Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hillary was right to dodge a GOP photo op

Today Hillary Clinton is being derided for backing out of a rally at the United Nations to protest Iranian nuclear development once she found out that Sarah Palin would also be there.

I think she made a wise decision. There is nothing wrong with protesting Iranian nuclear development or the failure of the U.N. to take a stronger stand against it (though I believe that the Iranians will do what they want to do whether the U.N. toughens their stand or not; and our own misadventure in Iraq has effectively taken any real threat of a U.S. invasion of Iran off the table for the foreseeable future since we right now don't have the available military units to be able to carry it out.)

There is also nothing wrong with Governor Palin going as a representative of the McCain campaign, clearly indicating Senator McCain's support for stronger U.N. action against Iran.

The reason Hillary was right to decide against going is that she might have been stuck with a no-win situation, completely unrelated to Iran or nukes.

Keep in mind that last week Hillary informed the Obama campaign that while she is willing to keep up the attack on McCain she refused to jump all over Palin. And I can see why that is, she herself would gain nothing from such an attack and frankly is probably happy in at least the most general sense that a woman (even one she herself would never support) is now running for VP. It does in a sense validate the historic nature of Hillary Clinton's campaign earlier this year.

Suppose that Governor Palin made a point of seeking out Senator Clinton and making a light conversation, possibly including a handshake? In this hyper-political year, that would be all over the front page and would seem to imply that Hillary at least found a McCain-Palin Presidency acceptable (remember that the McCain folks have spent a lot of time and effort going after disaffected Clinton supporters.) So if that is not a message that Hillary Clinton wants to send she can't afford to be photographed yukking it up while shaking hands with Sarah Palin (though publically neither woman has said anything negative about the other recently).

The other alternative, to publically snub Governor Palin, would be even worse. That would cast Hillary as purely a party hack (not that you would find many Republicans who would say she's not, but it's still a label she doesn't want to refresh.) It would also cast her to a lot of people as rude and would seem to undercut the whole success she had in earning 18 million votes. And that would also be a headline that the Obama campaign doesn't need right now, with Obama gaining momentum in the polls this week thanks to a combination of the Lehman Brothers-Dow Jones-AIG economic woes and McCain's gaffe on Monday that have definitively moved the focus away from Sarah Palin and onto the economy.

So going to the rally was a lose-lose proposition for Hillary. True she is now still getting some bad press (and the right will spin this is a snub of Palin anyway) but it's a minor story and doesn't look one fiftieth as bad as a face to face snub would be.


wunelle said...

I agree with your analysis. The best tactic for her is to lay low and avoid putting herself in that situation. The controversy of her non-appearance is the lesser of potential evils.

Anonymous said...

I also live in Arizona and like to read your opinions. I am not sure what to think about some of the ballot initiatives. Any plans to share your views?


Anonymous said...

I understand the pickle that Hillary was in and Palin would likely have forced the issue as you say,

but it's a sad day in American when our partisan politics have gotten so bad that a U.S. Senator has to back out of going to an event because somebody might try to say hello and shake hands with her.

Eli Blake said...

anonymous #1:

I've been a lot more focused on candidates and haven't had much time to worry about ballot initiatives.

The one caveat I would put out there in regard to initiatives is to read the fine print-- sometimes the initiatives are not what they are billed as. The best example I can think of of that was an initiative that was passed last time around that was billed as a citizen's protection against eminent domain, but it turns out that it is actually a developer-backed measure that makes it virtually impossible for a city or town to change zoning requirements, designate a historic district or pretty much anything else that they might be able to use to plan growth.

The only initiative I've really been reading up on is prop 105, which would designate people who don't vote in elections as votes against certain ordinances (specifically any that would raise any tax). This means that if I die before election day but the registration people don't find out before the election, I will 'get' to vote anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eli. I'm the same way (candidates v. ballot initiatives) that's why I wondered if you studied them out more :)

I think Prop 105 is terrible - it says you must have a majority of all "qualified electors" in order to pass new spending/tax laws. Since only about half of the voters turn out during a presidential election, and sometimes less than 15 or 10% for local elections.. how on earth will a growing state like Arizona be able to keep itself running 5, 10, 20 years from now??

The other one I'm really confused on is the health care proposal (I don't remember the number). I've heard from both the Yes and the No people conflicting explanations.

I like that we have powerful checks on our legislature in AZ, but I hate that they can put any statute up for a popular vote without the deliberation you get in a legislative body.