Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Democratic struggle

Pardon me for focusing on this, as at the moment I think it’s more immediately interesting than what remains of the contest on the Republican side.

In the NYT, Ron Klain argues that, as the difference between Clinton and Obama is, in effect, "stylistic," it’s not the ground of a lasting, and electorally consequential, schism in the party:

Democrats are engaged in a primary battle over the means of leadership, not the ends. While means are important, they are an unlikely ground for a lasting schism, especially when a choice emerges between a Democratic and a Republican nominee in the fall.

I agree that the grown-ups in the party--somewhat immune to Obama’s mesmerism--will nonetheless turn out in large numbers in the fall. What about the kids? And what about African-Americans, if the Clintons have to use legal legerdemain to secure the nomination? It may be that "cooler heads" who are interested in winning would accede to the enthusiasm, using their heads to follow others’ hearts.

But I also am unwilling to underestimate the ambition in Mrs. Clinton’s heart, facing her last chance to return to the White House as anything other than a dinner guest.

Discussions - 3 Comments

All this is fine, and let's agree that grown-ups are less given to enthusiasm, are less impressed by airy rhetoric, and are hard-nosed about both numbers and consequences. They do not screetch at rock stars. Why on earth do you assume that Hillary is naturally the grownups' candidate, and that Obama's "mesmerism" disqualifies him? I'm a grownup and I've been shopping for an acceptable Democratic alternative to her for months. Obama was by no means the only one. Richardson was the man, and he went nowhere. Look beyond and beneath the mesmerism and you find an alternative to Hillary's mere ambition and mere reformism. She has the soul of a grant-making foundation president.


Fair enough. Obama surely has an inner wonk, which I (unsurpisingly) like little or no more than I like Clinton' least on domestic matters. On foreign policy, I do think she likely is a little more grown-up than he is.

My larger point is that, assuming that the enthusiasm for Obama is something that can persist throughout the campaign, anyone on the Democratic side interested in winning, regardless of his or her "captivation" with Obama, might jump on the bandwagon. Clinton won't generate the energy that Obama (likely) will. So the heads, wherever they were initially, might do well to follow the hearts. After all, there is a head there. Obama is a smart guy, someone who probably would have been tenurable at the University of Chicago Law School. (That, I realize, doesn't even remotely make him a good president.) That would get us to David Brooks's question.

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