As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Full Ginsburg

Here's something that'll make you puke - Cokie Roberts this morning described Hillary Clinton's visit to all five Sunday morning chat shows as "the full Ginsburg." It's so named after Monica Lewinsky's lawyer, who I guess was the first to initiate this practice. The takeaway for me was that this is a tactic solely designed to represent yourself to the establishment. The Clinton campaign openly talked about it as a way to show herself as the front-runner (as if voters in Iowa and New Hampshire pick who gets on the talk shows). And sure enough, Hillary Clinton said a lot of establishment things, unlike that deeply unserious rhetoric that the war is a disaster and must end now.

The leading Democratic contender for the presidency was asked whether she'd pull out all troops from Iraq in her first term.

She declined.

"You know, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals and make pledges, because I don't know what I'm going to inherit," Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, according to the New York Times. "I don't know and neither do any of us know what will be the situation in the region. How much more aggressive will Iran have become? What will be happening in the Middle East?

Anyone so cautious as to not aver that troops will leave Iraq FIVE YEARS from now, at which point they will have been there NINE YEARS, isn't worth an ounce of support. Clinton is blurring her strategy on Iraq by saying she will end the war, but leaves herself this kind of ut by saying she won't answer any questions about troop reductions, which is kind of a pre-req to ending the war. In actuality, her plan, or at least the plans of her closest advisers, call for keeping as many as 60,000 troops in Iraq long into the future, which is actually the worst option, because less troops to try and manage a problem that more troops couldn't handle would be nothing more than targets. It's time to either go big or go home, and since going big would essentially presage a permanent occupation, and occupations almost never work, it's time to go home. But that's not a serious enough sentiment, because it would mean that these Village elders who enthusiastically backed the Iraq war were wrong in the first place. So we have to strike the bipartisan compromise of pretending to leave and instead keeping the imperial project going permanently.

This is right in the wheelhouse of Hillary Clinton. This is why George Bush trusts her to do his bidding in Iraq once he leaves office.

Karl Rove may not think much of Hillary Rodham Clinton's chances of winning the White House, but it sounds like President Bush is less sanguine. At an off-the-record lunch a week ago, Bush expressed admiration for her tenacity in the campaign. And he left some in the room with the impression that he thinks she will win the election and has been thinking about how to turn over the country to her.

The topic came up when Bush invited a group of morning and evening news anchors and Sunday show hosts to join him in the executive mansion's family dining room a few hours before he delivered his nationally televised address on Iraq last week. Bush made no explicit election predictions, according to some in the room, but clearly thought Clinton would win the Democratic nomination and talked in a way that seemed to suggest he expects her to succeed him - and will continue his Iraq policy if she does.

As Bush was describing his thinking about Iraq and the future, he indicated he wants to use his final 16 months to stabilize Iraq enough and redefine the U.S. mission there so that the next president, even a Democrat, would feel politically able to keep a smaller but long-term presence in the country. The broadcasters were not allowed to directly quote the president, but they were allowed to allude to his thinking and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News later cited the analogy of Dwight D. Eisenhower essentially adopting President Harry S. Truman's foreign policy despite the Republican general's 1952 campaign statements.

"He had kind of a striking analogy," Stephanopoulos said of Bush on air a few hours after the lunch. "He believes that whoever replaces him, like General Eisenhower when he replaced Harry Truman, may criticize the president's policy during the campaign, but will likely continue much of it in office."

This is also what informs Clinton's completely hawkish position on Israel, with its claim that Israel must have an undivided Jerusalem, which not even the BUSH SOLUTION includes. What's so interesting is how she's become an establishment figure despite being hated by the establishment. They saw the Clintons as interlopers and thoroughly unsuited to their social circles (and that's what this is about). Yet she shares the same centrist, mustn't upset the children establishment mindset. And yes, she condemned the MoveOn ad and had no problem doing so.

By contrast, Bill Richardson, who understands that a longshot campaign needs to heighten differences, is pushing a swift and urgent removal of all troops from Iraq, combat and noncombat.

I especially like what Stoller has to say about Richardson having the courage of his convictions to know that he's accomplished a lot on the foreign policy stage and he can trust his own judgment. Everyone else is looking to some time in 2010 when what might happen in Iraq could lead to some drop in imaginary poll numbers. It's the worst kind of leadership, worrying about something that might happen two years from now instead of laying out the conditions that would take that possibility off the table. I am not a Richardson supporter but this is an important debate for America, and the Democratic Party, to have. And it won't be had with Hillary Clinton as long as she is off doing the full Ginsberg and air-kissing the DC establishment.

(I do think the ad is unfair to Edwards, who is much closer to Richardson's position than anyone else on the Democratic side. But it is up to him to say that forcefully.)

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