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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Inspiration Vs. Substance

posted by on January 16 at 15:07 PM

Last night’s debate reminded me, once again, of the thing that worries me most about Obama: He just isn’t substantive. I get why people like Obama, but I don’t get why progressives seem so convinced he’ll represent their interests; on nearly every issue, Hillary’s record is as or more progressive than Obama’s promises.

On the environment: Clinton voted for higher fuel efficiency standards for SUVs (S 517, 2002) and against using Yucca Mountain, NV, as a repository for spent nuclear and high-level radioactive waste. Obama, meanwhile, has been in favor of expanding nuclear energy. And, dude, he voted for the 2005 energy bill—which, as Clinton has pointed out, was “larded with all kinds of special interest breaks, giveaways to the oil companies.” Oh, and let’s not forget that he criticized a mining reform bill as too tough—on the mining industry. As for proposals: Clinton’s climate plan (like Obama’s) includes a cap-and-trade system, aiming for 80% emission reductions from 1990 levels by 2050, that auctions 100% of pollution credits. But her plan would get most of its reductions from efficiency, rather than pie-in-the-sky notions like “clean coal” (which Obama has supported) and corn-based ethanol (whose use Obama has said he wants to increase dramatically.) Clinton wants to adopt an ambitious fuel-efficiency goal of 55mpg by 2030, new green building standards and incentives, a federal program to finance home efficiency projects, incentives for smart grid technology, and a phaseout of incandescent light bulbs. She would fund training for so-called “green-collar” jobs, and she would invest in green energy and efficiency by rescinding tax breaks given to oil companies. She would make permanent the tax credit for solar and wind production. And she would create a National Energy Council along the lines of the National Security Council. No, her plan isn’t perfect—like all the leading Ds, she buys into the notion of increasing “home-grown biofuels” and she wouldn’t do much to help developing nations reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions—but on the whole, I think it’s the better plan of the two.

On foreign policy: Some liberals can’t forgive Hillary for voting for the war. Fine. But let me point out a few more votes she’s taken in the many years since: the Iraq Troop Reduction Act (written by Clinton); legislation preventing funding for military action in Iran that (cosponsored by Clinton); a bill requiring the Pentagon to prepare to redeploy troops currently in Iraq. Moreover, on Iraq War-related bills, her record and Obama’s are virtually identical.

On health care: Only Clinton’s plan would provide universal mandatory health insurance. Obama supporters have argued that Clinton’s plan would “force” people to buy health insurance, including people who couldn’t afford it. That’s wrong on two counts. First, it’s wrong rhetorically: A mandate merely ensures that coverage is actually universal. Without a mandate, healthy people could stay out of the system until they get sick, forcing everyone who did the right thing and bought insurance to subsidize the latecomers’ bad behavior. That’s not universal health insurance, and it won’t work. Second, it’s wrong literally: Clinton’s plan would subsidize health care for low-income people by rolling back Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy. Everyone would get health care; no one would be left behind. Plus, her plan would crack down on insurance companies that waste millions on CEO salaries, lawyer fees, and marketing.

On choice: Clinton has a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. She has worked to expend family planning services abroad, and has consistently spoken out against right-wing attacks on women’s access to reproductive health care. She opposed the nominations of Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court, arguing they represented the worst threat to Roe v. Wade in history. She opposed the “partial birth abortion” bill; the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which was designed to define a fetus as a person; the Child Custody Protection Act, which would have made it illegal to take a young woman across state lines for an abortion; and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would impose new national parental notice requirements on young women. She co-sponsored legislation to repeal the global gag rule, which has led to clinic closures and elimination of family planning services worldwide, particularly in poor and rural areas. She and Patty Murray led the effort to make “Plan B” emergency contraception available over the counter. She led the fight for comprehensive, medically accurate sex education, introducing legislation that would have funded comprehensive sex ed. She introduced the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act to ensure that rape victims get necessary medical care, including Plan B, and the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act, to ensure that servicewomen have access to Plan B. She supports the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act, which requires insurers who pay for drugs to cover contraception. Her top priorities include providing paid leave for new parents and caregivers, expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to include 13 million new workers, and ending discrimination against pregnancy workers. I’m not saying Obama wouldn’t take many or all of the same positions; it’s a matter of leadership and priorities. Hillary has made reproductive health and freedom a priority in a way that Obama hasn’t.

On gay rights: Hillary scored 89 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2006 scorecard—the same as Barack Obama. She voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and could have prevented recognition of civil unions and domestic partnership benefits. Yes, she opposes gay marriage, favoring supports civil unions—but then, so does Obama. In her own words, “I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out. From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment.”

I’m leaving out a lot of issues here, obviously—the economy, Social Security, and education, for example. For info on those and other issues, check out Hillary’s and Obama’s issue pages. Overall, though, it’s worth noting that Hillary has a 95.8 percent lifetime progressive record from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action.

I know people are inspired by Obama. As a friend said last night, “he has such a nice smile.” But smiles are one thing, policies another. (And I haven’t even gone into experience, electability, or symbolic value—three more areas where I think Hillary knocks Obama out of the water). Either Hillary or Obama would move this country in the right direction; I’m just convinced that Hillary would do more, and faster, than the good-looking young guy with the steep learning curve.

RSS icon Comments


You already admitted that you went over to Hillary because she is a woman. Now you're backfilling reasons to justify it.

I'm a real feminist. You're a fake feminist.

Posted by elenchos | January 16, 2008 3:01 PM

This is good stuff. Barry O's lightweightedness worries me too. I'm no Hill fan, but I hate that people hate her - it's the hate for Tracy Flick more than anything, and that bugs the shit out of me.

Posted by Lola | January 16, 2008 3:05 PM

Obama's NARAL rating is 100% too.

Posted by Jake | January 16, 2008 3:06 PM

Thanks Erica, for posting this. Keep it coming.

Posted by thanks | January 16, 2008 3:07 PM

On what planet is Obama considered a 'good-looking young guy?'

Posted by johnnie | January 16, 2008 3:08 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm so sick of everyone ripping on Hillary. It is such a relief and pleasure to hear someone finally supporting her in such eloquent terms. I completely agree with you. :)

Posted by Betsy | January 16, 2008 3:09 PM

Erica, like a number of other Hillary acolytes, you need to figure out that Obama supporters (and those leaning Obama) are not at all persuaded when you belittle him as lacking substance, and that doing so actually provokes the kind of visceral anti-Hillary reaction that drove them to Obama in the first place. You'd really be better off simply saying, "I like her because she's a woman and I'm nostalgic for the 1990s" and leave it at that.

Posted by Trey | January 16, 2008 3:10 PM

QFT, Erica

Posted by crazycatguy | January 16, 2008 3:10 PM

And I haven’t even gone into experience, electability, or symbolic value—three more areas where I think Hillary knocks Obama out of the water

Two of those are subjective, but electability? Really? Have you seen the numbers on Obama's appeal to independents?

Posted by MHD | January 16, 2008 3:13 PM

Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton...

no thanks.

Posted by ghostlawns | January 16, 2008 3:15 PM

Whomever gets the Democratic Party's nomination will win the Presidency.

Posted by six shooter | January 16, 2008 3:15 PM

ECB -- you make good points...points that appeal to the policy wonks among us and those that pay careful attention to these details....which is what? maybe 5% of the electorate.

I really can't think of very many elections (esp. presidential) that actually turned on policy.

Posted by gnossos | January 16, 2008 3:16 PM

Jesus. Ever heard of a paragraph marker?

Posted by ohmyfuckinggod | January 16, 2008 3:17 PM

@1 What?... Define Real feminist or fake feminist?

And "justify" would be the ignorant way of putting it, i think she's supporting her opinion with facts.

Everything starts with indentifing, You like someone becuase of their apperance, or the way they speak. But whats trully important is not staying with "she's a woman", it's getting to the core and admiting either learder would do good, but here are my reasons to support A or B, even if they are new found reasons.

Posted by Horokeh | January 16, 2008 3:19 PM

Thank you for all the very useful information. Please do keep it coming.

And now something I've been meaning to post for too long (totally unrelated to HRC): F*ck all your misogynist haters, ECB. I support your posting on women's and feminist issues. You make me proud to be a young feminist and your voice makes me feel less alone. Thank you for standing up for women and posting what you do. Seeing that you continue to post the things you do despite the hate and ignorance in the comments and the invisibility of women in many other slog posts reminds me that I have too keep opening my mouth too - even when it's scariest.

Posted by greendyke | January 16, 2008 3:20 PM

Hillary's electability is ASS!! I can't believe you'd say she's more electable. Either of the other candidates are more electable. I read conservative blogs and stuff all the time where they're like "man we're so fucked for this election unless the Dems send us the gift of Hillary."

And it's probably because she's a woman. Which is bullshit, and makes me a lot more likely to vote for her just to try and cancel out the bullshit. But it's the damn truth.

Posted by John | January 16, 2008 3:23 PM

Ugh. Clinton does not have experience. I'm sorry that so many people have apparently been blinded by her constant droning. Technically she's got LESS experience as an elected official than Obama.

Do I think she's ready to go from day one as she keeps repeating? Nope. She isn't. Do I have to back that up? Nope. Why? Because she doesn't, either.

Maybe she's counting her years as First Lady as experience. But unless she's going to release her papers from those years, then I'm going to continue to believe that her experience was largely cutting ribbons and hosting official dinners at the White House--outside, of course, of her bungling of the healthcare thing. Being a fly on the wall during her husband's administration does not equal experience. It just doesn't.

Liberal bona fides? Perhaps she's more liberal on some scales here and there. But then Obama is more liberal on others. You can pick and choose all you want.

Electability? Really? Have you seen Clinton's negatives? I was talking to an African-American friend of mine who was greatly disturbed by Clinton's more recent comments. And then he said if Clinton ran against Huckabee (!!) he'd probably vote for Huckabee. Does that make sense? Not to me it doesn't. But I don't believe he's the only one out there who feels like that.

As to getting in to who is more "symbolic"? Well, that just seems ridiculous. Look, all the Democrats are great candidates, and we'd be lucky to have any of them in the WH after 8 years of hell.

Posted by Michigan Matt | January 16, 2008 3:23 PM

I could have sworn that there was earlier Slog post that pointed out that Obama was actually must more representative of progressive views, based on various ratings.

Posted by Gitai | January 16, 2008 3:24 PM

The President's primary power is that of the bully-pulpit. A president must be able to persuade the other side and the American public to enact his proposed laws.

What is her record in actually proposing legislation and getting it enacted into law? Her record of sponsoring a bill that becomes law has been poor to average. (see Jawing about what should be is one thing, but getting things done is another.

A good leader has the ability to not only to come up with ideas, but persuade others that her idea should be law. In eight years as a US senator, she has proven to be average at best.

Policy proposals are one thing, leading others to enact them is another.

Posted by Medina | January 16, 2008 3:27 PM

The Democratic nominee will win the presidency.

In my experience, people say "she is not electable" when they really mean "I wouldn't vote for her."

Almost all of those people, when pressed, would vote for her over ANY R.

Posted by six shooter | January 16, 2008 3:29 PM

this post just makes me want John Edwards to be the nominee that much more.

Posted by max solomon | January 16, 2008 3:30 PM

Good post. Thanks for being wonky.

Obama's biggest strength is his inspirational talk, and ability to connect with people at an emotional level. In particular, when he says that the 9-11 reaction was one of fear, and when he talks about hope itself, I think he is taking us in the direction we need to go to be truly safer in this world and to have a more peaceful world. (Obama's approach also includes being realistic about the real threats. He is not saying there is no threat; nor that we should not respond militarily against real threats.)

So to me, Hillary's flaw is that she does not work at that level. I wish she would learn how to. Along with being more "human."

Obama's flaw is his lack of experience as that realtes to his electability. Many think Hillary is the only one with high negatives. Wrong. The right wing will attack Obama for lack of experience. They will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on this. They will paint him as an ultra liberal, too. He will get the same treatment Hillary, Dukakis and all the other Democrats get.

It borders on delusion to think this won't happen or that it won't move many swing voters.

They made Kerry look like a goofball traitor -- with lies -- when he was a smart, highly experienced legislator and medalled war hero.

Imagine what they would make Obama look like -- with truthful statements -- about lack of experience.

This will cause swing voters in Ohio and Florida to go with the Republican. Especially if it is McCain. This is a danger to getting enough electoral votes to win the general election.

At this point I have admiration for both. I feel the Democratic Party is lucky to have both in the running. Both have pros and cons. I am leaning towards Hillary mainly because (a) both will have high negatives (not just Hillary), and (b) the Democrats really haven't won many presidential elections since 1964, Hillary was involved in both of Bill's wins, and so she will better know how to win. Winning is the main thing as any of the D's is far better than any of the R's.

I hope that supporters of both candidates recognize each has tremendous strengths and a role to play, and neither one is perfect. There is certainly a case to be made for Obama. But to argue it is open and shut for Obama, in effect means closing your eyes to his negatives.

Eyes open as to both of them is better.

Posted by Cleve | January 16, 2008 3:31 PM

Michigan Matt-

Hilary and her supporters aren't talking about her time as First Lady when they talk about her experience. That should be obvious with the mantra she puts out "I've been doing this for 35 years...." She wasn't First Lady 35 years ago. She has, however, been working in the public sphere, not as an elected official no, but she has been working.

If you think that experience isn't enough, say so, but I wish people would leave the poor "First Lady doesn't equate to experience!" strawman alone already. It can only be knocked down so often before it just can't get up again.

Posted by Phelix | January 16, 2008 3:31 PM

don't bank on that, six shooter.

Posted by brandon | January 16, 2008 3:31 PM

1) You've advocated for Hillary here, but you haven't shown at all that Obama is a "lightweight" with a "steep learning curve". Does any candidate speak in "substantive" terms in a three-minute debate answer? You honestly think Obama is incapable of "substantive" action? You've starting believing your own Clintonian propaganda here.

2) Get over the knee-jerk reaction to nuclear power - there are opportunity costs at play here. Nuclear power is much cleaner than it was decades ago, and deserves reconsideration when the alternative is guzzling more oil. (Solar and wind alone just aren't going to keep our economy going, at least not for many years yet.)

3) As I've argued here before, Obama's health care plan is essentially doing the same thing as Clinton's in a more subtle manner. Obama will provide tax credits for buying into an insurance plan; Clinton will fine you for not buying into a plan. Where's the fundamental difference? If anything, Obama's plan does the same thing in a more palatable manner.

4) Saying that Obama would probably take the same positions on abortion rights but "hasn't made it a priority the way Hillary has" is just grasping for a reason to penalize him. Obama has the same 100% NARAL voting record. Is he going to give you want you want on abortion rights, or isn't he? Which candidate was it who referred to abortion as a "sad, even tragic choice"? Hmmmm?

Finally: You just don't seem to understand why Hillary's vote for the war is so patently offensive to many. It represented either (1) pandering, or (2) a sincere belief in the correctness of invading Iraq. If it was (1), then it's pretty clear that Hillary could drop the ball on any issue - even one as gigantic as going to war - once it becomes politically inconvenient.

If it's (2), then ... geez, she actually believed that crap. And she's pushing the same line with respect to Iran. That you could try to downplay this is mind-boggling.

Posted by tsm | January 16, 2008 3:31 PM

Oh, and of course, Obama isn't trying to disenfranchise thousands of workers in Vegas.

Posted by Gitai | January 16, 2008 3:33 PM

This is one of the most well-written things I've read on this topic -- nice work, Erica!

Posted by Meghan | January 16, 2008 3:34 PM

I've been on the fence between these two, so I actually appreciate posts about the differences. I agree with ECB that Hillary would have a shorter learning curve and get more done than Obama. But I think her electability sucks. People just flat out hate HRC, and not only because she's a woman (although I agree there is a lot of mysogyny that plays into it), but because she's Hillary Clinton.

I don't feel like this election is in the bag at all for the Dems. I really fear McCain winning the R nomination, because I think a lot of people who would otherwise vote for a Dem will see a Republican they can live with, rather than a Dem they will support.

Posted by genevieve | January 16, 2008 3:34 PM

It's because she's a woman. I know it, you know it, we all know it. And why are you trying to give real responses, people? Queen Erica can't be bothered to deal with you peons or actually defend her positions. At best, you will get a "Hey trolls - screw y'all" response and nothing else.

Posted by truth | January 16, 2008 3:39 PM

And I haven’t even gone into experience, electability, or symbolic value—three more areas where I think Hillary knocks Obama out of the water

What planet are you, in fact, living on?

Clinton has the experience of Isabel Peron, and she'll make conservatives (and even some liberals) turn out just to vote AGAINST her. How is that serving the liberal cause?

Despite what you've said about her policies, I'm not entirely convinced that she would be able to marshal her political capital to get any of this done, nor that she would really have any reason to once she were in office. She is a noted centrist, and despite all of these promises, I can't shake the fact that her husband signed NAFTA, or severely curtailed welfare, or promoted "don't ask, don't tell", or couldn't get his act together to push through health care reform 15 years ago. Despite the fact that she isn't her husband, she really is implicitly running on his record, and *not* her own.

And in terms of symbolism? I'd sure as hell rather have the first (fill in the blank) President actually get into the office on his or her own merits, and not by riding on her husband's (or father's, or whoever's) coattails. *That* would be the true symbol. Geraldine Ferraro was far more of that symbol than Clinton could ever hope to be.

Posted by bma | January 16, 2008 3:39 PM

Sorry, 55mpg by 2030 is NOT ambitious. We should be outraged by such a low standard.

Posted by happy renter | January 16, 2008 3:40 PM

GREAT post, Erica! You're going to catch a world of shit from the "it's all about what you feel in your heart" Obamatons, but you've totally summed up why Clinton is a great leader at a time when we desperately need one.

Posted by Big Sven | January 16, 2008 3:41 PM

Thanks for your post, ECB. The constant Obamagasm being had by most of the SLOG commenters gets a little tiring after awhile.

Posted by Mittens Schrodinger | January 16, 2008 3:43 PM

@23 - being old is not equivalent to political experience. She was a lawyer, not a politician. By your logic, every old person should have the advantage because they have "life experience" that the youth doesn't.

If Hillary keeps stressing her experience, she'll be skewered by the much more experienced Republican field. McCain has 4 times the experience of Clinton. Huckabee and Romney have more political experience and "life experience."

Hillary's experience includes very negative baggage. The Republicans are hoping for her to win so that they can dredge up all the old negatives.

What has her experienced taught her? To be a political machine. She will spin, equivocate, poll-watch, tell half-truths, and pass the buck. If you want business as usual, vote for Clinton. But don't knock Obama because of his age and desire to change the typical Washington ways.

Posted by Medina | January 16, 2008 3:44 PM

I agree with 10. Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton that's just too much power in too few hands over too long a time.

Also what is all this about being supportive of gay rights? Her political philosophy, albeit under her husband, brought us the Defense of Marriage Act because they were too scared to stand up to it because it was an election year. That is the whole source of all this gay marriage junk that has cost the taxpayers of this country millions in court time and robbed many gay people of even the possibility of equal rights.

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | January 16, 2008 3:46 PM

@23--ditto what Medina said in #34.

Additionally, if she's not trying to hook herself to her husband's star and if she's not trying to count that as experience, then she should avoid surrounding herself with people from his adminstration like she did at her Iowa concession speech. What purpose does that serve other than to link her to her husband's administration where she was First Lady and not a member of the Cabinet?

Posted by Michigan Matt | January 16, 2008 3:48 PM

@17 & @30 - I can understand why some people don't want to count Hillary's time in the White House as experience. I personally think it sort of counts - not as much as if she'd been a co-President, but more than the typical first lady. Something on the order of a Vice President.

But, she was elected to the U.S. Senate four years before Obama, and that level of national experience counts for more than his time in the state senate in my book. I can buy that her experience may not vastly outshine his, just as I don't think he's that much more an agent of change than she'd be. But, I just don't see how Obama has more experience than she does.

Posted by bohica | January 16, 2008 3:51 PM

If I hear one more person say it's not progressive to be for nuclear power I'm going to start shooting people. Being against nuclear power at this point is like being against evolution. It just shows you are stupid and don't understand science.

Posted by Andrew | January 16, 2008 3:51 PM

@37 Hillary and Obama have relatively little experience. Compared to the Republican field they are both babies. Hillary's obsession with experience will come back to hurt her in the general election, especially if McCain wins the Republican nomination.

Posted by Medina | January 16, 2008 3:58 PM

didn't you post all this already? and then write an article about it? and didn't annie post the same stuff, only with a pro-obama slant?

as far as issues are concerned, it's pretty clear there's not much difference between the 2.

if you think obama is inexperienced, and that his supporters only like him because he has a nice smile, that's cute, but please don't try and dress it up as some sort of policy wonk analysis. all this inane back-and-forth is making me want to vote republican.

Posted by brandon | January 16, 2008 3:58 PM

Hillary Clinton has less experience than virtually any other candidate.

Posted by kk | January 16, 2008 4:01 PM

But, she was elected to the U.S. Senate four years before Obama, and that level of national experience counts for more than his time in the state senate in my book. I can buy that her experience may not vastly outshine his, just as I don't think he's that much more an agent of change than she'd be. But, I just don't see how Obama has more experience than she does.

Face it, though... none of the Democratic candidates have experience! Dodd, Biden or Richardson would have been perfect for the nomination if that had been the only requirement. So at this point, the nomination is based purely on style, and *not* on experience.

Regardless of whether Huckabee, McCain or Romney gets the nod, they're going to hammer away at that point consistently for the next several months.

Posted by bma | January 16, 2008 4:02 PM

Once again, I don't always agree with you ECB (matter of fact I rarely do) but these are all good points. The lack of substance on many issues is what makes me not want to vote for Obama and steers me toward HRC.

Posted by notonthehill | January 16, 2008 4:04 PM

clinton doesn't support full repeal of DOMA, btw. and i hardly think anyone needs reminded of her husband's terrible record on gay rights.

anyways, it's not that obama's not "substantive." he's plenty substantive. you just depart with him on various policy details. that doesn't make him a "lightweight."

character matters. judgment matters (clinton--and edwards--had to apologize last night for yet another miscast vote on crucial legislation). vision matters. clinton's lacking on all three.

Posted by jaykay | January 16, 2008 4:05 PM

good post, i also thought she nailed it on yucca mountain, though they pronounced it wrong and lost my vote. =)

seriously, policy wise, there really isnt a whole lot of difference between these two and i agree with one of the posters; unfortunately, policy is not the reason people get elected. i mean, we elected ronald reagan. more people vote for american idol than they do for a president.

one thing caught my attention in the whole LBJ-MLK controversy, and that is, she was right, but as a wonk she didnt see the sensitive side of the issue, but she was spot on and that you needed a grassroots leader like MLK to get the massess to rise, but u also needed lbj to sign the civil rights act. too bad that argument became something used against her.

they should just combine the ticket cuz my boy edwards looks toast.

Posted by SeMe | January 16, 2008 4:06 PM

Two differences between Clinton and Obama that have mattered to me are that she has said she will keep article 2 of DOMA and he will abolish it entirely. It really matters to me that she would keep a portion of that discriminatory bill on the books. The second was her early attempt to smear his record with the "present" voting. After I read the quote from the head of the IL planned parenthood division that they told him to vote that way and she couldn't believe he was being attacked for it I really made my mind up. Not wonky though I like that he seems like we'd be moving forward, she seems like we'd be moving backward. I'd rather see his family for the next 4 or so years than Bill. Sorry.

Posted by Jersey | January 16, 2008 4:06 PM

55 mpg cars aren't very likely: Simply wishing for better fuel economy cause that to happen. Almost no cars can actually get that much fuel economy consistently. The most efficient cars in the world, like "smart cars" get about 40.

If they enforce that, you'll either get tiny cars, which would be a good thing, non-gas cars, which would happen either way, or no cars which would surely lead to exceptions. So I doubt this will happen.

Posted by Andrew | January 16, 2008 4:07 PM

I think does a much better job of breaking down the claims than Erica is capable of. Perhaps she should check it out - (...which, as Clinton has pointed out, was “larded with all kinds of special interest breaks, giveaways to the oil companies.” ...)

Posted by mrat | January 16, 2008 4:07 PM

I believe the most important role the President plays is to lead and inspire the American people and reach out to be an ambassador to the world...along with executing the law of the land.

That's why Obama has my vote. I think his record clearly shows he is willing to hear both sides of an argument before making a decision. He has just as much experience executing as Clinton, and he does a better job at staying focused on the facts. Go Obama go!

Posted by sprizee | January 16, 2008 4:09 PM

And Barack Obama is not as inexperienced as you might think.
Clinton and Edwards don't care about appealing to independents and republicans. But the experience of the Clinton Administration shows that without appealing to independents and republicans, you have to "triangulate," and you wind up with less than half a loaf just to hang on to power. The only way to get more than half a loaf is to pull off what Reagan did and move what was formerly the opposition (in Reagan's case, blue collar white ethnics) to your side. Obama can do this. He's doing it now, as we watch. Clinton and Edwards cannot--they're just speaking a different language altogether. Whether or not Clinton's or Edwards's health care plans at this stage are marginally better than Obama's is completely irrelevant if they can't, like Reagan did, go on TV and get the American people to flood the switchboard (or email server) of Congress demanding change. Bill Clinton never did that. He picked some of the worst battles (health care, gays in the military), lost what little political capital he had, and wound up having Newt Gingrich as Speaker just two years later. Let's not do that again.

Posted by kk | January 16, 2008 4:11 PM

I support Hillary because I like how she has her minions talk smack about Obama being an anti-Semitic Muslim drug dealer.

Yeah, that's why I like Hillary.

And then when Obama responded to the Muslim question by not saying "Being a Muslim is great!" - that was, like, so mean of him and stuff.

Go Clinton!

Posted by clintonista | January 16, 2008 4:14 PM

no, lets not do that again, lets instead let ollie north run illegal wars, lets lie to congress and fund wars with funds received from cocaine smuggling and arms deals. yep reagan did it the right way.

Posted by SeMe | January 16, 2008 4:14 PM

Love it ECB! So nice to see some balance on the Slog.


Posted by go hillary | January 16, 2008 4:18 PM

What exactly is wrong with sending our low-grade nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain? Where else are we going to put it if not there?

Posted by Greg | January 16, 2008 4:21 PM

Erica, what it comes down to is that we just don't trust hilary after her husband screwed us over.

Posted by Kevin | January 16, 2008 4:26 PM

ECB's argument is an example of what she's pretending to complain about. It's substance-free. For example:

"I’m not saying Obama wouldn’t take many or all of the same positions; it’s a matter of leadership and priorities. Hillary has made reproductive health and freedom a priority in a way that Obama hasn’t."

She's made it a priority because she knows her audience. And she deliberately misrepresented his position in a flyer in NH. And does ECB take this home, by saying exactly how this non-real difference is going to help women on this issue, if Clinton is elected vs. Obama? Of course not. She just likes the vibe Hillary puts out. That's all this is.

And this idea that Obama is an empty suit is total, lazy, baseless garbage. Here, see what the empty suit did for death penalty reform:

Posted by Phoebe | January 16, 2008 4:30 PM

Just because Hillary's substance is uninspiring doesn't mean that people aren't being inspired by Obama's substance.

Posted by Christian | January 16, 2008 4:30 PM

Three things that immediately stick out:
1. You failed to mention that Obama also voted against Roberts for Chief Justice.

2. Experience my ASS. She's claiming 35 years, but I have to ask what she was doing in law school when she was 25 years old that gives her "experience"? I am so sick of this fucking argument.

3. She's a better symbol? Really? Of what? You shouldn't even have put that paragraph in this post, because it detracts from you r"issues" arguments.

Posted by jb | January 16, 2008 4:32 PM

Yeah Hillary will deliver on health care, just like she did in 93.

Posted by AngryMarmot | January 16, 2008 4:32 PM

Elenchos is right @1.

Look, ECB, you're trying to spout words after you made the decision.

Nothing wrong with the decision, but at least be intellectually honest about why you made it.

Now, can we stop with all this race-gender sideshow stuff and take a breath when we post on SLOG, ECB?

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 16, 2008 4:34 PM

35 years of Mrs. Clinton's record of change has left us...with where we are now.

That makes me want to vote for her...why exactly?

Posted by Lee Gibson | January 16, 2008 4:40 PM

Come on, Erica... There's virtually no difference between the two on most issues. In fact, I've seen national articles which argue exactly the opposite of what you wrote.

As for those who want to rave about Hilary's "White House experience," then you have to accept the extremely centrist positions that the Clinton folks took on a number of issues and the damage they did to LGBT issues, choice issues, and more.

So, let's not make up shit. Let's, you know, do research and compare their issue papers or something...

Posted by Mickymse | January 16, 2008 4:45 PM

FYI, dearest commenters: Erica has basically obligated me to write a long post ripping her arguments to shreds. And I will. Even though, um, I have to write four movie reviews right now. But hold tight! I shall demonstrate that Obama is both substantive and progressive. By the way, 16 years of first ladyhood IS. NOT. PROFESSIONAL. EXPERIENCE.

Posted by annie | January 16, 2008 4:51 PM

Wil in seattle, I see nothing in these arguments about race or gender. Stop touting that stupid line this is an argument about thier vision/past experience/voting record. So STFU.

Posted by Jersey | January 16, 2008 5:03 PM

what about that slog some time back how obama was more progressive? i'm getting a headache.

Posted by infrequent | January 16, 2008 5:04 PM

Or whoever keeps saying any criticism is race/gender based. Sorry Will I see you were referencing someone else so STFU to the person you meant that for. We cool dude?

Posted by Jersey | January 16, 2008 5:06 PM

Your dedication is impressive, Annie. But you know that ECB will ignore your response and basically repost the same claims she makes here in another post a week from now anyway.

Posted by the "c" stands for "canting" | January 16, 2008 5:14 PM

If HRC wants to claim the legacy of the Clinton years of the 90s as her experience, then it might be worth remembering why the progressive flank of the Democrats bolted during the time, by simply not voting, or going to the Greens. The Clinton years are what staged Bush getting elected. Electing HRC will just continue that cycle.

HRC has no hopes of attracting independent or even Republican voters. And those that argue that the presidency is more about electing a party to make appointments in the executive branch of government, then one must argue that electability is just as important. HRC will do what the Republicans can't on their own--energize the evangelical wing, which will give us a guy like Romney.

The writer and this publication wants to suck up to Cathy Allen's political machine--which is backing HRC and be the media PR flacks. That's how you "move up" but it's not how you bring news to your readers. Fortunately, for us, it's transparent.

Posted by no HRC please | January 16, 2008 5:20 PM

According to the right, Hillary Clinton is Chairman freaking Mao, and according to the left she's Bush lite. I think Jack Hitt's Harpy, Hero, Heretic: Hillary does a good job explaining why.

Posted by it's ME | January 16, 2008 5:23 PM

I noticed that in the factcheck article @48, that the only thing Obama was wrong about was regarding his attack on Bush.

Posted by Mike of Renton | January 16, 2008 5:25 PM

@ 34

That's a perfectly fine argument to make, and it's one that addresses her actual claim. What experience has she gained in those 35 years and why does it make her better?

By the way, that wasn't "my logic." I was pointing out that MM was ignoring Hilary's actual point and setting up a strawman argument. Of course being the First Lady is not the experience one needs to be President, and Hilary never said that was what she was drawing on. I never said whether or not I agree with her self-appointed title of "most experienced candidate."

@ 36

Maybe, just maybe, she had them on the stage with her in Iowa because they support her and she agrees with what they say. If she and Bill listen to the same people, that doesn't necessarily mean she's trying to ride his coattails.

It could, mean that, but I don't know.

Back @ 34

I don't knock Obama because of his age. I don't like him. It's not a policy thing for me, or a rhetoric style thing, or anything I can really put my finger on... I just don't like him. I don't really like any of the candidates on either side. Basically, when I sit down to vote, I'm going to have to choose between throwing my vote away to the Republican (who won't give a rat's ass because all our Electoral Votes will go to the Dem) or giving it to whichever Dem wins the Primary... I suppose I could not vote, or throw my vote away to a third party... but I guess I'll have to wait and see how I feel in November.

Posted by Phelix | January 16, 2008 5:29 PM

I'm probably the 70th person to point this out, but: electability? Are you insane? Obama has the potential to score huge among independents and even moderate Republicans. Hillary is more or less reviled outside of the party base.

You are simply not going to get away with throwing down "experience" as if it were a trump card without explaining what, exactly, Hillary has accomplished with her political career that makes Obama's record pale in comparison. And no, being First Lady doesn't count: Hillary didn't have to run for First Lady, she didn't have any responsibilities as First Lady and she doesn't even (to my knowledge) claim any particular successes as First Lady. And rightfully so - at the end of the day the buck stopped with Bill. This is simply not professional experience comparable to actually being in elected office.

Her US Senate record is well covered and not exactly light years better than Obama's. Outside of that, what has she done that he hasn't?

And just because you first heard of Barack Obama in 2004 doesn't mean his political career started then. He spent seven years in the IL Senate - you should probably learn a few things about his record there before you dismiss him as inexperienced.

And if you're going to get into the "symbolism" argument, you're gonna have to answer this question: As a feminist, do you really want this country's first female president to be someone who rode the coattails of her husband most of the way to the White House? Fair or not, that's what happened.

Posted by MplsKid | January 16, 2008 5:41 PM

would anyone making a pro-feminist argument in favor of hillary care to address the fact that she spent the better part of the 90s lying to cover for her husband's infidelity?

or that bill's women - who were telling the truth the whole time - were dragged through the mud, with everything from their integrity to their physical appearance fair play? talk about sexism in the media. and hillary not only let that happen, she encouraged it.

sorry, there are more feminist arguments against hillary than for her.

Posted by brandon | January 16, 2008 5:55 PM

Hillary has been Swift-boated by the Republicans for decades. Her negatives are well known. They have nothing new to say and America knows it.

Republicans haven't even begun to torpedo Obama yet. But you can bet they will. And his weak perfomance in many of the debates leads me to believe that he might respond like John Kerry.

Hillary will kick ass and take names. That is why she could be more electable. Senior women will flock to her in droves because they take sexism far more seriously than many young women who take choice, etc. for granted.

Posted by tiptoe tommy | January 16, 2008 6:06 PM

And the italics-of-horror ECB uses in her sentence, ala "Heaven forfend, he wants to encourage more evil, anti-progressive energy sources," shows how firmly in place her ideological blinders are.

Posted by torrentprime | January 16, 2008 6:11 PM

Nice argument Erica, but that's not why you like Hillary is it? No, you like her because she has a vagina, just like you. Well here's something you may not know: THAT'S OK. However, it also means I get to like Obama because he's "inspirational" and "a candidate for hope".

My point is when two candidates have virtually the same stance on issues, have similar voting records, and belong to the same party, all you really have to go on is emotion. I can't get excited for Hillary because middle-aged women don't excite me. Also, she reminds me of my nasty 3rd grade teacher.

The only real argument I have against Hillary is the whole dynasty thing. That, and she didn't have the guts to leave her husband when he cheated on her in front of the whole nation.

Posted by Brandon J. | January 16, 2008 6:13 PM

well, your last paragraph is true, @74.

(and @64 - that was a reference to the ECB post itself that all these are replies too - have to admit, she writes interesting posts, and makes you think, even if ...)

In some ways this reminds me of the turmoil in the feminist community between old wave and later generation feminists. In this state, most feminists are such due to economic problems - yes, I know that's not the case here in the big cities as much, but it's a rainbow not a color.

The iron my shirts event brought that up for many women. In more than one way.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 16, 2008 6:14 PM

LOL. Yes, those senior independent and Republican women will propel Hillary to victory.

There's one thing you left out of this:
Hillary has been Swift-boated by the Republicans for decades. Her negatives are well known. They have nothing new to say and America knows it.
The problem is: America still believes them.

Posted by torrentprime | January 16, 2008 6:23 PM

and annie, please spare your own mental health and don't even bother responding to this post. you already did last week, in response to erica posting basically the same stuff she has here.

it's silly to keep splitting hairs over minute differences in policy, and to pretend you like one candidate or the other based on their positions. it's obviously moved past policy at this point.

Posted by brandon | January 16, 2008 6:25 PM

Amazingly 1st post is right on. Erica your argument is crap. You said it best with "Hillary Clinton has a vagina and so do I"

Posted by Karst | January 16, 2008 6:31 PM

Yeah, this lack of real policy difference is interesting because it flushes out people's non-policy reasons.

My main non-policy beef with Clinton - both Clintons - is honesty. To me that is huge, and that's why I hate them, and I know that for other people it's no big deal. Part of the game. But that's the source of my hatred; I'm not sexist, I'm not right-wing.

Liars just drive me nuts, and I get more nuts when I see everyone ignoring the obvious. Such as her debate response to the Bob Johnson queston:
"We're taking him at his word" - his word that he was referring to Obama's community organizing, not drug use, in his intro to HRC last week. His word that was distributed by the Clinton campaign. His obvious lie. And then, when asked immediately after, if Johnson's comment was out of bounds, she quickly said that it was, and that he had said so himself. Well. How can a comment about community organizing be out of bounds?

Is this tiny to you all? Probably. It smacked me in the face with a cast iron skillet. Why? Because I have that previously mentioned hypersensitivity. But I'm not derranged, ok?

Posted by Phoebe | January 16, 2008 6:31 PM

Thank you Erica, you confirm why I vote for Obama. Hilary fails to demonstrate a working knowledge of economics and she flaunts an unwillingness to cross partisan lines. Economics and bipartisanship are the reasons why Obama will be a better president; their policies are too similar to make the difference.

Posted by Mrs. Jarvie | January 16, 2008 7:07 PM

What is it about about Hillary that inspires such rank dishonesty from her supporters? It's not like people can't fact check this stuff with ease. Does Erica think we're stupid? Does she even realize she's lying?

Posted by ru shur | January 16, 2008 7:33 PM

Scroll back up to @25 and re-read what tsm said. He nailed it.

Obama knows he has to work to earn women's votes. Hillary takes them for granted because she knows silly girls like ECB will vote for her no matter what she does.

Posted by elenchos | January 16, 2008 7:40 PM

You've been drinking the establishment kool-aid. I lost you at the part about the significants of you both having vaginas.

Discussing issues is somewhat misleading because both Obama and Clinton are for all practical purposes are in the same ballpark on all the major issues.

Okay Clinton represents OLD. Obama represents NEW. Clinton represents the establishment and Obama a new generation shift. Clinton is hampered by her divisive image and Bill's baggage. Obama is trying to build a new coalition of voters made up of democrats sick of Clinton Bush Clinton who want REAL CHANGE, independents, and the awakened young voter.

Both are intelligent and would be ready on DAY ONE to be president. Hillary's election would symbolize political equality for woman. Obama's election would mark the beginnings of a tectonic shift in race relations in America for the better.

Hillary has a vagina and Obama has a penis.

Posted by artistdogboy | January 16, 2008 8:20 PM

And the one most likely to garner independent votes is....?

And the one with the higher negatives, the larger group of "I could never vote for"s...?

I prefer the forward looking Obama, but I'd happily vote for either Hillary or Barry. But I just don't think the rest of the country will vote for Hillary in large enough numbers to put her in the White House. She can't put all those years of experience to use if

1) she gets less than 270 electoral votes


2) she's spending all her time fending off the polarized Congress where the GOP is investigating her round the clock.

Has there ever been a successful Democratic candidate with such high negative ratings and polarization?

Posted by Andy Niable | January 16, 2008 10:09 PM

If there's ANYTHING "last night's debate reminded me, once again," -- it's how much the Democratic candidates positions are identical to each other. Yeah, it's fun to hash out these primary contests -- but we don't need these candidates bloodied up too much.

Not sure how this all plays out, but I don't see how Clinton has any other choice but to offer Obama the veep spot, should she win the nomination. His positive ratings might just buoy her high negatives.

Obama, however, will not be under a similar demand to select Clinton. He's going to need somebody like a Joe Biden on the ticket with him. Nothing says "Senate Wise Man" like Biden.

Posted by oneway | January 16, 2008 11:14 PM

You're dreaming if you think Hillary Clinton can win a national election.

She can't.

Name one state you think she can win that Kerry didn't. There aren't any. Plus, she'll lose Pennsylvania and have no chance in battleground states such as Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado.

I don't know whether Obama can win nationally, but I'm 100 percent positive that Hillary can't.

Posted by MDA | January 17, 2008 6:27 AM

annie: 16 years as first lady? Yeah, I particularly loved her policy work in terms 3 and 4.

Posted by ECB | January 17, 2008 8:12 AM


Plus, she'll lose Pennsylvania and have no chance in battleground states such as Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado.

My vote for "Most Talking Out Their Ass SLOG Comment 2008." The year is early, but I think you've got a solid shot at this.

Posted by Big Sven | January 17, 2008 8:40 AM

Thank you, Erica. Clinton is the toughest, the most experienced, and the smartest candidate. She is the only Democratic candidate who seems able to stand up to the Republican attack machine. In my opinion she is both the most likely to win and will make the best president. Ideological differences between her and Obama are minute, which is certainly not what most Obama supporters believe.

Posted by PJ | January 17, 2008 8:57 AM

blah, blah, blah...
It makes no difference.
They both take money from Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Defense, and Big Political Machine.

They will each do the bidding of their masters, including the perpetuation of war.

Whip yourselves into a shit-frenzy over who's best.
I tell you, there's no difference.

And, after it's all over, I'll be back to say
"I told you so"

Posted by sceptic | January 17, 2008 9:01 AM

@89: Sorry, my bad math. 12 years as first lady in Arkansas + 8 years as first lady in the White House = 20 years.

Posted by annie | January 17, 2008 10:03 AM

I don't understand how nuclear energy is a "progressive" issue. There's nothing "progressive" about pretending that nuclear technology hasn't advanced at all since Three Mile Island. Today's nuclear power produces a lot less waste in a much safer manner, and is a lot more realistic than solar or wind power. It's not preferable to renewable energy, but it's a lot more practical. Stalling nuclear power only causes more coal and natural gas plants to be built.

Posted by Howard | January 17, 2008 1:36 PM

I don't understand how nuclear energy is a "progressive" issue. There's nothing "progressive" about pretending that nuclear technology hasn't advanced at all since Three Mile Island. Today's nuclear power produces a lot less waste in a much safer manner, and is a lot more realistic than solar or wind power. It's not preferable to renewable energy, but it's a lot more practical. Stalling nuclear power only causes more coal and natural gas plants to be built.

Posted by Howard | January 17, 2008 1:38 PM

89 rating or no 89 rating on gay rights, I'll never forgive the Clintons for first courting us and then throwing us under the bus with DOMA. The bastard bent over backwards to appease the haters and then had the nerve to go around bragging about it on Christian radio shows. Don't forget that Bill Clinton urged Kerry to support FMA, I'm sure both of them think he was a fool. If race-baiting is still on the table for them, how much chance do gay people have the first time she has to take a stand? My guess is none; only the safest, most uncontroversial measure will be permitted. Civil unions? Get real, it takes courage to make change and the Clintons are the biggest cowards in the party.

Any people who vote for Hillary are fools and deserve everything they get when they stab us all in the back again. No thanks, as far as gay people are concerned, a third Clinton term will be little different from the last 7 years of Bush.

Posted by Ozu | January 17, 2008 1:45 PM

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