Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's time to have a conversation about Hillary Clinton

Sometimes it's necessary to have uncomfortable conversations. Now is one of those times.

Virginia Democrats have an opportunity they have not had in decades: a chance to affect the outcome of a presidential election. They may in fact have two chances: one in the primaries and one in the general election, if we choose our candidate wisely. Today, my friend Ben Tribbett reminded me how important that responsibility is and how important it is that we have a conversation about our choices, even if it is a little uncomfortable for some.

A conversation we need to have, a conversation that is long overdue, is a conversation about the record, the experience, and the management style of Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. Hillary Clinton, as most of you no doubt know, is running for president. She is doing so on the basis of her "experience" and her readiness to "hit the ground running."

Hillary Clinton claims that she has no need for "on the job training." She claims that her experience includes "thirty-five years of change." It is my belief that these claims cannot be accepted on their face. They need to be explored, probed, and subjected to independent scrutiny to help the voters of Virginia--Democrats, independents, and even the occasional stray Republican tempted by the pull of his or her conscience to cross over--who will vote in this year's Democratic presidential primary.

We owe it to Virginia's voters to make certain we provide them with the best information we can as we head into a critical vote on February 12, 2008. An opportunity like this may not come our way again for decades. To ensure that this opportunity is not wasted, I plan to lead this critical conversation in the next few weeks.

I look forward to sharing my findings with you all and discussing them at length as Virginia's historic February 12th primary approaches.


AnonymousIsAWoman said...

It cuts both ways, JC. That same conversation needs to be had about Obama and his level of experience; the tough votes he has taken - or failed to take, voting merely merely "present" instead; and how much of a true leader he has been up to now, with just two years as an office holder at the national level. How many truly tough races has he been in that have tested his mettle?

I'm not saying he's not up to it. He is impressive. But truth be told, the same tough scrutiny needs to be applied to all of them.

That even includes my personal favorite, John Edwards. But after the whole dust up between Hillary and Barack, I'm sticking with Edwards. He looks better and better to me.

The Richmond Democrat said...


I welcome the comparison. In fact, you point to a key weakness of Clinton's. In her "thirty five years of change" she has made many mistakes and shown incredibly bad judgment.

By comparison, Obama's many years of experience (if Clinton can cite her husband's time in office, including state office, then surely Obama can cite his state office experience, no?) do not include anything like the record of blunders in Clinton's past.

If you have something to say about Obama, then by all means, speak up. But try to stay away from the kind of smears perpetrated by Clinton's surrogates and supports. It's becoming difficult to distinguish Ben Tribbett from Rush Limbaugh.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

JC, Ben will be Ben. He doesn't really represent the average Clinton supporter.

And you are quite right about her many mistakes. I personally worry about her electability too.

But the primary process has to vet all of the candidates so we've got the strongest candidate to take on the Republican.

And yes, Obama's experience in the state Senate does count. So does his experience as a community organizer. All of that adds up to a picture of who he is and the choices he made. It tells us all that has formed him and made him the person he is today. And it gives us an indication of what he will stand for and why.

The media has also either ignored or distorted John Edwards' record and background. We need to understand and know more about all our candidates - both their strong and weak points.

But is there a way to do this process without also drawing blood from our own? In doing this, how do we go about it without giving talking points to our opponents in a general election?

The Richmond Democrat said...

No, there isn't, as Ben has made it clear.

Unlike Ben, I will be fair. I will not make things up.

If Hillary's surrogates and people like Ben are going to continue to attack Obama, even after Obama offered a truce, then all bets are off.

If Ben didn't want Clinton's record to be examined he should pursued a different course.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Come on JC. All bets are off because of Ben? When did he become an official surrogate of the Clinton campaign? He's not even an associate of it. He writes an independent blog. He's no insider in the Hillary camp and you know that.

And what do you do if Hillary is the nominee? I don't especially want that either but do you then sit out the race and let one of the Republican clowns win it?

And please don't say Hillary would be the same as them.

I've been that route before. Purists said that about Al Gore. The very people who yearned to have him run this time were the very ones who chanted slogans like "AL Gore corporate whore" when he actually was the candidate in 2000. I heard them.

They believed the media hype about him and hated him because he wasn't liberal enough or pure enough. Ralph Nader and his supporters swore that a vote for Al Gore would be the same as a vote for Bush because there was no difference between the two parties.

Do you really believe that now? Do you honestly believe we'd be in Iraq or be facing the economic crisis we are in now if Gore had been president?

And I heard the exact same things in 1968 about Hubert Humphrey when he ran against Nixon. Liberals said there was no difference between Humphrey and Nixon. How ridiculous is that, looking back?

No, I'm never going down that road or listening to that siren song again.

Even Hillary would be better than Romney, McCain, Thompson, or Huckabee. Yes, even better than McCain, who wants us to stay in Iraq 1,000 years and is reminding South Carolina evangelicals of just how long he's been anti-abortion (and he has been consistently so).

Letting Ben get your goat about this is just plain silly. JC, I still think you are far better than that.

Matt said...

Anonymousisawoman -

The issue of voting 'present' was first made public by the Clinton campaign during New Hampshire primary season.

However, Planned Parenthood released statements discrediting the validity of those flyers, explaining that they worked with Senator Obama and asked him to vote 'present' on many bills for a variety of reasons.

Reasons include: some bills were good, but unconstitutional, some bills went along with roe v. wade, but were worded in a way that was inefficient.

I hope this puts to rest those comments. Planned Parenthood, the nations largest Pro-Choice organization, said Obama has "100% Pro-Choice Voting Record". And that he is the "most pro-choice candidate".