September 24th, 2007

Hillary Clinton Does Five Sunday Shows, But VDB Hears Only One Message: Ending The War Is Just One More Hypothetical, George

by Philip Baruth

Looks like somebody’s national poll numbers are beginning to go to her head, just a wee bit. Hillary Clinton has managed, thus far, to finesse her early support of the War with anti-war constituencies. Among other things, she’s managed to mute calls for an apology, and to subsume specifics under a very general pledge to end the War.


To wit, Hillary Clinton’s loudest applause line, as of February 2007: “But let me be clear, if George Bush doesn’t end this war before he leaves office, when I’m President, I will.”

But here in September, things look a shade less clear. In fact, murky. When asked this past Sunday by George Stephanopoulos whether she’d pledge to have the troops out by 2012, Clinton had this to say:

“You know, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals and make pledges, because I don’t know what I’m going to inherit, George. I don’t know and neither do any of us know what will be the situation in the region.”

Are the two quotes fundamentally at odds? Not if you’re willing to parse what the definition of “will” is. Hillary no doubt comforted herself that Stephanopoulos limited his question to a hypothetical first term; she could reconcile the statements, in her own mind, by saying that she would end the war by 2016.

But the point is this: Hillary is now sure enough of her footing to tell anti-war voters to keep their powder dry. She’ll address their concerns and bring troops home if that’s what seems most opportune once she’s sworn in.

In other words, she’s moved silently into believing that activist Democrats now want her specifically, Hillary Clinton, rather than any general candidate whose positions track their own on their number one issue.

In other words, so much for Listening Tours and those primaries that were supposed to pull Hillary to the Left: if she gets the nomination, she will campaign as a slightly watered-down version of Giuliani, with much grave talk of bombing Iran and very little talk indeed about immediate withdrawal.

But no one should be surprised, this time out.

hillary supports surge

We all know what it means when we vote for a Clinton, in 2007. Some of it’s good, and some of it’s bad, but we know the general way of it. And what it doesn’t mean is fundamental change from the progressive grassroots, any more than Bush’s inauguration meant the advent of so-called compassionate conservatism.

No, as with Bill Clinton, Hillary’s would be a Centrism with a corporate gloss and a deep anxiety on defense issues, an anxiety that must express itself as de facto militarism, lest the President be mocked for draft-dodging, or in this case skirt-wearing.

Just so we all have our eyes open.

Interesting choice of phrase, by the way, that bit about “what I’m going to inherit.” Makes VDB all nostalgic for Linda Evans and Larry Hagman and all the fun and games of Dynasty, back there in the ’80s.