Hillary Clinton snags the endorsement of perhaps the most important Indiana paper, the Indianapolis Star. In an endorsement which is quite useful in spelling out the candidates’ fundamental differences (and mutual problems), two points stand out.
First, the editors write “Clinton offers a clear-eyed view of the way things are.” That is not a bad encapsulation of the difference between her and her opponent. She does believe that there are bad guys in the world impervious to our charms, that politics is a tough and conflict-ridden business, that $75,000 isn’t “rich” if you live in expensive places, and that sometimes it’s best not to be specific about intractable problems (e.g. social security) which in the end are going to get decided by hard bargaining at midnight in a conference room in the Capitol.
This may seem cynical or pedestrian to some, or lack high-mindedness or “vision.” But it is grounded in reality. Perhaps it’s the difference between a battle-worn political animal and a neophyte who is brash enough to say he can change an entire political culture. If Democrats want the former (or at least think their agenda will get further along with the former) then Clinton’s their candidate. If they are think a transformation is possible, then Obama’s their man. (Is it any wonder older voters who have been in the world for awhile like her, while idealistic college kids unscarred by the real world love him?)
Second, the Star praises her “nuance.” That got me thinking as to whether, despite all the rhetoric and fluff, she is actually the candidate more amenable to compromise and reasoned resolutions of sticky problems. Certainly, there’s not much nuance in suing OPEC or mandated health care. And Obama’s rhetorical nods to bipartisanship sound like he’s open to compromise. But there are glimmers now and then suggesting she at least understands that disparate factions and viewpoints must be addressed to deal with issues the public cares about. Her stance on immigration (let illegal aliens report crimes without retribution, imprison or deport those who are criminals, build a fence where needed and deal rationally with 12 million people here) is a case in point. She also knows better than to promise to “throw out all the lobbyists” and “get rid of special interests.”
So, without weighing in on the wisdom of their choice, I think the Star’s conclusion on this particular point is well taken: the nuanced one is not the guy spouting grand visions of a remodeled political system.