The Difference

Elana Schorr looks at the voting records of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the US Senate. They're similar records, but Obama's a bit too fond of coal and Clinton's a bit too fond of war. Brian Beutler says:

My sense of it is that Obama has been somewhat reconstructed from his early, coal-driven, anti-environmental days, while Hillary Clinton remains a largely unreformed liberal hawk. But I suppose it'll be hard to say how true that is until at least one of them is off the campaign trail.

I think what we see on the campaign trail actually does shed some light. Illinois has a coal industry, so Obama started out as a soft on coal guy (though hardly as the worst offender in this regard), but as soon as Obama moved toward running a national campaign, he began steadily moving to a less coal-friendly position. This doesn't do wonders for Obama's reputation as the Golden Man of Principle (see also that he used to talk more lefty on health care) or whatever, but it also doesn't suggest a deep-seated desire to see the country dotted with coal plants. By contrast, to whatever extent Clinton was driven by political expediency rather than conviction to authorize the Iraq War, it was a vision of national politics and her presidential campaign.

As recently as Monday night, after all, she was bragging to a Democratic audience that her status as a relatively hawkish Democrat makes her uniquely well-suited to taking on John McCain, whereas I'm pretty sure I've never heard Barack Obama make a parallel claim regarding the environment.

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