hillary, who has committed herself to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING these past six years, except hiding from the issues, and giving this piece of shit Bush everything he has asked for.

    Reply

  33. Donna Z says:

    Steve, Thank you for writing this article as you touch on something I’ve been wanting to ask you.
    Lee Feinstein is Senator Clinton’s go-to guy on foreign policy. I find him absolutely unacceptable. He has written that Bush’s policy of preemption doesn’t go far enough. What are we to think? And why is she listing Michael O’Hanlon as one of her advisers? Her military adviser is Gen. Jack Keane; another questionable choice.
    Understanding the use of the levers of government does not clarify how she will use them. The Clintons tend to run a 24/7 campaign from day one. Perhaps we need to pay more attention to Mark Penn when it comes to the future of a Clinton Foreign Policy. How’s that Webb Amendment doing?
    I listened to a top Clinton surrogate and possible vp, Evan Bayh, yesterday as he discussed the NIE. Without using hyperbole, it was like listening to Richard Perle.

    Reply

  34. Dick Fitzgerald says:

    When is this site, which may as well be funded by the DNC/DLC, going to say even one word about Pelosi and pals’ complicity in Bush’s torture regime @ least back to 2002?

    Reply

  35. RobertM says:

    I do not understand why a total excercise of legislative machinery is indicative of how she would do as President. The job is very different from that as Senator and it requires the ability to delegate. There is nothing in her background that says she will allow anyone to excercise her judgement at all. Quite simply because she trusts no one in the political realm. Obama on the otherhand always articulates a willingness to listen honestly; “I’m looking forward to your advice Sen Clinton.” Something that I doubt was contrived.

    Reply

  36. ... says:

    great article steve.. thanks!

    Reply

  37. p.lukasiak says:

    this is important information steve. Thanks!

    Reply

  38. elleng says:

    Senator Biden has held many Foreign Policy committee hearings. a
    Many of us would appreciate recognition of his accomplishments. He IS running, and receiving much recognition in Iowa. Lets inform the public, please, Steve.

    Reply

  39. DrSteveB says:

    Bull. It’s the same con Bill pulls… yes she is smart. Yes she knows the all the policy wonk stuff. But she won’t DO or PUSH for anything her corporatists and inside beltway received wisdom backers don’t give prior approval to.
    Osama a little better. Edwards much better on this.
    The system is broken. Run entirely by and for the wealthy and connected. Largest wealth gaps since 19020s, and getting worse. Less economic mobility then rest of developed world.
    Recent article in I belive Fortune magazine tells all by suggesting that there is nothing to worry about if Clinton (or Obama) is elected. Edwards… worry a little bit. Same for the recent Iowa endorsement. Everything they said for Clinton and against Edwards is why he is the only change agent in the bunch.
    Whomever the insider corporate and media elites dislike and fear, they get an extra look from me.
    (well, not Ron Paul).

    Reply

  40. Steve Clemons says:

    J. — As I wrote above, I admire and like Senator Obama on many levels, but I found the fact that no hearings had been held very disconcerting. Campaigning a lot is not an excuse. The same would apply for every other candidate — and I don’t think HRC’s issues were very sexy, even for her constituents. What I didn’t write about was the number of Armed Services Committee subcommittee hearings Hillary Clinton attended — sometimes there alone with no other members for more than three hours — just listening to testimony and questioning presenters. I’m a policy guy. That kind of presence impresses me — and it’s something Obama needs to build up….
    Best regards,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  41. J. says:

    Steve, this doesn’t seem quite fair. Sen. Clinton has had the advantage of being the front-runner for most of the year since she gained that sub-committee chair, and has had local, parochial reasons to hold hearings within her subcommittee’s jurisdiction (9/11 air quality and similar issues). So she had both more time in Washington and more reason to devote her limited time to hearings than did Obama, who had to spend more time on the ground in Iowa and NH in order to achieve credibility as a candidate.

    Reply

  42. Robert Morrow says:

    Who cares what Hillary’s positions are? If she is hiring thugs like Jack Palladino to run terror campaigns on Bill’s sex victims like Kathleen Willey, it shows she does not respect the democratic process and is irresponsible with power. Who cares what Hillary’s position on global warming is if she does not respect the integrity of American citizens? Hillary, like wild Bill, is a thug.
    HILLARY AND JACK PALLADINO’S TERROR CAMPAIGN ON KATHLEEN WILLEY (1997-98)
    THE BOTTOM LINE: HILLARY IS IRRESPONSIBLE WITH POWER.
    Kathleen tells what Hillary’s Goons did to her (1997-98):
    “They threatened my children. They threatened my friend’s children. They took one of my cats [Bullseye] and killed another [Blarney]. They left a skull on my porch. They told me I was in danger. They followed me. They vandalized my car. They tried to retrieve my dogs from a kennel. They hid under my deck in the middle of the night. They subjected me to a campaign of fear and intimidation, trying to silence me.”
    [Kathleen Willey, Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton, p. x]
    Jack Palladino says “The only regret that I have about that whole thing was that Hillary did not pay me in a timely fashion.” [Kathleen Willey, Target, p. 212]

    Reply

  43. Ian Kaplan says:

    I’m not surprised by your favorable comments about Hillary Clinton, Steve. She is Republican lite and the candidate that the establishment is the most comfortable with. Hillary Clinton means policy by triangulation and no real change. Hillary Clinton means that there will be a large military presence in Iraq for years to come. Hillary Clinton means that the insurance industry profits will be protected by any health plan. Hillary Clinton means the shattering of any hope for real change. In short, HRC is the candidate that the “beltway set” is the most comfortable with.
    I am not the only Democratic voter to see HRC in this light. Hillary Clinton is a very divisive candidate. Many of us see her politically as a clone of her husband. Bill Clinton is a man who betrayed everyone. The political ideals he espoused when he was first elected, those who voted for him and finally his wife. Bill and Hillary believe in nothing but their own power.
    If it were not for the fact that all of her potential Republican challengers are midgets when it comes to political stature, she would have a difficult time winning. As it is, if HRC wins the nomination there will be factions who simply will not support her. I always vote, but I will no more vote for HRC than I will for Diane Feinstein (D-CA).

    Reply

  44. David N says:

    Steve:
    I hate to break precedent by saying something nice, but part of your post pointed out something that has been bothering me for a long time.
    Way back in January or so, Obama said that he was asking himself and the public what he could do to prepare for and demonstrate an ability to run for the office of President.
    My answer at the time — sent to the aether, as are they all — was simple. His job.
    Thanks for pointing out in a clear manner that he has not done that. He, and all the other Democratic candidates, have spent the year campaigning rather than governing. The exception, of course, is Edwards, who doesn’t have a job to do.
    There is some good to point to in all the Democratic candidates. Richardson is the one with the experience, if that’s your standard. Kucinich is the one with the ideas. Clinton is the one who knows where the levers are. Obama and Edwards are the most appealing to me, however, precisely because the have the least contact with the Washington power structure, and the way things are usually done.
    As Edwards says, we need someone who will stand up to the corporate interests who are trying to hijack our country, not someone who will compromise away our rights. We need someone who understands that bare free enterprise is an unworkable economic idea, even were there anyone interested in really trying it. We need someone who will call the Republicans and the Media shills on their lies.
    And by those standards, I see nothing.

    Reply

  45. Carroll says:

    I haven’t decided who to vote for if anyone in 2008 and this probably belongs in the open thread. But since Steve is mentioning the value of knowing how to work the system I want to say this. Maybe some others agree, maybe not.
    I think it is assumed among DC insiders, staffers and policy operatives that the public is ignorant of how complicated the system is and how it works.
    This is true for some of the public but not all. I think that among the public that knows a bit about the system, they are the very ones that are fed up with the system and appeals to them by a candidate that she/he knows how to work that system fall on deaf ears.
    It is that same system that some of us are fed up with. The politicans themselves “grew” a lot of these complications – tricks and levers – as SC said. Some of them are in place for very good reasons, but a majority of rules, procedures, tricks and levers are there because they advanced at some time the self serving “political” needs of the parties or individuals within congress, not the country. So naturally they tell the public that of course we don’t understand “the system.”
    As Obey-D said to activist camped outside his office…”you stupid liberals don’t understand how congress works”.
    The problem is many of us do. We understand why pork earmark bills are inserted into totally unrelated bills. We understand how posion pill amendments are put in bills to make it impossible for some one to vote for or vote against a certain bill. We understand all the tricks, levers, tradeoffs, tit for tats and etc. that make congress more like a insider trading floor than a house of deliberation on specific issues.
    Put up a bill that is a popular mostly agreed upon issue and then stick everything but the kitchen sink in it by anyone who wants to get an another or special interest goodie passed.
    Now the insiders are going to explain to us how tradeoffs and bargins are actually democracy in the system. But most of the time, not all, but most, the tradeoffs and tricks are for the political they, not the people us.
    What they won’t say it why it has to be this way…why bills are not considered and voted on totally and specifically by single issues. Can you imagine a bill called Earmarks and Pork for 2007?
    Can you imagine an US Energy bill that didn’t have a foreign aid package for Israeli energy research attached to it?
    Some of us want to end the gaming of the system and aren’t interested in continuing what obviously isn’t working to our benefit. It’s not going to take a genius to uncomplicate what has been deliberately complicated. On the other hand those who like ‘working the system” will add more levers to it for their benefit if they are in a position to and further complicate ‘the system”.
    At this point I would much prefer someone who knew jack shit about working the system and would take a chain saw to this maze and say what the hell is this and this and this…clean it up, trim it up, plug the holes, make it transparent and streamline the whole process.

    Reply

  46. pauline says:

    Carroll wrote:
    “I agree Hillary is smart and has a great work ethic and can work the system..but I don’t think she is smart enough to continuing serving the zionist agenda of using the US for it’s goals and also back America out of it’s current ME and economic troubles at the same time…at least not without just handing over the US lock, stock and barrel to Israel as “compensation” for not bombing Iran.”
    What is then Steve’s opinion of “president” Hillary in context to Carroll’s? Who exactly does Steve think are Hillary’s big money-backers and how will her money-backers shape/control her policies? Can Steve leave AIPAC off her list? And, if not, how can any voter be assured she will sware to live up to an oath-of-office? [i.e. our constitution]
    Yesterday, Ron Paul made campaigning history by raising six million dollars in one day. The media will probably mention it, but will couch it in the constant message of “but he still can’t possibly win.”
    No matter how much money Ron Paul raises, or how many supporters he has, the statist propagandists will treat it like a fluke–an insignificant anomaly which really doesn’t matter at all. Both
    Democrat and Republican media talking heads are doing it constantly. And if you watch closely, every once in a while you can catch a glimpse of the terror in their eyes, when they contemplate the possibility that someone who actually believes in the constitution might win.

    Reply

  47. erichwwk says:

    ….of course, by only recognizing three potential Democratic candidates, I am excluding Kucinich, who likely comes the closest to manifesting all the populist held Democratic ideals but one- he has not shown that he can win big fights against big money.
    ….but…. was excluding him as a potential candidate valid/appropriate?

    Reply

  48. john o. says:

    Steve, Hillary is a pod whose presidential aspirations stem more from her familial psycho drama and the desire for power than anything else. You are too close. Dems can do better.

    Reply

  49. erichwwk says:

    Of the THREE potential Democratic nominees, only John Edwards has clearly and consistently shown the moral courage courage to define what ails America, and explain what is the ONLY way the problem can be solved.
    We are ruled by a very few, who operate directly through the a very few in the executive branch. The judiciary and Congress are essentially neutered. Only by confronting the corporate powers directly, and using the number of people as the counter veiling power of the number of dollars, and forcing the fight to give up power that will not be ceded any other way, do we have ANY hope of moving the country in the direction that people EVERYWHERE benefit, and not just a self-appointed few.
    John Edwards has his faults (No options are off the table with Iran?????), but the most important is WHO are they fighting for? HOW are they contemplating doing in? and WHAT will the fights be about?
    Without a clear expression of those THREE ANSWERS, and agreeing to some explicit social contract that ENFORCES the answers to those questions once in office, we might as well stop listening, knowing we would just be getting meaningless fluff and misdirection.

    Reply

  50. Carroll says:

    And then there is this little problem of the US Defense Secretary being laughed out of town by the Gulf Council.
    http://www.gulfnews.com/opinion/columns/region/10174722.html
    “Secretary Gates did not realise that he was stepping into a minefield when he addressed a regional security conference there that included all members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-member alliance and a key ally of the US.
    Gates chose to stress the danger of Iran’s nuclear programme and in the same breath appealed to his Arab audience to force Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment plans, which the Tehran government has repeatedly argued was a peaceful programme. His remarks came a few days after the release of a declassified consensus view of 16 US intelligence agencies that maintained Tehran had halted atomic weapons development in 2003 and had not resumed it since.
    Soon after Gates’s speech, the defence secretary was challenged by Bahraini Minister of Labour Majid Al Alawi, who wanted to know whether Gates thought “the Zionist (Israeli) nuclear weapon is a threat to the region”.
    The defence secretary paused, and answered tersely: “No. I don’t.”
    The statement was greeted by laughter from a room filled with senior Arab government officials.
    Another Arab official, Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah, the secretary-general of the Council, responded: “Not considering Israel a threat to security in the region is considered a biased policy that is based on a double standard.”
    Also, Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani took to task Gates’s disparaging comparison of Iran and Israel. “We can’t really compare Iran with Israel. Iran is our neighbour, and we shouldn’t really look at it as an enemy,” he said, continuing “I think Israel through 50 years has taken land, kicking out the Palestinians, and interferes under the excuse of security, blaming the other party”.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    So Hillary continung the same old Israel fetish of ignoring Israel’s nukes while “forbidding” everyone else in the ME to have any is going make any impression on the Arab states just because she is the new president?
    I don’t think so. This Isr’merica game is so over for 90% of the world and yet Hillary and the establishment still don’t get it.
    I suppose the Arabs can pull their oil off the market as the final coup de grace if our American-Not “leaders” continue to squat for Israel.

    Reply

  51. JohnH says:

    Being the first female candidate, she is forced to show that she is not “soft.” She has to ooze testosterone.
    Unfortunately, that need will not go away if she becomes President. When Truman took office, he was widely considered a weakling. Hiroshima cured that. The problem is that we don’t know exactly how Hillary will demonstrate her toughness: bombing Iran?

    Reply

  52. Carroll says:

    I would like to know how Hillary would handle this.
    From Col Lang
    “Israel plans to “correct” the Iran NIE
    “In his remarks — Israel’s harshest criticism yet of the U.S. report — Avi Dichter said the assessment also cast doubt on American intelligence in general, including information about Palestinian security forces’ crackdown on militant groups. The Palestinian action is required as part of a U.S.-backed renewal of peace talks with Israel this month.
    Dichter cautioned that a refusal to recognize Iran’s intentions to build weapons of mass destruction could lead to armed conflict in the Middle East.
    He compared the possibility of such fighting to a surprise attack on Israel in 1973 by its Arab neighbors, which came to be known in Israel for the Yom Kippur Jewish holy day on which it began.
    “The American misconception concerning Iran’s nuclear weapons is liable to lead to a regional Yom Kippur where Israel will be among the countries that are threatened,” Dichter said in a speech in a suburb south of Tel Aviv, according to his spokesman, Mati Gil. “Something went wrong in the American blueprint for analyzing the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat.”” Yahoo News
    ————————————————–
    Yup. Tail wags dog. Mouse gives diving eagle the finger. Dog bites the hand, etc.
    Israeli intelligence has been the foster child of American government for so long it is impossible to remember when anything was different. I suppose before ’56…. Maybe.
    The reference to the “Yom Kippur War” is amusing since the surprise experienced by Israel was entirely the product of their own analytic failure.
    In any event, now they have a satellite or two and they have arrived at their own theory of the state of mind of the Iranians. In that context, their officials speak grandly of “the American misconception of Iran’s nuclear weapons.” My. My.
    In fact what happened is that the US intelligence community punctured the balloon of illusion concerning Iran’s programs That balloon had been skilfully painted in gaudy colors that fit the Israeli “misconception” of the world. Now there is unbridled rage among the Jacobins, the Cheneyites and the Israeli government over an unexpected failure.
    I hear that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is going to make a visit to Israel. The Israelis actually say that they will make a maximum pitch to him for repudiation of the intelligence community’s work. That should be interesting since a lot of the intelligence community belongs to the Defense Department.
    Then, there is the visit of the president, supposed to occur in January. Israelis have told me that he must be going there to coordinate the next moves in the Iran game. I told them that they should believe that his trip is connected to a renewed peace process.
    They found that amusing. They do not believe there really is a peace process. pat lang
    15 December 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
    Given that Hillary has, as James Wolcott wrote about her in Vanity Fair last year,..”done everything but squat and s*** a turd on command for AIPAC”…(Wolcott said that not me btw).
    And considering her support of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon and then Syria and considering her huge campaign financing by admitted hard core right wing US zionist ….it seems to me she would continue the disasterous Israeli/AIPAC foreign policy we have had forced on us by our politicans for decades.
    I agree Hillary is smart and has a great work ethic and can work the system..but I don’t think she is smart enough to continuing serving the zionist agenda of using the US for it’s goals and also back America out of it’s current ME and economic troubles at the same time…at least not without just handing over the US lock, stock and barrel to Israel as “compensation” for not bombing Iran.
    As I said before I use to support Hillary but I don’t trust her on this most critical issue. I don’t think she can ignore her own ambition to be President and a second term president like Bubba when it comes to pleasing her money backers.
    The Israeli polls show that Hillary and Rudy are their two top picks for president because of their “unconditional” support for Israel.
    Not a very good recommendation for someone running for President of America.

    Reply

  53. JohnH says:

    “But I am convinced of something about Hillary Clinton’s commitment to use every lever and every aspect of government machinery to push her legislative and policy work.”
    Do we have any evidence of this from her 7 years in the Senate? I see no evidence of leadership. She runs on experience but has a thin record of accomplishment.
    Of course, the same can be said of Obama. Lack of proven success is the achilles heel of the leading Democratic candidates.
    We will probably have a choice between a Democrat begging us to take it on faith that they will promote the public good against a Republican with executive experience and a decided tilt toward the rich, powerful and military. Wonderful choices!

    Reply

  54. dc says:

    I thought the same when I read Steve’s thoughts…it would be a shame for her to leave the Senate!

    Reply

  55. just john says:

    As a New Yorker, I think Hillary Clinton would make a FANTASTIC multi-decade senior senator.
    Ted Kennedy had presidential ambitions too, but look how much more he’s gotten done in his current job.

    Reply

  56. Greg P says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why I’m still inclined to support Hillary, rather than Obama, despite my misgivings about her public statements on Iran tacking in a hawkish direction and her vote for Kyl-Lieberman. My gut feeling is that there’s two levels to Hillary Clinton: the rather vapid, poll-tested, Mark Penn-guided ‘pablum for the masses’ level, but beneath that a serious policy wonk with a grasp for detail and a heavily realist-influenced approach to foreign policy. At the end of the day, it’s not the public rhetoric which matters, but what she would really do in office.
    Obama is harder to read, but I do have some concerns about the idealistic streak, the Tony Lake ans Samantha Power stuff… Of the seven major subheadings of his web page on national security issues, three of them are things which don’t have a direct impact on core US interests: Darfur, Congo, and Charles Taylor. I’m not saying US foreign policy should ignore these things, ans I’d certsainly like to see Charles Taylor in a jail cell someday, but these aren’t the issues which will be moving the great tectonic plates of history over the next decade. What about managing the rise of China in a way which keeps the peace? What about the need to work with Russia despite our distaste for what Putin has done domestically? What about the long slide in the value of the US dollar, and the fading global confidence in US macroeconomic policy — a change which really has the potential to deflate US power over the long term if it limits our access to Asian capital? Those are the big issues facing the next president, and the campaign ‘pablum’ tells us little about how the candidates view them.

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