Monday, February 12, 2007

More on the Hillary bashing

It's not surprising that Greg Sargeant can find a hack at the NYT.

And it's not surprising to see faux-liberal Richard Cohen embarassing himself.

And it's not entirely surprising to find stuttering anti-HRC litmus-test politics on the front page of Daily Kos (why bother to link), though I believe the blog's mission statement is against that.

And, well, few liberal bloggers like HRC and it shows a bit too obviously. Ok, people like their favorite candidate and that often means being unfair to the others.

But it's especially sad to see one of the smartest bloggers out there, Matthew Yglesias, looking monomaniacal and unreality-based. A lot. Really really a lot [ack, can't even find the best example because of MY's annoying archive setup].

UPDATE: apparently MY's comment links don't work. Grep on my handle in those threads to see my argument.


Late update: black is white from Big Tent Democrat - grep on "strategic sense".

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14 Comments:

Blogger Azael said...

It would be useful for us here in the peanut gallery (at least it would be for me) to actually post on what you find wrong rather than just throwing out ad hominem attacks with the link. Other people may see things differently and what may be obvious to you isn't necessarily so.

So, it's a tad hard to judge whether Matt is the loopy one or you are without such an argument.

;)

15/2/07 07:03  
Blogger Azael said...

Okay, carefully read the first link to Matt. Can't find anything there "looking monomaniacal and unreality based". He was criticizing her speech and at least to my thinking seemed like solid criticism. It certainly did not seem "unreality based" in any fashion.

The second post you link to also seemed completely reasonable to me. HRC's response did seem completely childish and somewhat of an insult. His point is blindingly simple: She supported the war. Own up to it and deal with it. Instead, what she's trying to do is spin this decision and use the incompetence dodge to simultaneously prove her toughness and yet somehow soften the support of the war.

You may think this is a great strategy, but criticizing it certainly isn't "monomaniacal and unreality based".

Clinton happens to be a major candidate and is the presumed front runner. If we're going to have any discussion what so ever about the war, clearly she is going to be the focal point of this. Calling it "bashing" and "unreality based" seems completely off base. It isn't bashing to disagree with someone and to criticize their position. Characterizing it as such seems completely unfair.

Calling it "unreality based" is going even further. What are the facts that MY is making up? Where is he going off into never never land? Is he claiming things that HRC never said? Is he distorting her record, misquoting her? What?

Again, I think you really owe an explanation for this, rather than just the off hand comment and pointers...

Well, you don't "owe" me anything ;) Let's just say that I would find it useful to help understand your argument and reasoning.

15/2/07 09:55  
Blogger rilkefan said...

Hmm, I tried to link to my comments there where I criticized MY's thinking. If you grep on "rilkefan" you'll see my compressed case. To further compress, MY is flatly misreading Clinton, plus refusing to do the simplest political parsing of political statements, plus taking the right-wing stance on the AUMF.

15/2/07 10:43  
Blogger Azael said...

Thanks. For some reason my browser didn't slide to the comments - I thought you were merely linking to the article and didn't bother to look at the actual URL. My apologies...

Thanks for the clarification

15/2/07 11:22  
Blogger rilkefan said...

No, that's my bad for not checking that the links worked as they ought.

And I agree in advance that my criticism there is brief.

15/2/07 11:26  
Blogger Azael said...

Hmmm, reading the first post's comments, I'm with SCMT. First, it's hard to see how, in an environment where public opinion has solidly and vehemently turned against the war, speaking in shades o' gray protects her. It just makes her look like a typical triangulating candidate who's too careful by half. As it stands right now, as a voter, I can't for the life of me figure out what her views on Iraq are. Iran, sadly to say, seems quite like the same story. Even with her strongly worded statement that Bush can't go to war without Congress' say so, I'm can't for the life of me figure out what her stance on in Iran is.

Perhaps this is desirable and a necessary strategy from your POV, but since the dems have been following it for the past 14 years and losing badly with it, and it was Kerry's strategy in a nutshell, it doesn't seem like a slam dunk case for calling criticism of it "monomaniacal and unreality-based".

If you have a criticism, then that's fair enough. But labeling it as such because you have a different *opinion* seems contra "reality-based". Interpretation is by definition something that isn't easy to base in reality. You have a different interpretation than MY. That doesn't mean he's non-reality based.


In the next post, you claim he's adopting the right wing spin because of??? Because you understand the nuance and he doesn't? I mean, the problem was that we had people who were more afraid of losing their seat in congress than standing up for what they knew to be true. Part of the issue of that time, and something that is being played out yet again with Iran even as we speak, is the whole "calculation" and willingness to be taken in by obviously bogus crap and stupid arguments. It's being played by "facts on the ground" which means you're constantly in reactive mode - a mode where you are constantly defending your actions and "nuancing" the issue to death. It's a mode which is rightfully disdained and it would be a great relief to see politicians on the left leave far, far behind.

Based on your comment in the third post, I went and reread HRC's Oct 10, 2002 speech she gave on her vote for the war. In particular, I found this particularly troubling:

"My vote is not, however, a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption, or for uni-lateralism, or for the arrogance of American power or purpose -- all of which carry grave dangers for our nation, for the rule of international law and for the peace and security of people throughout the world."


I know many will say this was not obvious at the time, but I'm of the opinion that they are merely fooling themselves. Given everything we experienced prior to 9/11 with the Bush administration, with the way they completely made this a political issue, with all the red baiting and polite discussions of the lack of patriotism and such up until that point, and given the actual and numerous statements of the time by Gonzales, Yoo, etc, it was pretty clear to me - a casual observer - as to what was going on and what the game plan was. Hell, the whole PNAC document laid it all out in black and white and was signed by many of the people in the administration.

Sorry, but I don't think 2008 is going to be decided by who can best hide their light under a bushel and nuance their way to an electoral victory. I think it's a perfectly rational belief to say the things that MY is saying and perhaps they do play into the hands of the right. But I think that sad fact is only a reality because of the "nuancing" and triangulation inherent in HRC's campaign.

It's the problem of choosing this as an election strategy, not of the people who are doing the criticism. By definition, when you triangulate, you're setting yourself up to be a target by both party's bases. And, by design, any criticism on the left is going to help out the right. Those who propose triangulation as a strategy think this is a feature, not a bug - i.e. part of the whole point of triangulation is to distance yourself from the base.

So, my advice always is "if you don't like mutants, stop growing them in toxic waste". Complaining about people who will criticize the obvious and complaining that people aren't reading the nuance will be a consistent theme with a candidate who is creating this tension and environment *by*design*.

15/2/07 12:02  
Blogger rilkefan said...

"it doesn't seem like a slam dunk case for calling criticism of it"

If MY were acknowledging the issue and making the criticism you do, I wouldn't be on his case (assuming he brought reasonable reading skills).


Matt says in the post in question: "a speech before this group would have been a good time for a US Senator who'd seemingly voted in favor of the war a year ealier to clarify that she thought invading Iraq had been a mistake.

If you read the speech Senator Hillary Clinton actually gave, I think you'll see that's not what happened."

HRC said that the admin's actions "undermine these core democratic principles - both at home and abroad. I believe they do so at a severe cost." She said in casting her AUMF it would be a mistake to invade; she said afterwards it was a mistake. Claiming her support for the troops is support for the war is either stupid or dishonest. As far as I can tell MY just has a bee in his bonnet on this one. Saying she supported the war is simply false - maybe she didn't oppose it as well as one would like in a politics-free world, but one's evaluation of her actions has to take place in our world, which MY isn't doing.

And one can argue whether the AUMF was a vote for war. I'm on the liberal side of that argument, you and MY are free to take the winger side - but one has to acknowledge HRC's stamce on the matter. Criticize triangulation all you like (but don't pretend e.g. Obama isn't doing it too), but don't say that 'Because I think action X implies Y, despite C's claim she meant Z she must have meant Y" - say "I disagree with her judgment that X meant Z" and don't try to claim what X meant to her on that basis. To do otherwise is to adopt the RW/MSM spin on her, and if you happen to agree with that position then do so explicitly and openly. But then one needs to acknowledge that one can't assess her core beliefs on that basis.

15/2/07 13:21  
Blogger Azael said...

I think that this pretty much states that she's making a conscious decision in all of this and Matt isn't misreading it at all.

From Schmidt's post over at Tapped

18/2/07 20:15  
Blogger rilkefan said...

I already commented on that post that Mark is confused about Clinton's stance.

And in fact, in my view her opinion of executive power (which isn't news now if it ever was) further argues against his assertion that her vote was in support of the war. She was voting in support of a view of govt.

Or maybe I don't get your argument here. It seems to me that Schmitt's saying something valid - forget the "apology", think about her stated views. (I think he does a fair amount of question-begging but that's a separate discussion.)

18/2/07 21:29  
Blogger rilkefan said...

Interesting - the NYT claims the anti-Clinton hordes are receding.

18/2/07 22:12  
Blogger Azael said...

She was voting in support of a view of govt.

Yes, I think you're right about this. But back to the "apology" question, it is quite clear that HRC's strategy is to do precisely the opposite. It's an essential part of her strategy. From the NYT article I linked to:

"Her decision not to apologize is regarded so seriously within her campaign that some advisers believe it will be remembered as a turning point in the race: either ultimately galvanizing voters against her (if she loses the nomination), or highlighting her resolve and her willingness to buck Democratic conventional wisdom (if she wins)."

You can characterize this as a demand from the left that she rend her garments in apology, but it's really just a matter of two different opinions. She has hers and she's sticking to it. Good for her. But to criticize her for these opinions seems perfectly reasonable. You're claim (initially) was that MY's criticism was unreality based. It's pretty clear that it is based in reality.

You seem to want to spin her position as equivalent to an apology. But it's quite clear that she isn't going to make one and doesn't think she needs to. So, claiming that her position is equivalent seems completely counter to the facts.

but don't pretend e.g. Obama isn't doing it too

Hey, I've ranted quite a bit about Obama and his triangulation. Sickens me. His behavior over the whole torture and whatever the bill authorizing infinite detentions without rights was appalling. Further, his consistent use of religion to triangulate against the non religious makes me want to vote for Nader just to spite him.

Just kidding.

Anyways, we'll see if Gore throws his hat in the ring. Holding out for him...

19/2/07 08:07  
Blogger rilkefan said...

"You're claim (initially) was that MY's criticism was unreality based. It's pretty clear that it is based in reality."

No, you're arguing on the facts. As far as I can tell MY was arguing on either straw or a misreading so unreasonable it comes to the same thing. He came up with his position, looked into the facts, and ignored them.

19/2/07 09:48  
Blogger rilkefan said...

The Atlantic article.

19/2/07 10:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Hillary bashing is like a virus, eventually infecting almost the whole left-wing blogosphere. Josh Marshall at TCM has succumbed; today's "revelation" about Hillary, Wright and Scaife sounds Maureen Dowd-esque.

26/3/08 09:28  

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