Sunday, January 20, 2008

Road to Ruin, or the Revenge of Sen. Clinton

Playing to Win, Take 2 - hilzoy @ Obsidian Wings

I think hilzoy is on to something here with her argument that, while there's a good chance for voters in this election cycle to see through Republican smear attacks, such an argument only works when those voters are not already predisposed to believe such attacks. The point she is trying to make is that Sen. Clinton has faced more than a decade of repeated attacks by the Republican party; so many so that, despite most people generally overlooking the attacks of the last seven years, voters are more inclined to believe those attacks now since they have built a strong and long-standing foundation. A candidate who has not played victim to these attacks stands a much better chance of winning a general election than a candidate like Sen. Clinton who has.
The second point hilzoy makes concerning Sen. Clinton is that at times when she had the opportunity to stand firm on Democratic principles she has buckled. Beyond the AUMF vote on Iraq, Sen. Clinton has tended to take only half-measures when it comes to central points of the Democratic party. As hilzoy notes, Sen. Clinton has not renounced her support of her husband's signing of the Defense of Marriage Act since, as Ben Smith of the Politico writes, she has distanced herself "from the portion which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states." The result of Sen. Clinton's partial repudiation is, as Smith concludes, the inability of the federal government to fully recognize same-sex marriage as it has become entirely a state's matter. In other words, Sen. Clinton walked away from pushing for federal recognition of same-sex marriage and will allow states like Texas to maintain their adoption of same-sex marriage bans. Sure, Sen. Clinton supports the right to same-sex marriage in theory, but when it comes to actually doing something about it, count her out.
It's this kind of false support that has so infuriated many in the Republican base and has led to the fracturing of their party. The pledges President Bush has made for bipartisanship and 'compassionate conservativism' have never materialized while the social conservative base has quietly fumed at the president's apparent lack of zeal in promoting their agenda. This is not what the Democratic party needs, particularly at a time when nominating the right candidate for president would further fracture the already creaking Republican coalition. I just hope that those members of the Democratic party who would rather take revenge for the last decade don't prevail over those of us, like myself, who would rather see us move the fuck on.

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