Either the Bull Moose and Ezra Klein are conspiring to drive me insane, or they’ve both lost their minds. Maybe both.
Both of these normally smart fellas are suggesting that Hillary’s recent migration towards the center is both clever and admirable.
Hillary's luxury is that she doesn't have to establish her lefty bona fides.Ezra:
Hillary has shrewdly started to address the two areas that are vulnerabilities both for her and the Democratic Party - national security and values. Needless to say, she has the most acute political practitioner in America as her unpaid chief political consultant - her husband.
Hillary is making the sweet moves. If Bill's enormous charisma and obvious potential gave him the credibility to cross liberals on key policies (or symbols), Hillary's position as bugaboo of the right and liberal icon is allowing her to assume unorthodox stances on issues where progressives desperately need some creative repositioning.Let’s address this madness point by point.
Hillary's luxury is that she doesn't have to establish her lefty bona fides. I beg to differ. Hillary is currently on the fast track to eradicating any tenuous lefty bona fides she may have established for herself, by voting yes to confirm Rice and suddenly invoking God and values with such frequency that she’s giving President Bejesus a run for his tithe. And while some might see her recent comments on the need to prevent abortions as some kind of beautiful compromise between the pro-life and pro-choice positions, they do so only by ignoring that she also underscored
her views in preventing unplanned pregnancies, promoting adoption, recognizing the influence of religion in abstinence and championing what she has long called "teenage celibacy."While preventing unplanned pregnancies and promoting adoption are noble goals, no progressive in his or her right mind would endorse the religious-based abstinence programs favored over traditional sex education by this administration (an analysis of which can be found here and here—please read to see just how asinine support of these programs actually is). Endorsing celibacy as a solution to abortions is short-sighted and untenable for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which that it assumes abortion is a phenomenon unique to single women. (For more on this, read Linnet’s excellent post on the topic here.)
Hillary is far too intelligent a woman to be unaware of the dangers of abstinence-based sex ed and celibacy promotion. Her endorsement can be little more than insincere posturing to achieve the appearance of compromise, when in fact it is a straightforward sell-out of women’s well-being. Liberal bona fides my ass.
Bill's enormous charisma and obvious potential gave him the credibility to cross liberals on key policies… What gave Bill the ability to cross liberals was not, as Ezra suggests, "enormous charisma and obvious potential," but a man by the name of Ross Perot, who effectively split the vote in a way that handed him two elections.
In my election post-mortem, I wrote: We on the Left seem to have such a selective memory, and selective outrage as a result. Clinton & team realistically probably only won because Perot was a spoiler (which we never acknowledge, though we are quick to blame the spoiler Nader for our '00 loss). It's foolish to remember the latter in bitterness as an excuse for a loss, and forget the other lest we be faced with the fact that without Perot, we may have been on a losing streak since 1980 rather than 2000. It doesn't bode so well for our current leadership, when you look at it in the correct perspective. Unfortunately, looking at it in the correct perspective rarely happens. In all the post-mortem I’ve read that suggests we should look to the Clinton presidency to guide our future, nowhere have I seen the name “Perot,” and yet he was perhaps more key to that presidency than anyone on our side.
True then, true now. And Clinton is no idol of true progressives. Indeed, anyone who feels, for example, that gay rights should be of primary concern (as should anyone who calls him- or herself a liberal) finds very little for which to thank Clinton, the architect of DOMA. The example is representative of a slew of issues on which Clinton was much less a friend to liberals than to the muddy middle to which Hillary now aspires.
Hillary's position as bugaboo of the right and liberal icon is allowing her to assume unorthodox stances on issues where progressives desperately need some creative repositioning. Progressives do indeed desperately need some creative repositioning, but the solution is not running to the center; it's by repositioning progressive arguments as true American values, as opposed to the thuggish and disingenuous policies that are masquerading as them now.
Progressives have left a void in the values arena, in no small part due to our inability to simultaneously claim a moral high ground and continue to cast in the role of Lefty icon a man who committed perjury while holding the office of president. Can’t have it both ways, so we’ve decided to cede morality to the biggest collection of morally bankrupt fuckwits to ever hit the Beltway, and hold on to the shady character Clinton instead.
The answer is not to try to fill that void with disingenuous rhetoric (that, by the way, will never appease the people to whom it’s directed, anyway) meant to appeal to a crowd that actually subscribes to the Bushies’ claim that they are morally superior to progressives despite their having led us to war on false pretenses (for a start). It’s a pointless, worthless endeavor, and it does absolutely nothing to move the national debate back onto our terms.
Hillary’s not making sweet moves; she’s engaging in the worst kind of artificial politicking—that which helps no one but herself.