Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If President Hillary Clinton Had Same Cabinet As Obama, Left Would Experience Meltdown

I'm going out on a limb here, but I think I am probably correct. If Hillary Clinton had won the election and made the same cabinet choices as Obama, this would cause the Left to experience a collective head explosion. Although Obama's choices have raised the eyebrows of progressives, they have not caused a complete meltdown. And many mainstream media outlets have in fact praised Obama for placing "pragmatism" over "ideology" -- as if the two concepts are mutually exclusive.

During the Democratic primaries, however, progressives and the media engaged in very passionate, sometimes distorted, efforts to distinguish the two leading candidates on grounds of ideology. Many of them reserved the harshest criticism for Clinton's relationship with personnel from her husband's administration. They also viewed Clinton as most unacceptable on matters related to foreign policy. But now, Obama has not only picked many of the same people who received leftist criticism to serve in his administration, but he has chosen Clinton to formulate and implement foreign policy. If "hawkish" President Clinton had decided to keep Republican Gates at the Department of Defense, the progressive outcry would be deafening. But now, Gates is praised as a "Scowcroft Republican." That sounds like the Bush Doctrine: contrived and amorphous.

Perhaps the biggest thing Obama has done so far is make the Left reconsider its (or "our") vitriolic opposition to some of the Clintons' centrist/right-leaning political compromises. Or maybe Obama simply benefits from not being a Clinton. But progressives would never do something as irrational and discriminatory as describing the political decisions of one person as dangerous to the country while characterizing these same choices as smart, pragmatic or at least acceptable when another person makes them.


Malnurtured Snay said...

I voted for Obama, but I was expecting him to appoint middle of the road folks -- centrist Democrats, moderate Republicans, as he has been doing. I really don't know why so many on the left seemed to think Obama would be governing from the hard left, it just seems completely opposed to what his campaign was about.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Malnurtured: I expected him to make the selections he has made. I am not sure how much progressive literature you read, but basically, the Left was invariably hostile to Clinton and effusively supportive of Obama (with a few exceptions on both sides). I was mixed - cynical on both. I started this blog, in fact, to make things a bit more balanced.

I am not sure why they thought he would be a radical, but I think: 1. They equated being anti-war with being Leftist, even though the entire country was against the war by 2007; 2. They equated being a black Democrat with being progressive; 3. They were so beaten down by Bush that they believed a person talking about a "world community" was inherently progressive, when US presidents have respected multi-lateral world order for decades. Bush II was a departure from this. I also think that Obama has a great way of making people feel comfortable and letting them read into him what they want to see. He has a lot of charisma, and he uses it to pull in crowds with broad messages that can apply to them and just about anyone else. No slight to him - it's a great skill (in politics and romance!).

Thanks for dropping by!

PS: If they really believed their own rhetoric about Clinton, they would be foaming at the mouth.

Charles Davis said...


I would only add that if John McCain had made the same appointments as Obama -- a hawk who outspokenly backed the Iraq war as Secretary of State, the head of the NY Fed during the lead up to the current economic crisis who also once worked for Henry Kissinger -- many of Obama's supporters would have been apoplectic. Keeping Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense would have seen liberal bloggers attacking McCain as nothing but "McSame", while the same move from Obama garners him praise as a conciliator; Gates, too, is transformed from merely another Bush administration war criminal to a sensible "realist".

BTW -- I'm enjoying your blog and I'm glad you found mine.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Yes, Mr. Davis: had McCain kept ANYONE from the Bush administration, it would prove that he wanted to continue the same failed policies of the last eight years....You are very right.

PS: I added your blog to my list. Thanks for visiting!

shag carpet bomb said...

Darren Hutchinson wrote:

But progressives would never do something as irrational and discriminatory as describing the political decisions of one person as dangerous to the country while characterizing these same choices as smart, pragmatic or at least acceptable when another person makes them.



It would probably be well worth the effort to hunt down all the glowing characterizations of Obama's purported progressivism, just to have a (petty schadenfreude) archive of them, but also as something to which to point people who question who had starry-eyed views on Obama's politics.

shag carpet bomb said...

p.s. -- not that I'm commanding you to make the archive. i was thinking about it in terms of doing it myself. taking suggestions for best examples of such views! :)

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi. The archive would be great. Here's a piece of advice: Go on Alternet, Huffington, Daily Kos, and Politico for material. I guess Politico is less identified as leftist, but its preference has always been clear. Alternet, Huff and DK have great material though! You did notice that essay from Guy Saperstein which I linked, right?

Anonymous said...

The only thing worth "reconsidering" is the expectation that Obama is going to succeed. It's not a question of whether someone is labelled a "centrist", it's a question of former Clinton appointees who helped deregulate the imploding financial system of this country. It's a question of PROVEN FAILURE vs finding someone new who has a chance of success.

The reason the people who have a chance at success are to be found "on the left" is because the FAILURES are right wing policies (both of Clinton and GW Bush). The fundamental dishonesty, if there was one, was pretending that Bush was *revolutionary* rather than evolutionary. Rubinomics set this training running in this direction.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi anonymous. I do not believe that regulation is inherently liberal and deregulation conservative. It's just that in the recent past, conservatives have favored regulation over "private" matters, while liberals have favored regulation over "public" ones. I believe that liberals win the argument for the most part -- that some matters just do not warrant governmental intervention and usually they have to do with personal freedoms. But the fact that conservatives welcome "some" regulation means that they could, consistent with their ideology, welcome regulations that are necessary to achieve a public good.

fred said...

I think many essentially missed Obama's character. He is at his core slow to change, and understands the risk of moving to quickly or without as broad support as possible (e.g. Warren pick). I went to U of C, Obama is a cultural progressive, but also a fiscal conservative in his heart, methinks.

I also think folks miss that the agenda will be set in the White House (e.g. Summers, not Geitner) and the Cabinet will just implement.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi, Fred. I am not sure that the Cabinet is as passive as you portray it. Also, I am not sure that Obama is entirely different from his Cabinet in terms of ideology. I do agree with you that whatever he is "at heart," he will govern cautiously and from the middle (and perhaps lean to the right or triangulate on some issues). His closest colleague is Cass Sustein. That's all I needed to know. I never made the miscalculations you mention in your post.

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