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Beyond the Clinton GOP Talking Points

The Republicans and Fox News have been so successful at painting Hillary Clinton as a scandal-plagued hack politician that even liberals often repeat the GOP talking points. Unfortunately, propaganda works, even when you think it won’t.

Which is why this article by Jon Favreau is so interesting. Favreau was Obama’s speechwriter during the 2008 election. After Obama won and picked Clinton as his secretary of state, Favreau got to know Clinton. And he admits that he was surprised to find out that Clinton was “far different than the caricature I had helped perpetuate.”

Favreau’s article resonated with me, because I was a fervent Obama supporter in 2008. In fact, helping him get elected was one of the main reasons I started this blog. And yes, that biased me against Hillary Clinton. In addition I was never overly enamored of Bill Clinton during his presidency.

But watching the Republicans throw trumped up scandal after scandal at her started me thinking and made me examine how I felt about her as a politician. After all, why are the Republicans so scared of her? I have to say that I now think she will make an excellent president. Favreau does a far better job than I could in articulating why.

UPDATE: An article in Politico (of all places!) also highlights how Clinton has matured and mellowed as a politician, even since 2008. Watching her, I get the feeling that it isn’t just about winning anymore. Maybe, just maybe, she is taking a tip from John Kennedy and asking what she can do for her country. And ironically, not making it about winning may be the only way for her to actually win.



  1. ThatGuy wrote:

    I just can’t get excited for Clinton’s run. I’m sure she’ll be a competent President if elected, which is important, but she is far too much of a hawk and far too big a friend of the wealthy for my taste. Her push for our involvement in Libya has resulted in disaster, and her reluctance to release transcripts of her lucrative speaking engagements on Wall Street is telling. She will do little or nothing to get big money out of politics, she will not advocate significant improvements to healthcare, and she will not push hard enough for affordable college or livable wages.

    What will make electing Clinton more important than electing Obama has nothing to do with the Secretary herself. It will have to do with who runs against her.

    Friday, March 4, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    ThatGuy, I understand your view.

    However, taking your statement that “Her push for our involvement in Libya has resulted in disaster” sounds to me like too much of a primary campaign slogan. There was so much that was more important in creating the disaster in the Middle East. With Afghanistan and Iraq the US broke it, and now we own it. I don’t think the answer now is to do nothing. IS is a real threat (which we helped create). What should be done is a difficult question, but just saying that we should stick our head in the sand and ignore it is not a good option. At least with Libya she did it under the aegis of NATO.

    I also don’t find it particularly telling that she doesn’t want to release transcripts of any of her lucrative speaking engagements. Personally, I think treating Wall Street as an enemy is counter-productive. Yes, there is too much damn money in politics. Duh. Is that Clinton’s fault? Do you actually think Clinton would appoint a Supreme Court justice who would uphold Citizens United? Even Obama had to coddle up to Wall Street quite a bit once he became president. I think Clinton’s plan to require strict disclosure of political spending, establish a small-donor matching system, and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United has a far better chance of being enacted than Sanders’ plan to institute full public financing of all elections. Her plan is not “little or nothing”, and full public financing also has drawbacks and downsides.

    I find your statement that she will not advocate significant improvements to healthcare surprising, given that she spent most of her energy as First Lady fighting for better healthcare. In particular, I see her fighting hard for better healthcare for women, which is sorely needed.

    Likewise, her proposal for making college affordable makes sense to me, and while I admit that I would prefer that the US fund all college tuition (like we do for K-12 education), its chance of being enacted is zero. And her proposal *would* cover the cost of tuition for those who need it most.

    As for livable wages, see

    I still claim to be a moderate (even though my politics look very progressive). Being a moderate to me means believing that it is important to be deliberate and slow down the pace of change (as the founders believed, which is why Congress has both a House and a Senate and all those checks and balances).

    I feel like Clinton is not that different than Sanders on policy, other than she wants to take things slower and more deliberate. That’s a lesson she learned the hard way when Republicans destroyed her health care plan. And given political reality, I think it is the better path.

    Yes, it might be less exciting. Not sure what can be done about that. Moderation sometimes can be a different word for boring.

    And AMEN to your last statement. If the election is Trump v. Clinton, are you really going to stay home because you can’t get too excited about Clinton, when she is running against someone who has already repeatedly advocated warcrimes against innocent family members of terrorists?

    Friday, March 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  3. ThatGuy wrote:

    I can understand where you’re coming from as well, and of course I’m not sitting home on election day! Particularly with any of the three contenders for the GOP running on one side of the ballot.

    My issue with Libya is that we didn’t need to be there. At all. We repeated almost exactly the steps of going into Iraq and got almost exactly the same results: a failed state and a haven for ISIS (which yes, we created). At a certain point, we need to learn that involving ourselves in the Middle East just makes us a target, no matter how warm and fuzzy our intentions are (or aren’t). There’s a great two-parter in the NYT (Clinton supporters) about how messy the whole… mess… was. (link to pt 2 at the bottom of the article)

    We don’t need to treat Wall Street as the enemy, necessarily, but they can’t be above the law and far too often have been just that. Rumors of Clinton’s speech involve her saying things like “we [whole of US] got ourselves into this, and we [whole of US] need to get ourselves out.” That sounds awesome and fair until you realize that we [not bankers] didn’t come up with and profit from horrid lending schemes but we [not bankers] were still forced to bail them [bankers] out. Fair, we voted banker-friendly (or sycophantic) politicians into office, but we can’t seriously pretend that Wall Street cares more about the country than they do their bottom lines. Until they’re team players, proverbial calls for their blood are fine by me!

    Again I’d agree that Clinton’s SCOTUS nominiee(s) would be net positives. But I don’t expect her as a candidate to take any issue with big campaign donors, which is the same disease that prevents Congress from taking meaningful action on that. Downsides of it aside, I think public financing is, at the end of the day, the safest route.

    She did great work trying to reform healthcare 20 years ago, zero questions on that, full stop. I believe she’ll protect the ACA, full stop. But this is an area where I think we need someone arguing the next best step to take in healthcare, which in my opinion is single payer. I’m not at all comfortable with profit motive (in the corporate sense) getting between people and their healthcare needs, and as long as the system is privatized at all, that’s what we’ll have.

    Similar stance on college funding: good but not great. Happy to see it, will support it, we should do better. I’ll touch on the issue of getting things enacted in a second.

    The livable wages thing is easy for me: $12 is barely enough to live on now, by the time it does (if it does) get enacted and implemented it won’t be enough. On this, even Sanders’ and O’Malley’s plans didn’t go far enough. I think $15 was to be in force by 2020, at which point the cost of living will have outstripped even that. The argument that we don’t have figures to go off of isn’t compelling to me because again by the time we get those figures from some other, more forward-thinking country, we’ll have more working poor than we do now.

    Now to the issue of pacing and “getting things done” as the Clinton campaign loves to say. No matter what, we are stuck to a slow process. I’m under no illusions that everything would be fairy tales and rainbows after one term of President Sanders whatsoever, but I’m a firm believer that if you’re negotiating for something, you start with better-than-ideal and work backwards. To begin with, I don’t buy that Clinton proposals would be easier to enact in a hostile or evenly divided Congress than Sanders proposals. Take the ACA for example, you know as well as anyone that this was a Heritage Foundation plan put forward to combat Clinton’s efforts. According to the GOP, it’s a socialist system of death panels. Do we really think they would treat Clinton proposals any better? They have an irrational hatred for this woman that easily rivals what they have for Obama and they’ve been at it for ~18 years longer! Why would they give her proposals a fairer shake just because their slightly less ambitious than Sanders’ (recognizing they share the same goals, ultimately)? I can honestly only shake my head when anyone proposes that her stances are any more likely to get traction within the GOP than Sanders’ would or Obama’s have.

    Given the illogical resistance of the GOP to anything progressives or even center-lefties do, I want someone in the White House who starts from or beyond what I’m looking for and negotiates from there, rather than taking the frankly silly position that if they lower the bar just a little the Republicans will give them a fairer shake. We’ve seen the results of pre-negotiation. The only response from the GOP is to try to take another mile and act as if even the reduced proposal is a Stalinist Five Year Plan.

    In short, I wouldn’t expect Clinton or Sanders plans to be passed at all in a GOP-controlled or even GOP-heavy Congress. I want a chief executive that’ll get people fired up about why single payer would be great and harp on why the cost of college is killing our economy. I don’t see Clinton pushing that way.

    In closing and to her credit, however, I am supremely confident that she would be a bulwark against GOP… let’s say foolery, though there are stronger words. But I suppose I’m more in a mood for a tenacious offense than a stalwart defense at the moment.

    Friday, March 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thanks for the lively and thoughtful discussion. I obviously don’t disagree with you all that much. Sorry about the confusing “are you really going to stay home” — I was talking about the general you, not you in particular. It is clear you are not going to stay home. But it does disturb me that there are Sanders supporters who will stay home if he is not the nominee, even though there is so much less distance between Clinton and Sanders than the light-years between either of them and any leading Republican candidate.

    One of the linked articles in the OP talks about Clinton bringing Sanders “back into the fold” (assuming she wins the nomination). I presume that Sanders is honorable enough that he will campaign strongly for Clinton if she is the nominee.

    A few minor quibbles: “We repeated almost exactly the steps of going into Iraq and got almost exactly the same results” — except that Clinton did Libya under the aegis of NATO, so it was a consensus decision. I don’t think it is fair to say “almost exactly the same steps” as going into Iraq, where we lied a pitifully small handful of countries into joining us on a misadventure.

    Also, as your linked article states, Britain, France, and even the Arab League were asking us to get involved.

    You say “We’ve seen the results of pre-negotiation.” I am still confused why people think Obama should have pushed harder. I think Obama has gotten a surprising amount of good things done. As much as I wished? Of course not, but the list of accomplishments is long.

    Bottom line, if we want more done, the way to get it is not to elect someone and then sit back and expect them to make it happen. That way lies unicorns. Or complain when it doesn’t happen fast enough. We have to get off our collective asses and make it happen. The gays did that with same sex marriage and it worked beyond wonderfully. It is up to us.

    If we wanted single payer health care, we should have been a tidal wave insisting we get it. If we want to repeal Citizens United, we have to make it a priority.

    Friday, March 4, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  5. ebdoug wrote:

    CNN poll says the majority 80% Republican and 83% Democrat want Citizens United Overturned.

    “lie down with Lions” What would have happened in the 80s had we not intervened in Afghanistan and let the Russians win? Had we not hired Bin Laden and his brothers and cousins to oust the Russians?

    Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 4:35 am | Permalink
  6. Thatguy wrote:

    IK I think we do agree on most issues here.

    On Libya, what I mean is we invaded a country we didn’t understand, backed a movement/new government we overestimated, and then allowed it to become a power vacuum and failed state. As bad as the Iraq debacle? Of course not. But we left the same disaster behind and having international consensus beforehand is little consolation.

    Again on the getting stuff done, we definitely agree it comes down to voters. And this is probably my weakest argument since Sanders isn’t getting the droves of voters for himself, much less enough for a congressional rubber stamp on everything he wants. But given his stated priorities I just feel he’d be a more constant advocate for progressivism whereas Clinton will tack away from anything too ambitious once the primary is over.

    I too think Obama has been a great president, especially considering the horrible congresses he’s had. But if I remember correctly, single payer option was off the table before Republicans even took a cut at the ACA. That allowed the GOP to still hit the ACA as socialism (because they don’t mind lying) without the president ever getting to argue the merits of such a plan.

    Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink
  7. Miffedone wrote:

    1. We were late to Libya. England and France were already carrying out airstrikes, so no, it’s not ‘just like Iraq.’

    2. Hillary spent years and was pummeled for her universal health care effort. She would not reverse a single tenet of it now. As for “single payer”, some things are possible, but today this is not. Take heart: when Social Security passed it covered barely half the work force (and arguably no minorities) and got fixed over time. (Civil Rights legislation, too.) The ACA will get better.

    3. The most consequential thing the next President will do is replace Supreme Court justices. A moderate in place of Scalia is a win. A liberal to replace Ginsberg is a draw. Given the hostile Senate, you get what you can. A new supreme court restores women’s rights, union rights, middle class rights, understands what “regulated” and “militia” mean, and overturns Citizens United. That’s not small beer.

    4. It is possibly true that Clinton is too muscular in her foreign policy. OK, that will help get her elected from nervous independents. I think it is also true that Sanders is too weak on foreign engagement. (He was against the first Iraq war, recall, when Hussein threatened to disrupt world oil supplies and roil the economy.) Nobody’s perfect here.

    Sunday, March 6, 2016 at 4:52 am | Permalink
  8. Thatguy wrote:

    Are we really going to argue that being late to a terrible idea makes it a less terrible idea?

    Sunday, March 6, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    Maybe not in hindsight.

    Monday, March 7, 2016 at 6:20 am | Permalink
  10. ThatGuy wrote:

    That’s always the rub. But I suppose that, if I’m in a room with the Secretary of Defense and he asks to finish the two current wars before starting a third, I’d tend to be swayed by that argument.

    Monday, March 7, 2016 at 7:41 am | Permalink