I waited until late August 2003 before I endorsed a Democratic candidate for president, as I was holding out to see if Al Gore was going to enter the race. When I reached a point where it was clear to me that Gore would not be running, I focused my consideration on the candidates in the race at that time. I watched with respect the efforts and accomplishments of the Dean campaign, how they were running against the party and the media, and bringing new and energized supporters into the process, and then considered that against who in the field at that time was the most able to actually win the nomination, deal with the media effectively and fight them to a draw, and fight the Rove machine and win the election.
But I also went a step further in my analysis and envisioned which of the candidates in January 2005 could step into the post-9/11 toxic dump George W. Bush had created and begin to undo the damage. Back in August 2003, I made the unpopular choice of John Kerry over Howard Dean, and continued to offer praise, suggestions, and criticism when his campaign screwed up, and there were plenty of opportunities for me to criticize as the campaign went forward. But I thought he was the best candidate to survive the nomination process, the best candidate to deal with the corporate media’s attacks, the best candidate to counterpunch against the Rove machine, and the best candidate to step into the job and hit the ground running in January 2005.
Now in late July 2007, after concluding that Al Gore is not going to enter the race, I used the same criteria to determine whom I will be supporting in 2008. I’ve thought about which of the Top Three candidates can:
·Most capably deal with the biases of the corporate media;
·Most capably fight the right wing smear machine;
·Ruthlessly battle the GOP’s likely 2008 campaign tactics;
·Obtain the nomination and,
·Most importantly, step into the job in January 2009.
After looking at these factors and knowing that the problems any Democrat will face in January 2009 are even more challenging than those faced in January 2005, I will be supporting Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
As evidenced by her demeanor on the campaign trail, and the debate performances, she is an extremely capable campaigner and debater, possessing a command of the facts and a sober, realistic assessment of the world as it is now. It is not a world many of us like, and she and other Democrats have made some of the decisions that have led us to where we are now, thereby legitimately making her judgment an issue. These concerns to me are valid, even more so than other concerns about Mark Penn, and the meritocracy argument of the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton progression, which was more relevant in 2000 than it is now given the wholly derelict Bush 43 presidency.
When I move beyond the not-to-be-discounted feelings and emotion against Hillary amongst the base and netroots community stemming largely from her 2002 vote on the use of force authorization and her unwillingness to apologize for it, I find myself back where I was at a similar point in 2003: Among the Top Three, Hillary is 1) electable; 2) the most capable in national security and foreign policy; 3) the most able to address the GOP negligence and abdication of responsibility here at home; and 4) the most able to do the job from the first day in office in January 2009. And she is surrounded with an A-List campaign team that has already demonstrated they will avoid some of the same problems that afflicted the Kerry effort in 2004. She and her team have already demonstrated that they will take no prisoners in dealing with the GOP, will hold the media accountable, and have the requisite toughness and yes, ruthlessness for what is ahead. After 2004, this is critical for me.
This leaves me with the 2002 authorization resolution and her judgment in voting for it. I could write paragraphs, and have, about how I feel about this war and how much I want us to get our Guard and reserve home, and forces redeployed to fighting a real war against terrorists. No matter how I feel about the war and her vote in 2002, I am not willing to disqualify her because of that, and overlook her capabilities and readiness to do the job relative to her Top Tier competitors. To me, Hillary Clinton is the best Democratic candidate for president and is clearly light years ahead of the cast of sitcom characters running for the GOP.
As I did in the last election, my support does not mean The Left Coaster will be a Hillary blog, as this is a group effort here, and I expect my fellow editors to make their own choices and express them. I also expect that my decision may generate some debate here amongst our community, which I value a great deal. As I did the last time, my support does not translate into rubber-stamping support for everything she and her campaign team does, and I will be offering my thoughts along the way.
But Hillary Clinton will have my support in 2008.