Monday, July 11, 2005

Hillary a Moderate?

On Monday, NY Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton compared President Bush to Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. Without missing a beat, those with an interest in both the 2006 NY Senate election and the 2008 presidential election criticized Mrs. Clinton for taking opportunistic, partisan jabs at the president.

They’re right. Clinton is taking an unnecessary jab at the president to solidify her support with Democrats who oppose the president’s policies, especially those on fiscal issues. However, take a closer look at the RNC statement.

"Hillary Clinton's opportunistic attempt to market herself as a centrist is like a wolf dressing up in sheep's clothing," said RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. "Such thinly veiled rhetoric doesn't change the fact she is part of today's angry and adrift Democrat Party."

There is little in Mrs. Clinton’s statement that is Centrist. She took a cheap shot on the president and failed to add substance to the debate. Yet, the RNC statement indicates the party is leery of Mrs. Clinton’s ability to reach out to Centrists.


At 12:29 AM, Blogger Jami said...

actually, if anyone spouting off on this had bothered to listen to the rest of hillary's speech, they'd know the neuman comment was 15 seconds of a great speech on how america needs to prepare win back its dominance on smart energy policy and technological innovation.

why is it that "energy policy and technological innovation" don't turn republican heads the way cartoon characters do?

At 12:44 AM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

So Centrists never take cheap shots or make fun of people with whom they deem ineffective? I'm going to have to develop a 4th political movement in this country then. Jon Stewart is going to be my party's candidate.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


I think the point is she was, in that one little statement, pandering to the base (which enjoys anti-Bushism) and not addressing the middle-of-the-road (which isn't so big on the anti-Bushisms).

Centrists are about as capable of taking cheap shots as anyone else. It's WHO you take a cheap shot at that's the defining part. And, in that case, Jon Stewart makes fun of all extremes. I'll join his party. (although his shots are deadliy funny more than cheap)

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

Taking cheap shots at your political enemies doesn't take one out of the centrist sphere. That's just politics.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Joe Weedon said...

Cheap shots are a part of politics and they play a vital role in appealing to one's base. Democrats bash Republicans and Republicans bash Democrats because the "core" of the party expects it and wants it.

Thus, I said "Clinton is taking an unnecessary jab at the president to solidify her support with Democrats who oppose the president’s policies." I went further to say that there is little in this statement that is Centrist.

How many Centrists outright oppose the President's efforts to reduce taxes? How many Centrists outright believe the President has no clue on fiscal issues?

On both accounts I'd say very few. Thus, Clinton took a cheap shot at the President for purely partisan gains and nothing in the attack attempted to position her as a Centrist.

Cheap shots are a part of politics and are here to stay. I've thrown them out there myself. The difference is that Centrists tend to throw them at the extremes to draw people towards the middle rather than throw them at the middle to drive people to the extremes.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan C said...


That is true at all times except when one is running for her party's presidential nomination.

That comment was certainly not centrist or moderate. However, jabs, cheap shots, and other debate tactics that can be described with belligerent metaphors don't invalidate a person's centrist credentials. I look at centrism more in terms of policy than demeanor.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

My point is that I'm not convinced that Hilary's jab means anything. Does her jab show that she's not a moderate? I don't see how one could make that argument. Certainly some centrists view Bush (or Rove) as an extremist. In some respects, how can you not?

Within the context of fiscal issues, I'm not sure what an extremist fiscal vision looks like. Most fiscal discussion is spawned by experts with valid points who simply disagree at a basic level. The only vision I can think of that may be extremist is a blind one that promises to either never raise taxes or never lower taxes under any circumstance. The key word there being "blind".

Having fun and assuming Hilary is a Centrist, if she views Bush's fiscal vision as being blind, then that's her perogative and perhaps a jab in her mind is warranted. Does it raise the bar of debate? Certainly not, but it's one comment. Assuming Jami is correct, the rest of the speech may have done just that if anyone was listening.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

The thing about Hillary is that she always had this kind of big-ole-liberal imgage about her. I don't know if that was unjust or based off too little evidence or the truth. Whatever the case, everyone now is combing through her every word looking for "proof" that she is not the Centrist her Senate votes and speeches indicate that she is.

I don't think one jab at the president is proof of anything other than she is a Democrat. I also think taking a jab at Bush's fiscal policies is fair game--they have certainly seemed to rely more on ideology than economics.

All-in-all, I think this just goes to show that Hillary has a lot of work to do to convince people she's not a big-ole-liberal. Centrists aren't likely to embrace her quickly. But the fact that Republican are afraid she will appeal to the center is a fairly good sign that courting it is a smart idea.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...


True...and she has made that jab before. So if that's going to be a recurring theme for her as part of her stump speech, then I hope for the sake of intellectualism that she takes it in a different direction.


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