The hard-core right-wingers who kept reading past the point I told them to stop probably all think I’ve lost my mind by now. But remember, I am talking about the politics within the Democratic Party, not the nation as a whole. Moreover, at this stage of the nominating process, all of the candidates in both parties are appealing mainly to their bases. These are well to the left of the country among Democrats and well to the right among Republicans.
It is in this context that one must evaluate Sen. Clinton’s position. Given the views of the Democratic base and the enormous unpopularity of the Iraq War, it is a real act of courage for her to steadfastly refuse to say her vote for the war was wrong. Of course, like all Democrats and most Americans she opposes the war today and favors a rapid pull-out.
That is why the easy thing for Sen. Clinton to do would be to just thrown in the towel, admit her vote was wrong, and move on. And that’s why it is an act of courage for her to refuse to do so. If conservatives weren’t so blinded by their hatred for her, this would be obvious.
On economics, it is reasonable to assume that Sen. Clinton’s policies would not be altogether different from Bill Clinton’s. This is not a bad thing. On trade, his record was outstanding and on the budget was far better than George W. Bush’s. While Clinton raised taxes in 1993, it should be remembered that he cut them in 1997, including a cut in the capital gains tax. On regulatory policy, Clinton was no worse than the current administration and probably better on net.
Democrats know all this, which is why our most liberal pundits, like Bob Kuttner, are attacking Sen. Clinton for being a clone of her husband on economics and attacking her support for “Rubinomics,” named after former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin. Its essential elements are a commitment to deficit reduction and globalization—which are both anathema to the Democratic Party’s liberal base. It wants a hard-line against imports to save jobs and an expansive fiscal policy to pay for a wide range of new social programs.
At some point, politically sophisticated conservatives will have to recognize that no Republican can win in 2008 and that their only choice is to support the most conservative Democrat for the nomination. Call me crazy, but I think that person is Hillary Clinton.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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