Saturday, January 28, 2006

Curioser and curiouser

Hillary's voting against Alito and supporting a filibuster? Now I utterly don't understand the race; her biggest problem is trying to persuade the American public that she's not a lunatic socialist b*tch. She has no room to tack left, and she hasn't really been doing so.

But if she's got to pander to the left, she's lost. She may as well start setting her sites elsewhere.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You underestimate the power of the base, especially the blog base, has these days in pulling the Democratic party left. Look at how Howard Dean was able to come out of nowhere just because he was against the war, and that was nothing compared to how the base feels today. Hillary will have to spend a lot of time bowing down left if she wants to nomination which comes first. Only after that does she really have to worry about tacking right, since that's when the rest of us will start paying attention.

7:33 PM, January 28, 2006  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

You sound awfully familiar, Anonymous. Are you channeling LAGuy?

You may be right, but my point is, if you are, she's done. She can't afford to appear lunatic; she's got all she can handle on her hands right now trying to persuade the sane people they should give her a chance. This undermines the work she's been doing in that regard her entire term.

6:54 AM, January 29, 2006  
Blogger LAGuy said...

There are perfectly intelligent people out there who disagree with you who aren't named LAGuy, you know.

But since you bring up my name, I will give you my take.

It's still early--years to go--but Hillary does seem to have things sewn up if no one rocks the boat. This means throwing occasional sops to her leftist base, which has been radicalized a bit by the big blogs. (And, if you look at the polls, attacking Bush doesn't exactly hurt anyone too much.)

She's got a tricky balancing act, but everyone's still gotta follow Nixon's maxim of running to the extreme for the nomination and running back to the center for the election. Anonymous is right that the key is winning the nomination. If you don't do that, nothing else matters. If you do do that, you could have run as a Marxist and you still get to re-created yourself.

Hillary's statements may ruffle you, Columbusguy, but you're not the intended audience, for the nomination or even the general election.

10:12 AM, January 29, 2006  
Blogger Jesse said...

It may well be true that only the Democratic base wants Hillary to back a filibuster of Alito. But it's equally true that only the Republican base objects if she backs a filibuster of Alito. The number of people who might have voted for Clinton if it weren't for her stance on Alito can be counted on the fingers of one armpit.

In short, these votes don't make her "appear lunatic" to anyone not already convinced she's a lunatic. For most Americans, her position not only isn't extreme, it isn't even interesting.

8:09 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Fair enough, Jesse, but as the perfessers like to say, you prove too much. Most Americans don't care about damn near any political issue, yet some of them still manage to come out to vote, for better or worse.

How these voters form their impressions, I don't know, but they form them, and Hillary is in a deficit. She's got a hard enough job climbing out of it without any backsliding. Even if no one remembers Alito in a few years, as will surely be the case, her opponents might try to make an issue of it, and even small things could undermine her image-making efforts.

As to your equanimity about pro or con on Alito, I doubt that works, either. You could say, truthfully, that Americans didn't want Bill taken out of office in 1998, but you could also say, truthfully, that they weren't that jazzed about his staying in. The question is probably more about who would have been seen as rocking the boat: The Republicans for putting him on the bench, or the Dems for keeping him off. The Dems, at least, appeared to fear that they lost the perception battle on that one.

4:28 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Jesse said...

But even a politically engaged American isn't going to vote for or against Clinton in November 2008 because of how she stood on Alito. There are exceptions -- notably the Thomas/Hill hearings -- but for the most part, only partisans get really excited about confirming judges. There are Democrats who might turn on Hillary during the primaries if she's too soft on Alito. There aren't any Republicans who will switch to her in the general election because she came out for him. So what she did makes good political sense.

5:58 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Just a few more points on this dead horse.

ColumbusGuy says no one will remember Alito in a few years. That's usually true when it comes to Court members, but it may be different this time. There are almost three years till the big election, and if the Court overturns Roe, you can bet your ass everyone will remember Alito as the deciding vote. Hillary can then use the bumper sticker "don't blame me, I wanted a filibuster."

It's my recollection the Dems won the perception battle of Bill Clinton in 1998. The Repubs were able to hold the House, but they lost overall. The voters handed them a stern rebuke for messing around too much.

6:07 PM, February 01, 2006  

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