Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political 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. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

20 April 2008

Think, Pennsylvania!

You can end this. You can stop this unequal contest, which Hillary can win only by insuring a Democratic defeat in November. You can give the Democrats back their dignity and a shot at success. You can improve your chances for economic recovery.

Three things are clear now. First, Hillary lied repeatedly to inflate her résumé. She didn’t dodge sniper bullets in Bosnia, and she didn’t bring peace to Northern Ireland. If there’s a call at 3 a.m. that she really knows how to handle, it will be from her stock broker or one of her many lobbyist friends.

Her poor judgment on foreign policy is Hillary’s second clear disadvantage. She voted for war in Iraq without even reading the National Intelligence Estimate. She voted to give Dubya an excuse for war in Iran. She called Barack Obama “naïve” for wanting to quit coddling Musharraf and to go after bin Laden in Pakistan. Months later, Musharraf declared an “emergency,” Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan to be assassinated, and the Bush Administration’s actions revealed that targeting Al Qaeda in Pakistan is once-secret official policy.

When you think about Hillary’s terrible judgment on foreign policy, consider another thing. A president has limited power in domestic policy, because Congress calls the shots. A president’s power over foreign policy is almost absolute.

That’s why Dubya still rules our fiasco in Iraq although two-thirds of Americans have wanted out since 2006. After seven years of foreign failures, electing another president with poor judgment on foreign affairs is about the dumbest thing we could do. And if you think poor judgment on foreign policy won’t affect you personally, consider how the $1 trillion that we’ll end up spending in Iraq might have been invested here at home.

The third point is the clincher. Hillary can’t win. She is already losing to a rival so polite and understated that the worst he calls her is “inaccurate.” Her negatives are the highest of any presidential candidate’s since Nixon. What do you think will happen when she comes up against the Republican attack machine that ground up Al Gore and John Kerry?

Here’s what will happen. Republican ads will show Hillary describing her fictional flight from sniper fire in Bosnia. Then they’ll show film of her receiving flowers on the airport tarmac there. They’ll follow up with pictures of John McCain lying wounded in the “Hanoi Hilton.” Next, they’ll compare shots of McCain arguing against corruption and for campaign finance reform with shots of Hillary saying, “lobbyists represent real Americans.” When they get through with Hillary, the independents and unaligned voters now trending Democratic will flee, and John McCain will win in a landslide.

You may be tempted to vote for Hillary out of prejudice. You may want a female president at any price. Or, at any price, you may not want an African-American.

But the price you’ll pay for your prejudice is much higher than you think. If you vote for Hillary and she wins, you’ll get John McCain. If you don’t stop Hillary’s reckless attacks, you may get McCain even if (as appears likely) she loses. Either way, your prejudice will put another Republican in the White House.

That won’t bother those of us who are economically secure, even if we’d prefer Obama. We’ll appreciate having a president who doesn’t lie, who can recognize reality, who’s got real experience and heroism, and who (unlike Bush and Cheney) knows the cost of war and torture from personal experience. We can live with a Republican’s permissive and clueless economic policies, which a strong Democratic Congress will restrain. That’s why McCain will be such a formidable opponent.

You and the Rust Belt will hurt most if McCain wins. McCain doesn’t understand economics. Honest as he is, he’s admitted as much. Hillary thinks you fix economic problems by issuing commands. Barack Obama is the only one of the three candidates who understands economics. Only he knows how complex and intricate our economy is, and only he promises time-tested solutions that will work.

If you want to ease your economic pain, you’ll vote for Obama. If you vote your prejudice, you’ll cut your own throats.

Every solution that Obama has proposed is time-tested, reasonable and moderate. Every one will work. That’s why he’s the best candidate to solve our many problems, domestic and foreign, economic and social. If he loses—or if he wins so tarnished by Hillary’s negativity that McCain wins in the fall—you folks in dying towns will be the ones most hurt.

So don’t do it. Don’t vote your prejudice or your cynicism. Vote your heart. Vote for the one you can trust. Vote for the one who gives you hope and time-tested solutions, not the one whose numbers don’t add up and who gives you reason after reason to slash and burn everyone else. If you do the right and hopeful thing, you’ll preserve your party, your own chances for a decent economic recovery, and your country’s future.

P.S. Responding to the comment below provoked one more thought. At some time in our lives, all of us shun people who build themselves up by tearing others down. We don’t tolerate that sort of behavior in friends, acquaintances, co-workers or family members. Why should we tolerate it in someone seeking the highest office in the world?


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  • At Sun Apr 20, 06:52:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Jay, Please send this to HuffPost. Please, please! Your voice of reason, logic, simple good sense would stand out there so far that everyone would be able to take a deep breath and realize what the debate should be. You have a bias, but one based on alot of facts and of course a bit of hope. Something that's been missing for a loooong time. Thanks for providing a well I can come sip at when I'm thirsty. CJ

  • At Mon Apr 21, 07:46:00 AM EDT, Blogger jay said…

    Thanks for the encouragement. I only hope others are reading.

    I didn’t start out with any bias. My first post on Obama was tentative and questioning. Then I read his books and speeches.

    I watched him grow and Hillary shrink. Now I have the firmest conviction that Obama would make a great president, while Hillary would be an unmitigated disaster.

    My current reasons for supporting Obama appear throughout this blog. My reasons for opposing Hillary boil down to three very simple points. First, I have never seen her make a correct decision under pressure on any matter of policy. She doesn’t lead; she follows or triangulates, and her judgment on key issues has been uniformly poor. Isn’t making decisions what a president is supposed to do?

    Second, I despise people who raise themselves by belittling others, especially when the weapons are guilt by association and meaningless trivia. In my experience, that’s what Republicans, not Democrats, traditionally have done (e.g., Dubya to McCain in 2000). I can’t imagine Jack or Robert Kennedy doing anything of the kind, let alone Gene McCarthy (the first presidential candidate for whom I voted). The notion that you have to be a scoundrel to be “tough” and a good president is, in my view, greatly exaggerated.

    My third reason for opposing Hillary is that she just doesn’t “get” corruption. I think it’s the most serious long-term internal problem facing our nation—the only one that could ultimately destroy our Republic. So, in varying degrees, do both Obama and McCain. Hillary thinks that lobbyists writing legislation and individual senators appropriating money for their own political purposes (earmarks) are business as usual.

    McCain I could live with, despite his temper and his poor grounding in economics. He’s an honest man who understands the awesome threat of corruption and has good judgment. He knows the price of war and torture because he’s suffered both. As far as I can tell, Hillary has suffered nothing in her life but Bill’s philandering. In my mind that doesn’t qualify her for the presidency.

    She’s also learned nothing from her failures. Already she has repeated the same mistake with health-care mandates that she made in 1993, and already McCain has begun to pound her with it [subscription required]. Her secretive, “I’m not listening” approach was partly responsible for her 1993 failure; yet she takes the same approach on Pakistan and terror. Her poor judgment makes this approach all the more terrifying. If you fear an imperial presidency, Hillary is not your candidate.

    There is no doubt in my mind that McCain will win if he faces Hillary, in part because I, a lifelong Democrat, would vote for him. I hope I won’t have to make that choice.



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