Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hillary vs. Obama: Hypothetical

Ok! Welcome back to James Call: Expert.

Today reader "Tore" asks me not to summarize an article, but rather, to just give my opinion on something. Fair 'nuff. But be forewarned that in my usual summaries, all cursing and pontificating aside, I do attempt to somewhat summarize the factual content of the article in question, whereas right now, I'm straight gonna just bust some hypothesizing on your ass.

Tore sez:

I remember you being a Hillary Clinton supporter early on in the primaries. My memory is probably butchering your argument, but I seem to remember you effectively thinking that she would be more of a "take no prisoners" kind of president. Perfectly comfortable with crushing the right and ignoring any kind of attempt at bipartisanship that Obama rolled in with.

My question is:
Given that a) The republicans seem dug in and ready to do whatever it takes to take power again whoever the Dem is, b) Obama surrounded himself with all these Clinton 1 wankers anyway-

Do you think Hillary would have been able to get more done by now? In your "expert" analysis...

Secondary question:

How much of the "scary black guy who might not have been born here" bull shit would have made a difference for her? In your humble what-the-fuck-if opinion.

Ok! Before I get going let me state for the record that I was a Kucinich supporter first and foremost, and when it was looking like Edwards-Cliton-Obama, an Edwards supporter, then a Clinton supporter, then at last, an Obama supporter. Does this make me primarily a racist and secondarily a sexist? Maaaaaybe. But I'd like to think it has more to do with their policy positions, Edward's being more pro-labor and more to the left in general, and Obama's being the most center-right. With that out of the way, let's begin.

So among the President's many functions/powers is the ability to build consensus for legislation using the bully pulpit. As evidenced by the campaign, few politicians are as saavy on television, nor as good at rallying mass opinion, than Barack Obama. By contrast, Hillary Clinton is pretty much a flat-effect speaker. She's not Sarah Palin, but her rhetoric doesn't exactly soar like an eagle to the sea. So that would seem to make the score Clinton: 0 Obama: +1. Except that Obama hasn't really used his rhetoric in this first year. He was pretty much silent/hands off towards health care reform the whole time, leaving Nancy "Not well liked because she's a strong woman" Pelosi and Harry "Just not well liked period" Reid to be the public faces of health care reform, along with Max "Clearly a dick" Baucus and a few others. So I'm going to give Barry O. -1 for not using his greatest tool, putting the score at Clinton: 0 Obama: 0.

Now how about another very important function of the President - to bully Congresspeople into voting the way they want? It would appear that Obama doesn't really do this. Sure, there's scary ol' Rahm Emmanuel, but so what... he hasn't been whipping the House (Pelosi's been doing that) and he's been following his boss' hands-off strategy towards the Senate - ergo, no public option, amongst other things. That's 0 or perhaps -1 points for Obama. Would Hillary have been more effective? Well, she probably would have had way fewer qualms about bossing folks around and threatening to end their careers if they don't get on board, so that's +1 for her, but look at the notoriously undisciplined campaign she ran, and her general miscues as Secretary of State - I'm going to award that -2. So that makes the score Clinton: -1, Obama: 0.

What about the initial bargaining position? We'll never know for sure what Hills would have actually put forth as President. But since we got more or less what he promised us, policy position-wise, out of Obama - and it's true, we did; complaints that Obama "betrayed" his progressive base are coming from people who were not paying attention to what he said and promised during the primaries, people who juxtaposed their own views on Obama, used him a tabula rasa of sorts, which is something Obama publicly recognized - let's assume we would have gotten what Clinton promised us as well.

Well, that's +1 or maybe even +2 points for her, because if you start from a more extreme negotiating position, your negotiations will yield a moderate result. Whereas if you start from a timid negotiating position, as Obama has, your enemies are going to get the better of you. The reason I'll give her +2 rather than +1 points is that, in addition to starting from a more liberal position on health care reform and other issues, Hillary would probably have a much bigger axe to grind with the Republicans than Barack, resentments dating back to the 90s, and if we've learned anything over the course of this last year, it's that it's not worthwhile to negotiate with Republicans - they will use negotiations as a way of fucking you. I suspect, though we'll never know, that Hillary would have realized this from the get-go, and played hardball accordingly. Therefore, +2 points for her, leaving the score at Clinton: +1 Obama: 0.

That brings us to the final tricky question, part two of what Tore asked, really, which is: which is more crippling and virulent, Racism or Sexism? To me, the answer is obvious. Look at the reception of white men to Sarah Palin over the last year, and compare that with some of the outrageous racist bullshit we've seen directed Obama's way. People hate, HATE, Hillary Clinton with a passion, and the sexism is undeniable, but white men (still the most important voting bloc in this country*) see a raving dumbass like Palin and think "she's hot," and they see just about the "whitest," most well-spoken black man on Earth, Pres. Obama, and they still come up with fried chicken and watermelon jokes. The bottom line is, white men may think ill of women, but they are still scared in large part by black men. This would be a -2 for Obama, except for he and his family's intense personal charm, which alleviates the race reaction for the "casual racist," who might like Will Smith but can't handle Al Sharpton, so let's give Obama just -1 for the skin color. That makes it -1 points for Obama, and -1 for Clinton.

That leaves our final score at Clinton: 0 and Obama: -1.

That would suggest I view Clinton as "the winner," but the bottom line is this: a.) we'll never know, and the incompetence of the Clinton campaign team might suggest a lot of unnecessary political drama at the cabinet level that could have derailed her Presidency, and b.) these are basically both pro-market, indifferent to labor, mild "New Democrats". Not at all what this country needs.

This country needs someone who views the market as a rabid dog that needs to be put down, who thinks that bondholders can go fuck themselves, and who is ready to build a new infrastructure for this country for the 21st century.

Until we get that, we're fucked.

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