Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Hillary’s Need to Get it Out or Shut it Up?

Mickey Kaus at Slate speculates interestingly on Hillary’s possible motivations last week in the David Geffen/Obama flare up. It’s a bit of an "on the one hand/on the other hand" analysis but it offers grist for the mill of one’s mind on the subject of Hillary. His first impulse is to see her as foolish for demonstrating herself to be the finger-wagging, speech-silencing prig that she is reputed by foes to be. His second impulse is that she must be some kind of Machiavellian genius. For in this demonstration she is forcing into the open (at an early date that is of her choosing and advantageous to her chances) all questions about the lies in her long-suffering marriage and political ties to Bill. If this is her strategy, Kaus seems to think it could be a good one--given the example of recent politicians, particularly Bill Clinton.

For my part I confess to (as Peter Lawler has in earlier posts commented about) a weariness of and hostility to re-living the paltry scandal-laden history of the 1990s. My judgments about the Clintons and their characters have long been settled and I need no reminding of them. But perhaps a new generation of voters may need that reminding. My hope is, if that is true, we might save the discussion for that time and thus rob Mrs. Clinton of the chance to choose the time of the engagement.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Conservatives often lose by waiting for the right time. Liberals often win by doing all politics, all the time. The choice isn’t between attacking now and attacking later. It’s between attacking at all times, or not attacking now and maybe attacking later -- if we feel OK about it, don’t lose our nerve, seem to need an attack, etc. For me, that choice is a very, very easy one. Voters are ALWAYS reachable. To think otherwise is to assume that voters must be consciously, actively paying attention in order to be influenced. Nothing could be further from the case.

David, you might be right. It might not be an either/or proposition. But Peter L. has been making a plausible, if not fairly convincing case against re-living the 90s (it is tiresome, it seems trivial in light of what’s going on today, beyond that it is just "icky"). If that is true is there not some danger in over-playing this hand? Or is it your contention that I am reading too much into this? If I am I’d have to say that is because I do so dread re-living all those old arguments about the Clintons. Maybe because I don’t want to think about it I’m letting my wish that we can delay it become father to the thought that we should. It’s possible. You say voters are always "REACHABLE." And I agree. I only question whether this is the thing we want to spend our time reaching them with. Aren’t there many other ways to attack her without going through all of that again? Can’t she be attacked for what she’s been doing lately? The problem with re-runs is that they make you want to turn the channel unless they’re really good. This stuff may have been from the 90s, but it’s no Seinfeld.

Julie, all your points are good here. There is a strong temptation in politics to replay "golden oldies," such as, in this case, the Clinton scandals. The Republican establishment is tempted to use them (in its gingerly, vague, wink-and-nod way) because it doesn’t like to engage ideologically. The right wing is tempted because it rightly loathes both Clintons for bad character. The first of these motivations is a poor guide, and the second can be a poor guide, to political judgment. The anti-Hillary stuff must be used very carefully, and must not be allowed to dominate the Republican campaign. However, anything worth hitting her with is worth hitting her with now, or very soon. She will be a formidable opponent if nominated, and therefore we’re playing with fire if we even allow her campaign a "good start" with the American people. Don’t even give her a chance. That’s my main point.

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