Friday, October 19, 2007

HIllary & I

I went to a Hillary fundraiser during the 2006 campaign. She was confident, informed and articulate on the issues and there was very little “rally rhetoric” until the end—I was quite impressed.

A common criticism of Hillary is that she “triangulates”, that she walks a political tightrope and in this respect she epitomizes the classic theoretical model of a politician who seeks support from anyone and everyone according to expediency rather than “connecting” personally with prospective voters.

Hillary is extremely irksome to self proclaimed “progressives” who, as far as I can tell, are a major public force in sustaining and driving the Democratic Party and yet Hillary as the front runner doesn’t seem to reflect their views and positions. (I know she irks me but I’m not sure that’s enough to make me a “progressive”).

The voting nation as a whole is obviously pretty sick of all the BS and Hillary can be and is being accused of being “more of the same”—but I’m not sure I totally agree, nor am I sure that her “centrism” and “triangulation” is necessarily a bad thing.

I’m quite disgusted with her apparent position that the US should maintain some military force in Iraq should she become President, and with 70% of the nation crying out for withdrawal ASAP it doesn’t seem to make any domestic political sense (let alone IMHO “good” foreign policy). But though I disagree with that in principle it may make some sense after all.

What candidates say they will do and what they actually do once in office can be two different things, as we all know only too-well. But every candidate is running somewhat blind, so once in office they may find themselves suddenly informed of considerations they hadn’t been informed-about before, and thus may be obliged to modify or change their positions. It may be that Hillary isn’t willing to commit to a complete withdrawal precisely because she’s aware that she doesn’t have all the information now that she’ll have as chief executive—she may be avoiding making promises that she may not be able to keep, so she’s compromising.

Now I know that looks like an apology on my part for Hillary, but it’s not meant to be; it is a consideration that applies to every candidate. Hillary is the only one who has anything resembling presidential experience and her calculated “triangulation” on this issue may reflect that. Of course it would be helpful to me anyway if she said-so plainly, but speaking plainly is often the privilege of those in-charge, and she isn’t in-charge yet. Speaking plainly is also an option for those who think they have nothing to lose, so some of Hillary’s positions may be the result of careful introspection and sophisticated consideration.

As much as I and many others would like to hear more “straight-talk”, haven’t we also heard too-much of it as well and reaped the consequences? If Hillary’s positions seem constantly compromised might it not be that she is actually reflecting the nature of democracy? Ultimately might we not have had enough of “leaders” who lead from the top, who assume their marginal victories are mandates and affirmations of their expressed personal convictions? Might not we be better-served by someone whose personal convictions might be modified by broader considerations?

I’m not endorsing Hillary I’m just thinking out loud and trying to figure her out, given her current front-runner status. It irritates me no-end that personality rather than policies seem to dominate political discourse, but it's unavoidable I guess.

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