The side-by-side opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal, one by Hillary Clinton and the other by a trio of Barack Obama supporters (Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill) are revealing.
Clinton’s purpose is to describe her plan for “shared prosperity.” On health care she declares, “Unless we cover all Americans, we will never end the hidden tax that the uninsured pass on to the rest of us when they end up in the emergency room and we wind up footing the bill. ” Her solution–which she cleverly avoids describing in any particularity–is to pass a massive unhidden tax, mandate healthcare coverage, and do such amorphous and unattainable things as “cut unnecessary spending.” She has lots and lots of other ideas, from matching IRA’s to encouraging women and minorities to pursue science careers (white men can apparently stick to sociology) to “ending the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind” (otherwise known as spending gobs of federal money on education), all the while “making government more efficient and restoring fiscal responsibility.” You can argue there is plenty of “sharing” but not much “prosperity” in her agenda, or that her approach is not intellectually honest or coherent, but give her credit: she has lots she wants to do.
In stark contrast, Obama’s supporters focus almost entirely on his campaign, his “new majority for change,” and these Red state officials’ hope that he will deliver broad electoral success to the Democratic Party. They tout his fundraising prowess and describe in detail his biography. It is eight paragraphs into the column before they address any substance and only then is in the broadest strokes–“make healthcare affordable for every American,” “give all of our children a world class education” and develop “new sources of energy.” (My goodness, had the rest of us only thought of these!) Foreign policy gets a single paragraph which consists of the reminder that he opposed the Iraq war, wants to take care of veterans( the favorite non-foreign policy part of every Democrat’s foreign policy), and “conduct diplomacy with our adversaries as well as our friends.” That’s about it.
One does sympathize at some level with Clinton that she must confront, and indeed may lose, to a man offering a “program” of so little substance. But that may indeed be altogether acceptable to Democratic primary voters. They simply want her and her husband to be gone, they want to feel good about their unbridled liberal sentiments and they will worry about the rest later. The appeal of a confrontation free style of politics and the lure of a new majority may just be too tempting to resist.