Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hillary challenge: How is this story still alive?

I thought we were done with speculation that Hillary Clinton would challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, but then a version of this Bogdan Kipling op/ed showed up in Sunday's Denver Post. His main argument for a Hillary challenge seems to be that Obama sucks:
Contrary to mainstream opinion, Obama is a mediocre politician.
Go on.
Were it not so, surely he would have known instinctively that people get wise to polished repetitive, but empty speeches — and know the difference between bread and butter now and pie in the sky later.
I'm guessing he knows that, but continue.
Joblessness and fear of watching retirement savings vanish weigh heavier on the nation’s collective mind than long-range climate change and health care reform. The president’s touted political instincts should have told him all that. But, as James Carville once noted so cogently, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
But while Obama talked jobs and initiated a jobs bill in Congress on his sixth day in office, almost all of his mind and determination remained focused on health care — his overriding priority.
Kipling is engaging in a number of classic pundit fallacies here:
  1. Mind-reading: Regardless of Obama's public speeches and actions, his "mind and determination remained focused on health care." 
  2. The Green Lantern theory: If Obama were sufficiently determined, the economy would be better by now and his reelection prospects would be stronger.
  3. The Executive Branch Has One Employee theory: It is impossible for an administration to be working on improving the economy while also working on health care reform.
It's all rather silly and ignores some basic truths: the state of the economy will largely determine Obama's reelection prospects (something Obama assuredly knows); we've recently experienced a collapse of the financial sector, which tends to freeze up lending and investment for many years; it's hard to see how Obama's actions could have made for a much stronger economy at this point (except for a larger stimulus, and you tell me how he gets that through Congress without resorting to the Green Lantern theory).

And then there's the other big point: the forces currently making Obama's path to inauguration day 2013 a difficult one would be doing the same thing to Hillary Clinton were she the nominee.


reflectionephemeral said...

How is this story still alive?

Because the media is terrible at reporting the news.

Narratives trump reality, armchair psychoanalysis trumps policy, every time-- for the news pages as well as the op-ed page.

Pennsylvania Family said...

Speaking of "trump," will Donald run? Gee...I hope not.

How about a combo of Trump and Hillary. Interesting but no chance of winning.

dmarks said...

Hillary will probably jump in if Obama's popularity slides a lot more.

Remember, the sitting president Jimmy Carter had a stiff primary challenge from a mainstream Democrat.