My timing isn’t perfect. But the results from S. Carolina make it vital for Democrats to examine our two leading candidates with extra care. Why do I prefer Hillary’s policies and think she will do a better job than Obama? I needn’t repeat what the NY Times has said in endorsing her for the Dem nominee. Instead, I’d like to bring up a few issues that IntLawGrrls might want to think about.
1st, it is said that Barack Obama’s election would change the world’s perception of America at a stroke. Believe me, the election of any Democrat would bring a giant sigh of relief among all our former friends and allies. After that, they will wait to see our policies. So it will come back to policies – accomplished, not promised.
2d, it’s said Hillary is divisive, she is hated, and won’t be able to get things done. Yet she has worked effectively in the Senate, promoted a stream of legislation, and proved that she can work with moderate Republicans to get results. Similarly, when overwhelmingly re-elected to the Senate, she carried much of Republican upstate New York, persuading independents and moderate Republicans to back her. Some people do hate her. So what? The 30% of Americans who still think George W Bush is doing a good job will never change, never like her, and go on hating Democrats; probably as many Dems loathed GWB but he was (re?)elected in 2004 anyway.
A personal impression: I heard HRC speak at a fund-raising luncheon when running for re-election and I happened to be in New York. The charge that ‘she’s a robot’ is nonsense. She was a warm, funny speaker and the 300 women and men in the audience responded fervently. We heard a winner. I don’t doubt she has ‘charisma’, but I suspect she learned, as did most women of her generation, not to let it show too much. She’ll undo that, I think, as she swings into the election.
3d, she hasn’t really had her own Experience (Oh, 'Grrls, should we be denigrating good work because it’s done by a Wife?). As First Lady, HRC travelled the world, meeting with leaders and oppositions, while helping to launch such initiatives as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Do you remember her speech in Beijing at the UN World Conference on Women in 1995 (despite the Chinese government and some American staffers trying to shut her up)? – when she declared that "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights". If you’ve forgotten, take a moment to read about it at the link above.
Now in her 2d term as Senator, she has built up an impressive legislative record on progressive issues – some high profile (e.g., the recent battle with GWB over extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program ) but much of it gritty, unglamorous, plain hard work. She has introduced, sponsored and co-sponsored legislation on Women’s issues, Education, Health care (with the scars to prove it), Civil rights, and joined other senators in submitting a friend of the court brief supporting U. of Michigan in its court battle to maintain affirmative action in 2003.
On the home front, a Democratic President will have the monumental task of putting back together a competent, problem-solving government, while keeping America this side of fiscal bankruptcy. Where does one even start? How about by knowing how the national government works (or used to work)? No pep talks, please, or hands-off management.
Now, Iraq. I know, Obama always opposed the illegal, immoral, and ruinous war. But he didn’t have to vote for or against it since he wasn’t in the Senate at the time. Now he is in the Senate and has voted the same as HRC on Iraq funding and war-related bills. No one wants deny our troops when they are ‘in harm’s way’(a weak euphemism for killing and being killed). Anyway, that was then. Now both candidates want to get out.
Who can handle that better? If you thought leaving Vietnam was messy, just wait for Iraq. Not enemy tanks rolling down the road but plenty of blood, chaos and a grinning Iran. There is also Afghanistan going down the chute, and we may now be slipping sideways into a third war in Pakistan. Good will and calling for Unity is really not enough. Unity with whom? No one on the other side is waiting to grasp Obama’s hand. Rather, can’t you already hear the accusations of 'Who Lost Iraq?'
Whoever takes this on had better be tough. And knowledgeable. HRC is the the 1st New York Senator to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee . She has introduced two relevant bills in 2007, the Congressional Oversight of Iraq Agreements Act – to require the President to get Congressional approval for any bilateral agreement extending the U.S. military commitment, and the Iraq Troop Protection and Reduction Act – to halt the President’s escalation and to end the war before he leaves office. Hillary is a learner. Just as she learned from the collapse of her first health coverage plan – and has now crafted a plan that could get the job done – she has come to the right side on Iraq (and hands up, all of you, who swear you had no doubts even in the beginning. Good for you. It took me a little longer). Even with HRC as commander-in-chief, it’s going to be incredibly difficult, politically dangerous, and (I’m sorry to re-emphasize) very bloody.
My last point is electability. I do not believe Obama can be elected. I need not tell IntLawGrrls how critical it is that the next President is a Democrat (think of those two Supreme Court seats coming up, and tremble).
But we want Change, you say. The election of the first woman President is not a Change?
We, too, have waited long enough.