The Anointing of Hillary
Hillary Clinton is going to announce that she is running for the Democratic nomination on Sunday probably. She will not be alone in running for the Democratic nomination. Former Rockefeller Republican and current Democratic Party member Lincoln Chaffee announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination. So has Jim Webb. These announcements are being met with derision among the liberal and left blogosphere.
In a primary race between Clinton, Webb, and Chaffee, I am almost certainly going to vote for Clinton because she is the most liberal candidate (though Chaffee did go against the Iraq Qaugmire from the start). I am still a bit annoyed that the liberal and left media is sarcastically attacking everyone who is putting their hat in the ring besides Hillary Clinton. The main thing that concerns me about Hillary is that she seems to be running a very Thomas Dewey or Christine Quinn esque campaign that fears taking any position and wants to just talk in vague platitudes and triangulations. Chaffee and Webb are very heterodox Democrats (being former Republicans) but they will at least force Clinton to take a stand on issues and this will only make her a stronger candidate in the general election.
There are Democratic politicians who would make better primary candidates than Chaffee and Webb. Sherrod Brown from Ohio, Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Al Franken from Minnesota, and Ron Wyden from Oregon all come to mind. For Governors or former Governors, there is Deval Patrick from Massachusetts, Daniel Malloy from Connecticut, Martin O’ Malley from Maryland (who might try to run to Clinton’s left), and even John Hickenlooper from Colorado. Of all of these, Martin O’ Malley is the only one who looks like he is going to attempt a run. Joe Biden might also attempt a run.
I suspect that there are a lot of reasons for this. Some might not run out of deference to the Clintons. Deval Patrick’s political career is owed to the Clintons because he was appointed a U.S. Attorney by Bill Clinton. Others might be daunted that all the money and known Democratic campaign staff are already behind and/or hired by Clinton.
Why is the liberal and left blogosphere going against Chaffee and Webb. Partially because they are relatively recent Democratic Party members and probably have not paid their dues yet. They are also correctly seen as very heterodox Democratic types but this applies more to Webb than Chaffee. Chaffee seems rather centerist as a politicians generally but he can maintain an independent stance as noted by his dissent on Iraq II, he also seems to be going for a slightly populist run. The Democratic Party can probably use some economic populism instead of white paperism and too-clever-by-half subconscious economic incentives to get people to save more, purchase insurance, and eat right.
There are also strategic reasons. Perhaps Democratic blogger types think that it is better to show a united front behind Hillary and watch the Republican Primary turn into a clown show. This is what happened in 2012 when Obama ran for reelection and it worked wonders then. The problem is that a reelection campaign is different than a clean slate one. As noted above, Clinton can just place it safe with platitudes and get overly presumptious with victory. This is not the first time a probable victor snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by keeping things vague.
I will gladly vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election but I am almost certain to vote for any Democratic candidate in the general election. I think Clinton (or any other Democratic nominee) will be a much better President than anyone in the Republican fold. I will probably vote for her in the Primaries if her only competition is Chaffee and Webb but I want to see how Chaffee’s campaign unfolds. It is still a shame to see everyone mock anyone but Hillary who attempts to run for the Democratic nod though.