August 26, 2007

"If certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism..."

What's the rule about talking about the way a terrorist attack might affect the presidential campaign? On Thursday, Hillary Clinton said:
It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?' But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," she said.

"So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well," she concluded.
Of course, her Democratic opponents exploit this opportunity to attack her. The bland Senator Dodd said it was "tasteless." Senator Edwards calculated that the best thing to say is that we should never engage in "political calculation" when the subject is terrorism. They're concerned about America's vulnerability to attack, but they are also concerned with their own vulnerability to attack. They must realize that Clinton would be the stronger candidate for the Democratic Party if a terrorist attack occurs before the election. Since the party will have determined its nominee long before the election, there are many months when something might happen, and yet it will be too late to switch to a more hawkish nominee.

It's not really a question of whether it's calculating or in bad taste to talk about how a terrorist attack might affect the race. It's a question of which candidates see political advantage in asking voters to visualize the election under changed circumstances and which ones would like to soothe us into thinking only in terms of existing conditions. Clinton is prodding us to think about what a good candidate she will be in different situations that may develop over the lengthy campaign season. The others don't want to talk about that because they look worse in these imagined scenarios.

So here we see how Clinton has played a shrewder, more complex game all along. Doesn't this suggest not only that she will be a more capable candidate, but also that she will operate more effectively in foreign affairs if she becomes President? In this view, fretting about taste and calculation seems rather childish. I want a President who can calculate and is not afraid to say tough things at the right time.

46 comments:

Jim Howard said...

This shows only that Hillary never, ever, stops thinking about political positioning.

When did Hillary become a hawk?????? I must have missed that.

Sure, she was for the war before she was against it, but that hardly makes her a 'hawk'.

Ann Althouse said...

She has positioned herself to be "more hawkish" -- the phrase used in the post -- than her Democratic opponents.

The Emperor said...

If there is another terrorist attack, I want a President who will go after, and get, the people who did it. I don't see why Hillary is the person for the job, based on past experience.

Mindsteps said...

Ann: I want a President who can calculate and is not afraid to say tough things at the right time.

I didn't find what Hillary said impressive or tough. Hillary's had the money, the democratic machine behind her more strongly than any other candidate, and she's the leader in the polls. This is why she is being targeted by other dems.

So far, the two people that have shown both smarts and balls in the fight against terrorism have been Obama and McCain. Obama had the balls to say what many thought, that Iraq was a miscalculation. And McCain, through it all, has had the balls to say that if we are going after Iraq, send in enough troops to do it right. He took on Bush and Rumsfeld when no other elected Republican would.

Hillary seems all about trying to position herself to find the electoral 'sweet spot' and with her money and the democratic machine, her sweet spot is a bit wider than her fellow candidates. The longer one has followed her political career, the more contrived she seems.

hdhouse said...

jim...that is an unfair characterization of HRC. Please don't play the flip-flop concept on her. I suggest that you go back and actually read the resolution passed to support GWB's belicosity. It makes no mention of invading Iraq or being "for war" so she could later be against the war. The concept and the "pick a fight" debate is wrong from the getgo and to draw her or others into that chicken/egg is wrong from the get go and an order of magnitude wrong when you surmise as you did.

I don't particularly care for her but I care less for those who got us into the mess that requires the brains of all mankind to undo.

tjl said...

"I don't particularly care for her but I care less for those who got us into the mess"

I don't particularly care for HRC either, but this makes her look like the only adult among a flock of children. How infantile her rivals seem in their insistence that bad things won't happen if we never mention them.

Cedarford said...

Credit to Hillary Clinton for being realistic (along with Biden) to know that bad things could happen before or after the election, and they will have an impact on the public.

The response of the other candidates is to stamp their feet like chilfren and say "Nooooo! Bad things won't happen! The real problem is the threat to enemy civil liberties and them hating us...it's all our fault, and terror-fighting is a silly bumper sticker.!!"

Hillary is savvy enough to understand that denouncing America more than the enemy on Iraq and obsession over terrorist rights tend to make Dems look weak on security. As well as that Nutroots and Obama and Kuchinich making the absurd argument that there is no radical Islamic threat - only one guy hiding in a cave in Pakistan that must get a trial and a bevy of ACLU lawyers and 2 years of Slobbo speeches addressed to his people from the Court. She distances herself from those fools.

As well as their sappy "happy ending" - that convictions in an infidel civilian court of Jihadi combatants will show our moral superiority - then, all "misunderstandings" between the West and Islam will end and world peace will break out.

Hillary recognizes many Democrats have climbed way out on a limb denying terrorism is a big threat and embracing how wonderful a defeat of America in Iraq would be. And that Republicans are ready to saw that limb off.

I want adults.

I don't want some 2-year Senator guy saying how incredibly better and wiser on foreign policy he was because his mentor, hardcore lefty Jan Schadowsky was haranguing her former colleagues in the Illinois State Senate to give anti-war speeches, and he has Muslim relatives.

Right now, the rest of the pack, Biden excepted, seems to be of a mind that if terrorists attack again, their priorities would be to hug 1st Responders, blame Bush for all Jihad starting with the 1993 attack, and send lawyers seeking indictments to the radical Islamic lands involved. And adress the nation and tell us that the real problem is American Fascism. With Edwards adding who in America had to be sued by the "Hero Victim Families" for allowing the attack to happen.

At least with Hillary and maybe Biden we can expect maturity and intelligence.

Another poster mentioned McCain. McCain won't happen because the prevailing opinion is that he is old, a vain camera-hog, and instead of honest - is habitually treacherous and undercutting against a Republican President and Republicans in Congress and the States.

And he is now paying for it hard...

Leaving Romney, Giuliani, and maybe Thompson and Huckabee left.

George said...

Go back to Sen. Clinton's words above and say them aloud.

You'll sound like you have a temperature of 103.

A bit feverish.

Eva said...

Interesting comments at the Opinionator - NY Times. Virtually every comment begins with "I really don't like Hillary but.." and then then goes on to say that she is just stating the truth, etc. Could Americans vote for Hillary even though they don't like her?

Tim said...

"Could Americans vote for Hillary even though they don't like her?"

No, not if they like the other candidate more. That was Rove's point in his exit interview.

B said...

I am depressed at the thought of a Democratic Party that only nominates people who are questionable in both their character and ability for a job whose first and foremost responsibility is the protection and security of the United States.

From the way the last 5 elections have been portrayed by the Democrats, you can only come to the conclusion that Democrats believe the most important responsibility of a President is:

1)to make well off people and corporations pay their "fair share of taxes"

2)have the rest of the world like us, really like us - and not necessarily respect us.

3)make us all equal in the 2 America's - except for well off non-Democrats and evil corporations.

Every other issue aside, I can't believe a word of any candidate who claims that they will bring all of the troops home from Iraq. No matter which side you are on, that's virtually impossible. If they say it because they believe it can be done, they are too stupid to be President of the United States. If they know better but are just playing to the base, they are corrupt on the biggest issue of our time, and therefore will surely screw up even bigger than we've already seen.

amba said...

Yes.

Eva said...

I think that Americans will vote for Hillary even though they don't like her, if they perceive the other candidates as weaker on defense and/or foreign policy. Of course, that's mainly relative to the other Democrats. The Republican candidates seem to me to have such an odd assortment of drawbacks and issues that I find it hard to fathom who they will nominate.

joe said...

The Democrats getting the vapors over Hillary's comment are not upset with using the subject of terrorism during political campaigns, they merely object to the way it is used - they are perfectly content to use it against Bush and the Republicans, if they can spin it that way.
Hillary is the best of the Democrats on the issue. She would still be a disaster as Commander in Chief in the war. I see Rudy as the best choice to prosecute the war on radical islamists, and until someone tougher comes along, he will be my choice.

David said...

Senator Clinton has clearly decided to occupy the center-right position on the Democratic Party spectrum. This is good politics in the primaries, since everyone else with half a chance (sorry, Joe) is busy getting to the left. It is great politics in the general election when she'll have less to explain away than any other potential Democratic nominee, the broader electorate is to the right of the Democratic Party and almost everyone wants a President with at least some credibility on foreign and defense policy.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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Richard Fagin said...

Actually, Sen. Clinton once again showed her thinly-veiled contempt for the average American voter. She believes we're so stupid and esily frightened to vote Republican only because of a terrorist attack. How about some comments from the Senator about how she's going to make the world more safe, rather than just claiming Republicans made it more dangerous. Sen. Clinton is correct to the extent she stated the Democrats have a credibility problem on national security - but there was nothing about what sie is going to do to fix things or make them better.

The country was treated to the same crap 25 years ago when President Reagan want to put MX missiles in Europe, that those evil Republicans were making the world unsafe and were about to set of World War III.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But we're definitely voting for her, because she is the most qualified and the only adult in sight.

That's because you are only looking in one direction. Wearing blinders and not observing everything surrounding you is not seeing.

Beth said...

The bland Senator Dodd said it was "tasteless." Senator Edwards calculated that the best thing to say is that we should never engage in "political calculation"

Ann, sometimes you compose a perfect little gold nugget; this is one.

dick said...

Does this mean she will operate more forcefully in foreign policy? NO!!

What you have to do with the Clintons and the rest of them is look at what they will actually do versus what they say. She can talk all she wants but what does she do?

Her husband talked tough and then did almost nothing unless his back was pushed to the wall. All the things he is given credit for were handed to him by a republican congress and he signed them. Now he takes credit for them. How is Hillary any different?

She talked about the heroism of the police and the fire at the WTC. They came to DC to testify and she was the only member of the NY delegation who was too busy to see them, even for a photo op. She talked about how the death of that soldier at Fort Campbell needed to be investigated. His family came to DC to testify and she was too busy finishing her book to see them. There is a big difference in what Hillary says and what she does. There is also a big difference in what she says to the different groups. She tacks all over the place when it is in her favor.

Love how she complained about the way the EMT handled the environmental issues after the WTC. She talked as if they did nothing. I worked on Wall Street then and we could not go into the buildings for 3 weeks. Even then the police and fire and EMT were there checking things out and supplying bottled water and with medical care available all over the place for the next couple of months. She said nothing then but 3 years later it became one of her main issues, after the things the emergency people had done were no longer on the table. This is just more of the same. GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).

Mindsteps said...

Theo Boehm said...
My wife and I hate her and think she and Bill are horrible human beings.
But we're definitely voting for her, because she is the most qualified and the only adult in sight.

The folks I have spoken to from Arkansas that are familiar with HRC pretty much echo Theo. Many Arkansans believe she is smart, but not a good person. She will do what is in her best interests first, and if the interests of others line-up with hers, then they will benefit. However, if there is a conflict between her interests and her country's, her nature is to pursue the former.

B said...

Theo,

You have every right to hate Hillary and still vote for her.

But if toughness is an issue, then Giuliani or McCain would have to be your person - Hillary cannot come to a consistent position. If she was given a one on one interview with a Russert or an O'Reilly (if they could be civil with each other), with no previewed questions and prepared debate answers, she would turn into a confusing ball of mush. Just compare her handler-inspired conflicting answers on Iraq over the last 8 months alone.

Is she capable of governing - the short answer, yes.

But I guarantee she would be a disaster for this country's national security, especially with a Democrat-controlled Congress.

What dick above said is completely true:

Her husband talked tough and then did almost nothing unless his back was pushed to the wall. All the things he is given credit for were handed to him by a republican congress and he signed them. Now he takes credit for them. How is Hillary any different?

B said...

My wife and I have kept our sample ballots ever since we married 25 years ago.

I noticed that, even though I am conservative, I voted for a Democrat over 35% of the time - included in that percentage are all offices with a partisan candidate.


This election is going to be the most difficult one for me in a long time. Like most people, my wife and I are issues oriented. We know that we are not ever likely to get a candidate that goes down the row with us on everything - heck, my wife and I don't even agree on every issue.

I actually have never voted for the candidates that share 80% or more of my views because I felt that, even though they had the right issues, they weren't qualified due to inexperience, maturity or temperament.

But this time is different, because there seems to be no potential greatness in any candidate of either party currently out there, Obama being a possible future exception. But right now Obama is way too immature - look at his campaign so far and his statements - duh! Every other candidate is a known quantity, and that's actually starting to depress me.






.

Theo Boehm said...
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Fen said...

It's a question of which [Dem] candidates see political advantage in asking voters to visualize the election under changed circumstances and which ones would like to soothe us into thinking only in terms of existing conditions.

So the Democrat electorate needs ANOTHER 9-11 before they'll join us in the war on terror?

Jim Howard said...

Professor Motl has an interesting take on Hillary's comment:

It is also a message for the terrorists themselves: if you realize another terrorist attack, you will pay because the GOP will keep the White House and they will show you much harder fists than what the average Democrats are willing to do. Do you remember how the terrorists convinced Spanish voters to vote for socialists who eventually withdrew all their troops from the Muslim world? Hillary correctly says that this strategy won't work in the U.S.

Cedarford said...

B- "But if toughness is an issue, then Giuliani or McCain would have to be your person."

McCain is dead as an Open Borders, terrorist Civili liberties, "guess who is showing up with his good friend Teddy Kennedy" type.

Giuliani didn't stand up to the terrorists, he got clobbered by them, then the media made him out to be a great hero for starting Cults of Victimhood and Hero Worship of Uniformed Government Employees. All while he talked of Holy Ground, crime scene Pit, indicting "evildoers", 13,000 dead.

Then he made tens of millions on the speech circuit talking to corporations and wealthy benefactors about "us and our greatest ally Israel" taking out Iraq, Syria, Iran and listening to the world's greatest experts - the Likudniks on what America must do next, and how it is Munich and 8 other WWII metaphors all put together.

Rudy is 9/12 tough talk, Open Borders, Sanctuary cities, the glories of corporate America and more tax cuts for the wealthy, multiple marriages and a ton of dirt his opponenents are sitting on.

B said...

Cedarford,

I wasn't a Rudy supporter, but you just made me one.

By the way, it's not that he had to respond to terrorists.

It's that no one in elected office has done more to put away organised criminals than Rudy Giuliani.

While Hillary was involved with a law firm that with or without her knowledge was committing crimes on a daily basis, Rudy was putting away those types.

Hillary and Rudy: both are ruthless. Guess which one won't choke when it's time to pull the trigger.

Cedarford said...

Hillary and Rudy: both are ruthless. Guess which one won't choke when it's time to pull the trigger.

Based on all the PR perp-walks Rudy did on people that had charges dropped, I'd say Rudy, who didn't choke when he or his cops pulled the trigger on innocent people.

Yep, go with Rudy! On to Syria, on to Iran! Israel needs it! Faster, faster, please!

From Inwood said...

Prof A

Silly you. It would be hard not to be more hawkish than the other Dem candidates who are fighting for "who's the most dovish of all." Good positioning, as they say.

Let’s look at some other Hillary speeches: "[as President] I will end this war" And then she'll negotiate through the U.N. with these thugs after we've pulled out in force. Gee, the U.N. that's tough talk!

Hill is tough against her Inside the Beltway enemies & the White House Travel wretches & you think that this translates into toughness against the outside world?

Richard Fagin beat me to the punch when he said:

"Sen. Clinton is correct to the extent she stated the Democrats have a credibility problem on national security - but there was nothing about what sie is going to do to fix things or make them better."

Except that she has a plan to fix it all for you: she'll talk tough to these bad guys. That’s the fix, more failed discussions, but a failed policy "that draws on the strength of our alliances and the power of our diplomacy, and uses military force as a last -- not a first -- resort."

Hillary: “Elect her & look to the ‘20s & 30s!” What, she’s acting like the 1920s & 1930s? Nevermind!

From Inwood said...

Cedarford

What gibberish:

"[You'd] say Rudy, who didn't choke when he or his cops pulled the trigger on innocent people.”

Gee, one innocent guy got shot by the police in a city of 8 million people. Who's your guru, Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson?

But wait there's your ever-impressive Joos remark

"Yep, go with Rudy! On to Syria, on to Iran! Israel needs it! Faster, faster, please!"

Some extremists think that this is a war for oil, but you know it's a war for Joos. You & these other extremists struggling asymptotically to expose the Bush approach to the Mid-East

And then your

"Cults of Victimhood and Hero Worship of Uniformed Government Employees. All while he talked of Holy Ground, crime scene Pit, indicting 'evildoers', 13,000 dead"

"13,000"? I think that you are worshiping uninformed employees!

BladeDoc said...

Theo Boehm said...

I think there is no further point to personal ambition for Hillary. This is showtime, for which she's prepared her entire life. Everything she's done up until now can be understood as pointing to this moment.

Unless you plan on executing the new ex-president at the end of their term of office (not a bad idea when you think about it really) then HRC will ALWAYS be thinking about what's next. If nothing else then how much she can charge for the last minute spate of pardons (oh, I'm sorry, I meant "donations to the library") and lectures as an ex president.

From Inwood said...
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From Inwood said...

Prof A.

Meant to post the following at 11:07 but instead re-posted an earlier,10:15, comment. Apologies. Gotta stop watching the sports news while posting.

Anyway,

Interestingly enough, the recent basic Hillary speech on end this war now sounds like either her speechwriter or Ron Paul’s speechwriter is plagiarizing from the other. Here’s Paul’s position:

"The war in Iraq was sold to us with false information. The area is more dangerous now than when we entered it. We destroyed a regime hated by our direct enemies, the jihadists, and created thousands of new recruits for them. This war has cost more than 3,000 American lives, thousands of seriously wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars. We must have new leadership in the White House to ensure this never happens again.

ronpaul2008.com/issues/war-and-foreign-policy/

Now I really do know that Ron & Hill’s respective philosophies are pretty much opposed to each other, that she wants to leave a residual force there, & he hates the U.N. & she loves it, but the cant that each is bellowing here is virtually indistinguishable from the other’s. And far from tough.

Chip Ahoy said...

To all, thank you.

So much better to read what H.R.C. says, and all your comments about it than to actually listen to that screeching harridan.

One must protect one's ears.

It appears though once again she's absolutely right.

Theo Boehm said...
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whiskey_199 said...

Hillary won't be any different than Bill.

If anything, worse.

Hillary has contempt for military action and service, she had uniformed service people act as waiters at the White House to send a message.

Hillary like Obama has already ruled nukes off the table in certain situations.

Hillary was one of the key people advising Bill to run away in Mogadishu, do nothing in response to the Cole or Khobar Towers.

Hillary is also a woman. A woman out of radical feminism, failed health care leadership, weakness in pandering to the Kossites, with plenty of insider enemies willing to dish. She's a "Queen Bee" instead of a Margaret Thatcher or Golda Meir.

Most women make HORRIBLE leaders because the assume (wrongly) that men cooperate willingly like women. Not getting it that men face serious penalties for cooperation and need to be persuaded strongly of their benefits in cooperating, social status of the Queen Bee not being relevant at all. [Both Thatcher and Meir in their biographies are described as struggling with this process wrt their cabinets until the light went on.]

Hillary has advocated "talking" to Iran which is a non-starter for most people. Hillary has her entire public life denigrated cops, soldiers, sailors, and marines.

Nixon proves you can have a toxic personality and still get elected. When the opposition is weak and divided, peddling "defeat is good for you" and various anti-Populist/Anti-American themes. But that describes the Kossites/Moveons on the Dems undermining what most people think of as Lady MacBeth against likely Rudy or Romney.

Rudy's advantage: he took on PC and Media establishment to clean up NYC and did well on 9/11. He tore up Sheik Talal's check on TV and told him to stick it. Absent 9/11 his career would be over but America tends to look for obstreperous bastiches in times of foreign challenges.

Romney's advantage: he is strong rhetorically anyway (now) on Illegal Immigration. Hillary will push Open Borders (heavy debts to La Raza) which to most working Americans means lower paychecks and crowded ERs filled with illegals, English displaced by Spanish and other unhappy cultural moments.

Hillary will crush the rivals but isn't being smart doing a "missile gap" i.e. running to the right of Republicans on Defense. It would not be credible anyway since her entire public career has been about cutting military spending and opposing any use of force for "talking."

Clyde said...

Hillary being "more hawkish" than the rest of the dovish Democrat field reminds me of the old axiom: "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." The one-eyed person's gender may vary in this particular analogy.

Jami Hussein said...

Hillary cannot stand up to an unscripted interview.
Hillary cannot stand up to an unscripted Q&A.
Hillary cannot stand up to an audience that wasn't pre-screened.

So there's no way Hillary can stand up to Syria, Iran, Saudi, Russia, China or North Korea.

Derek Kite said...

Oddly I was thinking this week that the Democrats were going to lose in 2008 for the same reason that Kerry lost in 2008. Kerry said he would prosecute the war, spoke against the war, voted for it, voted against it. Everyone knew that it was pandering.

This time around was going to look the same. Last month the argument at the debates was how quickly to get out. Now the tide has turned a bit and what? No one knows what to say.

Hillary saw that and has grabbed the issue to run with it.

This is going to be a very strange campaign. Dangerously strange.

Derek

hdhouse said...

Fen

It is incredibly insulting and wrongheaded to keep equating support for the war in Iraq with love of country, patriotism, etc.

You know that isn't the case and I find it disturbing that you have to be reminded of the fact over and over. You should stop that because it doesn't make you look either smart, observant or, frankly, very American.

The Exalted said...

fen claimed that philadelphia dems were pouring whiteout on ballots

accord his claims/theories/fantasies all the little weight they deserve

Fen said...

hdhouse: It is incredibly insulting and wrongheaded to keep equating support for the war in Iraq with love of country, patriotism, etc.

I never said anything of the kind. Here is what I wrote in response to:

It's a question of which [Dem] candidates see political advantage in asking voters to visualize the election under changed circumstances and which ones would like to soothe us into thinking only in terms of existing conditions.

"So the Democrat electorate needs ANOTHER 9-11 before they'll join us in the war on terror?"

IOW, changing circumstances vs existing conditions: Dem candidates worry that a terrorist attack will change the election dynamic because their voters will then take the issue seriously.

But we're already at war.

Exalted: fen claimed that philadelphia dems were pouring whiteout on ballots

?? I've never said anything of the kind, never even commented on phili dems or whiteout. Now you're just making stuff up.

The Exalted said...

are you not also "fenrisluven?"

if not, then apologies.

Fen said...

I was also Fenrisulven

But have never said a word about Phili Dems or whiteout on ballots.

Provide a link to what you are accusing me of.