Senator Big Tent
Over at Ezra’s place Kathy Geier writes:
…by the time of the Democratic convention, the Democratic nominee, whoever it is, is going to be portrayed by the media, and is going to be seen by a significant swathe of the public, as “divisive.” They did this with candidates as bland and moderate as Gore and Kerry, so what’s going to stop them from viciously smearing Obama or Edwards?…I think the allegedly “divisive” Hillary has an advantage, in that she’ll exceed expectations. In the fantasy world of the wingnuts, of course, Hillary is a shrieking Marxist harridan from hell, but in debates and speeches, she sounds reasonable, quietly authoritative, like a normal person. People will see this, and I think even a lot of the Republicans who are so hostile to her will calm the fuck down a little. They’ll never like her or vote for her, but they may be a lot less motivated to defeat her than people think.
I’m not so sure I’d agree with Kathy there don’t exist Republicans — or at least independents who normally lean Republican — who will vote for Hillary Clinton. I know, because I’m one of them. Reasons:
1) Although I disagree with Clinton on plenty of issues, and I was never a huge fan of her husband, the fact of the matter is any honest person has to admit the competence and normalcy of the Clinton years — when our biggest problem was oral sex — is looking mighty attractive right now. There’s no guarantee the Mrs. will perfectly emulate the Mr., but I reckon their philosophies and levels of intelligence are broadly similar.
2) The lurch to the right on the GOP side would be comical if it weren’t so scary. If you’re a moderate/centrist person who usually votes for the GOP, the fact is you now probably disagree with mainstream Republican opinion on as many issues as you do with the Democrats. I mean, there used to be a branch of the Republican party that was non-nativist, pro-immigrant, pro-diplomacy, and pro fiscal rectitude. Plus, even from a conservative, pro-business perspective, it’s obvious that the healthcare sector is screwed up (and that the GOP has essentially given up working on domestic policy issues). Moreover, from a hawkish perspective you can (and I do) make the argument the country would be made safer by taking resources from the Iraq fiasco and shifting them to Afghanistan. Anyway, with John McCain basically being run out of the GOP by the brain dead, and with the rest of seven dwarfs jumping all over themselves to pander to Jefferson Davis’s descendants, there’s really no place to go but to abandon the party of Lincoln for a cycle or two, and help the opposition save the country.
3) Again, even if you add up the tally of issues and find you disagree with Hillary on as many issues as you do with, say, Fred Thompson, at least with the former you’re getting somebody from a party that doesn’t seem, at least, to be actively trying to subvert the smooth functioning of government. I mean, I recognize there are limits to the ability of the public sector to solve all our problems. But I also recognize there are limits to our ability to deal with problems without the involvement of a competent public sector. As long as we must have a government, we might as well have one that works. I get the feeling that an unofficial but tacitly recognized position widespread in GOP circles is that government — outside of the national security apparatus — is for losers. I just don’t think the country will be a decent place to live — and won’t have a prayer of success in an increasingly competitive global economy – if this attitude is allowed to reign for very much longer.
I write these words as person who — honest to goodness — has voted GOP six presidential elections in a row — going back to the Gipper in ’84 (when I turned eighteen). For all the angst she causes liberals, Hillary Clinton has positioned herself — pardon the expression — as the best man for the job. She just seems to have more gravitas than any candidate on either side of the aisle. I’m predicting a landslide next year for the Democrats.