Sunday, February 24, 2008

Obama Right, Clinton Wrong on Health, NAFTA

In the mess that is the Hillary Clinton campaign, we find that in the key Texas and Ohio primaries, Sen. Barack Obama has managed to outflank her on two issues of great concern to the working people of both states -- health care and NAFTA.

Obama mailings on these issues have Clinton in fits, but they simply hone in on the truth about the changeable Clinton. Her health care plan would mandate that everyone buy insurance, when many can't afford it. And she supported NAFTA before she was running for President, and now, when it appears disadvantageous, has flip-flopped without admitting it. Shades of Mitt Romney.

The strangest thing about the campaign to restore Clinton rule over the United States is that Hillary Clinton has come to seem in many ways incompetent, when she argued at the outset of her effort that she was super-competent, and, as she often repeats, ready on "day one" to be President.

But, in fact, it is Obama who has emerged as more competent, by the campaign he has run, the organization he has established, and either by his consistency on the issues, or at least by his honesty when he has changed position. He is simply the better candidate, and certainly better suited for the presidency.

The stories of disorganization in the Clinton campaign are legion, but the New York Times laid them out most comprehensively the other day in a front-page article by Michael Luo, Jo Becker and Patrick Healy. Former Sen. John Edwards helped do himself in when it became known that he was getting $400 haircuts, but, in terms of extravagance, he was a piker compared to Clinton. She allowed the mismanagers of her campaign to spend $95,000 on sandwiches in the Iowa caucuses campaign, $25,000 for rooms at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for the Nevada caucuses, altogether a whopping $35 million on polling and greedy, high-priced consultants who often set her on the wrong course, and, as a result, was left without sufficient funds after Obama stalemated her on Super Tuesday to contest effectively in the following 11 primaries and caucuses. In some states, she never got started. In even key states, like Texas and Pennsylvania, she has been late in getting organized. As of last week, she still did not even have a complete delegate slate in Pennsylvania.

By contrast, the Obama campaign has been a marvel of organization and shrewd use of resources. Recently, it has been raising twice the money Clinton has gotten, and it has been outspending her in advertising in some states by as much as 7 to 1.

Is this a surprise? Perhaps, it should not have been.

We don't know exactly what happened in the first year of the Clinton Administration, 1993, when President Bill Clinton put Hillary in charge of fashioning a national health care plan, in large part because the Clintons have assiduously declined to make the written records publicly available. But we do know the plan came crashing down and was never enacted. The big insurance companies smashed it with a clever, if dishonest, advertising campaign, and the Clintons decided finally to fold their tents.

Now, Hillary Clinton has been saying that her new health care plan would leave no one without insurance. But it would leave millions without food or housing, because after they paid the for-profit insurance companies, they'd have no money left for the other essentials.

On this, Obama has been far more realistic. He would extend insurance to many who don't have it now, but he would avoid unworkable elements of compulsion.

In fairness, both Clinton and Obama supported NAFTA at one time, before it became all too evident that free trade has resulted in the loss of millions of working class jobs here at home, letting in a flood of cheap imports. It's been great for peasants in other countries, not so advantageous for working Americans.

The difference on NAFTA is that Clinton won't admit changing her position, while Obama, with honesty, changed his, based on experience with the way the free trade pact actually has worked. Of course, the fact that an estimated 50,000 industrial jobs have been lost in Ohio as a result of NAFTA makes this a particularly timely issue right now.

The Clinton Administration, like the half-crazed editorial writers of the New York Times, were such unquestioning believers in globalism that they ignored the way the world was. Now, Hillary Clinton wants to catch up, but, on this issue as others, such as Iraq, she is running laps behind Obama. One serious failing she has is that she will never admit that she made a mistake.

I think it is not so wild to speculate, based on what we've been hearing in this campaign, that Obama would be more centered on what would be good for America than Clinton. That he is a patriot, committed to the highest historic traditions of the USA, is manifest, while, with Clinton, she and husband Bill are committed mainly to themselves. Bill Clinton is more dedicated to good relations with the dictator of Kazakhstan and a Canadian mining magnate than he is to American interests, and Hillary Clinton has not sufficiently put distance between herself and the policies, particularly the money-grubbing, of her husband.

This explains why many Republicans are actually leaning toward Obama, while disdaining Hillary, and why in polls, such as the one released by the Des Moines Register this morning, Obama is running far better against Sen. John McCain, than Hillary is. The Register poll showed Obama beating McCain in Iowa, 53% to 36%, while McCain beat Hillary in the poll, 49% to 40%.

After eight years of President Bush, and 20 years of Bushes and Clintons, the American people are itching for a competent government. On the Democratic side, it has become obvious that in this respect, Obama is the best choice.


Clark Hoyt, the public editor of the New York Times, came out strongly on the side of those who have contended the newspaper should not have run its article slashing at McCain last week, and suggesting, without proving or even reasonably arguing, that he had an affair eight years ago with a woman lobbyist three decades his junior.

Hoyt, who is never anyone's shrinking violet, dismissed executive editor Bill Keller's argument that the article had not been primarily about sex, stating, "I think that ignores the scarlet elephant in the room.

"A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee, with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did. And if a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than the Times was able to provide."

It sounds like Keller may be just as incompetent as Hillary Clinton, although Hoyt was too respectful of Keller to make that point.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given what you believe the NYT incident says about Keller, what then does it say about the esteemed Dean Baquet, unrequited 'white knight' of the LA Times, who was the driving force for the NYT article as the paper's Washington Bureau Chief???

2/24/2008 6:04 PM  

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