Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Why Hillary Clinton?

Written by johnleemk on 9:09:47 am Apr 22, 2007.

Previously, I have examined the Democratic candidates for President of the United States in 2008, and settled on a Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama ticket as my preferred choice.

My reasons for rejecting the Republican candidates are simple. The Republicans show no interest in protecting civil rights (beyond the right to have a gun, apparently). They would seek to legislate statutory answers to moral questions, such as abortion and homosexual marriage.

Meanwhile, the Republicans do not pay economics any heed whatsoever in their economic policies; the only time they do is when they can warp economic theory enough so it appears to mesh with their ideology.

And, of course, Republican foreign policy has been, in a word, disastrous. Overall, there is no real reason to assume any of the Republican candidates would be a better President than most of the Democratic candidates.

The four Democratic candidates who have really caught my interest are the three front-runners — Clinton, Obama and John Edwards — and the Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson.

I think Edwards might be a decent President, but right now I'm not willing to bet on him because of his protectionist thinking when it comes to international trade. He is also actually rather green; he was a one-term Senator, and his profession since he lost election in 2004 has been professional Presidential candidate.

I am really interested in Richardson because from what little I know of him, he is a policy wonk, and seems to be very capable of handling policymaking. He also has a chequered experience, having served the Bill Clinton administration in a variety of domestic and foreign positions.

Unfortunately, Richardson is not presently a frontrunner, and may not have the necessary charisma to carry the day. He's an interesting candidate, but not one I'd put all my money on.

Clinton, I'll admit, is a difficult candidate to get excited about. Her main plus point is experience. She has literally years of experience with the legislative process, having been a Senator since 2000, and almost a decade's worth of experience in the White House itself as a former First Lady.

Clinton has not exactly been staking out very dynamic or innovative positions on the issues, but her plodding and methodical consistency does not seem to be particularly harmful. For a policymaker, she has taken very reasonable and sensible stances.

There are some negative policy-related problems, though. Clinton has shown a recent tendency to veer in the protectionist direction, though I doubt she will really go all the way considering that she and her husband have a track record of supporting trade. Clinton, like all the Democratic candidates, decries some particularly sensible proposals, such as school vouchers, but I suppose you can't have everything.

There is the natural fear that Clinton will be unelectable because of Americans' antipathy towards here, but I don't really see the majority of these Hillary-haters voting for any of the other Democratic candidates. Clnton will likely not be losing much votes from the centrists because unlike the 2004 candidate, John Kerry, she can't be Swiftboated — all the negative issues about her past were raised while she was First Lady. There's no dirt left to dig up on her.

Why is Obama on the Vice-Presidential position of my ideal ticket? Well, it's because like many Americans, I have been captivated by Obama's charisma and his articulation of certain ideals. The freshness he brings to American politics is a welcome change from the negativity that dominated the 2004 campaign.

The problem with Obama is that he does not have many strong policy stands — as many political commentators have noted after hearing him speak at policy forums — and his obvious lack of experience. (He's barely a half-term Senator, having been elected in 2004.)

However, Obama does resonate with the voters, and the skills he has will complement Clinton very well. He has the charisma and the appeal Clinton lacks, while she has the experience he does not. It's very synergistic, and puts Obama in position to run for President himself in eight years.

By 2016, Obama will still be only middle-aged in politician years. He will have accumulated enough experience to credibly run for President in his own right. And if he maintains the ideals and charisma he has now, he will be a shoe-in for the Oval Office.

It seems like the perfect and ideal ticket to me. A Clinton-Obama administration would not just be historic, but pave the way for strong and credible leadership in the White House for 16 years, assuming they win re-election (which they probably will, barring some catastrophic incident). Clinton has the experience and guts to be President now, while Obama has the charisma and ideals necessary to be an even better President later, if only he can pick up the experience from somewhere — and there's no better place than the White House itself.

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