Friday, November 16, 2007

Immigration And Her Husband--2 Hillary Problems

In my experience as a political reporter, David Broder of the Washington Post, of all the reporters I met, was by far the most prescient about elections, and politics in general. I particularly remember that Broder was the first reporter who I knew who predicted in print that Arnold Schwarzenegger would win the governorship of California in the Recall election here in California.

Ed Guthman, then national editor of the Los Angeles Times, was the first person to ever forcefully tell me that Jimmy Carter would not make a good president. But Broder, in a strong article written before the election, was the second.

Broder has a feel for politics that even in old age, like Guthman's, is undiminished. That is why I take an article he had yesterday in the Post as a highly significant analysis for this campaign.

In it, under a headline, "The Iceburgs Ahead For the Democrats," Broder begins, "As the Democratic presidential race finally gets down to brass tacks, two issues are becoming paramount. But only one of them is clearly on the table."

The first, he writes, and the one on the table, "is the issue of illegal immigration. A very smart Democrat, a veteran of the Clinton administration, told me that he expects it to be a key part of any Republican campaign and that he is worried about his party's ability to respond."

Broder continues, "I think he has good reason to worry. The failure of the Democratic Congress, like its Republican predecessor, to exact comprehensive immigration reform, including improved border security, has left individual states and local communities to struggle with the problem. Some are showing a high degree of tolerance and flexibility. Others are being more punitive. But all of them are running into controversy."

The second issue, Broder writes, is much more under the surface, for now.

The issue is evoked by Bill Clinton's recent remark on the Democratic debates that "those boys have been getting tough on her (Hillary) lately."

Broder writes, "The former president's intervention -- volunteered during a campaign appearance on her behalf in South Carolina -- raised the second, and largely unspoken, issue identified by my friend from the Clinton administration: the two-headed campaign and the prospect of a dual presidency.

"In his view, which I share, this is a prospect that will test the tolerance of the American people far more severely than the possibility of the first female president -- or, for that matter, the first black president.

"As. my friend says, there is nothing in American constitutional or political theory to account for the role of a former president, still energetic and active and full of ideas, occupying the White House with the current president.

"No precedent exists for such an arrangement, and no ground rules have been -- or probably can be -- written. When Bill Clinton was president, the large policy enterprise that was entrusted to the first lady -- health-care reform -- crashed in ruins."

Well, this is the Broder argument. To be fair, I think it was more Bill Clinton's fault than Hillary Clinton's, that the health care reform crashed. It was Bill Clinton, not Hillary, who didn't have the stomach to take on the powerful and corrupt American insurance industry, which is necessary before health care reform can be enacted.

But, still, the comparison has dawned on me that I hope Hillary would not be a President in the sense that Lurline Wallace was governor of Alabama, always under the thumb of her powerful husband.

The United States is not Alabama, and it is not Argentina, which has elected a wife of a sitting president as the new president, either.

Hillary might be strong enough to contend with it, but she may not be. A certain waffling on issues has already become apparent in her campaign. She may not be the strongest character in her own right.

All in all, I'm coming to think that Sen. Barack Obama might be a better candidate for the Democrats. He is new, direct and he doesn't have such a powerful partner, although Michelle Obama is an impressive lady.

The issues raised by Broder should be debated -- now.

I also notice today that in an interview with CSPAN, Karl Rove, someone else who has earned his spurs on political expertise, says Obama has missed on chances to go after Hillary, specifically on the refusal of the Clintons to make their White House records available.

Obama is frequently advised to be more aggressive. However, he is intelligent enough to know that an overly-aggressive black man is as liable to scaring voters as is too pushy a woman. I feel he has about the right tone in his campaign. Obama cannot afford to campaign like Richard Nixon, or even George W. Bush.

--

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan dictator who wants to be "president for life," is demanding that King Juan Carlos of Spain apologize for telling him to "shut up" when Chavez disrupted a speech by the present Spanish prime minister and called a former prime minister a "fascist."

Somebody ought to go and dump a barrel of ice water on the tyrant. Decades ago, the mayor of Chicago said that if the King of England came to Chicago he'd "punch him in the nose." He should have apologized. But King Juan Carlos ought not to apologize, but take the world's thanks for insulting a thug.

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