Monday, March 17, 2008

Election Madness: Who says Hillary is the stronger candidate?

Mmm... and we're back with more politics. A big part of Hillary's campaign to woo superdelegates (and voters) is the argument that I keep hearing from her supporters that Hillary would be the stronger candidate in the general election against the evil forces of John McCain. I've never really heard Obama's people counter this (I guess because they're focusing on how he's like winning), so I wanted to share with you all out there in the internet the reasons that I strongly disagree with this assertion.

The Case for Hillary

I think that the Hillary camp's argument about her electability is three-pronged:

(1) experience

Point one is that Hillary has more experience than her opponent -- particularly more foreign policy experience. This is a fair and wholly valid point: Clinton has served longer as a Senator, she serves on the Senate's armed services committee, as first lady she acted as a sort of ambassador, and -- er -- she spearheaded that ill-fated health care plan.

That said, I do think Hillary pads her resume a bit. Joking aside, she wasn't the Clinton who served as President of the United States. We'll never really know what issues Bill kept Hillary informed of and on what issues he sought her counsel (I don't doubt they powwowed about almost everything), but we do know that Hillary did not have security clearance to attend key meetings or to read intelligence briefings (for a good discussion of Hillary's experience read this Slate article by Timothy Noah). And -- as Obama himself has repeatedly pointed out -- for all this touted foreign policy experience, Clinton's decisions regarding the most important foreign policy issue of our young century have been nothing to brag about. Also, hilariously, Sinbad has come out to dispute Hillary's attempt to characterize a 1996 trip that she made to Bosnia (accompanied by a teenage Chelsea, Sheryl Crowe, and Sinbad!) as an example of her being tested in a dangerous situation (its worth reading the Washington Post blog entry to hear his overall views on Clinton).

So, anyway, the experience card is really not a winning move for either Democratic candidate because both their resumes are trumped by John McCain's 25 years serving in Congress (not to mention his status as a POW war hero).

(2) swing states

Point 2 is that Hillary has won the primaries in important swing states (she's ahead in Pennsylvania, she won in Ohio, and she also won in Michigan and Florida -- not that I'm ready to get into the mess with those two pains in the ass). But then Obama won in Iowa and Minnesota (caucuses) and Michigan (primary), and those are solid second-tier swing states. But anyway, this whole line of argument doesn't really hold water since history shows that carrying a state in a primary is not a good indicator of performance there in the general election (since, you know, different people come out to vote and you're up against a different opponent).

(3) prejudice

Point 3, which I think is implicit even if it is almost never verbalized, is that Barack Obama would be handicapped by people's prejudices in the election because (a) he is a black man and (b) he has a Muslim father and a Muslim name. Dirty pool.

In the voting thus far Obama has had success transcending race and he has won a lot of primaries and caucuses in lily white states where there's large swaths with ne'er a person of color for miles. It is of course possible that things will be different in the general election, but I still think that (a) most of the racially prejudiced are probably voting Republican no matter what, and (b) even if this is a negative electability factor it is compensated for by the positive points I will mention in my next post.

Yes, y'all it's late and I should really be in bed already seeing as how I have work tomorrow and all that. You'll just have to wait until tomorrow night for part 2.

May 22, 2007 photo of Hillary Clinton by AP/Susan Walsh

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