Friday, January 25, 2008

Kevin Drum sums up my dilemma about Hillary and Obama

I'm still up in the air over who I will support in my blogging here (I'm casting an absentee ballot in WA state, where the primary doesn't matter because the state party chooses delegates through a closed caucus).

I'm pretty convinced that either Obama or Clinton would move America forward with progressive ideas. (I'm less convinced about Edwards' economic policies). Therefore, I'm not concerned about the policies, per say. I'm concerned about getting them enacted once President Obama or Clinton takes the oath of office.

What is an undecided voter like me to do? Kevin Drum hits the nail on the head
So who would be more effective at moving a progressive agenda forward once they got elected? There are two basic things to think about:
The ability to tap into the zeitgeist and sway public opinion in the direction you want it to go. In recent history, think of Ronald Reagan as the best exponent of this style of governing.

The ability to manipulate Congress to pass your agenda. Think LBJ as the master of this aspect of the presidency.
Kevin points out that Obama could possibly mobilize people, but not specifically behind a liberal agenda. The other possibility is that Obama is able to refashion liberal into a socially acceptable idea again.

Hillary doesn't give an inspiring speech, any more than Obama knows his ways around the intricacies of, but she is certainly better at throwing elbows.
Hillary would play a tougher, more conventional form of politics: a bit of hardball here and a bit of logrolling there, a process that might not be pretty but can be effective. And the surprising fact is that she's demonstrated a remarkably strong ability in the Senate to work with Republicans, most of whom generally trust her to keep her word and do what she says she'll do.
Kevin ends up leaning toward Clinton because he doesn't see a groundswell of support for significant change. He only sees people agreeing to dislike Bush, not necessarily embracing health care reform, ending the Iraq War, etc. I disagree with Kevin, if only because the recent polls have a huge majority of Americans saying that America is on the wrong track. People are fed up with Republican/conservative answers and looking for something new. I believe that weighs in Obama's favor. But Drum has a good point; are people specifically desiring changes that liberals are selling? Universal health care (and increased taxes)? Energy Revolution (and increased costs?) Ending the War in Iraq (and accompanying "unknown" in the Middle East)? etc..

See why I'm still undecided?