If you are a regular reader of NLT, then you know that I (and Peter Lawler) have been arguing that Hillary Clinton--despite her many faults--would still make a better President than Barack Obama. His liberalism is more strident; his hold on his followers is more irrational (and frightening); and he’ll be more prone to rookie mistakes (like threatening our allies). As far as it goes, I do not disavow this opinion. But there may be a sense in which it is true but incomplete. Peter Schramm points to it in this post.
If I understand the import of what he says, he is suggesting--contrary to Lawler and me--that because of the way the Clintons do politics, an Obama win would be less bad in the long run for the country than a Clinton win. Clinton’s policies may be more moderate and her Machiavellian nature may make it less likely that she’ll get caught in rookie mistakes--but the way someone wins in America has to count for something. Even if Obama is a fool and a charlatan and even if he is attached to very stupid and dangerous policy notions, his losing to Clinton in the way Peter describes may actually do damage the country’s soul.
If that happens and McCain does not then take the opportunity to point out what a nasty, vicious and un-American thing she has done, he will be making a bad mistake. He could, in this instance, have an opportunity to rally Obama’s supporters to his side by pointing out the ugliness of the Clinton camp. And he would be doing his country a service in a non-partisan and noble way. He would be--to borrow the left’s phrase--speaking truth to power. But I begin to doubt the eventual succession of the American Lady Macbeth to the title of Democrat Nominee. She just isn’t good enough. She’s always been over-hyped and her fatal flaw is that she has believed the hype about herself (partly because it was true about her husband). But marrying (and hanging on to) Bill does not make you Bill. In a way, it is too bad as it removes the possibility of airing out this argument about the Clintons and their method of politics on the national stage and giving the Clinton villains the political death by a thousand cuts they so richly deserve.
It’s a complicated political matrix this season. I begin to like Obama as the nominee because I think he’s becoming easier to beat. But beating him is going to mean a fairly conventional (he’s too liberal and besides, he’s corrupt) campaign. It will not result in much political movement. The country will remain roughly 50/50 and McCain--if he wins--will win by a small margin, and then he’ll govern like a trimmer. Moreover, it doesn’t give the proper punctuation to the demise of the Clinton dynasty. I don’t want the Dems to have the honor (because the do not deserve it) of killing them off.
On the other hand . . . Obama as president (should he beat McCain--which is far from unlikely) scares me more than Hillary as president (certainly in the short run--and probably also in some long-run ways). He will be a lot like Carter. He will do lots of damage that will stink things up for decades. We will be less safe, we’ll get horrible judges, and with a likely Dem majority in Congress, he’ll enact terrible policies that will be almost impossible to eradicate in the years to come--and this means bad news for the economy and for the political character of the nation.
But Clinton as president--after beating Obama in the disreputable and malignant way she means to do it--does irreparable (or nearly so) damage to the soul of the country. If the American people go along with it, they are an accessory to it. It is unworthy of us. It would represent a kind of loss of innocence on the part of the American people. It would mean they are more conniving and Machiavellian than they have ever been. If they accept her, they do so knowing how morally bankrupt she is. It is impossible to deny it now--the blood would be on her hands. At least an Obama victory could be attributed to a youthful naivete on the part of Americans . . . a kind of forgetting of oneself in hopefulness. Her victory would indicate a hardness and a jadedness that--what ever else it is--is not American.
The difficulty is that if Obama gets the nod and he wins, his victory may imply that the American people have bought into some ideas that are, themselves, distinctly un-American. Michelle points to these ideas more often than Barack, however. And people can be excused for ignoring the candidate’s wife. They can always return rotten ideas--though probably with great difficulty--but they cannot take back a rotten act once it’s done. So in that sense, I think I agree that Hillary is worse than Obama as president.