So, I wake up this morning and see yet another "No Hillary at any Cost" diary, this time at the top of the recommended list. Why did it bother me so? It wasn't the writing - SN always writes very good, informative diaries. It wasn't even the content. I have some huge issues with Hillary and agreed with most of what was said. My problem, with all of these "no Hillary diaries" is that an alternative is never offers. That is the crux of the issue. Join me below in the Batcave...
...Yes, I read SN's diary, agreeing with almost every point, but I kept waiting to see some viable, winnable alternative offered, that never happened. That seems to always happen in diaries of this sort - when I ask, ok, no Hillary, who is our winnable candidate? I get nothing. Many will say, "Oh, it's too early, you don't know who'll be running etc." - I say, true, then why object now to Hillary before we even know who the alternatives are.
Every one of SN's comments are valid: Hillary's war stance, Hillary's flirtations with anti-choice etc. etc. But the fact is, there is no one now on the current horizon who I do not see as having major hurdles to overcome as well, there is no one who I can see as capable of winning at this point in the game.
I put the other potential candidates in 2 categories: ones which progressives will have real problems with and ones progressives will like more but have real ELECTABILITY issues.
John Kerry: Did you see the venom just yesterday in a diary that stated "Kerry now says election was stolen" - Most progressives hate his guts. Burned by the flip-flopper meme, he is even less likley than Hillary to admit the war was wrong. He is trying to champion health care issues, calling for gradual troop withdrawals etc. but for most progressives, this is too little, too late. So SN, will there be a diary called, "Why Kerry is preferable to Hillary" - I'd like to sell tickets to that brawl.
Wes Clark: Yes, the great white hope. People like him because he is a strong military figure, frank, intelligent, has a lot of appeal. But if anyone here thinks Clark will not do a hell of a lot of things to piss off progressives, they are deluding themselves. What is Clark's energy policy? Has he jumped up and said "filibuster Alito to save choice?", he is very much a centrist on virtually everything. Someone give me the definitive diary on how Clark is less centrist than Clinton and I'm ready to listen. Until then, I'm not convinced.
Biden: MBNA whore. Sold out the poor on the bankruptcy bill. Slimier and more beltway than even Kerry would dream of being, self-serving. Would say anything to anybody to get what he wants. Flipflopper and two-face to the nth degree
John Edwards. My current favorite. Much more to my liking than anybody above. Yet Edwards was easily neutralized with the "trial lawyer" thing. Easily branded "inexperienced". Easily branded "pretty boy". To us, these things are all bullshit, to the average voter, image is everything. I'm not saying Edwards cannot overcome these things, I'm saying Edwards is several hundred miles away at this stage from convincing me it can be done.
Al Gore. Said he is not running. By some miracle he does. A truckload of issues - he is a liar, he is stiff, he is a tree-hugger you name it. Great man, my president even now. But I am far from sold on the fact that he could win.
Feingold, Baye, Warner etc. etc. - All good potential - but none screams out to me "WINNER" either against a theoretical Giuliani, McCain or right-wing candidate. Maybe this will change.
Boxer, Reid, Obama: At this point, go get a drink and wait for Tattoo to say, "Da plane, da plane" because you are on fantasy island - good progressive choices, no one I see as electable in middle America at this time and they show no signs of running at all.
But Gladkov, it's early - no one knew Bill Clinton either 2 1/2 years out, there could be some great person right under our noses...Maybe, so why make these anti-Hillary pronouncements now when we don't have a full playing field. If you argue Hillary vs Mr./Ms. SuperDuper progressive-wet-dream-who-middle-America-also-will-like, that's fine, but Hillary vs. blank screen theoretical candidate is bullshit. Everybody I listed above either offends my progressive sensibilities as more or more than Hillary or has a whole boatload of liabilities to overcome. So with the current list, I am not ready to throw Hillary overboard. SN, anybody, give me someone real and tangible, convince me HOW Edwards etc. could win and I'm willing to listen but give a goddamn realistic alternative.
Return to the reality-based community: The Democratic party sucks. Yes, it is way too corporate, it is way too much in the pocket of lobbyists. But it is the only shot we have at this point. I have zero reason to believe the Greens will be a possibility anytime in the next 3 presential cycles. So this is what we have to deal with. Is it shitty, mais oui, but we have to deal with tangible issues and tangible candidates.
But Hillary will LOSE! She is so polarizing! Ok, I'lll buy that. Give me an alternative. No more Hillary vs. theoretical candidate. Prove to me that Clark won't be even more of a centrist that sells out key progressive ideals. Prove to me Edwards can live down a massive "trial lawyers are destroying America" smear campaign.
This is about harsh realities: Take Joe Lieberman, my senator. No one can despise him more than I do. We saw truckloads of diaries on how he MUST BE REPLACED IN A PRIMARY. So, people were pissed but the state party did not budge. An opponent has come and gone, I personally blame myself for not doing more to help on that front, and Joe WILL be reelected. That is the fucking reality.
Only a true progressive will win the presidency. While I vehemently denounce this DLC, Republican-lite, centrist shit, I must say that there is exactly zero proof that this is true, just conjecture. The presidency is a different ball game. The progressive choices like Kucinich, Mosley Brown, Dean did not make it through the primaries. And yes, before you tell me that the primary system is monstrouly flawed and non-representative of the voters' true intentions, I agree with you. But nothing tells me that this can't and won't happen again - that the real progressive voices won't be shut out by the corporate ones or that a "scream moment" can't be orchestrated against Edwards, say "Breck Girl Faggot" - disgusting but this is the political envirpnment we work in. I'm talking about a realistic look at who ACTUALLY makes it through the primary and then who is electable in the general.
And as to who actually became president - the only other example we have in my lifetime is Carter. Did he become president because America suddenly embraced progressive values? No, everybody was sick of Watergate and un-elected bumbling Ford. Maybe we've reached that state again but I have seen no empirical evidence that America is willing to elect a true progressive. Maybe I'm wrong.
We must deal with realities and not potentials. I think Paul Hackett is the best thing since sliced bread but 1) he actually has to WIN the seat and 2) He is far from being a cookie-cutter progressive on many issues. Progressives embrace him because he is the best shot at a power shift in Ohio (or Brown..but that is another diary). Meaning even here, compromises have to be made in keeping with the reality. When it gets closer to election day 2006, just for the fun of it, let's dissect every major policy statement made by Hackett and let's see if it passes all of the litmus tests for us progressives for an ideal candidate, I'm betting he won't in every aspect.
- I am NOT a Hillary apologist. I agree with SN on virtually every one of the beefs with Hillary.
- I AM arguing that it is silly, premature and non-productive to do Hillary vs. blank screen. I am NOT ready to say, God yes, Fred the Green Grocer over Hillary, because I am also looking at electability at the other end
- I am saying that the other favorite contenders all have huge issues as well. Biden, Kerry are more repugnant to be than Hillary; Clark, to me, is a big centrist as well. I am not convinced the others can win at this point, even though they have better progressive credentials.
- I challenge SN and everyone else responding to this to give some real-life alternatives. Not just "I hate Hillary"
but some real candidate. Spare me the "it's too early" meme - it is apparently early enough to say "No Hillary" compared to any real or imagined candidate. So tell me who - Edwards, Clark, Fred the Green Grocer. Then we have a basis for comparison on who is the better progressive, who can win a primary, who can withstand the smears to become president. Hillary vs. imaginary great candidate doesn't do that.