Diatribes of Jay

This blog has essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to social problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

01 January 2008

Clinton and Obama: A Handy Comparison Chart

Notes to readers: (1) FOR A GENERAL-ELECTION CHART OF MCCAIN AND OBAMA, CLICK HERE; (2) a new entry, Understanding of Economics, was added on February 16, 2008.

War and Peace
    Hillary Clinton (2002): voted for war in Iraq without reading NIE (National Intelligence Estimate), though NIE’s dissents proved right

    Barack Obama (2002): had no access to NIE, but spoke out against war based on own judgment

Planning for Conflict
    Richard M. Nixon (1968): had “secret plan” to end Vietnam War, which evaporated after election

    George W. Bush (2002-2005): had no plan for aftermath of Iraq invasion

    Hillary Clinton (2007): refused to state plans, if any, to fight Al Qaeda in Pakistan

    Barack Obama (2007): announced and published comprehensive plan to fight terrorism, including Al Qaeda in Pakistan

Foreign Policy
    Hillary Clinton (2007): says talking to leaders of unfriendly countries without preconditions is “irresponsible” and “naïve”

    Barack Obama (2007): says “Not talking doesn’t make us look tough, it makes us look arrogant”

Openness in Foreign Policy
    Hillary Clinton (2007): our policies on terrorism in Pakistan and nuclear first strikes should be ambiguous and secret; her policy is, in effect, “trust my ‘experience’” or “I’ll send Bill”

    Barack Obama (2007): provides thoughtful and thorough public analysis and plan

Understanding of Economics
    Richard Nixon (1974): acknowledges failure of wage-price controls

    Soviet Union (1989): after 72 years, abandons command economy founded on price controls and other economic mandates

    Hillary Clinton (2007): proposes command-based health-insurance program with individual mandates

    Hillary Clinton (2008): proposes five-year price controls (on interest rates) to address mortgage crisis

    Barack Obama (2007): proposes health-care plan based on incentives, subsidies and free market

    Barack Obama (2008): proposes mortgage-crisis solutions with subsidies and other relief for suffering homeowners but no price controls

Health Care
    Hillary Clinton (1993): endorsed failed plan with mandates on small business and no way to keep desirable insurance

    Hillary Clinton (2007): proposed new plan with mandates on individuals

    Barack Obama (2007): no mandates, just help in paying

    John McCain (2008): pounds [subscription required] Hillary’s health-care mandates

Work Experience
    Hillary Clinton: no life but politics; never ran anything but own campaigns; some work as children’s advocate

    Barack Obama: ran successful organizing effort in Chicago; as civil rights lawyer, represented ordinary people abused by system; taught constitutional law at University of Chicago

Most Notable Books
    Hillary Clinton: It Takes a Village [to raise a child] (1996): widely derided by conservatives and religious Americans

    Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2006): universally praised as insightful and inspiring

Life Experience
    Hillary Clinton: from Wellesley to White House, by way of Arkansas Governor’s mansion—all but seven years as political spouse; sheltered, well-to-do upper middle class upbringing

    Barack Obama: middle class Kansas roots; time in Hawaii, Indonesia; several years working in Chicago suburbs devastated by plant closings

Bipartisan Appeal
    Hillary Clinton: red flag to conservatives and religious folk for being Bill’s spouse and for views on child rearing

    Barack Obama: praised by leaders of both parties for 2004 keynote speech on national unity

Money and Politics
    Hillary Clinton: leads Democrats (and Republicans!) in donations from lobbyists; has complex and questionable personal and family finances (including Whitewater)

    Barack Obama: won’t take lobbyists’ money; has promised to rely on public funding if Republican nominee will do the same; has transparent and simple family finances: royalties from best-selling books

Further Reading: For more on the myths and misconceptions surrounding the two candidates’ “experience,” see linked posts. For another blog’s more extensive, updated comparison covering more issues, see this post. For another blog’s more philosophical discussion of how the conventional wisdom is dead wrong— and why there is a big difference in principle between Barack and Hillary—see The Differences Between Obama and Clinton. For my own more extensive discussion of Senator Clinton’s poor grasp of basic economics, see this post.

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  • At Friday, January 4, 2008 at 12:25:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is not a chart.

  • At Friday, January 4, 2008 at 1:34:00 PM EST, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    I didn't put these notes in an HTML table because I've found that sometimes tables are hard to copy.

    If you'd like to prepare and post a table yourself, please feel free. My copyright policy encourages nonprofit copying and dissemination of anything on this blog.


  • At Friday, January 4, 2008 at 4:27:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't think this is a fair comparison between the candidates. I know who you're going to vote for. :-)

  • At Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 4:25:00 AM EST, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    It's no less fair than the ridiculous myth—repeated endlessly and credulously by our media—that Hillary has massive executive experience and will be ready to roll on day one. To my knowledge, she has never run anything but bar association committees and her own campaigns.

    I think Hillary Clinton as president would be a disaster for our party and country. If she could win the general election, which I doubt, our rancorous national division would continue, and we would have eight more years of the Clinton Soap Opera. As for Bill, I still love to hear him talk, but my opinion of stature as a leader has, let us say, matured.

    I've been holding my fire out of respect for women's aspirations and because I thought I might have to vote for Hillary. Now that I know rural white people will give Obama a fair hearing, I can speak my mind. If you want to turn the page on self-obsessed Boomers (of which I am one) and have a real leader, Hillary Clinton is not the best choice.


  • At Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 10:55:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with other comment - remove the word chart from this page title. I'm Googling for charts and this isn't one. Thanks.

  • At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 12:13:00 PM EST, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Nice try, but no thanks. The truth will keep its number one spot on Google.

    If you don't think this is a chart, then make your own, but try to keep it accurate.


  • At Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at 4:42:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the link to my post on The Differences Between Obama and Clinton.

    I assume you intended to link to the actual post at:

    The current link goes to the Politics category at the blog. At present this is the top post in the category but it will quickly move down. Assuming you intend for this post to remain as a reference throughout the remainder of the primaries, you might change the link to the actual post.

  • At Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at 4:56:00 PM EST, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…



  • At Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 11:39:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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