Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Read Stuff, You Should

Hey, I have a column today over at Salon. It's framed by the question of whether Hillary Clinton would have been better than Barack Obama in the White House, and mostly I conclude: not much difference. It's really a survey of the various ways in which presidents are and aren't constrained by various things in the political system, so head over if that interests you.

Meanwhile, the good stuff:

1. I've linked to Sarah Binder on "single-minded seekers of re-nomination" already, but it's important enough that I'll include it here, too.

2. David Leonhardt's last column was excellent. Also, a depressing update on state budgets from Erica Williams, and Ezra Klein on the winners and losers on the debt limit deal. And I know, you're sick of it already, but it's not going away, so save a copy of this Dylan Matthews summary of research on the debt limit.

3. Barry Pump on pork; Brendan Nyhan on Reagan and Bush; Seth Masket on invented crises. That last one gives me an excuse to recite Nelson Polsby's definition of a crisis: when everyone agrees that something has to be done.

4. Liberals and Obama: Ed Kilgore explains from one angle, Ta-Nehisi Coates from another. You all know that the Times should be begging TNC to make it permanent, right?

5. Five books from Matthew Yglesias. Also, Yglesias on health care and budgeting.

6. Steven Rubio on the trade deadline and twitter -- well, really, just on getting the news these days.

7. This is certainly correct about Monopoly; it's a great game, but it helps a lot to play by the actual rules. Two other tips. We round all transactions to the nearest $5 once there are houses on the board...probably could do it from the beginning. And, in a related tip, we try to keep the pace of the game as fast as possible (ideally, keep the dice always in motion). I'm not sure how to transition from that to this, but there were long-haired freaky people at the White House (here and here).



  1. I don't think *Democratic* presidents are "constrained by their party;" quite the contrary, in fact.

    Not that I'm saying that Hillary would be better--I think she would be a tougher negotiator, but even now I still don't think she could have won the election--but Democratic presidents go out of their way to piss off their base, in order to show the Washington elite that they're not beholden to those damn dirty hippies.

  2. I think the difference is exactly the party issue. BHO doesn't seem to realize he is the leader of the Democratic party. Based party on his personal appeal and wads of cash, he doesn't need the party to win.

    Or he thinks so.*

    Down ticketed democrats will be the ones hurt by voter apathy. Every (elected) democrat in the county better be praying Bachmann is the nominee, because only that hag will drive the base out to vote.

    * would HRC have been a better party leader? Maybe. At least she has more experience is handing out the pork fat, and liking it.

  3. I also don't think a Hillary Clinton administration would be all that different. In policy positions, you might well have the exact same people--minus Sec. of State, of course--while the Republiclowns would be doing much the same stuff they've been doing for the last three years -- screaming about "socialism" and pushing phony scandals for the rubes, threatening to blow up the economy if they don't get to screw over the elderly and poor, etc. Maybe Clinton would have pushed a jobs agenda over health care, but I don't know how successful that could be with the kind of opposition the Repubs have decided to be.

    And I'm not convinced Clinton could have pushed through even the watered down health care bull we've got...

  4. I'd rather play Sorry, which is really a game about lobbying your opponents to take out the other players instead of yourself. Note: It seldom works if you don't have a good case.

  5. I agree with everything about your new article, but would like to point out it doesn't consider how Clinton would have done in the midterm elections. She certainly wouldn't have gone after healthcare (not that there wouldn't have been something else). She wouldn't have faced racially charged opposition. And it shouldn't be assumed that Clintons supporters would have had a low a turnout in 2010. Not that any of this would change what's fundamentally happening, but it could have added up to a couple percent of the popular vote in Democrats favor. Maybe the GOP wouldn't have such a large majority in the house, hence a weaker bargaining position.

    But of course, who knows.

  6. There have been some sources suggesting Hillary wouldn't have pursued health-care reform. Some of this may be sour grapes by some of her campaign advisers after the 2010 shellacking, but it's worth considering. It's not just a question of her skills or temperament, it's also the fact that she was directly involved in the 1993 failure. Obama pursued it as an outsider, convinced he could avoid the mistakes of the Clintons. Hillary might have concluded it wasn't worth going through a second time, especially with the economic recession on most people's mind.

  7. One other point is around advisers and the people they surround themselves. Agreed, there would be lots of overlap in who they chose (bolstering the not much difference case). However, Hilary had Mark Penn as a key adviser. If he has the ear of the President I find it hard to come up with any scenario that Clinton pushes for a more liberal outcome than Obama?


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