Monthly Archives: October 2007

I'm for Hillary… I think

Two and a half years ago, I threw my support, or my hopes, for 2008 towards Al Gore.  I gave up a few weeks ago.  If he didn’t do it during the Nobel medial blitz, it’s not happening.  

So, this has left me at a quandary.  As usual, the candidate I like the most (Dodd) is not viable, and he, just like Hillary and Edwards, voted for the AUMF.  Richardson has made too many goofs on the campaign trail, even though he has some interesting policy ideas and appeared to be anti-war at the time.
Obama also appeared to be anti-war at the time, but I now believe that if he had been in the Senate at the time he would have voted yes as well.  Don’t you? And Obama antics with “recovered gays” and new Social Security FUD have only reinforced my image of him as an empty shirt than can give a good speech.
So much for my litmus test. 
So now, for many of the same reasons I was for Gore, I’m leaning strongly towards Hillary.  Her operation has been skillful.  She has a machine.  She has the appeal of the Clinton days as much as Gore does, and people already know her.  If she’s polling this well now, it’s not because she’s unheard of.
Of course she won’t win in the South.  Andrew Jackson couldn’t win in the South as a Democrat these days.  The question is, can she bring the heat in Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada, Montana, and Arizona?  Even if she just makes legitimate challenges there, odds are she will win handily.
I mocked the idea of picking the most likely to win in 2004, because I knew we would lose anyway.  This time, all of the stars are aligned, we just need someone to close the deal.

Conscience of a Liberal

I had the chance to read Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal during a pause of reading Greenspan’s book.  The juxtaposition was interesting.

One interesting thing to point out before I get to substance is that early VRWC studies always pointed out how the VRWC created parallels institutions in media, scholarship, etc. to counter the “liberal” establishment.  Funny then that, Conscience of a Liberal is a direct lift from Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative (just like The Emerging Democratic Majority mirrored The Emerging Republican Majority).
Krugman’s thesis is pretty simple: the depression and WWII forced social changes that resulted in great equality, changes that were ultimately unwound because of race, not because of economics.  That growing inequality, as a social, not economic phenomenon, is the source of many of our problems.
This is the standard liberal history of post-WWII America, except that it does put more emphasis on the race issue, instead of just politely hinting at it.  
Krugman calls for universal healthcare according to the Hillary 2.0/Schwarzenegger/Edwards/Obama model as a chance to show once again that government can work against inequality, and then, on that basis, push further social programs to reduce inequality, like more EITC, etc.
The best I can say about that is that Krugman’s book sounds as likely to me as Goldwater’s would have to most readers in the late 50s.   The worst I can say is that Krugman may be underestimating the entrenchment of the forces of inequality.
To give a physical analogy, the forces pulling away from Golden Age levels of inequality in this country, once they reach a critical point, are probably not subject to peaceful change, whereas the populist forces that pull for a more equal equilibrium are easy to change through creative division and conquest, just like the New Deal coalition.
Or maybe he is making a too facile comparison between the Great Depression, WWII, and now.  Certainly, he makes a compelling case that because inequality is as great as it was in the 1920s that the circumstances are parallel, but does the perception needed to create the momentum for that kind of change exist now?
I don’t think it does.  I think many Americans are scared shitless by their healthcare situation, and so some band-aid reform may eventually happen, but I don’t think it is likely to create any momentum for further progressive change.
The reason for that is that, no matter who is elected in 2008–say it’s 67 Democratic senators, 295 Representatives, and the most liberal realistic presidential candidate–the kind of financial pain any responsible government will have to inflict to remedy the mess created by the Bush Administration will itself will be budget busting.
Passing even band-aid health insurance, on top of a 1993-Clintonesque budget package will require all the political capital even a landslide victory on that scale would generate, and then some.
And the pain it will inflict will, I don’t think, generate any near-term enthusiasm for further entitlements or spending.  Even if the military budget were slashed in half (which in itself destroys part of an equality-generating quasi-welfare state), the tolerance for Euro-style safety nets isn’t there.
Plus, I am afraid, whatever health care plan does pass, even if it is single payer, will be chiseled at like the escape hatch in the Shawshank Redemption so that Republicans can create a self-fulfilling prophecy about “socialized medicine.”   
First of all, there is zero chance it will cover abortions.  It probably won’t cover most kinds of birth control, right? There will be voluminous claims of fraud, and straw-man “Socialized Medicine Queens” (naturally darker skinned).
The good stories, the people who had no care in the past, will soon get older, and people will grow up with a memory of the system before, and will agitate to destroy it for its wastes.
That is the fate of any equality generating program in this country in the absence of a catastrophic decline.

Gore 2008: It's Over

If you weren’t going to announce your candidacy for president when you won an Oscar, when might you do it? When you won the Nobel Peace Prize? Yeah. That’s just about the best opportunity you can get.

But the reason Gore won’t run–which should be clear now even to big-time Draft Gore supporters like me–is not because of the pain of 2000. It’s because of Hillary. She’s crushing everyone. And comparing her to Howard Dean is ridiculous. Dean was unfairly treated by the media, yes, but he was a walking gaffe machine, and his organization was very experimental. Hillary’s is totally establishment.

Hillary probably won’t falter unless people freak out at the very last minute. Also, it’s not “early” any more. We’re looking at voting in just over two months. And this campaign got an early start as it was. The voters have had a look at John Edwards again. I think people resonate with his message but aren’t confident of his execution. Obama says great things too. People like him, but I think his high-flying rhetoric is just that… and it also raises questions of execution. How will he do all of that utopian shit?

Hillary? Well, she can trade on the warm memories we have of the 90s. Some of them are fake, just like how people pretended how great the 50s were. It’s just that the 60s were strenuous on the national psyche, just like this decade. There were problems in the 90s, but most people would take the throwback. Nixon was Vice-President in the 50s… Hillary was libeled as the Co-President in the 90s. Makes sense.

And the Gores and Clintons aren’t very close anymore. Gore people are mad about Monica. Clinton people say Gore blew it (too). They’re both right, but I wish they could come together on this.

So, here’s what I’m hoping for. And it’s probably way over the top. But the 22nd Amendment doesn’t apply to Vice Presidents. I say, Clinton/Gore 2008.