ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Our Next President - Update

Mickey Kaus weighs in on HRC's "move to the center."

Hillary's Cheap Dates
Turns out the center is as easily bought off as the left.
By Mickey Kaus
Updated Tuesday, July 26, 2005, at 3:09 PM PT

From Josh Gerstein's N.Y. Sun report on Hillary Clinton's speech to the DLC:
The potential candidates and their staffs were treated to a first-hand reminder of how Mrs. Clinton's sheer star power threatens to skew any race for the nomination. The senator's delivery yesterday was strong, but far from her most electric.
Is Hillary Clinton ever electric? I deny it. Her speaking style is controlled and insistent--at best, strong--and her substance quotient hovers close to zero. Expectations of electricity are expectations that will be disappointed. ...

Update: Gerstein and other reporters saw in Hillary's DLC speech more of her now-famous move to the center. Here's Gerstein:
Mrs. Clinton also set forth the litany of socially conservative points that are part of her regular repertoire, such as a call to reduce the number of abortions and to protect children from destructive forces in popular culture. At moments, she voiced themes that sounded downright conservative. "We can restore America to its historic devotion to opportunity, responsibility, and the common good, with big dreams, new ideas, and old-fashioned values," the senator said.

I'm not so sure. The speech (which you can read here) doesn't sound too conservative to me. For one thing, Hillary avoids completely the obvious hot-button move-to-the-right issue of immigration, a subject on which she's made conservative noises in the past. Her language on abortion pledges to "support a woman's right to choose"--as Joe Klein has noted, her abortion statements are "centrist" mainly in attitude, not substance. And if reporters are willing to give Hillary credit for being "downright conservative" just because she uses the phrase "old fashioned values"--well, reporters are cheap dates!

I'd always thought this Cheap Date Syndrome helped Hillary mainly with the Left, which loves Hillary so much it could conceivably be bought off with a bit of Bush-bashing that covers a dramatic Hillary shift to the right. But it's now also clear that her shift to the right doesn't have to be that dramatic, because the equally Cheap Date press is ready to interpret even the subtlest, most insubstantial shading as part of Hillary's New Moderation. She can get credit for centrism without having to actually take too many positions that the left would disagree with (and hold against any another politician). Paleoliberals can love her, the DLC can love her, and she never has to say anything, either leftish or moderatish, that commits her publicly to a position that might annoy someone. Her primal drive for vagueness is free to trump her drive to the center.

The only problem is that the resulting biteless rhetoric is almost totally uninspiring. Read the speech, and see if you are actually moved to cheer at any point. (I was, only once, at the line: "The Republicans abandoned arithmetic; well, we brought it back.") Hillary's instinctive contentlessness is both the symbol and part of the substance of what may be the biggest doubt she has to overcome--not the issue of whether she's right or left, or the issue of whether she's "tough" enough on defense, but the issue of whether she's tough generally. When has she told off or even firmly-but-gently rejected someone in her own coalition? When has she ever stood up, in public, against, say, a big union? When has she pulled off a difficult legislative triumph? ** We know she's smart and cautious and flexible. We need to know she has balls.

No more cheap dates!

And this is the problem... she doesn't have to do much to get the "moderate" moniker slapped on her... just like all a Republican has to do is smile and open his mouth and the interviewer asks about their "controversial" positions.

Her speaking style is not electric... unless by "electric" they are referring to the way she speaks in a robotic/fembot monotone.

However, she's never had to take a difficult position... nor will she ever have to. The MSM that is centered in New York and D.C. will insulate her from any of the normal rigors that politicians face. However, as has been demonstrated over the past few years, the MSM does not have the stranglehold that it used to have. However, it certainly is still powerful and influential, especially for swing voters that get their news from 10 minutes of the evening news - or who are making their decision to vote based on a performance in a presidential debate or a stage-managed party convention.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler