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June 04, 2008

Why Hillary Clinton Lost

This is a New York Times story from February 18, 2007:

One of the most important decisions that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made about her bid for the presidency came late last year when she ended a debate in her camp over whether she should repudiate her 2002 vote authorizing military action in Iraq...antiwar anger has festered, and yesterday morning Mrs. Clinton rolled out a new response to those demanding contrition: She said she was willing to lose support from voters rather than make an apology she did not believe in.

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, N.H., in a veiled reference to two rivals for the nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Her decision not to apologize is regarded so seriously within her campaign that some advisers believe it will be remembered as a turning point in the race: either ultimately galvanizing voters against her (if she loses the nomination), or highlighting her resolve and her willingness to buck Democratic conventional wisdom (if she wins).

If progressives had power, we'd be able to turn this into unquestioned conventional wisdom about how voting for aggressive war dooms Democrats who want to be president. That wouldn't be true, but one measure of power is the ability to create non-true but convenient conventional wisdom.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at June 4, 2008 10:48 AM

I'm very, very appreciative of Sen. Clinton's choice to be honest about this one issue, which made it so much easier for her opponents to separate themselves from her. And it helpfully highlighted her arrogance, stubbornness, and Beltway bubble-ness at a time that voters were maximally tired of those features of the current regime. Because there were not only "others to choose from", but very appealing others.

There's no reason we can't succeed in getting across the truth that Iraq is the major issue that doomed her candidacy. Iowa is an antiwar state, and a state that rewards excellent organizing. Obama took maximum advantage, showcasing his ability to add to the party rather than just divide up the same pie.

Let's those of us deeply grateful for not having to face a campaign with her as the nominee, and next president, also offer up a low-key cheer to John Edwards, for getting out of the race in time to prevent HRC from making a Super Tuesday showing that would have regained momentum.

We don't have anything much to celebrate about what's coming, but at a minimum we avoided nominating, for the second time since the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a candidate who voted for and supported it.

Posted by: Nell at June 4, 2008 11:20 AM

Last night I watched a klutch of Hillary supporting women babble about the failure of her campaign. (CBS news(?).)

The vast majority laid it at the feet of the sexist American electorate, not at the lack of Hillary's regret of the war vote. I believe the consensus was, "My god, if someone so supremely qualified can't get nominated, no women in our lifetime will be president."

This type of mass delusion is exactly the type of thing Bernard was talking about in his Shock and Awe piece.

Here's my take -- she didn't apologize because she's a NY Senator running for president and needed the support of deep pocket Zionists having conceded the internet and blogosphere to the embittered ankle biters.

Plus a president needs to transcend human weakness, like regret would show.

Resolute; that's leadership on day one baby!

(I still hold out that she'll be Madame President if she gets the VP nod.)

Posted by: not_so_angry_no_mo at June 4, 2008 12:01 PM

er,...klatch of Hillary supporters...

Posted by: not_so_angry_no_mo at June 4, 2008 12:05 PM

The Internet IS the most progressive thing on the planet at this point in time, well informed and therefore ABLE to make an informed decision, and an informed choice. Ankle bitter? I say a hell of a pitbull that is still sleeping. The other 2 parties intend to NEVER leave Iraq.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 4, 2008 12:19 PM

you can intentionally close your eyes if you choose but obama and word anti-war do not belong together .
it does not matter in the end if most of libs ( and few others ) are drunk on his kool-aid .

Posted by: badri at June 4, 2008 12:27 PM

Jonathan--exactly right, especially the part about having the ability to create non-true but convenient political wisdom...still, the fact remains--a huge underdog beat the favorite, and the war vote was key... Steve

Posted by: Steve Cobble at June 4, 2008 01:08 PM

"...if progressives had power..."

Would they remain "progressives?"
I doubt it. A few socialist parties in Europe, with a long tradition, have held on to pieces of a progressive outlook, but they appear as anachronisms to the world order. Pity.
In America? Who ya kiddin', bub?

Posted by: donescobar at June 4, 2008 01:23 PM

Badri--you're misreading Nell. She's not one of the starry-eyed Obama supporters. It just happens to be true that he spoke out against going into Iraq (though IIRC for pragmatic rather than principled reasons) and it's probably true that this is why many of his supporters picked him over Clinton.

I think Obama is well within the US imperial mainstream, though at its leftmost fringes. Whether that makes him worth much support I don't know. Some far lefties seem to think so--Rahul Mahajan at Empire Notes (see sidebar) is one.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 4, 2008 01:36 PM

@badri: You must have skipped right over the part of my comment where I said we don't have anything much to celebrate about what's coming ..., which is strongly reinforced by Obama's appearance at AIPAC today.

Given my belief that any Democratic nominee is likely to win this year, I'm just acknowledging the mini-victory of Clinton not having won the nomination.

As always, the November election is a lesser-evil choice, and Obama's by far the lesser evil than McCain.

Posted by: Nell at June 4, 2008 05:59 PM

Hillary is like a desperate wife: if it's not the children, it's the 20 years together, or how much she loves him.
All pretexts, hard to believe.

When the husband finally abandons her.......... "i'll fuck you for the rest of you life".

Posted by: Steffen at June 4, 2008 07:46 PM

Obama promised today that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

I never thought I'd see the day when a black man in America could say the words: "Segregation today! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!"

We've come a long way baby.

Posted by: Carl at June 4, 2008 09:02 PM

Carl: I guess THAT goes a hell of a long to "solving" the Palestinian Problem. The BEST way Obama can help BOTH sides is to stay away, verbally, physically, and most of all financially. WE need to keep OUR bad advice for OUR own use and let both those peoples learn from THEIR OWN mistakes and NOT OURS.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 4, 2008 09:24 PM

The war vote certainly cost Clinton more votes than she ended up losing by.

Whether Obama ends up being "good" on war we don't yet know, but he is better on war than Clinton, which proved to be enough.

Posted by: Anon at June 4, 2008 10:48 PM

May i just mention that I plugged my nose while voting for Obama. Having said that, once I decided not to go Green or something else, and by the time the primaries made it my way (Wisconsin), there was only one obvious choice. In '04 I voted for Kerry (in the Nov., not primaries) even with his war vote. Why? Because he vigorously campaigned against the war and admitted his wrong. Hillary refused to go there. That alone lost my vote for her. It's a shame I'm now apparently a sexist ass for not voting for Hillary.

Posted by: fraz at June 5, 2008 12:00 AM


Because he vigorously campaigned against the war and admitted his wrong.

He did?

Posted by: cemmcs at June 5, 2008 08:46 AM measure of power is the ability to create non-true but convenient conventional wisdom.

Very good point. And progressives can't even create conventional wisdom out of things that are blazingly, obviously true (Iran is no threat to us, the US opposes the International Criminal Court because it plans to violate international law, etc).

Posted by: John Caruso at June 5, 2008 12:21 PM

Yes indeed, BLESS HER SOUL.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 5, 2008 06:42 PM

Because he vigorously campaigned against the war and admitted his wrong.

Hmm. Sounds like Wesley Clark Syndrome — the conflation of criticisms of the war's execution with criticism of its existence. Maybe I just got boxed away by the MSM, but I don't recall Kerry ever saying during his campaign "Bush shouldn't have ever started this war," just "Bush shouldn't be screwing up this war so badly."

Posted by: Burai at June 5, 2008 07:08 PM

Burai, I agree. That's what I heard from Kerry too.

Posted by: LadyVetinari at June 5, 2008 07:46 PM