Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 5, 2008

Re: Obama’s Surge

Abe, we won’t really know until California comes in, but it appears that once again, too many Democrats simply refused to hope audaciously, to give up their fear, to say “Yes We Can,” to climb to the mountaintop, to rap along with Scarlett Johanssen…

Abe, we won’t really know until California comes in, but it appears that once again, too many Democrats simply refused to hope audaciously, to give up their fear, to say “Yes We Can,” to climb to the mountaintop, to rap along with Scarlett Johanssen…

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Some TV Tips

MSNBC has a color blind test masquerading as a state delegate map with each party’s candidates in a different shade. The “blue” Democrats are easy to discern (light and dark); the “red” ( mauve, pink, cherry, etc.) Republicans are not. After a few seconds your head will hurt. The CNN map is just plain cool. The Fox map oozes too much color (and their coverage seems to feature announcers under the age of 16). Fox, however, has Michael Barone, so he makes up for all other shortcomings.

MSNBC has a color blind test masquerading as a state delegate map with each party’s candidates in a different shade. The “blue” Democrats are easy to discern (light and dark); the “red” ( mauve, pink, cherry, etc.) Republicans are not. After a few seconds your head will hurt. The CNN map is just plain cool. The Fox map oozes too much color (and their coverage seems to feature announcers under the age of 16). Fox, however, has Michael Barone, so he makes up for all other shortcomings.

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Jewish Vote?

According to Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Hillary Clinton won the Jewish vote in New York by 73-27. Here’s the thing. Let’s say the exit pollsters interviewed 2,000 people in New York (which would be a very large number). The Jewish Democratic electorate was 16 percent of the total, according to Kelly. The number of interviewees would therefore have been 320. Which means 235 people voted for Hillary and 85 voted for Obama. I don’t think that’s a large enough sample to determine what the Jewish vote actually was.

According to Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Hillary Clinton won the Jewish vote in New York by 73-27. Here’s the thing. Let’s say the exit pollsters interviewed 2,000 people in New York (which would be a very large number). The Jewish Democratic electorate was 16 percent of the total, according to Kelly. The number of interviewees would therefore have been 320. Which means 235 people voted for Hillary and 85 voted for Obama. I don’t think that’s a large enough sample to determine what the Jewish vote actually was.

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Re: Be Careful What You Attack For

John, the talk show hosts spent quite a bit of time villifying Huckabee. They haven’t been focusing on him for some time, perhaps concluding he was dead and gone. The conclusion may be that the listeners “forgot” to be upset with Huckbee. Alternatively, it may be that people vote based on their own evaluation of the candidates and that the talk show folks talk to the already converted or to folks who just like a good show. The evening is young and there are big and important states yet to be heard from, but I think Huckabee is further evidence that the talk show folks have virtually no impact on voting.

John, the talk show hosts spent quite a bit of time villifying Huckabee. They haven’t been focusing on him for some time, perhaps concluding he was dead and gone. The conclusion may be that the listeners “forgot” to be upset with Huckbee. Alternatively, it may be that people vote based on their own evaluation of the candidates and that the talk show folks talk to the already converted or to folks who just like a good show. The evening is young and there are big and important states yet to be heard from, but I think Huckabee is further evidence that the talk show folks have virtually no impact on voting.

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Where’s the Obama Surge?

Don’t try to say Delaware. Obama just took it and the last poll I saw had Hillary going in with a 44% to 42% lead. But not clearing the margin of error doesn’t really constitute much of an upset.

Don’t try to say Delaware. Obama just took it and the last poll I saw had Hillary going in with a 44% to 42% lead. But not clearing the margin of error doesn’t really constitute much of an upset.

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BREAKING NEWS!!!!!

White liberals like Obama. They’re helping him in Connecticut, the state where Democrats ditched Joe Lieberman for a rich leftist. The breathless deliverance of this entirely expected piece of information is of a piece with the general tenor of the coverage on the Democratic side on CNN and MSNBC — which are so oogly googly about the whole thing that they make Fox’s coverage of Republican politics seem like Sy Hersh slamming the Pentagon.

White liberals like Obama. They’re helping him in Connecticut, the state where Democrats ditched Joe Lieberman for a rich leftist. The breathless deliverance of this entirely expected piece of information is of a piece with the general tenor of the coverage on the Democratic side on CNN and MSNBC — which are so oogly googly about the whole thing that they make Fox’s coverage of Republican politics seem like Sy Hersh slamming the Pentagon.

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Which Kennedys are irrelevant?

Hillary takes Massachusetts despite Ted Kennedy. Will she take California despite Maria Shriver?

Hillary takes Massachusetts despite Ted Kennedy. Will she take California despite Maria Shriver?

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A Bearded Bill Richardson

If you’ve been following the elections returns on MSNBC, you probably just saw a newly bearded Bill Richardson. Richardson’s beard brings to mind one previously sported by Al Gore shortly after he lost the 2000 presidential elections. Is this Richardson’s latest attempt to signal his desire to be Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential candidate?

Ok, probably not.

If you’ve been following the elections returns on MSNBC, you probably just saw a newly bearded Bill Richardson. Richardson’s beard brings to mind one previously sported by Al Gore shortly after he lost the 2000 presidential elections. Is this Richardson’s latest attempt to signal his desire to be Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential candidate?

Ok, probably not.

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It’s Happening Again

It appears the exit polls were, once again, wrong. They had Romney winning Delaware; McCain won it instead. There’s probably more wrong as we go along. Now here’s a point. Even when the exit polls get the electorate wrong, people in the media still use the data on issues. Shouldn’t that data be viewed skeptically in light of the fact that the exit polls are proving wrong outside the margin of error time and again?

It appears the exit polls were, once again, wrong. They had Romney winning Delaware; McCain won it instead. There’s probably more wrong as we go along. Now here’s a point. Even when the exit polls get the electorate wrong, people in the media still use the data on issues. Shouldn’t that data be viewed skeptically in light of the fact that the exit polls are proving wrong outside the margin of error time and again?

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Huckabee’s Last Stand

If this is Mike Huckabee’s last night as a presidential candidate, it looks like he’ll go out in a position of strength. Huckabee has already won West Virginia and Arkansas; is leading in Georgia; and is running second to John McCain in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In these conservative states, Huckabee has asserted himself over Mitt Romney as the conservative choice for the nomination. This should enhance his attractiveness as a vice-presidential candidate should McCain seal the nomination tonight.

Of course, California remains the wild card. Stay tuned.

If this is Mike Huckabee’s last night as a presidential candidate, it looks like he’ll go out in a position of strength. Huckabee has already won West Virginia and Arkansas; is leading in Georgia; and is running second to John McCain in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In these conservative states, Huckabee has asserted himself over Mitt Romney as the conservative choice for the nomination. This should enhance his attractiveness as a vice-presidential candidate should McCain seal the nomination tonight.

Of course, California remains the wild card. Stay tuned.

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Be Careful What You Attack For

Jen, what if the talk-show attacks on John McCain, all of which have been intended to benefit Mitt Romney, have instead given new life to Mike Huckabee’s campaign? After all, the talkers have been talking about the need for conservative purity. Under those terms, the Christian-identity candidate doubtless seems more authentic than the former moderate-turned-conservative from Massachusetts.

Jen, what if the talk-show attacks on John McCain, all of which have been intended to benefit Mitt Romney, have instead given new life to Mike Huckabee’s campaign? After all, the talkers have been talking about the need for conservative purity. Under those terms, the Christian-identity candidate doubtless seems more authentic than the former moderate-turned-conservative from Massachusetts.

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A Vote For Huckabee, Is A Vote For Huckabee

Huckabee adds Arkansas, for a total of three states (including the West Virginia caucus). He could also win Georgia and Alabama. That would be five states. Romney so far has Massachusetts. (Do they listen to a lot of talk show radio there?) Unless Romney can pull out Missouri and/or California he will have little rationale for continuing. If you lose the Northeast, California and the South where do you go from there?

And McCain picks up winner-take-all Delaware.

Huckabee adds Arkansas, for a total of three states (including the West Virginia caucus). He could also win Georgia and Alabama. That would be five states. Romney so far has Massachusetts. (Do they listen to a lot of talk show radio there?) Unless Romney can pull out Missouri and/or California he will have little rationale for continuing. If you lose the Northeast, California and the South where do you go from there?

And McCain picks up winner-take-all Delaware.

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McCain Gets Early Wins

McCain racks up New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut. Romney takes his home state of Massachusetts. Rudy not only got out of the race, but left behind winner-take-all rules for McCain in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

McCain racks up New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut. Romney takes his home state of Massachusetts. Rudy not only got out of the race, but left behind winner-take-all rules for McCain in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

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Yes, They Can

According to Drudge and others, Barack Obama will have a very good night.

UPDATE: Obama wins Georgia.

According to Drudge and others, Barack Obama will have a very good night.

UPDATE: Obama wins Georgia.

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Just Wondering

If Mike Huckabee, as yours truly suggested might happen, beats all the odds and gets more delegates than Romney tonight will the talk radio anti-McCain voices holler for Romney to drop out and get out of Huckabee’s way? If it comes down to Huckabee and McCain, what’s a conservative talk show host to do?

If Mike Huckabee, as yours truly suggested might happen, beats all the odds and gets more delegates than Romney tonight will the talk radio anti-McCain voices holler for Romney to drop out and get out of Huckabee’s way? If it comes down to Huckabee and McCain, what’s a conservative talk show host to do?

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Why They Hate McCain

The snowballing anger among conservative opinion leaders toward John McCain — an anger that is not mirrored among Republican rank-and-file, whose approval-disapproval rating for McCain is 72-19, according to the Pew Poll, fifteen points higher than Mitt Romney’s in both categories — suggests they are confusing ideological convictions with political tactics, and infusing a disagreement on how to approach problems with a moral edge it does not deserve.

Whatever John McCain is, he is not a liberal. But he disappoints conservatives because, astonishingly enough, he lacks the Right’s partisan combativeness — which seems surprising, given his background as a warrior and his stiff-necked heroism in staring down his North Vietnamese torturer-jailers. He may be a military man through and through, but he is not a team player, to put it mildly. In partisan terms, he often seems determined not to march in lockstep simply because others expect it of him. That’s why, among other things, he has been so wildly incompetent at using his own perfect pro-life record iin the House and Senate to his own benefit in seeking support from Republicans who share his anti-abortion views. Such a thing would require him to fall in line, and McCain does not fall in line.

These are not words of praise, merely of description. The truth is that this flinty individualism has a profoundly self-destructive aspect to it. He has made his own pathway to the top of his party extremely difficult because he does not wish to play the game the way it needs to be played. He offends people he need not offend, and acts in ways that are considered disrespectful by people who only need him to show them a little kavod. If he becomes the nominee of the GOP, he will be required to mend fences he need not have broken down in the first place.

But his opponents are engaging in a terrible mistake as well. McCain likes to make common cause with politicians across the aisle from him. They can’t stand this. They prefer someone who fights Democrats to someone who makes deals with Democrats. Fair enough. But this is a difference of degree, not of essence. McCain is a deal-maker. Perhaps, having engaged with a real enemy who broke his arms and tortured him and sought to destroy him body and mind and soul, he doesn’t see an enemy when he sees a Democrat but rather just another American whose ideas on many things differ from his but with whom he might share some common ground.

McCain would, there is no question, be a lousy leader of an ideological movement. But the Republican party is not an ideological movement. It is a political vehicle for the American right-of-center. Those who confuse the Republican party with the conservative movement are indulging in a fantasy — that there is purity in politics and that there is something immoral about ideological impurity.

The snowballing anger among conservative opinion leaders toward John McCain — an anger that is not mirrored among Republican rank-and-file, whose approval-disapproval rating for McCain is 72-19, according to the Pew Poll, fifteen points higher than Mitt Romney’s in both categories — suggests they are confusing ideological convictions with political tactics, and infusing a disagreement on how to approach problems with a moral edge it does not deserve.

Whatever John McCain is, he is not a liberal. But he disappoints conservatives because, astonishingly enough, he lacks the Right’s partisan combativeness — which seems surprising, given his background as a warrior and his stiff-necked heroism in staring down his North Vietnamese torturer-jailers. He may be a military man through and through, but he is not a team player, to put it mildly. In partisan terms, he often seems determined not to march in lockstep simply because others expect it of him. That’s why, among other things, he has been so wildly incompetent at using his own perfect pro-life record iin the House and Senate to his own benefit in seeking support from Republicans who share his anti-abortion views. Such a thing would require him to fall in line, and McCain does not fall in line.

These are not words of praise, merely of description. The truth is that this flinty individualism has a profoundly self-destructive aspect to it. He has made his own pathway to the top of his party extremely difficult because he does not wish to play the game the way it needs to be played. He offends people he need not offend, and acts in ways that are considered disrespectful by people who only need him to show them a little kavod. If he becomes the nominee of the GOP, he will be required to mend fences he need not have broken down in the first place.

But his opponents are engaging in a terrible mistake as well. McCain likes to make common cause with politicians across the aisle from him. They can’t stand this. They prefer someone who fights Democrats to someone who makes deals with Democrats. Fair enough. But this is a difference of degree, not of essence. McCain is a deal-maker. Perhaps, having engaged with a real enemy who broke his arms and tortured him and sought to destroy him body and mind and soul, he doesn’t see an enemy when he sees a Democrat but rather just another American whose ideas on many things differ from his but with whom he might share some common ground.

McCain would, there is no question, be a lousy leader of an ideological movement. But the Republican party is not an ideological movement. It is a political vehicle for the American right-of-center. Those who confuse the Republican party with the conservative movement are indulging in a fantasy — that there is purity in politics and that there is something immoral about ideological impurity.

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The Romney Factor

The vehemence of the opposition to John McCain in many conservative quarters this past week naturally raises the question of where these folks were before McCain gained momentum. Why wait until after Florida, when McCain seems well on his way, to roll out the most forceful criticism? Why wait until a few days before Super Tuesday to endorse Romney? The objections to McCain were always there, after all.

Looking over the dynamics of the past several months, and especially January, once the voting got going, I think you have to conclude that Romney’s negative charisma was the key reason. For months, many conservatives understood that a Giuliani or McCain candidacy could be a disaster, yet somehow there was never a serious coalescing around Romney. I don’t think his religion was to blame. Something about Romney just didn’t have the right ring to it; there was a sense that he would say anything and do anything, and that beneath the veneer might be another veneer, and another. It was—in a lesser dose, to be sure—something like the feeling so many Americans had about John Kerry in 2004.

So for months conservatives held out hope for Fred Thompson—the potential generic conservative mascot, acceptable to all—keeping an open mind about Romney but withholding serious support. Thompson, unfortunately, thoroughly failed to capitalize on the immense opportunity handed to him, and so throughout the summer and fall and into the winter the Republican race was held in a peculiar kind of limbo: the money wasn’t flowing, normally decisive opinion-shapers on the right remained uncommitted, and everyone seemed to be waiting to see what would happen (“maybe in this debate Thompson will show some energy”) rather than assertively making something happen. This created a race without any stable conservative presence, and opened the door for Huckabee’s temporary rise—which made any establishment conservative coalescence even less likely. Meanwhile Rudy Giuliani committed a kind of strategic suicide, and John McCain was left as the only simultaneously likeable and serious candidate running.

This was beginning to become apparent in the wake of Iowa, was reasonably clear after New Hampshire, and became crystal clear after South Carolina. But still many conservative heavyweights who were very eager to avoid a McCain candidacy did not line up behind Romney. Only after Florida, with his fate almost sealed, did a good number earnestly make his cause theirs. Why take so long? Why resist? Many conservatives seemed unable to get over a persistent concern about Romney, which naturally translated into distress about his electability in the general election. Once Thompson turned out to be a dud and the generic conservative slot was left empty, the nomination was Romney’s to lose. He seems very likely to have lost it.

Conservatives have serious reasons to worry about a McCain candidacy, to be sure. But if Mitt Romney couldn’t even win their votes all this time, shouldn’t we assume he would have had a lot of trouble winning other people’s votes in November?

The vehemence of the opposition to John McCain in many conservative quarters this past week naturally raises the question of where these folks were before McCain gained momentum. Why wait until after Florida, when McCain seems well on his way, to roll out the most forceful criticism? Why wait until a few days before Super Tuesday to endorse Romney? The objections to McCain were always there, after all.

Looking over the dynamics of the past several months, and especially January, once the voting got going, I think you have to conclude that Romney’s negative charisma was the key reason. For months, many conservatives understood that a Giuliani or McCain candidacy could be a disaster, yet somehow there was never a serious coalescing around Romney. I don’t think his religion was to blame. Something about Romney just didn’t have the right ring to it; there was a sense that he would say anything and do anything, and that beneath the veneer might be another veneer, and another. It was—in a lesser dose, to be sure—something like the feeling so many Americans had about John Kerry in 2004.

So for months conservatives held out hope for Fred Thompson—the potential generic conservative mascot, acceptable to all—keeping an open mind about Romney but withholding serious support. Thompson, unfortunately, thoroughly failed to capitalize on the immense opportunity handed to him, and so throughout the summer and fall and into the winter the Republican race was held in a peculiar kind of limbo: the money wasn’t flowing, normally decisive opinion-shapers on the right remained uncommitted, and everyone seemed to be waiting to see what would happen (“maybe in this debate Thompson will show some energy”) rather than assertively making something happen. This created a race without any stable conservative presence, and opened the door for Huckabee’s temporary rise—which made any establishment conservative coalescence even less likely. Meanwhile Rudy Giuliani committed a kind of strategic suicide, and John McCain was left as the only simultaneously likeable and serious candidate running.

This was beginning to become apparent in the wake of Iowa, was reasonably clear after New Hampshire, and became crystal clear after South Carolina. But still many conservative heavyweights who were very eager to avoid a McCain candidacy did not line up behind Romney. Only after Florida, with his fate almost sealed, did a good number earnestly make his cause theirs. Why take so long? Why resist? Many conservatives seemed unable to get over a persistent concern about Romney, which naturally translated into distress about his electability in the general election. Once Thompson turned out to be a dud and the generic conservative slot was left empty, the nomination was Romney’s to lose. He seems very likely to have lost it.

Conservatives have serious reasons to worry about a McCain candidacy, to be sure. But if Mitt Romney couldn’t even win their votes all this time, shouldn’t we assume he would have had a lot of trouble winning other people’s votes in November?

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First Demi Moore Became a Kabbalist. Now This.

The actor Andrew McCarthy is writing a diary for Slate about his work on a new television show called Lipstick Jungle. The show is not good (this isn’t what McCarthy says; it’s what I’m telling you). But it turns out that McCarthy, who remains best known for his work as a teen and post-teen heartthrob in Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire, is a very, very good writer. This is only a little more surprising than the discovery that Mare Winningham, who was in St. Elmo’s Fire with McCarthy and appeared in approximately 248 made-for-television movies playing a teenage prostitute, converted to Judaism a few years ago and recorded an album called “Refuge Rock Sublime,” which features a bluegrass version of “Etz Chaim” and another number in which she sings: “The Torah will be a fixed point in my life.” It’s…well…it’s certainly very…interesting….

The actor Andrew McCarthy is writing a diary for Slate about his work on a new television show called Lipstick Jungle. The show is not good (this isn’t what McCarthy says; it’s what I’m telling you). But it turns out that McCarthy, who remains best known for his work as a teen and post-teen heartthrob in Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire, is a very, very good writer. This is only a little more surprising than the discovery that Mare Winningham, who was in St. Elmo’s Fire with McCarthy and appeared in approximately 248 made-for-television movies playing a teenage prostitute, converted to Judaism a few years ago and recorded an album called “Refuge Rock Sublime,” which features a bluegrass version of “Etz Chaim” and another number in which she sings: “The Torah will be a fixed point in my life.” It’s…well…it’s certainly very…interesting….

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Not A Good Start

Team Romney issues this press release in reaction to losing the West Virginia caucus. It can only be described as the worst case of sour grapes in this campaign cycle. Mike Huckbee was the second choice of John McCain voters and wins a small caucus. Yes, the Romney camp had previously said things like: ““We have had the only organizational presence in West Virginia to speak of … It’s all Romney all the time.” However, this is not California and no one stole anything from anyone. Should this provoke a temper tantrum? Others think we are in meltdown mode.

Team Romney issues this press release in reaction to losing the West Virginia caucus. It can only be described as the worst case of sour grapes in this campaign cycle. Mike Huckbee was the second choice of John McCain voters and wins a small caucus. Yes, the Romney camp had previously said things like: ““We have had the only organizational presence in West Virginia to speak of … It’s all Romney all the time.” However, this is not California and no one stole anything from anyone. Should this provoke a temper tantrum? Others think we are in meltdown mode.

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Brooks on Clinton

David Brooks has a fascinating and important column today. In it he recounts how in 1992 Jim Cooper, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee, came up with a health care reform plan that drew bipartisan support but differed from Hillary Clinton’s plan (Cooper’s plan did not include employer mandates to force universal coverage). When Cooper met with Mrs. Clinton to discuss their differences, he found her “ice cold,” in his words. “It was the coldest reception of my life,” he said. “I was excoriated.”

When on June 15, 1993 Cooper told Mrs. Clinton (correctly) that her plan would never get through Congress, Clinton’s response, according to Cooper, was, “We’ll crush you. You’ll wish you never mentioned this to me.”

A war room was set up to oppose Cooper, who was planning to run for the Senate in 1994. His motivations were questioned by the Clinton crowd. People were dispatched to Tennessee to attack his plan. Mrs. Clinton denounced the Cooper plan as “dangerous and threatening” – and according to Newsweek, she brought an aide with a video camera to a meeting with senators and asked the senators to denounce Cooper on the spot.

“We’ll crush you” is an anthem for the Clintons. It, and “war rooms,” embody their approach to politics and governing. The record on this matter is clear and overwhelming: Team Clinton will try to destroy people whom they oppose and believe are a threat to their “political viability.” Of all the reasons to oppose Mrs. Clinton for president, this one ranks near the top. People like her and her husband should not be entrusted with power – and especially with the power of the presidency.

I would add this observation to David’s column. He uses his opening paragraph to declare he is not a “Hillary-hater” – and he supports this declaration by writing this:

She’s been an outstanding senator. She hung tough on Iraq through the dark days of 2005. In this campaign, she has soldiered on bravely even though she has most of the elected Democrats, news media and the educated class rooting against her.

David clearly isn’t a Hillary-hater – he’s not a hater, period, which is one of the reasons he’s liked and respected by so many people – but he overstates things in order to purchase the right to criticize her. Brooks may feel Hillary Clinton is a fine senator – but to say she is “outstanding” is not warranted. If her name was Hillary Jones (D-Idaho) instead of Hillary Clinton, she would be viewed as a capable, liberal-leaning person who has served in the Senate for less than eight years and has no great legislative achievements to her name. On the merits, she probably ranks near the middle or slightly above among the 100 senators.

Beyond that, Brooks writes that she “hung tough on Iraq through the dark days of 2005.” Except that 2005 was not viewed as dark at the time. That was the year, after all, of the Iraqi elections and the “purple finger.” It was a year in which it appeared as if political progress was being made (in fact, the progress was largely illusory). The really dark year in Iraq was 2006 – and that is the year when Senator Clinton began to waiver and then went south on the war she once supported. Worse, she (along with Senator Obama) now supports a withdrawal of American troops and a counterinsurgency strategy that would undercut the enormous gains we have made since General Petraeus began his secure-the-population counter-insurgency operation. She wants to leave Iraq, come what may. It is a reckless plan that would do enormous damage to America, lead to mass death among Iraqis, and be a huge victory for everyone from jihadists to President Ahmadinejad.

As for soldiering on “bravely” in the campaign: she is, after all, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and probably the favorite to be the next President. She travels well, her campaign is flush with cash, she speaks before mostly-adoring audiences, and for much of the campaign she has not endured harsh criticism. To the degree that she has, most of it is due to her and the words and actions of her husband. The fact that she is a dogged campaigner is impressive – but not anymore so than anyone else in the campaign. And to invoke the adverb “bravely” for what she is doing devalues the word.

But those are minor points in an excellent and illuminating column. It is a reminder, if we needed one, why her and her husband’s brand of politics ought to be put on the ash-heap.

David Brooks has a fascinating and important column today. In it he recounts how in 1992 Jim Cooper, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee, came up with a health care reform plan that drew bipartisan support but differed from Hillary Clinton’s plan (Cooper’s plan did not include employer mandates to force universal coverage). When Cooper met with Mrs. Clinton to discuss their differences, he found her “ice cold,” in his words. “It was the coldest reception of my life,” he said. “I was excoriated.”

When on June 15, 1993 Cooper told Mrs. Clinton (correctly) that her plan would never get through Congress, Clinton’s response, according to Cooper, was, “We’ll crush you. You’ll wish you never mentioned this to me.”

A war room was set up to oppose Cooper, who was planning to run for the Senate in 1994. His motivations were questioned by the Clinton crowd. People were dispatched to Tennessee to attack his plan. Mrs. Clinton denounced the Cooper plan as “dangerous and threatening” – and according to Newsweek, she brought an aide with a video camera to a meeting with senators and asked the senators to denounce Cooper on the spot.

“We’ll crush you” is an anthem for the Clintons. It, and “war rooms,” embody their approach to politics and governing. The record on this matter is clear and overwhelming: Team Clinton will try to destroy people whom they oppose and believe are a threat to their “political viability.” Of all the reasons to oppose Mrs. Clinton for president, this one ranks near the top. People like her and her husband should not be entrusted with power – and especially with the power of the presidency.

I would add this observation to David’s column. He uses his opening paragraph to declare he is not a “Hillary-hater” – and he supports this declaration by writing this:

She’s been an outstanding senator. She hung tough on Iraq through the dark days of 2005. In this campaign, she has soldiered on bravely even though she has most of the elected Democrats, news media and the educated class rooting against her.

David clearly isn’t a Hillary-hater – he’s not a hater, period, which is one of the reasons he’s liked and respected by so many people – but he overstates things in order to purchase the right to criticize her. Brooks may feel Hillary Clinton is a fine senator – but to say she is “outstanding” is not warranted. If her name was Hillary Jones (D-Idaho) instead of Hillary Clinton, she would be viewed as a capable, liberal-leaning person who has served in the Senate for less than eight years and has no great legislative achievements to her name. On the merits, she probably ranks near the middle or slightly above among the 100 senators.

Beyond that, Brooks writes that she “hung tough on Iraq through the dark days of 2005.” Except that 2005 was not viewed as dark at the time. That was the year, after all, of the Iraqi elections and the “purple finger.” It was a year in which it appeared as if political progress was being made (in fact, the progress was largely illusory). The really dark year in Iraq was 2006 – and that is the year when Senator Clinton began to waiver and then went south on the war she once supported. Worse, she (along with Senator Obama) now supports a withdrawal of American troops and a counterinsurgency strategy that would undercut the enormous gains we have made since General Petraeus began his secure-the-population counter-insurgency operation. She wants to leave Iraq, come what may. It is a reckless plan that would do enormous damage to America, lead to mass death among Iraqis, and be a huge victory for everyone from jihadists to President Ahmadinejad.

As for soldiering on “bravely” in the campaign: she is, after all, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and probably the favorite to be the next President. She travels well, her campaign is flush with cash, she speaks before mostly-adoring audiences, and for much of the campaign she has not endured harsh criticism. To the degree that she has, most of it is due to her and the words and actions of her husband. The fact that she is a dogged campaigner is impressive – but not anymore so than anyone else in the campaign. And to invoke the adverb “bravely” for what she is doing devalues the word.

But those are minor points in an excellent and illuminating column. It is a reminder, if we needed one, why her and her husband’s brand of politics ought to be put on the ash-heap.

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