2008 A Case for Senator Hillary Clinton
posted by January 17 at 9:40 AMon
Hillary Clinton, through the course of the campaign and the debates, has me utterly convinced. She really is the wonk of the group with the keenest sense of how the political process grinds to create policy. Without a doubt, she makes a completely compelling case for herself… as Senate Majority Leader.
Before I am accused of writing yet more “pro-Barack Obama propaganda,” I have an embarrassing fact to admit: I love the United States Congress. And I believe the Constitution and founding fathers—endowing the House and Senate with the control of the budget, the right to approve all appointees, set all laws the executive branch must follow, and decide when we go to war to name a few exclusive powers—have my back. The presidency, by comparison, is meant to be a vestigial limb—a fake king for a people shaking off monarchy—shackled by the laws of the land, the courts, and the will of the people.
Since the Republican revolution of 1994, Congress steadily declined to the present state, a training ground for future lobbyists and a farm league for piles of inept presidential aspirants. Few remain with any interest or talent in legislation. Most bills passed are written by powerful outside interests, concatenated into an impenetrable mass, left unread and forced through the vote in the dark of night.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. Congress should be where the brightest minds, the most detail-oriented minds, the minds most able to evaluate complexity gather to make the needs and bold sweeping goals of the nation happen—minds, it must be said, like Clinton’s. It’s hard to remember this, to even conceive of this in the Bush-era unitary executive. The decline of our nation, in no small part, can be attributed to the decline of Congress in power and as a deliberative body. We need more congressmen and congresswomen like Barbara Mikulski, Carl Levin and Paul Wellstone under the leadership of someone with the breadth and eloquence of Hillary Clinton.
Great presidents are left six, maybe seven years to accomplish their goals. Great congressional careers are measured in decades. Clinton’s interests and talents—a glacier-like focusing in on details and policy crafting—are ideally suited to the Congress, this branch of government, and this sort of public career. I have no doubt she could come up with detailed and compelling plans of action—plans that could out compete the conflicted crap written by lobbyists. We need Clinton, or someone like Clinton, running the Senate. Pair a Clinton-led Senate with a series of rhetorically strong Democratic president—like Obama, who can sell her brilliant plans to the public in a way that she cannot—and you have the mixture to accomplish great and world changing acts.
Hands-on and detail oriented, or visionary and inspiring? To borrow from Eli, it takes both. Using Clinton’s own example, it didn’t just take MLK’s soaring rhetoric and LBJ’s signature to bring the Civil Rights Act into reality. It took brilliant political maneuvering by Mike Mansfield (the Senate Majority leader from 1961 to 1977)—building a unique collation of Northern Democrats and Republicans—to finally overwhelm the Southern bloc of votes that had consistently filibustered the bill in the past. Without a talented and brilliant Senate Majority Leader, it never would have happened.