Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here's What Hillary Should be Saying About "Change"

Watching the remaining crop of Democratic candidates for president--Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards--you'd get the impression they're all Washington outsiders bringing a fresh, independent vision to a process that's dominated by lobbyists, special interests and the old guard. The most prominent self-professed agent of change is Barack Obama, who also just happens to be in a very exclusive group of 100 of the world's most powerful people: the U.S. Senate. Ditto for Hillary Clinton, who also belongs to another very powerful political machine called the Clintons. And John Edwards, a former member of this prestigious group of Washington insiders, is also an extremely wealthy trial lawyer. These three hardly can hardly portray themselves as agents of change with any real credibility.

But if I was heading the Clinton campaign, here's what I'd be telling her to do: start talking about changing things back to the way they were when she and Bill resided in the White House. We don't need to bring anything "new" to Washington. Just bring back the old. Is there any rational Democrat (or even moderate Republican or independent for that matter) who would not like to turn the clock back to when we experienced unprecedented economic prosperity (low inflation, 23 million new jobs, a $230 billion budget surplus; surging stock market); were a country at peace; and were still respected in much of the world? When we were led by an intelligent, curious, responsible president who could also string together two sentences without sounding like an unintelligible moron? A president who left office with a healthy 62% approval rating.

So why is Hillary--an obvious life-long Washington insider--trying to pawn herself off as an agent of change rather than reminding us of all this relative peace, prosperity and popularity from '92-'00? What's wrong with looking back to the future? The eight years of Clinton-Gore represents a time in our country that we could use again. While I had hoped that the former vice-president would enter the race, he clearly is not (unless he slips in under a brokered convention should neither Obama and Clinton get enough delegates to win the nomination...a dream I'm still holding out for). Personally, I'd give my right arm to have Bill back in the White House, under any circumstance. I for one don't need "change," just a solid return to those indisputably successful years. And if Hillary Clinton were to remind voters of this instead of getting caught up in this bogus "agent of change" game, she'd sail straight to the White House.

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Good post, Andy. Only thing is I think Hillary's obvious efforts to move forward on her own rather than hearken back to the glory days of her husband's presidency is nothing other than fear of a press backlash. The last thing she needs if for the press to jump back on the MonicaWhitewater express -- bombarding us daily with their garbage.

Sidney Condorcet said...

One thing we have to note: Clinton did not convert a deficit into a surplus himself. A president has only a marginal effect on the economy. They can make hard times less harsh, and provide additional supports to a surging economy. However, they do not control the economy as if by fiat. His deficit reduction plan in '93 certainly helped, but Bush Sr's tax increases certainly helped as well. The end of the Cold War allowed for us to cut the the inflated Defense budget. The technological revolution that occurred in the 90's (largely independent of any president) helped make traditional businesses more efficient and created an entirely new and significant industry (which of course created certain excesses that eventually led to a bursting bubble). The lowering of trade barriers across the globe and the integration of a booming China into the world economy created much of the basis for our incredible economic growth. We also weren't hamstrung by a resource crisis thatlimits our potential for economic growth.

People far abler than I have better explained the causes of the 90's boom. But at the very least we can recognize that Bill Clinton didn't walk into the Oval Office, roll up his sleeves, and transform the American economy. Bill labeled Obama's Iraq stance a "fairy tale." Well, there's no bigger fairy tale than the myth that Bill Clinton was directly responsible for the 90's boom. Let's not fool ourselves, my fellow Dems.

Bill Clinton, as he did while in office, consistently demeans the Office of the President. It is customary for a former President to embrace the role of party elder and eminence gris and stay on the sidelines of these campaigns. Hillary explains that he's just coming to her defense. Well, if she needs to rely on his legacy as tantamount to experience of her own, as a sin qua non of her candidacy, and if she requires him to be her attack dog and protect her during the campaign, then what can we expect from a Hillary presidency? What role will Bill Clinton play then? Can she control him once he breaks free of his leash? Bill Clinton is effectively running for his third term and is attempting to tear down and smear a fellow Democrat, and he has forfeited his role as party elder. Did the elder Bush act as attack dog against McCain or even Al Gore in 2000? Not at all. If GWB didn't need poppy bush to protect him in 2000, why does Hillary over-rely on Bill? Yet again, Bill's conduct is unbecoming of the office of the Presidency. For once, Hillary should be forced to do something on her own. This is dynasticism and nepotism at its worst, and embodies an anti-feminist sentiment that should be troubling for the Gloria Steinem's of the world. And ladies, I am an equal opportunity voter. Give me a Barbara Boxer or Diane Fienstein, and I'd vote twice if I could.

Anonymous said...

This is all new territory. I think we should just let them do their thing. The base loves them and it will play well. No one is in charge of making the rules. We have never had a first lady run for president with her husband being a former president. You can bet that if the situation was different, the Republicans would do the same thing.

As for change? She isn't Bush or the Republicans. That is what folks care the most about.

Anonymous said...

You, who call yourself Sidney Condorset, are quite apparently a Republican mole. Nice try but it didn't work.

I guess in your role as wise and innocent spoiler you would claim that Bush had no part in creating our current recession?

And if Bill gives Hillary advice when she's president, who could ask for anything more?

Sidney Condorcet said...

I am not a Republican mole, but rather a former (as in 2000) Republican turned Democrat. I'm roughly representative of just how the Dems can win back a governing majority this year. And, you've got to know that Hillary will not be able to cobble together such a majority. Too many people have a deep-seeded antipathy toward her and Bill, which cannot be overcome.

Now, as for Bush and our current recession. He certainly is one of the principal causes for it. The tax cuts aimed at only the very rich, the ballooning federal debt, the cost of the Iraq war, all bound together have had a very harmful effect on the economy. However, the mortgage crisis would have occurred even if Gore had been President. Our trade deficit would be out of balance just as much as if Gore was President. A President has only a marginal effect on the overall economy, like I said. But he/she can provide for a softer landing and correct the ills that contributed to the recession. That's why i'm hoping for a Democratic victory in November, so that our government will give aid to those hardest hit by the recession. Unfortunately, if Clinton wins the nomination, I'm afraid we might see a Republican win, and as a result, the much-needed aid will not be forthcoming, or will be a fraction of the amount a Democrat would provide.

So many people support the Clintons because they feel they got a raw deal. You may hate Republican, you may even hate the independents in this nation b/c they so often buy into lame Republican talking points, but you cannot dismiss them. You cannot support the Clintons merely to secure vindication. This election is for real, and must be won. Let's not go out there with the weakest general election candidate. She cannot reach out to independents and moderate Republicans like Obama can. But then again, maybe you are the Republican mole and really wish to lose the election.

AlphaFactor said...

The reason why we want something besides a Washington insider -- even a Democratic one -- is because it's been the insiders among the Democrats that have been the ones acquiescing to the Republican agenda.

George Bush couldn't have become the worst president in history without some help from the other side. Like say when... the Democratically-held Senate voted in favor of the Gulf War 2 resolution in Autumn 2002.

I think we can expect an outsider to be a bit more defiant of the same ol' politics as usual.

Anonymous said...

Sidney your arguments are too off the wall to respond to. Be that as it may I will say, for starters, if Gore had been president there would have been no mortage crisis because he would have controlled Greenspan. You say the Democrats are as responsible as Bush by their ineffectiveness, yet you want a Democratic President. Why? You seem to think they are no better. You also seem to think the position of president bestows no power to that office, since y ou refuse to hold this president responsible for any of our problems.

Very few, if any, think the Clintons got a raw deal. He served two terms and was and is extremely well-liked by by at least 65 percent of Americans.

Everyone is saying McCain will likely be the Republican candidate and he has admitted he knows very little about economics. Do you think that admission will help him beat Hillary (and Bill)?

And, don't you think we've learned our lesson about electing a president who simply is not experienced or otherwise qualified to be president. Of course, it's not the same because Obama is very intelligent and ethical; but, he is totally inexperienced and is even showing a lack of experience and "smarts" in his campaign.

Finally the independents will vote for the candidate who most nearly meets his demandss for a president.

Sidney Condorcet said...

I won't respond to your assertions on the very basis that while you claim that my contentions are "too off the wall" you baldly submit that Gore would have averted the mortgage crisis by simply "controll[ing] Greenspan."

But I will add that a) my comments clearly reflect my belief that Bush and the Republicans have mangled the economy and that I believe the Democrats are more trustworthy and competent on economic issues and b) Hillary's "experience" argument is completely bogus (with the exception of a major fumble on her health care task force, where she once again showed that she cannot unite people behind a well-reasoned idea).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ostroy, now I'm definitely going to vote for Monica Lewinski's Ex-Boyfriend's Wife for President!!

Anonymous said...

Bill and Hilllary are proving to be ruthless, lying, animals while they attempt to destroy Obama's character on the quest for power.

How anyone can side with the lying bastard clintons is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Bill and Hilllary are proving to be ruthless, lying, animals while they attempt to destroy Obama's character on the quest for power.

How anyone can side with the lying bastard clintons is beyond me.

Sidney Condorcet said...

Memo to Senator Obama:
Given the negligible differences between you and Hillary on matters of policy, you have understandibly predicated your candidacy on your unique ability to unite this country, and in so doing, command a governing majority to propel forward a progressive agenda. It's time to couple this appeal with the fact that Hillary failed in her effort to pass healthcare reform in the 90's despite having a Democratic-controlled Congress with which to work.

Hillary is claiming she is the candidate with "experience." Well, in the White House years, her only visible policy role was heading up the health care task force. She came under criticism from Democratic leaders in Congress, and in the administration (Donna Shalala, Lloyd Bentson), for the way in which she led the effort. Despite majorities in the House and Senate, Hillary failed to UNITE the party (let alone the nation) behind her ideas. You should run an ad in the Super Tuesday states that plays on this. It undermines her claim of experience, as well as her ability to unite Democrats, let alone Republicans and independents. If she could not persuade members of her own party on health care, then it calls into question her ability to persuade anyone of anything. Also, indicate her failure on health care directly led to us losing the Congress to Republicans, and that the people have paid the ultimate price for Hillary's failure. We still don't have universal health care. In a debate, when she goes for your jugular on mandates and universality, simply outline what I just said, rather than playing defense. Time to break out the big bat, Senator Obama.

Anonymous said...

Hillary's healthcare plan didn't succeed those many years ago because she is a woman She was "dissed" and a threat to the misogynists. And Obama would have had the same trouble because he is black. And, they won't be elected president these many years hence -- read today's blog by Ostroy. We are living in an American that now, for some reason, has a ruling class with a third-world mentality although many of them are rich and privileged (like Bush)

Cethirien said...

The Clinton years themselves are a fairy tale. How much did NAFTA contribute to what is happening now? How much did his WTO and TRIPS push contribute towards withholding vital medicines to millions of AIDS victims in Africa? How much did his Plan Colombia lead to an escalation of the Colombian civil war and the poisoning of whole countrysides? His globalization policies destroyed so many countries including America's middle class.

Didn't Clinton end welfare, throwing millions of Americans into even more dire poverty? Didn't over half a million Iraq children die under his sanctions regime?? Did his "personal" problems lead to government paralysis for 8 years? Didn't greenhouse gas emissions increase by leaps in bounds in the 1990s? The fact that he couldn't even pass Kyoto, after fatally weakening the deal is quite telling about the fairy tale woven over the Clinton years.

The whole 1990s represent a lost decade, with Clinton contributing towards disillusioning progressives and putting the Democrats on the defensive over stupid shit.

He cannot be allowed to come back, otherwise we won't survive the next century.