Thursday, November 29, 2007

Four More of the Same?

Ask Democrats if they would like four more years of George W. Bush, and you risk bodily injury. But according to polls, the candidate most similar to Bush in leadership style and attitude could win the Democratic primary.

Policy content aside, the style, transparency, and decision-making process of an administration are vital. Poor process and an adversarial relationship with observers led the Bush administration into misguided and dishonest decisions with depressing regularity. Yet Americans seem to believe that no Democrat could ever make the same misjudgments. Enter Hillary Clinton.

The paranoid attitude of the Hillary campaign is well documented. The latest indictment is from Howard Kurtz in WaPo:
Such is life spent trailing the Clinton juggernaut, where reporters can generally get close enough to watch but no further, as if separated from the candidate by an invisible sheet of glass.
Michael Crowley writes in the New Republic:
It's enough to make you suspect that breeding fear and paranoia within the press corps is itself part of the Clinton campaign's strategy. And, if that sounds familiar, it may be because the Clinton machine, say reporters and pro-Hillary Democrats, is emulating nothing less than the model of the Bush White House, which has treated the press with thinly veiled contempt and minimal cooperation. "The Bush administration changed the rules," as one scribe puts it--and the Clintonites like the way they look.
The most repeated anecdote this season relates to Hillary killing a negative piece in GQ - which she accomplished by threatening to cut GQ's access to "cover boy" Bill Clinton. Ben Smith draws the same parallel:
The campaign’s transaction with GQ opens a curtain on the Clinton campaign’s hard-nosed media strategy, which is far closer in its unromantic view of the press to the campaigns of George W. Bush than to that of Bill Clinton’s free-wheeling 1992 campaign.
Stephen Braun, in a generally positive article, recalls Hillary's disastrous attempt at governing in 1993.
[H]er gates-drawn stance raised concerns that shadow her presidential bid today -- that she reacts with a siege mentality under pressure, retreating behind a restrictive wall of presidential and attorney privilege.
Former Governor and nominee Michael Dukakis used Hillary's failed health care push as a classroom example of poor political process. The secrecy, the unwillingness to get input, and the inflexibility all emanated from Her Eminence.

Hillary's campaign and her former positions of public trust indicate that she would run a cagy, uncompromising administration, willing to alienate constituencies and allies in order to achieve a policy goal. While she would make a great Inspector General, a presidency with Hillary at the helm could quickly become the worst of the 21st century. After all, for all the secrecy and mendacity of the Bush Administration, it has one great redeeming virtue: incompetence. You won't find much of that in a Hillary White House.

Bush is leaving office in 13 months, and Democrats can actively debate whether or not their nominee should run "against" Bush. But is there any question as to whether a Democratic nominee should run as Bush?

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