I Told You She’s Running

Jonathan taught me long ago that in trading you don’t lightly abandon your model and just try things. I hold to the same view in the less serious business of making political predictions while sitting at the breakfast table. I predicted last January that Hillary would run and Wesley Clark would be her running mate. Nothing has changed my mind.

The New York Post has this headline:Bill on Hill: It’s a maybe. “Clinton loyalists were startled yesterday to hear former President Bill Clinton suggest that his wife hasn’t made up her mind yet about running for the White House.” (via Drudge.)

No sh*t, Sherlock. Bill got in when Bush 41 was at 90% approval. Hillary is not going to miss a chance to go after Bush 43 when he is below 50% approval. When she gets in she will pretty quickly sweep everyone else from the field, especially in terms of fund-raising. She’ll roll to the nomination easily.

On a related point, the Wall Street Journal has a discussion about Wesley Clark getting in on its editorial page. It notes that “[t]he Democratic Establishment, very much including Bill and Hillary Clinton, is pushing the retired general as its stop-Howard Dean candidate.” The WSJ then concludes incoherently:

All of this occurs amid speculation about Hillary’s own presidential ambitions. Her role in backing the general suggests that she and her husband fear that Dr. Dean’s insurgency could upset her own well-laid plans for 2008. The real battle for control of the Democratic Party may finally have begun.

Uh, no. If Hillary wanted to run in 2008, she step back and let Dean run the party off the cliff in ‘04 and come back and be the savior of her party in ‘08. She is backing Clark because she is going to employ him as her running mate. He will provide cover for her lack of national security/military expertise.

They are going to be a formidable combination and they will probably beat Bush. Hope I’m wrong, but I fear I’m not. Believe me, this is one prediction I’d be happy to be wrong about.

  1. Lex–

    I’m sure you’ve seen a poll or two that might contradict me, and this is anecdotal, but every one of my male friends, without exception, even the very, very left ones, would self-immolate before they voted for Hillary. In fact, my friends who don’t vote have vowed to go to the polls if they need to prevent Hillary becoming president. They see it as their civic duty.

  2. I don’t like her either, but I think it’s unwise to believe she is unelectable. She was elected to the Senate, after all. Yes, she was elected in unrepresentative lefty NY, but Bush was elected governor of unrepresentative conservative TX. We shouldn’t make the same mistake about Mrs. Clinton that Democrats made about Bush. She has a fighting chance, especially if Bush blunders on the war or the economy.

  3. I’m not sure I agree – I don’t see Hillary as settling for the VP slot, and so far Clark has been pretty firm in saying that he’s running for President, not (Dean’s) Vice President.

    /dusts off tin-foil hat

    An alternate theory: Clark’s entry into the race at the behest of the Clinton faction is a pre-emptive strike directed not at Bush, but at Dean – to prevent the Dean steamroller from gaining control of the Democratic Party steering wheel (regardless of his showing against Bush). Hillary certainly isn’t interested in a Democratic victory in 2004 that doesn’t include her, and that means Dean’s momentum needs to be slowed.

  4. It’s one that is very hard to call. Bush and Hillary are extremely polarizing figures for their respective opponents. If anything, this could increase voter turnout. Result in a tought, tight race. And even inflict another Florida-type recount on us.

    I’d agree with Lex a Clinton-Clark ticket would be a powerful combo, compared to Bush-Cheney. It’s one the Republican party could beat though; with a Powell-Rice ticket, for instance. But even if the polls turned bad for W, what are the odds he would step aside for the sake of the GOP retaining the White House ? Has that even happened before, on either side ?

  5. I used to dine every Friday nite with my buddies, until recently. They are complete Bush bashers and continually taunt me with there love of WJClinton and braggadocio of HRClinton becoming out next president. I’ve had to abandon our relationships.

    Not a real big loss though. They were all politically vacant queers hanging on to dreams of a real blow job. Ha!!! Little do they realize that WJC was the best they’ll get til the spouse takes over… blow job that is.

    Not to be misunderstood… I also am ‘of the family’ but have never been politically vacant and am now a resolute Libertarian.

    Glenn Reynolds for President….

  6. Clark has a lot of skeletons in his closet. The tanks at Waco were from Fort Hood which was under his command. His tactics against the Serbs were just short of criminal; bombing civilian radio stations, cutting off food to cities during the winter. He advanced in the military as total suck-up not a combat general. His expertise is politics not security/military. The officers under his command called him the “perfumed prince”.

  7. Mr. Ross’s suggestion that Clark represents a preemptive strike is interesting, but absent any evidence of coordination between him and the Clinton faction it seems unlikely that to me that he is not sincerely trying to get it. I just think the core Ds won’t go for him.

    Mr. Dobalina’s point is good. But I think the polarizing factor will cut against Bush. Both are polarizing, but the swing vote will be suburban women. They will like the idea of voting for a woman, and they won’t like the screaming rage of Hillary’s opponents, whom the news media will depict as a bunch of maniacs.

    This is going to be UGLY.

  8. Or not. A lot of things can happen in a year. Heck, look at all that has happened in the past year.

    At the rate we’re going, the elections could feel like a nice cosy break.


  9. The thought of a Clinton White House liyerally scares me. Unfortunately, yes, Bush is beatable because of his domestic program[s]. There is time to recover, but will he?

  10. Lex… All in all we’re in agreement with one important exception (that being your belief that Hillary and the ‘Conqueror of Kosovo’ could win a general election).

    I surprised you haven’t considered the 2004 election in the Hackett-Fischer regional culture model of Presidential voting patterns. She’s such an obvious archetype for the New England yankee schoolmarm, yet one with none of the redeeming qualities to other cultures, like being a man, having any charm whatsoever, or being able to disguise her contempt for people less ‘politically educated’ than herself, that the other yankee front runners possess (little good that’s ever done them). Of course I agree that this certainly wouldn’t stop her from running, but the estimates that she’d pull even 40% of the popular vote are certainly high, and the fact that Bush is polling in the 50’s a year before the election isn’t particularly telling (the market isn’t in a downward cycle, as it was in ’92).

    a) We’re talking about the woman who almost single-handedly lost control of the House and Senate for the Democrats in 1994. Remember that back then she had the additional protection of ‘executive’ authority to shield her from the full fallout for actions, but that even so she didn’t campaign much in 1996 and didn’t really resurface until 1997.

    b)Those who’d point to the New York election (I lived in NYC for ten years) fail to note that: this is a post-9/11 world (Guliani would wipe the floor with her even WITH ass cancer and a messy divorce today), New York isn’t a good test of national sentiment (as Cuomo learned), her husband, the co-President, was very busy buying her votes with a combination of questionable pardons (at the behest of her brother) and federal handouts that she can’t rely on in 2004,

    c) Of the Democratic core blocks, she was mostly despised as much as her husband was adored. Black women don’t respect her, and black men don’t like snooty white women telling them what the black community ‘needs to do’ (and both know she was responsible for purging the DNC of black folk). Cubans haven’t forgiven her for sucking up to Castro, and latins in general don’t vote for female candidates. Plus the AARP ‘grey panthers’ might like the idea of better healthcare, but old people NEVER vote for leftist Democrats (can she keep pretending to be moderate in a general election? Naaah).

    d) She’d be well funded, but not nearly as well as Bush (who’s already over $200 million). The Clintonite move back in the 1990’s to extend the campaign season so that they could raise more money has backfired on their party in a huge way. NYC bankers aren’t going open up their considerably thinner check books after they’ve been allowed to escape their role in creating the bubble by the Feds (bankers aren’t Union bosses, and don’t like making political enemies). And don’t forget Bill Gates personal grudge against the Clintons…

    e) Clark. His stint as a pundit ruins the aura of respectability one usually gets from being a General. Does anyone really believe Wes Clark is half the value per star of Colin Powell (who wisely kept his mouth shut when he retired)? Or that he’d look any better than Perot’s General in a VP debate? Do we think the public is really going to take the General who bombed Belgrade for our European ‘friends’ seriously, especially after he was so dramatically wrong on the record about both Afghanistan AND Iraq?

    f) The Bill Clinton factor. If Hillary runs the public will be able to find out how much her husband has made since 2000. Let’s see… Bill makes $50,000 an hour to gab, an end of term Presidential pardon was worth $400,000 each, and the Clinton library is funded at what, $160 million? Gee whiz, I think at least some people might find the millions they’ve collected since Bill left office curious to say the least. I’d ask this question: “Senator Clinton: if you become President will your brother, Hugh Rodham, be put in charge of selling pardons as he did back when you were co-President, and if so will the price go up in line with inflation or down, reflecting todays tighter market conditions sans the bubble?”. Plus… how can Hillary criticise Bush as a liar or on Iraq or North Korea if she runs on her husbands record??? “Will Senator Clinton if elected honor her husbands signature on the ICC treaty?”, “Will Senator Clinton use the Presidents office to enforce the Kyoto accords?”, “Will President Rodham-Clinton institute the universal healthcare along the lines of her 1993 attempt?”

    There’s some other points, but you get my drift. The Democrats in general, and Clintons in particluar live in such a subjectivist dreamworld where everyone else in the Universe is considered stupid they don’t seem to ever believe they’ll be held accountable for anything. This might lead them to convince themselves to run, but I doubt they’ll receive the same electoral tenderness they’ve come to expect.

    The activist base of the Democratic establishment is so eager to hammer Bush that they underestimate the Bush organizations political aptitude. They did it in the run up to the 2002 midterms, where they overextended themselves in the belief he was weaker than he was over Afghanistan, only to lose the Senate when the Bushies turned out to be (surprise surprise) strong where they were thought to have been weak. I predict that the Bushies are doing the same thing in the run up to 2004, and that the Democrats will fall for it again. Let’s see if the White House “discovers” a very convincing stockpile of WMD’s next summer after the Dems have committed themselves to the impossibility of such a thing. Let’s see if Osama turns out to be “discovered” to have been killed back in 2002, with DNA match to prove it. Let’s see if Saddam is finally killed or aprehended just when the Democrats have convinced the public that Bush shouldn’t be President if he can’t catch either man.

    More than anything… let’s remember what happened in 2002, and wait and see what tricks Bush has in store for the Democrats (who seemed quite hapless last year) this time around.

  11. Holy Hitlerian Hillaries, Batman! Alexander, that is the epic comment of our benighted age. All good stuff, too.

    OK. A tiny, tiny response. I think Clinton, the husband, the two-term president was popular, is remembered fondly by most people, would have won a third term, would win one now if he could run again, and would have gotten Gore elected if Gore hadn’t run away from him. So, we have a basic disagreement. I, too, loathe Bill. But most people don’t. They think he did a good job.

    I think Hillary is a smart and articulate person, and a competent lawyer. I think she would in all likelihood kick the shit out of Bush in the debates. Serioiusly.

    I stick by my view that many, many suburban women would vote for her simply to vote for a woman for president.

    I think she could run to the center and still hold the loyalty of the left-wing base of the Party who know what she is really all about and would trust her to govern as a Leftist.

    The point of Clark is window dressing so the ignoramuses can feel that the “military” side is covered.

    I agree that she is pure Hackett-Fischerian yankee. But, she’d have the general and Southerners like generals.

    I think it would be close. We’ll see how it plays out.

  12. Alexander,

    Maybe you are right, but the fact is that she won in NY. I would have been much more sanguine about your argument if she had lost. This is a case of one strong fact — that she won a big election — balanced against a lot of contrary ideas. The set of contrary ideas was similar before the NY Senate race and didn’t predict her victory then. A similar set of contrary ideas predicted that Bill Clinton would lose in 1996. So, much as I find your theory satisfying, I think it has to be discounted heavily. I’m not saying she’ll win, just that she has a fighting chance. She might get trounced, but with a fighting chance and a misstep by Bush she could easily win. People blunder and unpredictable events occur, so from her (and the Democrats’) point of view it makes sense for her to run.

    I also echo Lex’s point about women voting for her simply because she’s a woman. I know a lot of women who are like this. They are ordinarily smart people but they are feminist bigots and foolish about politics and they would vote for a candidate like Hillary — at least once — to prove a point, almost no matter what that candidate stood for.

  13. In reference to HC running for president. I like to respond to the statement, “Of the Democratic core blocks, ……… Black women don’t respect her, (wrong!!!) and black men don’t like snooty white women telling them what the black community ‘needs to do’….” I have no idea who this person is, but it is obvious that he knows nothing about the Black community in America and their voting practices. Who in the hell does he think the Black community is going to vote for if not HC, GB???? Get real. GB would be lucky to gander 10% of the Black Community vote. They hate him with a passion. The writer of this commentary is a fool. The Black community will not vote for anyone they deem a threat to their social status and that’s how they view George Bush and his administrative policies.

  14. In the Hathcock v. Crawford matchup on the issue of black voters, I have to side more with Hathcock. My basic observation is that black voters are going to vote 90% Democrat in any major election no matter what happens. That’s the baseline. Moreover, Bill Clinton was extremely popular with black voters and I have no reason to think his wife would be any different. Further, Bush is a white southerner and perceived as another old boy-type, and that can’t help. Bottom line, the historical norm will not change whether it is Hillary or not — virtually all of the black vote will be Democrat. Moreover, with another Clinton running, black voter turnout will probably be relatively high. Bush’s selection of black personnel for his cabinet helps him with moderate suburban voters, who like to see diversity, inclusiveness, etc. But I don’t think it will cut much ice with most black voters, who probably correctly think that a Democrat can do the same thing just as well, and is now more likely to. Based just on my personal observation and conversations in Chicago, I think Mr. Hathcock may be overdoiong the notion that black voters hate Bush. I think they just see him as one more of the same old thing. I’d like to see polling data on the views of black voters about Bush and some other things to confirm my instincts.

  15. Still, Mr. Hathcock, this is too strong: “The writer of this commentary is a fool.” Let’s not employ insults in the comments, please. If you think someone is a fool, it is more effective as well as more civil to cite to evidence which shows that to be true. Anyway, Mr. Crawford has put many insightful comments on this blog, so I know he’s not a fool. Rather, on this point, you think he’s wrong. Not the same thing. Let’s keep the gloves on, please.

  16. Mr. Hathcock,

    I may indeed be a fool, but I am not without some references for you to read and decide for yourself (the “knowledge of black people” contest, however entertaining it’d be, should probably be sacrificed for actual links)

    Black America’s PAC has some surveys for you (and polls)


    For non-partisan polling on black American voting trends try the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies


    Then for the historic data, why not try the Uof Michigan political database.


    And for SERIOUS commentary (and poll) try The Black Commentator (issue 17 is the link). (&etc I highly recommend blackelectorate.com as well)


    The question is not, “will black Americans vote for Bush over Hillary Clinton?” (which seems likely when hell freezes over). Or even, “will black voters vote for the GOP over the Democrats in House races?”, (the redistricting is SOOOO Gerrymandered that it’s not clear that the black electorate could even swich if it wanted to!). The GOP doesn’t tend to gain black votes that the Democrats lose in National elections. 65-75% are solidly Democrat, 5-10% GOP, and the rest, like the “other” third of the US electorate, are Independent, and this trend is especially strong among young black professionals (who do a disproportionate amount of the Democrats electoral legwork).

    The question is, “what have the Democrats generally, and Hillary Clinton specifically, done regarding the top issues of importance for black voters?” AND “Has the black electorate benefited for their loyalty to the Democrats on an issue since the civil rights era that was worth it?” AND “Do the Democrats now, today, need the black electorate MORE than the black electorate needs the Democrats?”.

    Regarding how black people HAVE voted in 2000 and 2002, what’s changed? It’s not clear why you think black voters hate the GOP enough to hop when Democrats say ‘jump’. Gallup has Bushs approval polling between 30-40% there, and while that doesn’t translate to votes, it doesn’t translate to hate either (and is pretty good for a Republican). I could be completely mistaken, but you’re going to have to do better than unreferenced generalizations and unsupported conclusions (and I didn’t even dig up the ’94 and ’96 polling!)

  17. Jonathan,

    I don’t think it’s fair to put her and Bill in the same league. I might not like Bill Clinton, but he’s a genius at the stump and had the political skills to survive impeachment in the House. She won a Senate race as first lady, running against a mayor in a Democratic bastion city in a Democratic bastion State with the power of the White House. Guiliani cleaned up the city, but didn’t make many friends among the political machines of either party doing so. When your husband can basically ruin or bless every special interest group, law firm, bank, brokerage, &etc. that doesn’t support you, it’s hardly a tough race. How many Senate candidates have the White House Press office and airforce 2 at their disposal to campaign?

    And the worst thing was that she’s in Moynihan’s seat, and that’s a disgrace. Can you think of a more appropriate man to take over Sen. Moynihans legacy than Rudy Guiliani? What would the Senate sub-committee for Special Investigations look like? Imagine the headaches Guiliani would (and hopefully will) cause for both parties? Guiliani would have lived up to the standard Moynihan established, and the whole country losses that… an honest man who’s not afraid to make powerful enemies is a rare thing at that level of government.

    It’s possible I’m underestimating her skill, and that instead of getting a first woman President of Thatchers quality, we’d get the politician we deserve. But ask yourself one single, and often overlooked question… How many Generals do you think would take orders from her?

  18. All of them, Alexander. If she’s elected, she’s the Commander in Chief. The better question is how many officers of quality would resign or retire so as not to serve with her in charge.

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