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Who's Really Ready for Change?


The three Democratic front-runners at a debate in June. (Reuters)

The Democratic nomination battle has rapidly evolved into a debate about change, but in Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, Democratic voters have distinctly different styles to choose from. The question is, who best fits what the country wants.

Clinton offers a clear break from the policies of the Bush administration and the assurance that she has the kind of experience to get things done. Obama promises transformational change and a break from the old politics. Edwards projects big, bold changes -- and an aggressive attack on Washington's culture of money and politics.

Every survey of political attitudes confirms that 2008 will be an election driven by a desire for change -- a break from President Bush's administration, a different direction in Iraq, an improved health care system, a new energy policy, a shift from partisan conflict.

It's not just Democrats who have embraced this message. Mitt Romney hailed his victory in the Iowa straw poll last week by declaring, "Change begins in Iowa." Rudy Giuliani argues that his executive experience in New York gives him an ability to shake up Washington. Fred Thompson has made clear his message will be built around a challenge for voters to demand a shift from the status quo.

At this point, Republicans are hampered in making their change arguments, wary of breaking too explicitly with a president who remains popular with a majority of GOP voters, even if he is deeply disliked by independents and almost universally by Democrats.

Republican candidates call for a new direction in more muted terms or by attacking Washington without directly criticizing the president. Democrats have no such constraints, which is why the Democratic race is such an intriguing laboratory for competing messages of the leading candidates.

Clinton and Obama explicitly represent change -- she as the first woman president, he as the first African-American president. Clinton is using her gender more explicitly than Obama is using race, but neither had built their campaign solely on those characteristics.

Obama has the most to gain by getting the message right. His entire candidacy is premised on change. He is the youngest candidate in the race and the least experienced. Unless he can win the change argument -- that is, that he can persuade voters that he is best able to bring about the changes they want -- he will have a difficult time dislodging Clinton from her front-runner position.

What has made him a force in this campaign, given the fact that he has been in the Senate for just over two years, is that he is someone who fits the mood and the moment. Right now, it is not clear that he is winning the argument.

"So far I don't know that you've gotten a clear answer about how he uniquely matches the moment," said Geoffrey Garin, a Democratic pollster not affiliated with any campaign. "It can't just be change writ large. It's an easy handle but it's not a differentiated enough category. There are lots of different kinds of change and on some aspects Hillary Clinton can be as strong or stronger than Obama."

A Republican strategist said today Obama "should own the change agenda" but hasn't yet been able to consolidate that advantage because of Clinton's effectiveness as a candidate.

Clinton's campaign banners carry the twin slogans of "Ready to Lead" and "Ready for Change," an attempt to make an asset of the fact that she has been involved in the political wars for many years while grabbing hold public disillusionment over Iraq or worries about the cost of health care or retirement security.

Asked for a description of the change her presidency would bring about, Clinton's chief spokesman Howard Wolfson sent back an e-mail message that listed six specifics, from Iraq to health care to middle-class economic policies to making government work.

He concluded with this: "She has fought for change her whole life -- and knows how to achieve results. Everyone is talking change -- Hillary is the candidate with the strength and experience to actually accomplish it."

A Democratic strategist observed today that all the candidates must play out the hand they've been dealt -- by virtue of resume, biography, experience and stereotype -- and said the Clinton campaign has played its hand as skillfully as possible -- while volunteering that it may not be the strongest hand possible for a general election.

Obama gets less credit for the skill with which he has projected his call for change. What began with an uplifting promise of transforming politics now includes sharp attacks on Washington lobbyists.

As chief strategist David Axelrod put it in an e-mail message today, "Obama believes that to move America forward, we have to do more than change parties in Washington. We have to confront the divisive, money-soaked politics of Washington that has made progress on issues like health care reform and energy so hard to achieve these past two decades through Republican and Democratic Administrations."

Edwards offers an even more aggressive attack on what Axelrod called the money-soaked politics of Washington. "Powerful interests in Washington have rigged the system and they are never going to just negotiate away their power," spokesman Eric Shultz said in an email. "You have to fight them for it, beat them, and take it away from them. John Edwards has done it. And he's won. It's what he's been doing his whole life."

He has laid out big proposals on health care and other issues, but increasingly there is a tactical quality to his argument. Still, the more Obama has drifted toward talking about Washington lobbyists, the more he will be crowded by Edwards's populist anger.

Clinton and Edwards have clearly set out the groove they intend to follow. At the moment, Obama's direction appears less fixed. "Obama is not a candidate who wins by playing at the margins," Garin said. "I think he wins by having voters think there is a quality there that creates a sense of hope. For the person who wrote 'The Audacity of Hope,' hope has remarkably not been central to the form and feel of this campaign."

Obama disagrees. In an interview earlier this week, he said he believes that hope and inspiration remain at the core of the message he delivers every day on the campaign trail. But he said he does that less well in debates. "I tend to be a story teller," he said. "I like to connect with people by talking about where we've been and talking about where we're going and the aspirational aspects of my message are rooted in people's stories and stories about this country. It's very hard to do that in 90 seconds."

It still isn't obvious which of these messages ultimately will carry the day among Democratic voters. But for the candidate who best speaks to the public mood for something different, the reward is likely to be a ticket to the general election -- and perhaps the White House.

--Dan Balz

By Washington Post editors  |  August 17, 2007; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Dan Balz's Take  
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Comments

There is conclusive proof that experience does not matter. It looks like this:

PRESIDENT JAMES BUCHANAN, D-PA, 1857-61
U.S. Congressman, 1821-31
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
Minister (in today's parlance, Ambassador) to Russia, 1832-34
U.S. Senator, 1834-45
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Nominee, U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Secretary of State, 1845-49
Minister to Great Britain, 1853-56

That is without a doubt one of the most spectacular resumes ever possessed by a U.S. President prior to becoming President. Buchanan was also without a doubt one of the most spectacular failures of anyone to serve as President. He was followed in office, of course, by this staggeringly inexperienced novice:

PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN, R-IL, 1861-65
U.S. Congressman, 1847-49

And ... that's all. One two-year term in the House, and even that was twelve years before running for President. That is literally the entire extent of Lincoln's experience in any office higher than the Illinois State Legislature.

Of course, if we're counting service time in the Illinois State Legislature, the entire experience issue starts looking very different...

Posted by: soundslikedrums | August 21, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards is ready to lead our country as president of the United States. Regardless of conflicting polls showing a Hillary and Obama rise with Edwards...thats only the corporate insider machine at work decieving the massive public once again.....as they have been long before anyone ever announced they were running for president in 2008. Edwards has fought his whole life for this and if America desires real change....they need only look to Edwards and make the comparison of the other candidates....there is none. so if we all choose to be deaf dumb and blind to what the republican strategy is, then let us wise men and women direct your attention to 2004 and the rush to crown John Kerry as the Democrats choice for nominee..and that was made possible by the republican elite who decided long before any vote or caucus that Edwards would be much more diffacult to win against, there was not enough dirt on him..in fact none at all. when you decide who your opponant is...it makes strategy in the game much easier.....and they have a swift boat load of it waiting for Hillary should the Democrats make the same mistake again in 2008.....Rove has already left the whitehouse so he can start up the attacks against Clinton and start the battle before the war....if they pick the fight for Democrats once again...one again we lose. Karl Rove left office for a reason....they dont want the Whitehouse insiders to look like they are part of the attack......but they are.....even though thet'll be gone in 09 they do want to make sure things are status quo after they leave. its up to us America to decide. I hope they choose John Edwards. The Republicans cannot beat him and they know it.

Posted by: andrew6565 | August 21, 2007 1:29 AM | Report abuse

The arguments in favor of Hillary Clinton are weak and lack any speck of intellectual honesty.

Priusdriver cited her academic resume as experience that qualifies her to be president. If this is the case, then Barack Obama is far more qualified than she is having been the editor of the Harvard Law Review and a graduate of Columbia.

The experience question with regard to Hillary Clinton is funny. Her supporters parade her as the most experienced candidate and this, quite frankly, not true. Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson all have far more political experience than she does. Barack Obama also has more experience and time in elected office.

I also don't buy the argument that she has been winning the debates. This is false and also intellectually dishonest. She is great at delivering witty one-liners, this is true. But her message lacks any true spirit of vision and on many issues she has lacked policy specifics. She also demonstrates far too much political calculation. Americans want something different and want to see more transperancy in their government.

The democrats' best chance of winning the White House is with Barack Obama. He is the only candidate that I can see going above the Republicans' rhetoric machine and truly inspiring some kind of change and bringing people over to the democrats' side. He would also have a far less divisive administration than Hillary Clinton's.

It's time to try something new.

Posted by: gsopo001 | August 18, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Nominating Hillary is the best thing that could happen to the Republicans.

Their message then becomes as clear as that of the Democrats -- anti-Hillary.

The Dems have succeeded simply on hatred of an "election-stealer" who has gotten involved in a foreign war with no reasonable end in site.

Simply running against Hillary's own, well-recorded positions will energize the base to vote for just about anyone from the GOP.

If California switches its electoral votes from an all-or-none to a percentage-based submission, Hillary will have no chance of succeeding.

Posted by: ikesurg | August 18, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

josephpturner,

Yes, we netroots people will stay home. I will, anyway.

HILLARY IS A BASICALLLY a REPUBLICAN running as a dem- so why vote when they're the same?

By the way, peterdc, you forgot to mention the years that

HILLARY was on the BOARD OF DIRECTORS for...

yes, that's right folks.....WALMART!!!

Can't neglect that bit of experience, either.

Posted by: julieds | August 18, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"She has fought for change her whole life -- and knows how to achieve results."

????


LIKE HER UNSUCCESSFUL HEALTHCARE PLAN?

If we're dumb enough to elect her, we can expect the same response from republican lawmakers we saw during Hillary's healthcare fiasco. They won't let her acomplish anything.

NO MORE CLINTON/BUSH.

NO to the junior senator, HILLARY.

Posted by: julieds | August 18, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

If we look back to the founding of this nation, people choose to run for public office because they wanted to serve. Today it is about power and manipulation. Focus groups frame the issues rather than personal commitment and integrity.

I say, get rid of political consultants. Bring candidates to the people as they are and not as they are being created by others.

And pray that there is a candidate out there who can fight a failed system and be heard. One who is running, not for personal gain or power, but one who wants to serve the people. And one, like Sir Thomas More, has his/her priorities in the right order.

Posted by: sallygoodell | August 18, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

In that the present administration will come to an end on January 20, 2009, Republicans as well as Democrats will be voting for change in the 2008 presidential election cycle. "Real" change at the moment seems to be a matter of definition: The immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, establishing a single-payer national health care system, overturning Roe v. Wade, pursuing a Constitutional amendment banning "gay marriage," etc. In other words, here are the issues, here are the candidates' positions on those issues, and here is how their positions would represent real change to those of the present administration. For political activists whose commitment to a candidate is synonymous with their commitment to an issue, this may be enough. But, at the risk of stating the obvious, the 2008 vote will be a presidential election, not a nationwide referendum on this or that single issue. Although exit polls seem to ignore this, most Americans vote based on their sense of the candidate's personal qualities to hold the office. Put another way, do they like him or her?

Posted by: thewolf1 | August 18, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Not one of these candidates will improve the economy. To create jobs you have to be pro business. The way to create plentiful employment opportunities to to make sure our American business are healthy and prosperous. And the way you do this is to drastically cut corportate taxes and eliminate the capital gains tax. The reason we lost our manufacturing to other countries is because the cost of doing business in the United States is stifling. High taxes and opressive regulation has caused a mass exodus of maufacturing jobs. Well, Clinton, Obama, Edwards and every other Democratic candidate want to RAISE these taxes making the States even less appealing to business than it already is. The United States will become more and more a welfare state with a meddling bureacratic government. What we need is a candidate that will return us to a Constitutional Republic and who will help slay this bureacratic monster we call government. Do us all a favor and leave the Dem/Republican parties and vote for a true libertarian candidate like Ron Paul.

Posted by: bthomas150 | August 18, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton does not rpresent change. She failed to change anything good as the 1st lady, specifically health care, and is tied to lobbyists money too closely for me.

I am a Democrat who will NOT vote for HRC.

I'm not ready to say I'd vote Republican for the 1st time in my life but I will be watching them closely if HRC is the nominee.

I am one of those 49% who have a
un-favorable view of her. I admired HRC as a 1st lady but can't imagine her as President. HRC's attacks on Barack Obama have been a sad statement for her. Howard Wolfson in his zoot suit doing her bidding with the same old lines is tiresome also, and he's a scary looking guy.

I'm extremely tire of the Bush / Clinton regimes. I can't stand anymore.

I'll vote for Obama !!!

I might vote for Edwards.

I won't vote for HRC, no way, no how.

Posted by: talisman2008 | August 18, 2007 5:30 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton does not rpresent change. She failed to change anything good as the 1st lady, specifically health care, and is tied to lobbyists money too closely for me.

I am a Democrat who will NOT vote for HRC.

I'm not ready to say I'd vote Republican for the 1st time in my life but I will be watching them closely if HRC is the nominee.

I am one of those 49% who have a
un-favorable view of her. I admired HRC as a 1st lady but can't imagine her as President. HRC's attacks on Barack Obama have been a sad statement for her. Howard Wolfson in his zoot suit doing her bidding with the same old lines is tiresome also, and he's a scary looking guy.

I'm extremely tire of the Bush / Clinton regimes. I can't stand anymore.

I'll vote for Obama !!!

I might vote for edwards.

I won't vote for HRC, no way, no how.

Posted by: talisman2008 | August 18, 2007 5:30 AM | Report abuse

To priusdriver - you conveniently left out her 6 years serving on the corporate board of directors at Walmart, which followed her tenure at the Rose Law Firm, where much of her work was spent defending Walmart in union-busting cases. But hey, "your girl" is now someone who we can "count on to defend your right to collective bargain!" (when she's in front of union audiences).

And then there's her transformation to the democratic party that occured in college, due largely to the quagmire that was vietnam. As intelligent as she is, its nearly impossible to believe she didn't see the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. She knew it was the politically unpopular vote, and thus she followed the polls, seeing NY as a hawkish state for years to come as long as she wanted to be reelected in '06.

The above politically-driven transformations are examples of why people believe Hillary only cares about the pursuit of power. But really, the question you should be asking yourself is, "Do we really want another president who can't admit a mistake?"

Posted by: modanielkent | August 18, 2007 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Thank God more than just those who weigh in on a blog are going to have a say in who our next president is going to be.

The Democrats throughout this country should be very wary of the tactics used by liberal bloggers. Just as the far right used the medium of talk radio and televangelists to hijack the Republican party and now has purged from its ranks most thoughtful moderates, it is looking at another 40 years in the wilderness.

That is unless the far left uses blogs and the internet to purge from its ranks those moderate voices within the Democratic Party like they did in Connecticut.

All of the Democratic candidates would be a far better president and deliver far more 'change' than any of the Republican candidates. Any Democrat who would throw the election to the Republicans by voting for a independent/third party or the Green party should be ashamed of themselves. This is an historic opportunity, and will effect the makeup of our courts and determine if the American people will get an effective department of Justice, State Department, CIA, and a focus on rebuilding our military for the 21st century with leadership that honors the sacrifice of our service members not just with words but with deeds.

It is my belief that Biden represents the best opportunity to capitalize our effort in the general election. But despite that belief, we should stay committed to the Democratic Party regardless of who the nominee is. Each candidate has their strengths and weaknesses, but none can deliver change if we refuse to allow our fellow party members to decide who best can lead us simply because a few vocal far left extremist find them ideologically wanting and are now threatening to bolt to the greens if Obama or Edwards should lose (and it is highly likely both will).

Remember, if you think a third party or independent run is impossible, Lamont is sitting in at home and our deposed VP candidate who nearly won with Al Gore save the votes cast for the green party is still in the senate. That is because he represents the vast majority of non-ideological moderate voices in America that too often are ignored or shouted down in forum after forum.

This country can ill afford four more years of the lack of leadership delivered by the Republicans and Bush/Cheney - and will not change under any of the Republican's regardless of who that candidate is. Democrats need to stick together.

Posted by: clawrence35 | August 18, 2007 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton- the biggest change in 218 years. It's hard to get a combo of change and experience, and she's it. It's not a time for social revolution like what Obama and Edwards seem to be proposing, it's time to make the right decisions, informed by experience. On the job training is just too hazardous, look at Bush. It's a dangerous time; the Bush administration has provoked animosity towards the U.S. from terrorists and non-terrorists...Hillary Clinton (& Bill to boot) have immediate recognition and good will globally, and that is what's needed.

Posted by: bbln | August 17, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

I need to make a error correction: I daid one for the good of the people....ect.
I forgot to put in the good of the country and NOT the corporations.
And Priusdriver, that book by Mendell on Obama. It just shows Obama to be a real person. He has flaws like anyone else. Just not so glaringly many as Hillary.
Hillary did little in the Senate outside of Flag burning. her one big accomplishment. It is laughed at for it's a symbol of her obvious need to pander and never take a real stand on anything or be known for any real issue.
and, Priusdriver, tell me. Edwards has alot of policy out. Obama has alot of policy out. Hillary has none. she always says she is working on it and studying it but, don't think by August she could manage to come up with something?
And if it takes this long to come up with nothing, what accomplishments will she actually achieve as president. Is she going to go all 4 years saying she is working on it for everything?
I am waiting for her vision, her policy, her plans, substance. So far, she has none of it. Where's the beef?

Posted by: vwcat | August 17, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Hillary cannot be the agent of change. She's been around Washington just too damn long. She is part of the now failed conventional wisdom that brought us so many disasters.
How electing one of the primary people involved in it all be change. it is just more of the same.
And, with her handling of health care and her vote for the war, she has proven time and again she lacks judgement.
All she can offer is her name. One that was involved in NAFTA, the weakening of the democratic party, ect.
In order to achieve any change and one that is for the people and the good of the country and for corporations, I think it would be good to look at the Senator from Illinois. Obama not only brings new ideas and a thoughtful and honest way with him but, is someone who has proven judgement.

Posted by: vwcat | August 17, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Hillary voted for the war = her "experience" means nothing since she has bad judgment or she will always pander to the polls = she does not have my vote

Posted by: vn313 | August 17, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

so, ive read all the back and forth about the big three. little mention of biden and dodd. no mention of denise kucinich. now i understand he has a snowball's chance in hell of winning the nomination. however he is the only dem who spoke out against this disaster of a war, or occupation to me, since day one. he has always championed universal healthcare, quality education for our children and young people. he also has been at the forefront of campaign finance reform.

theres to much money out there to expect the way politics work in this country to change as far as lobbying and special interests work in my lifetime [im 51], and probably any of yours. hes just the best person to try.

if any of the dems win the presidency we'll all be much better off than we've been the last six and a half year's. that's the bottom line.

Posted by: eddmoll9 | August 17, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Let me clear - I 100% want a democrat to win the presidency. I will vote for whomever has a (D) after their name, no matter what. No Republican could ever get my vote.

I truly believe Senator Clinton to be the most likely to win the general election for the democrats. Yes, she has high negatives - but she also has really high postives - higher then anyone else on either side. Why? Because people know who she is.

A great deal of people don't know who Obama is. Once they do get to know him - will they like him? It's hard to say. (And yes it's a rehetorical question - but that's life.)

Doris Kearns Goodwin was on Meet the Press a few weeks ago (she a presidential historian/ biographer) and she really hammered home a point to me. She made the case that we must carefully review our candidates history to truly understand how they will act once they are in the oval office. People do not change once they take the oath of office - all their good points and bad points are amplified. She also points out how instructive seeing individuals learn from their mistakes, and make course corrections.

Hillary has had that moment in the White House, with the heath care plan that failed. She has had the Republicans come after her, and her private life - and she has only grown and prospered. No one was sure she'd win in New York state - which is a deeply republican place outside of NYC and Westchester county. Behind closed doors she is univerally acclaimed for her wit and humor - and I think as this race goes on - or at least I hope - that will come out more and more.

Obama has not been tested by the Republican machine. He has not had a major setback (save losing his 2002 race to be in the House of Reps.) His career has been meteoric. On that same Meet the Press David Mendell, author of "Obama: From Promise to Power" spoke about the side of the Senator that we don't see:

"Yes, there is a stark contrast. In private, he's a--Barack Obama is an exceptionally intelligent man, and, and folks who are that intelligent sometimes think they're always right, and they find that they are right often. And at times he can have a little trouble with people who don't live up to his standard, his, his intelligence level, and he can talk down to them at times. He's--he, he--reporters who invade what he feel is his world and, and aren't giving him fair coverage, he can have a little--he can have a few issues with them as well. He's not--he can get a little prickly at times. I think a lot of this has been brought on personally himself with this, this extraordinary ambition that he has. He--anybody who wants to be president of the United States obviously has a great amount of ambition, and he's learned to temper that, I think, over the years. He lost a congressional race in 2000, and I think he's, he's trying to balance due patience with, with that raw ambition that, that he possesses."

Full MTP transcript:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20094638/

(ps, my refernece to Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell was not my own, i was referring to this quote from wappinne: "Like them or not, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell all had decades of experience. Yet their attempt to foster change resulted in a disaster." So yes, I think it is instructive to compare their history with Hillary's. There is little doubt in my mind that the D vs R debate is no small matter. What the wise men of the Republican party think, and what the wise people of the Democratic party think are starkly different. And Americans should not lose sight of that. They are not the same party, they don't believe in the same things and they are not advancing the same agendas. Republicans only care about lowering taxes and slowly destroying any social network the government supplies to help less fortunate individuals. This is percisely why W and Dick are driving our debt through the roof. They want everyone to step back and decide we don't need social security, we don't need medicare, we don't need universal health care. And they will try to banqrupt us all in order to prevent that from ever happening. Make no mistake, they know percisely what they are doing.)

Posted by: priusdriver | August 17, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Priusdriver,

You're right. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell are not Hillary. But I never claimed they were and wouldn't. That would be absurd.

I used them as a simple example to counter Hillary's claim that experience is what is most important when considering who we should elect to the presidency. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell had decades of experience and still managed to produce a foreign policy disaster. In other words, despite what Hillary may claim, experience isn't what is most important. It's no guarantee of success.

If you'd prefer I could have used a different, Democratic example. As the "Best and the Brightest," demonstrated, a considerable amount of experience didn't save Johnson, McNamara and others from producing a debacle in Vietnam.

Ultimately, if experience reveals anything, its that experience is a poor substitute for good judgment.

And yes, it's exactly because I know what I'm getting with Hillary than I can safely say she lacks good judgment.

She voted to go to war without reading the national intelligence estimate on her own. And as a careful reading of her voting has revealed, she voted against an amendment offered by other Democratic Senators that would have limited the scope of the war authorization. In neither case did she exercise good judgment.

Of course it would have been difficult for her to vote otherwise. Yes, I do remember vividly what those days right after 9/11 were like. I couldn't go back to my apartment three blocks from the WTC for a couple of weeks. But it was precisely in the months after 9/11 that good judgment was most vital. Obama demonstrated that judgment by arguing against the war in Iraq even when it could have cost him his political career.

So yes, I do know what I'm getting with Obama. I'm getting the sort of good judgment that's vital to effectiveness.

Posted by: wappinne | August 17, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

So I did follow the link to wikipedia to see what Clinton has done. I am not impressed. There is nothing stunning there to say she has "more" experience than Obama. Obama did a lot as a state legislator including racial profiling laws and ethics reform, which was monumental in Illinois with Chicago politics. So where, I still ask, is all this so called experience? Obama is a constitutional lawyer, was a community organizer in Chicago getting lots of experience with the domestic agenda and he was the first black editor of the very prestigious Harvard Law Review, no minor feat. He also studied international relations in college. Compared to Clinton he shines. All this really would be moot except it was Clinton who raised the experience question. All she is saying is that she has Bill Clinton. So if you want to elect Bill Clinton again (though he can't run) then vote for her, but I thought it was about her being President not him.

Posted by: goldie2 | August 17, 2007 8:20 PM | Report abuse

priusdriver-

I think the expression is Bush-lite. Not Powell or Rumsfeld -lite. (BTW when was Powell equated with Bush, Cheney, and Gang? He has been long gone and I happen to like the guy)

Anyway, We are not saying "Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell are Hillary Clinton." Just that she is very similiar to them - and the similiarity is in things I despise about Bush and gang. For example:
1. she panders to lobbyists much more than Edwards or Obama. Like Bush pandering to Big Pharma or Cheney's connections to Hailburton.
2. She is a devisive force. People either really like her or really hate her. This is just like Bush. She polarizes the public and could never be a uniter.

The war is a done deal. While I agree with your war opposition, the war isn't really the issue. I really could care less whether she voted for or against it. That is the past and we must focus on the future. I want a leader that will bring the country toegether. I want a presidnet to end the corporate welfare and favoring of the rich. I want someone working to make this country a better place for every American by giving us Universal Healthcare and creating jobs here in the U.S. While I oppose the war and think we must get out of there in a safe and sane manner, I am most concerned with domestic issues - the issues Edwards raises while everyone else bickers about the Iraq war.

Also, your attacks on Obama are weak and meaingless. Instead of attacking him substatively - you just say "How effective will Obama be? How will he navigate such a large power structure?" What is the point of being speculative or asking rheotorical questions? Does me saying "How do you know that Hillary won't become a power-hungry President that will dismantle the Judicial and Legislative Branches?" or "How do you know that if Hillary lost Chesley in a terrorist attack that she could go insane and use nuclear weapons on the Middle East?" Does this explain why I do not like Hillary? No, it is a complete and utter waste of time and text.

It doesn't matter to me if Hillary is not the same person she was in January 1993, when she and Bill walked into the white house. What does matter to me is that a Democrat get into the White House in 2008.


You are right about one thing: "These are a lot of unknowns - and frankly I'm not willing to take the risk to find out."

One known fact is that many democrats and even more republicans do not like Hillary. That may be unfair but that is the fact. Maybe she can win even with her negatives - but why risk it? None of the other candidates have nearly as many negatives as the other democratic candidates. So why the hell would you risk possibly losing the White House to a republican? You make it sound as if Obama is risky but the real risk is that the democrats might not win if Hillary gets the Democratic Nomination.

There are lots of unknowns that you don't want to risk to find out. I can understand that. So why take a risk the Presidency in 2008 on a 100% known - that a signifcant percentage of Americans do not like Hillary?

Posted by: csakles | August 17, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for Hillary. She is very likely to win the Dem nomination, seems most likely to want to win the war on terrorism (sorry, but we are in a war) yet she has such high negatives that success in the general election appears impossible. So if she run again Rudy, she likely loses but is the best of the Dem bunch as far as many conservative think if we have to go Democratic in 2008.

The question is: do all you "netroots" stay home if Hillary gets the nod? It appears many of you would which only gives credibility to the "high negatives" stat for Hillary in a general election.

Posted by: josephpturner | August 17, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

It makes sense that in a discussion about the current slate of candidates there is a lot of disagreement.

1. I, too, am uncomfortable with HRC as President. For me the thought of another Clinton Administration does not leave me feeling a happy glow. Bill Clinton aroused enormous animus from the Republicans and Hillary wasn't far behind. I do not see HRC as someone who will be a strong leader of the country. Would we have another 2-for-1 with Bill? I am all too comfortable leaving him to continue earning his millions and staying out of the spotlight. In the end, I don't rule her out.

2. Barack Obama has made a few mistakes in his first steps into the spotlight. I am interested in watching him as he develops his campaign message. He needs to put more information out there about what he believes and where he wants the country to go. "Change" isn't good enough. I want to hear substance.

3. Edwards surprised me when I listened to his performance on the internet when the Democrats addressed the gay community in Los Angeles. He was eloquent, mature, appeared presidential, and was right on all the issues from my point of view. Right now I see Edwards' main defect as being "too white male." That shouldn't be, but that's the way it appears to be taking shape to me. Too bad. I like his wife and I would find it courageous for the Edwards family, for her personally, and for us, as citizens, considering her struggle with cancer, to be confronted her health condition and possibly death while in office.

4. I haven't made up my mind.

Posted by: markshepherdstown | August 17, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Hillary cannot be the candidate of change, because she cannot win. This is the candidate that the Republicans are hoping for -- one of the few unpopular First Ladies in history, highly tied into the special interest groups with Bill's $100,000+ "speaking fees", and a strong proponent of the biggest foreign policy disaster for the U.S. in modern history. You don't really have to speculate about what kind of President she will be -- because she won't.

If she wins the nomination then I fear that the Democrats are going to lose the majority in the Senate. That plus President Giuliani (or god forbid Romney) will be no change at all.

Posted by: George14 | August 17, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell are not Hillary Clinton. To even suggest something like that is absurd.

I know some folks would like our country to never wage war - and I do find that an appealling ideal - but to pretend that we do not have to project strength to the rest of the world is naive.

We are the world super power, the only cop on the beat. I don't think Iraq was a wise move, and marched in the streets of NYC to protest it before it even started.

But just because Hillary voted to authorize use of force against Iraq - you can't just simply say it's "her war". I rememeber what it was like in the days after 9/11. I remember cleaning the ashes from my window sill in brooklyn. Many things have changed since then - but Hillary was voting with her conviction that the President should be empowered to have the ABILITY to go to war. IF he thought it was the right thing to do. The majority of the country felt the same way.

Our president missued his power. He misused his office. To declare we should have all seen that coming, is easy to say in 2007.

I would have loved to have seen Obama in the United States Senate in 2002 and seen what his vote on the war authorization would have been then. But you know what? We'll never know.

It's one thing to be outside of the gov't and claim the war is a bad idea. It's another thing entirely to see the intelligence reports and history of Iraq/Saddam Hussein presented to you by - albeit - biased Bush adminstration officials.

You don't know what Obama would have done. Don't believe the hype, power corrupts. And he's a very eager beaver who we have not seen reach the heights of power that Hillary has.

Hillary is not the same person she was in January 1993, when she and Bill walked into the white house. She has the battle scars to show for her experience.

How effective will Obama be? How will he navigate such a large power structure?

These are a lot of unknowns - and frankly I'm not willing to take the risk to find out.

Hillary has survived the withering glare of the public stage, and has learned from her mistakes. Some may say that makes her less exciting than Obama.

I'm not looking for excitement, I'm looking for effectiveness, I'm looking for action and I'm looking for someone who knows what they are getting into - and what we are getting into.

Do you really know what you're getting with Obama?

Posted by: priusdriver | August 17, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I will never vote for HRC. I am ready for change, just as I was in '92 when I voted for her husband. I am astounded when I see her leading in the polls, WTF? She offers no new ideas, no new thinking, no reasonable alternative to the current administration. Why is she running? Because she can? If the democratic voters in IA, NH and SC give her the nomination, the GOP will be so happy. Anything that makes the GOP happy makes me sick, after what they have done to this country in the last 6 years. If HRC is the nominee, I will probably vote for a third party candidate. Preferably, Michael Bloomberg.

Posted by: ellenhamm | August 17, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

peterdc - Do you work for the HRC? Cuz what you wrote was pure spin......
Or maybe you are a Republican hoping for HRC to get the Dem. Nom. so you can walk right into the White House...

Did you actually write that "Hillary who took an extra year of law classes to learn about children's law." Wow, she really did that? Well, she should just be President then and skip the whole election.

Forget that Edwards was actually a alwyer who spent his whole career helping average citizens agianst teh wrongs perpetrated against them by corporations.

So if Obama takes a class about foreign policy, will people stop bringing up that attacking him on that issue?

-------------------------------------------

HRC cannot and will not win in a general election. Wake up people. Obama can win against the Republicans. Edwards has the highest win margins against every Republican.

Republicans and Conservatives always bash the NYT and WP as being the liberal biased democratic favoring media. Well, I'm liberal and a democrat, but I am sick of the press coverage of WP and NYT. It is all HRC all the time. For example, there is video of HRC at Iowa Fair. No articles on Edwards (and even the ones in recent weeks have been negative). Nothing on Obama. God forbid having something on really good canidates but invisible canidates like Biden or Dodd. I for one and I think many other readers would like to see a more balanced coverage. I am HRC-out. I want to read about how Dodd feels about an important issue. I would like to hear about Biden's campaign. I would like to something positive about Edwards and Obama - not just that they are trailing HRC.

Democracy doesn't work if the media doesn't do it's job of infroming us about all the canidates - not focusing on just who they want to win or who will sell the most papers.

To quote HRC, "if you like any candidate besides HRC, you are invisible to this paper. If you would like to read coverage on any other canidate besides HRC, you are invisible to the Washington Post"

Posted by: csakles | August 17, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama has a great deal of promise, but it's just that right now, promise. The fact that he has the least clear change message is telling. He'll be more ready in 2016 after eight years as Edwards VP.

Posted by: sfmandrew | August 17, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Balz has to sell papers of course but why he continues to persist in the illusion that this is still a horse race eludes me. It must have become blindingly obvious that Clinton is going to be the nominee. She is the only one of three contenders that has steadily improved her position. I've even seen polls without Gore where she's almost in the majority. Intrade has her at around 60.0 now and they are using real money not idle speculation. The other thing that's happened is the more people see her the more they like her which is why her disapprovals have fallen steadily. Her nomination is going to make some folks in the Democratic party unhappy viz. above letters, but they'll still vote for her.

Posted by: johnbsmrk | August 17, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Except for peteredc, most of the posts so far seem to have the general consensus of seeing Hillary for what she is. Of course, the Hillary lover there says that we naturally are all "fixated on our hatred of Hillary."

Yes, honest criticism is not applicable to the royal NY HillBillies. If you criticize them, your are just being "hateful." Like if you criticize someone else, you are being "unpatriotic." Sound familiar? It is the left-right sides of the same political coin.

And peterdick's comment that "just by electing a woman we will have change is true" is false and stupid beyond rational rebuttal. Did any Hillary lover actually live through the "two-for-the-price-of-one" years they were occupying the White House?

Get it straight, once and for all--there are millions of us who are perfectly AOK with the idea of a woman president of the US. But we love our country first, and we just don't want that woman! Is there any part of the comment you do not understand?

Posted by: radicalpatriot | August 17, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Priusdriver,

Experience? Yes, Hillary has a good deal of experience. But so did the architects of the Iraq War -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell. Thier experience didn't save the country from a disaster. Nor did Hillary's experience lead her to vote against the Bush foreign policy agenda.

Good judgment is far more important that experience. I think you'd be hard pressed to demonstrate that Hillary has good judgment. Obama on the other hand has shown just that.

Posted by: wappinne | August 17, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

What experience does Hillary have? Clearly you've heard of the Internet, since you're posting on WP.com - but have you ever tried researching something?

Here's a tip - try Google, it's great litle search engine. And also try this little site called Wikipdeia - it has some handy dandy facts too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Rodham_Clinton

Don't be lazy and just assume you know someone based on the bullsh*t your friend or neighbor (or other missinformed message board writer) told you.

Hillary has:
- studied politcal science, graduated with honors
- became the first student to give a commencement address at Wellsely univeristy (that's first student - not first female)
- graduated Yale law school (that's right, she has a JD, not an MBA like W.)
- she worked on Walter Mondale's campaign
- she served on the Watergate senate investigative committe
- first female partner in her law firm...

the list goes on and on.

Barbara Bush and Laura Bush don't have any of these credentials.

Do your homework, and grow up.

Women have brians and careers too. They are not all smiling, doeful, do-nothing First Ladies - like you may like them to be.

Posted by: priusdriver | August 17, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Let the mud slinging and name calling begin for those unable to articulate their objections any better than what I have read so far. When the name calling fails, start telling lies, or half truths. It will get worse, beleive me. It will be up to the individual to sort it all out.

Posted by: faray | August 17, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Since others have already pointed out Obama has more ELECTED experience than Edwards or Hillary, I will defer. Amazing that the Post keeps repeating this falsehood over and over and over. Hire some fact-checkers and get some objectivity. Sadly, when the nation wants to vote Democratic, and the Republicans have all but accepted this, the Democrats will nominate one of these three and likely go down to defeat. Got to hand it to the Dems, the Republicans give you an intentional walk, and you are swinging at the pitches. I can only hope an independent emerges or Gore reconsiders and runs.

Posted by: merganser | August 17, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, that prior post should have been addressed to Eco-pharm and dan3.

Posted by: wappinne | August 17, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Eco-pharm and SarahBB,

I recall the same argument being made in 2000. Bush and Gore were the same, so vote for Nader. Hard to see how the last 8 years wouldn't have been a whole lot better had a few Naderites come to their senses in Florida and not thrown their vote and their country's future away.

Posted by: wappinne | August 17, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Eco-pharm is correct hillary Obama and Sadly Edwards are Authoritarian right just as bush is but not as far.

Take the political test and see for yourself how DC is not representing you or Middle America.

http://flprogressive.blogspot.com/2007/08/progressivism-is-not-dead-but-its-on.html

Posted by: dan3 | August 17, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

None of the above. Bill Richardson is the only one saying anything close to what I want to hear about Iraq.

Posted by: SarahBB | August 17, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What a pathetic attempt at a con job.
All of these candidates are CFR supporters.
There isn't two cents difference between any of them. All will work to keep our troops in Iraq and all will work to keep taking your freedoms.

Posted by: eco-pharm | August 17, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

peterdc, so your for going backward. Point noted. Sad how you glaze over the DOMA and NAFTA in Clintons administration. Tell us how better off the middle class is.

I do give you high marks for cutting and pasting from Hillary site. Way to be a critical thinker.

You can spin all you want but the article is about CHANGE. Clinton is not CHANGE.

Posted by: dan3 | August 17, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

So far that's 10 posts for Obama, 1 for Clinton.

Posted by: sickofspam | August 17, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I still don't understand the experience issue. Obama has been a legislator for 11 years, Clinton 7 and Edwards 6. If the only valid experience you count is actually making those legislative choices, than Obama wins. What exactly has Clinton done that gave her the so called experience. I am not sure what her accomplishment were exactly. I mean health care failed, so what has she really done except vote for the war in Iraq? It seems all broad pronouncements, that's all.

Posted by: goldie2 | August 17, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Thankfully the people who seem to be fixated on their hatred of Hillary and post here are so one sided that they lack any credibility at all.

I for one am clear that any of the Democratic candidates will be better than any of the Republican candidates. They all have their plusses and minusses.

But in the aggregate it is Hillary Clinton who is best prepared to assume the Presidency by dint of 35 years of work and her broad based knowledge of the world and her understanding of the global repercussions of what a President does and says. Obama has shown he is not quite ready for that yet. He may be in years to come.

The reality is that just by electing a woman we will have change is true. People keep referring to Hillary as programed but they forget it is a programing based on 35 years of work for children, the poor, the democratic party and for the middle class. It is Hillary who took an extra year of law classes to learn about children's law and then worked with the Children's Defense Fund instead of taking a high paying job with a major law firm. She then went on to work for the Senate and then married Bill Clinton and moved to Arkansas and headed the Commission charged with changing education for Arkansas children.

It is interesting how those touting Obama's work as a community organizer for a couple of years while planning his political career seem to forget that.

Yes all politicians are ambitious and calculating. If they think about what they say and how it impacts the people they are elected to serve and yes whether we will elect them, we tend to criticize them. Instead let's respect them all for their ambition as long as the work they do when we elect them will be beneficial to all of us.

All one needs to do is look at Hillary's record in life and in the Senate to understand that the work she has done has made life better for so many people.

Posted by: peterdc | August 17, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

If Hilary Clintons experience qualifies her to be President I say that we take a serious look at Barbara Bush- after all her husband was not only President but was Vice President , Head of the CIA, Ambassador to China and the UN. I figure that she has Hilary beat on frequent flier miles.Oh did I forget mother to a president and governor.

I am reminded of the old expression - just because you have 500,000 frequent flyer miles doesn't qualify you to fly the plane.

Posted by: rds748 | August 17, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Will someone explain to me the "experience" that Senator Clinton supposedly has for becoming president? Yes, she has been a US senator for just over one term, but judging by the record of senators that have run for president in the past, that doesn't sound like a whole lot of "experience." Wouldn't Senators Biden and McCain be front-runners if time in the senate were considered relevant experience for the presidency? I am not sure that being the first lady for the nation (even for eight years) and a state counts as "experience" for being the president either. Would that make the current first lady "experienced" for the presidency? Overall, I do like her but want to see and hear more from ALL the candidates about substantive issues before getting engaged. I think it would be much better for the media to focus on issues and quit this dribble about "experience" and "change."

Posted by: ZnanaB | August 17, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

If Hilary Clinton has been fighting for change all her life- there are only two conclusions

either she is not very good at it or she is now attempting to change the things that she changed in the first place like her vote for the Iraq war.

either way I think it is time to vote for real change and put an end the dual monarchy of Bush Clinton. Whats next Jeb bush followed by Chelsea followed by Jenna?

Posted by: rds748 | August 17, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

To bring about change, is experience really what a leader needs most?

Bush wanted to bring about massive change in the middle east and had a team with years of experience. Like them or not, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell all had decades of experience. Yet their attempt to foster change resulted in a disaster.

Hillary Clinton wants us to appreciate her experience and think it makes her the best person to bring about change. But her experience didn't prevent her from voting in favor of the Bush administration's plans on many occasions.

No, to bring about change it isn't experience that's needed. It's good judgment. And among the Democrats only Obama has demonstrated much of that.

Posted by: wappinne | August 17, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I say let's listen to Hillary Clinton's advice:

"If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from."

As a democrat I think I'll do just that, thank you, Hillary - you are simply Bush lite - an empty shell. Keep deluding yourself. You will not be the Democratic nominee, nor do you deserve to be, and you certainly will not be the President of the United States. Perhaps if you had only had convictions and values that were not outweighed by your lobbyists. We'll never know, though, will we.

Posted by: dan3 | August 17, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been temporarily sidetracked by nitpicking intended to make him look like a novice, but he seems to have caught on to the fact that running for President is less like a job interview than a performance to give voters a sense of style as well as the substance of a candidate's beliefs. From here on, he may surprise everyone--including himself:

http://ajliebling.blogspot.com/2007/08/smart-stupid-voter-divide.html

Posted by: connectdots | August 17, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dan3 | August 17, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton represents no change at all. The "Senator From India", as she was called in a recent meeting with Indian companies that contributed to her campaign, is all for corporate profits at any cost and for continuing the same sort of insider crookedness that has marked our politicans for years. I'm a Democrat, but there is no way on earth I can or will support Ms. Clinton nor any candidate that endorses her. John Edwards is clearly the best hope this country has, but Mr. Obama would be a vast improvement over what we have had.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | August 17, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Bush - 4 years

Clinton - 8 years

Bush - 8 Years

Clinton????!!!

WTF change is THAT?!

Posted by: dan3 | August 17, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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