Hello Mr. Warthen:
Thank you for your reply. I posted to this effect in response to the blog entry in question, the one along the lines of "Watch Out, Hillary’s in Victim Mode." With all due respect, I feel it was totally unprofessional, snarky and uncalled for. Several others flamed you for it in the comments section, and you replied apologetically, to your credit, to one of them – "redd," I think it was.
As I said in a second comment, in response to your apology of sorts, I know Mrs. Clinton. I had the pleasure of working on her campaign staff in 1992 on the Clinton-Gore ’92 campaign. She was kind, gracious, courteous and considerate to us several young ‘uns from around the country who had dropped everything to come help her and him. I have seen a side of her you most likely have not. She is not a two-dimensional cartoon villainess. She is a very bright, forceful, intense advocate for the causes in which she believes, and yes, she can be tough as nails. When was the last time that was a fault in a political leader.
I could go on – but the notion that she is somehow evil and that Obama is pure as the driven snow is a bit much to take. Did you see where he turned his back on her last night, even as she had the good grace to extend a hand in friendship and good grace to Sen. Kennedy, who had just endorsed him? Do you forgive his campaign for fanning the flames of a race war so as to win South Carolina, based on Bill Clinton calling his claims of purity on the Iraq War a "fairy tale"?
All I am saying is they’re both playing tough, at times dirty political hardball. Neither campaign is peopled with saints. They will, however, either of them, almost certainly do a better job than has Mr. Bush, given the opportunity. Be fair. That’s all. Personal invective of the sort you directed toward her should be beneath someone of your station.
My two cents.
Christopher A. Stratton, Esq.
West Hartford, CT
From: Warthen, Brad – External Email
To: Christopher Stratton
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:00 PM
Subject: RE: Who’s the real victim?
Thanks for going to the trouble to further share your thoughts (mind if I post them?).
I think if you go back before this past week, you won’t find a whole lot of criticism of Sen. Clinton from me. The closest you’ll find will be my column openly worrying about the fact that a Clinton nomination would worsen polarization in the country. And if you can spot anything "snarky" in that — anything other than what I just said, an expression of concern (my distaste for our nation’s increasing partisan divisions is long-established).
Over the past week, however, I’ve formed an increasingly negative impression. You can probably track it day by day on my blog. It really got started AFTER our editorial board meeting with Obama. I’ve just been more and more alarmed at the idea of her winning the nomination, and more and more glad we chose Obama.
Maybe the things I’m reacting to were always there; or maybe it’s stepped up in the past week (which seems to be the conventional wisdom). Or maybe before last week, I was just trying so hard not to choose between them before our meetings that I let a lot of stuff slide. I don’t know. I do know that I’ve taken a different tone the past week, and that it reflects what I’ve been thinking…
Hello Again, Mr. Warthen:
I very much appreciate your kindly following up on my thoughts and comments, and I respect that your general bent appears to be more deliberative and thoughtful than the taunt against Sen. Clinton which was my introduction to you. And yes, of course, please feel free to post my remarks from the prior e-mail below.
I think the difficulty here is the translation between the more private, extraordinarily decent Hillary I have seen up close on several occasions and the sometimes over-intense Hillary that comes across in public. I think she may not see herself as the world sees her (as is true for so many of us, but for so few of us does it matter so much as it does for her). She has certain natural tendencies which don’t come off super well before a broad audience. She is a very, very intense figure. She is brilliantly intelligent and passionately committed to her causes. And she has the courage and the confidence of her convictions. And because of the courage and confidence, she ordinarily trusts her natural reactions, which at times are, to put it bluntly, to kick fanny and take names – to vanquish her opponent via sheer intelligence and intensity, in the first instance, and by other means at times as well. This is a role that suited her well as the wife of a major political figure, a sort of enforcer for her husband and an intellectual heavyweight who could also simply outsmart and out-argue dadgum near any foe.
Now, though, those tendencies can come off as over-intense and scary when she is gunning to be the top dog in our country – and in the world for that matter. I think she may be starting to see that, but she is having to feel her way through this minefield in front of the entire world and is not extraordinarily sure-footed about it, and this has somewhat shaken her confidence – she doesn’t know when to trust her instincts and when not to. Add to that that she is up against an opponent who, sheerly as a stump salesman and presence, has the agility and grace of a lead dancer in the New York City Ballet. (The problem I have with Mr. Obama, whom I admire greatly and sincerely, is not with his talent, it’s with his seasoning, his reliability, his depth of experience and understanding. For me, Hillary is money in the bank on policy, a deeply smart, sensible, practical hand. Oddly enough, it is a bit of a conservative, cautious streak in me that is part of why I am supporting her. Personal loyalty is part of the equation for me, but by no means all.)
Speaking of personal loyalty, Mr. W, please note that it is no coincidence that so many people who work or have worked for Sen. Clinton are fiercely loyal, and it’s not due to some brainwashing regimen, to that I can personally attest. She is extraordinarily gracious, courteous, respectful, considerate and loyal. She is a very fine friend to have and is widely loved, not merely liked, by those who spend more than a little time in contact with her. I have heard it said many times that people who have known them both have a pronounced tendency to favor her over her husband, and – remember – it was he who long ago said, back when they were finishing law school, that she, not he, should be the one who ran someday for president. I think he was deeply wise on many levels in that insight. (I think he was a very fine president on policy, by and large, but I think his personal flaws and weaknesses – and not just the philandering business – greatly undermined what could have been a far more successful presidency than it was.)
So, catching my breath here for a moment, if she does win election to the presidency, Mr. W, I think Ms. Clinton will diligently and energetically do the rather extensive clean-up job that our federal government needs. She, better than nearly anyone, knows the extent of the damage and the fixes and repairs that need to be put into place across the broad expanse of our federal government. She will pursue these improvements and repairs with great energy, consideration and intelligence. With utmost respect, I do not believe Senator Obama can match her in these regards. She is, in my considered opinion, on balance, the better choice, but that is not to say that others cannot reasonably disagree. (I would, though, so love to see a ticket headed by her with him as the VP and still and yet hold out hope that this can happen – remember Sen. Kerry rather disliked Sen. Edwards and JFK and LBJ were not exactly chums.)
Lastly, what I have difficulty abiding is numerous supporters of Sen. Obama’s viewing this as a clear cut, obvious choice between good and evil. It is not, and that is foolish. There are too many people whose tempers are running too hot. I hope we can heal this rift in our party, to which both sides have contributed far too much. It is highly counterproductive.
That’s my bit for tonight.
Christopher A. Stratton, Esq.
West Hartford, CT