In It To Win It

Kevin Drum says he's leaning toward Hillary. I lean the other way, but I agree with the idea that Obama's "Kumbaya campaigning schtick leaves me cold. Worse than that, in fact: it leaves me terrified that he just doesn't know what he's up against with the modern Republican Party and won't have the instinct to go for the jugular when the inevitable Swift Boating commences." I agree. In the early days of Barack Obama's campaign I thought he had this exactly right; that the thing to do was to mildly annoy Chris Bowers by lying like hell about a professed desire to unite the country while recognizing that politics is a blood sport played for high stakes against unrelenting foes in which the only thing that matters is getting the number of votes you need to win.

Now I have my doubts.

In particular, if Rudy Giuliani is the Republican nominee, I want to see a Democrat who will, enthusiastically, smear him through his association with Alan Placa and sundry other corrupt figures and whose staff will feel intensely comfortable asking supporters to cut $2,300 checks to a third party pro-life challenger. Someone who's in it to win it, and isn't trying to prove anything other than his (or her) ability to win the election. Hillary Clinton is that person and I'm not so sure Barack Obama is.

At the end of the day, though, I'm happy to play the youthful idealist here, and note Clinton seems to have so much less in the way of upside — not just or even especially as a candidate — than do Obama or Edwards. I could imagine either of them successfully taking advantage of the disastrous failure of the Bush presidency to rebrand liberalism as the mainstream ideology of our time. Clinton, by contrast, will bring back competent centrist technocracy and basic morality to the White House. That'd be good, but I think the country's at a place where we can do better right now than a simple reversion to what we had before Bush and I, at least, would like to hold out for more.