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Hillary Clinton is still the most likely person to be elected the forty-fourth president of the United States in 2008 (see Part I). If she is elected, America will endure (see Part II); perhaps, we will even prosper.

Clinton-44: Part III. Why it might even be good:

1. We have reason to hope that Republicans will better inhabit the role of loyal opposition than the erstwhile players.

2. Most importantly, if Mrs. Clinton remains faithful to her record and rhetoric, her election will commit the Democratic Party en masse to the global war on terror. Just as Harry Truman and the Democrats owned the Cold War until Dwight Eisenhower came along and embraced the policy, the War on Terror at this moment is a unilateral Republican policy. It is vital for American survival that the Democrats have a partisan interest in our success in the larger war on terror.

A crucial time. Mrs. Clinton is at a crossroads right now. Does she stand pat on her Iraq position? Or should she hedge her bet? During the next few days, President Bush will reaffirm his commitment to winning in Iraq, and he will announce a "surge" in troops (very likely a number larger than many of us are prepared for). Will Mrs. Clinton support the President? Or will she join John Kerry and John Edwards, who have both repudiated their 2002 support and are vocally advocating for an expedited withdrawal? Hillary's choice will be the most important decision of her political career, and not merely vital for her personally; her determination goes a long way toward shaping our future as a nation.

Her political calculation: To win the general election, Mrs. Clinton must cast herself as a moderate Democrat, tough on terror, strong on defense, realistic on taxes and sane on the cultural issues. She has steadily constructed this political persona for almost a decade. For the most part, she has succeeded grandly. As a result, most of the other moderate Democrats are fleeing the field, leaving the canvass to Mrs. Clinton.

An aside: Most handicappers have this race down to Hillary and Barack Obama (the candidate who has burst onto the political scene from nowhere to become a viable choice with astonishing momentum). Not invested in the original decision to invade Iraq, Obama has made the safest bet: he opposes increased troop levels (his statement here ). This is clearly the best route for him, as it highlights his original opposition to what has become an incredibly unpopular military action. His compelling answer to the inevitable question of experience: "My opponent may have a few years on me, but I have enough common sense to avoid a debacle." Notwithstanding, there are weaknesses in this strategy (see below).

Back to Clinton: Although she wobbled a bit this week, significantly, Mrs. Clinton has not laid the predicate for supporting a precipitous exit from Iraq. Why has she remained firm thus far? She understands that success in Iraq is in her interest. Best case scenario for candidate Clinton in 2008? A passive Iraq quietly building strength below the media radar. In fairness to her, she also understands that wresting a stable Iraq from the current chaos is in America's vital national interests, comprehending the catastrophic consequences of a humiliating withdrawal.

The Politics: Mrs. Clinton is the frontrunner. She is a superstar; she sits atop the best organization in the contest; she has unlimited access to money, and she (in partnership with her husband) has spent a lifetime locking in endorsements, racking up favors and collecting promises from all the key players in the upcoming primary battle. But she has a dilemma. If a volatile Iraq continues to deteriorate through January 2008, her opponents in the Democratic primary will inflict monumental damage depicting her as George Bush's enabler. Can she survive that? Impossible to say.

On the other hand, staying the course may be the wiser political move. She is not in a desperate position like John Edwards, who must publicly and repeatedly repent to resurrect his 2008 viability. She does not need to appeal to the most radical elements in her party, who detest the war. A degree of hawkishness and faith in American good intentions helps her in the heartland.

The McCain factor: More significantly, if she abandons ship, and the plan to increase troop levels succeeds, she is in real trouble in the general election. Surprisingly, John McCain seems now in position to secure the Republican nomination. Increased troop strength is John McCain's recipe for success. He has been sounding this call for three years. If this last gasp works, John McCain (with the willing aid of President Bush) takes full credit for the change in tactics. If Hillary deserts the cause at this late date, and the new plan works, she cedes the foreign policy high ground to her Republican opponent. On the other hand, if she stays true to her previous commitment, she fights McCain on even ground in November of 2008.

This is an extremely vexing political decision. But it is momentous. If she holds firm, the Democratic Senate leadership in the Senate will back her. With the support of Mrs. Clinton, Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman, the United States gets one more chance to snatch victory from the awful struggle in Iraq.

Dick Morris wrote an insightful piece a few weeks ago (read it here courtesy of Jewish World Review).

He begs us not to elect Hillary Clinton and enumerates a long list of reasons why she would be a disaster. Undoubtedly, he has a lot of this right. I agree with much of his unflattering character profile. Morris is a canny operator and an insightful observer with expert knowledge of the Clintons. Having said that, Morris's analysis is always flavored by his hatred for them (especially intense for Hillary), which clouds his judgment.

Even so, Morris points out that Hillary, in contradistinction to Bill, is rigid and stubborn, inclined to make up her mind and "charge ahead and do what she thinks needs to be done, the torpedoes be damned." Morris sees this as a horrendous flaw, and I would agree with him in ordinary circumstances; however, in this case it may work to our national benefit. We need stubborn more than practical right now.
Category: Campaign 2008.1
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Does the Ninth Ward in hurricane-devastated New Orleans prove John Edwards's "Two Americas" thesis?

He thinks so. There he was today, against a backdrop of African American young people, calling for "action" and "responsibility" and announcing his candidacy for Activist in Chief.

Intent on "transforming" America, Edwards could have been reading from candidate George Bush's playbook, when he praised "faith-based groups, charitable groups and volunteers" for taking action and making a difference in New Orleans. Holding forth in his blue jeans and open-at-the-neck dark blue button-down, Edwards exuded youthful energy and earthy common sense: "don't wait for government. The people know what to do. Let's take action and responsibility now."

His Platform:

1. Leave Iraq NOW! No escalation.

2. "Take the lead on genocide in Sudan and Darfur."

3. Stop Global Warming by conserving energy.

4. Universal healthcare for all Americans (to start).

5. Eradication of Poverty.

My Analysis:

Edwards is an interesting person. The attending media, however, seemed cynical about his chances. I am too. I think he turned out to be a dud in the 2004 general election campaign, and I concur with the conventional wisdom that the race is already down to two candidates (and he is not one of them).

On the other hand, Edwards is attractive. He connects. He artfully blends his stolid progressive political menu with conservative rhetoric and personal charisma. Watching the C-SPAN coverage of him after the press conference reveals a candidate who has a Bill Clinton-like ability to press the flesh. He was the great surprise of the 2004 campaign. He could certainly exceed expectations again.

Having said that, Edwards is more likely the Gary Hart of this campaign (Monkey Business aside). He is the guy who seemed so fresh four years ago, but you cannot quite remember why exactly you were so impressed back then.

His main problem is that aside from his charm and winning smile, he doesn't offer much in the way of new ideas. As Walter Mondale asked of Gary Hart in 1984: "Where's the beef?" How exactly do we go about eradicating poverty and curtailing global warming? How do we pay for universal healthcare?

Well, we are going to raise taxes on the wealthy and shut down the government largesse to the oil companies. That is a big applause line--but is it a real solution? Since Edwards kicked off his campaign in South Louisiana, I suppose it is appropriate to remember Huey Long, who promised to make every man in America a king. When numbers crunchers, scratching their heads, asked him how he would pay for it, Long replied: "You don't have to understand it; just shut you damn eyes and believe it."