Is it too late for Hillary Clinton?

I say no. But then, I’m old school. I would have been happy being a liberal in the age of JFK, or conservative during the Eisenhower administration. But today’s “liberals” and “conservatives,” who strain the very meaning of the words, leave me cold.

Note that this isn’t about me being a grandfather. I’ve been disaffected this way for most of my adult life. You’ll note that my examples of what I prefer date from before I was old enough to vote.

What I like about Hillary Clinton is that she gets what the presidency is about. And on the issues that are most important to the job — foreign policy, and America’s role in the world — she is consistent with presidents throughout my lifetime. Despite the overheated rhetoric of left and right, there has been an essential consensus among those who actually make it to the White House, providing a consistency in our nation’s most important policies.

Hillary Clinton is at home in that continuum, probably because she’s been secretary of state and has been at the hub of executive decision-making for more than two decades. Other likely (or at least talked-about) candidates, from Rand Paul to Elizabeth Warren, are strangers in that land.

But some of these very qualities have caused some to deride Mrs. Clinton as an anachronism, as being out of touch, for instance, with millennials over such issues as NSA surveillance. As though being in touch with them on something like that were a good thing. Let’s see… would I want someone who is a grownup on national security, or someone who thinks Edward Snowden is a hero? Hmmm…

Anyway, for the opposite point of view, I point you to this piece, conveniently headlined, “Hillary Clinton is an anachronism.” Or consider recent comments from the kiddie corner, such as Rand Paul calling her “yesterday’s news,” or Marco Rubio calling her “a 20th century candidate.” (Of course, those of us who remember Walter Cronkite hosting “The Twentieth Century” still think the phrase invokes modernism, don’t we?)

Even a supporter, Howard Dean, says this to our old buddy Peter Hamby:

“Hillary, she has been on the scene since, what, 1992?” he said. “To elect Hillary, the country would have to do something we’ve only done once in my lifetime, with Reagan over Carter, which is the country would have to go back a generation. Usually, you don’t go back.”

Still, he said Clinton “might be a great candidate because of that.”

Hey, that’s what I think (that last part). I don’t think either party has produced any candidates worth writing home about during this century so far. OK, except for Barack Obama. But the bloom is kind of off that rose these days.

What do y’all think?

23 thoughts on “Is it too late for Hillary Clinton?

  1. Bryan Caskey

    If she’s challenged from within the Democratic party, the differences will likely be on foreign policy. In domestic policy, she seems to be very much in-step with the modern day liberals.

    Then again, I’m just a Bitter-Clinger*, so what do I really know?

    *I bitterly cling to my coffee and my college football.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    The Boston Globe gets in on the act today with this observation: “She’s of an older generation when many hunger for someone new.”

    The Globe also notes:

    She’s part of the Democratic establishment, only reluctantly embracing the economic-inequality issues that so fire up the party’s left wing.

    And as books such as Kim Ghattas’s “The Secretary” make clear, she is decidedly different from Obama on foreign policy. Clinton was the hawk in the administration, a proponent of a muscular and unapologetic US presence on the world stage who sided most frequently with then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. She makes Democratic doves flutter nervously.

    You go, girl. They’re just going out of their way to make her sound good to me. Like they’re doing it on purpose…

  3. Andrew G

    Has there been an instance of a US military intervention in the last 20 years that Clinton hasn’t supported?

    You do know that a large part of the reason she lost the 2008 nomination was because she supported the Iraq war then had a convoluted reason why she did vs. the guy who opposed it from the beginning?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I realize that’s one interpretation of why she lost. And it may BE why she lost. But that doesn’t make her wrong and the party’s antiwar wing right.

      Frankly, though, I think she lost for the same reason that I preferred Obama — the breath of fresh air, the guy who wasn’t part of the partisan wars of the past few years, hope and change. I wrote extensively about that at the time.

      But you know, even if I thought the antiwar people were right, I wouldn’t have given Obama credit on the issue. Hillary Clinton was a United State Senator, and she actually had a decision to make. I believe she made the right one, but even if I didn’t think that, I’d give her credit for being on the spot.

      It was easy for Obama to be against it. He was in no way responsible, not being a senator at the time.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    “Frankly, though, I think she lost for the same reason that I preferred Obama — the breath of fresh air”

    I can’t find your comment, but it was essentially how you prefer candidates/officials who understand how government work as opposed to people who may be considered newbies. At one point you said Sheheen is just the kind of guy who “gets it” as far as how government works. Also, you sometimes make this similar point when Doug argues for term limits. Essentially, you’re pro-experience in candidates/elected officials. I don’t think that’s an unfair characterization.

    Anyway, I’m trying to square the two somewhat competing ideas you have here. I’m not saying they’re contradictory – they’re not entirely contradictory. However, I’m assuming that you had to have reservations about voting for Obama to be President when he had pretty much only been a State Senator from Illinois four years prior.

    Can you walk me through that analysis?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Often, the two things DO conflict.

      What I meant in Obama’s case was that I was sick of the hyperpartisanship of the Clinton-Bush years. Hillary’s rhetoric at the time was that of a partisan warrior, one who was going to “take our country back,” to use one of the more obnoxious phrases such people use (although I don’t recall whether she used that; I use it here to describe the kind of mentality that concerns me).

      Obama, however, was promising to be post-partisan as much as post-racial.

      But if you’ll recall, in the end I endorsed McCain over Obama, and the experience factor was a big part of that. Also… I’d had the chance to question Obama in person about national security and the U.S. role in the world, and his answers made him sound the way Hillary is sounding to me now. I got a very different impression from what his antiwar friends got. I was hearing the Obama who would surge troops in Afghanistan, the Obama who would be far more aggressive in attacking Taliban in northwestern Pakistan, who would send SEALs into the heart of Pakistan to kill bin Laden. You know, the one who’s been such a disappointment to the antiwar left.

      Anyway, that was my thinking. I had specific reasons to prefer the fresh face on the Democratic side. But in the end, I preferred McCain.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Also, let me point out that Obama NEVER evinced any of the more disturbing traits of political newcomers.

        The ones I’m thinking of when I express concern about inexperience display a shocking lack of understanding of issues or of how government works. They often don’t seem to know what you would expect any high school graduate to understand about civics. The notions that they have and share about their expectations of what will happen once they get into office are often embarrassing to listen to.

        That in no way describes Barack Obama. He was intelligent, and exhibited a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of issues and of politics itself. So he didn’t set off the alarm bells the way many newcomers do.

        1. Silence

          You can point out that Obama never evinced any traits of political newcomers, but in fact, he’s either profoundly naive, or a foreign embed.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        You didn’t get the impression from hearing him talk that Obama was inexperienced. You had to look at his resume to get that. And when I looked at his resume, once again, I preferred McCain.

  5. Bart

    I am not a Hillary fan but in all fairness, when it comes to a candidate who knows all of the inside workings of national and international politics, Hillary has every other candidate beat, hands down. When it comes to the test by fire, Hillary has been through it and seems to have come out with minimal damage.

    When she voted for the Iraq war, IMHO, she did so with perhaps more inside information than most other senators had at the time. Bill Clinton stated emphatically in 2003 that before he left office, he knew for certain that Saddam Hussein did have WMDs. Whether critics want to believe it or not, that is their choice.

    It is also not a secret that Hillary was a devout student of Sol Alinsky in her earlier years but seems to have mellowed out and moved a little more toward the middle instead of remaining as a far leftist.

    Depending on who the Republican candidate is, if Hillary is the Democrat nominee and at this time, she has no serious challengers on the horizon, I might vote for her. I have witnessed too many who want to lead, who campaign for leadership, win a leadership position, and then fall flat on their ass because they simply did not have the background or experience to go along with their intelligence.

    And, using 20/20 hindsight, if Hillary had been at the helm when ACA was first proposed and passed, it is my humble opinion that when it was officially presented to the public, the problems would have been minimal or at least, 100% better than the fiasco it became. I seriously doubt the words uttered by Nancy Pelosi, “we have to pass it to find out what is in it”, would have been spoken and Hillary would have been actively involved all during the process of putting the bill together. Obama was hands off except for photo ops with dozens of people wearing white coats and stethoscopes hanging around their necks.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Obama was hands off except for photo ops with dozens of people wearing white coats and stethoscopes hanging around their necks.”

      This cannot be true. Obama himself has assured me that he’s not interested in photo-ops.

      1. Brad Warthen

        True. But back to our discussion about experience… Hillary’s own is far more impressive now that she has served as SecState. Before, her main advantage over Obama was her time in the Senate, as I’ve never been quite sure HOW to count her time as First Lady.

        Now, her experience is such that she seems as inevitable as Seward did in 1860 — until Lincoln came along…

    2. bud

      it is my humble opinion that when it was officially presented to the public, the problems would have been minimal or at least, 100% better than the fiasco it became.

      Uh, I hate to tell you Bart but the ACA is proving to be a resounding success. Practically every program ever devised has teething problems at first. But the number of Americans without insurance is dramatically down from a few years back. And for those states who accepted the Medicaid money the uninsured rate has dropped even further. So to suggest the ACA is a fiasco is complete nonsense and not even Fox News talks about it in those terms any longer.

      As for Hillary, I was at one time a huge fan of hers. Now, not so much. She’s sounding more and more hawkish with each passing day. Given that she voted for the Iraq war fiasco (a bona-fide fiasco) I have to take a long hard look at her when it comes time to vote in the primary. Of course none of the GOP candidates is even an option given all their various scandals.

      1. Doug Ross


        Are your rose colored glasses covered by Obamacare? It’s way too early to assess Obamacare’s impact on the healthcare industry. We already know it was a fiasco in terms of implementation. We already know that Obama has pushed out large parts of the law to avoid problems in the mid-term elections. We already know that 30% of the people who signed up didn’t pay their premiums. We already know that thousands of people will be hit with tax bills next year for subsidies they received that they didn’t qualify for. We’ll know soon about what the costs for insurance will be for 2015. I bet we’ll be hearing about healthcare costs every year for the next decade.

        1. bud

          I bet we’ll be hearing about healthcare costs every year for the next decade.

          Just like we did for the last 3 decades? Early indications suggest that premiums will go up a tad less in 2015 than what had been the case over the last 20 years. But rather than make a bet I’ll just wait on the facts.

          1. Doug Ross

            8% is the number I see for next year’s increase. That means costs will double in 9 years at that rate.

            Affordable Care is a cruel joke on poor people. No guts to go for single payer so we just get another government run system to fail.

      2. Bart

        Uh, bud, I hate to tell you but Doug is spot on and ACA is not a resounding success as you claim. If anything, more and more doctors are dropping out of the system, more and more are going totally private, more and more hospitals are being staffed with physician assistants, and the drug and insurance companies are receiving compensation for losses suffered due to ACA.

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