Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hillary Clinton: First choice of conservative Republicans

It's pretty incredible given the years of Hillary hatred on the right but she's now their favorite liberal. Conservatives are arguing, "If you must vote for a Democrat for God's sake vote for Hillary".

First came Rupert Murdoch, magnate of the FOX news empire.
Murdoch to host fundraiser for Hillary Clinton

One media lobbyist said: “Murdoch will be for the Republicans but he is also smart enough to know that the Republicans might not win. At some level, whether nationally or in New York, Hillary is the future and what savvy businessman would not want to put a line of interest in someone who will be the future?”

And now we have neoconservative icon Bill Kristol singing her praises.
William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, sounded more effusive. "Obama," he said, "is becoming the antiwar candidate, and Hillary Clinton is becoming the responsible Democrat who could become commander in chief in a post-9/11 world."

But why would conservatives, to whom Hillary has come to personify everything that's wrong with the left, pick her as their best hope?

First, given the hard times the Republicans have fallen on, they realize that she's may be their best bet. With the possible exception of Joe Biden, she's the most conservative candidate on the Democratic side.

Here's Bruce Bartlett.
Having come to this realization, it became necessary to judge the Democratic field to determine which candidate would be the least bad from my point of view. I concluded that Hillary Clinton was less objectionable that the others. She appeared to be a clone of her husband on economic policy--which is good as far as I am concerned--and a realist on foreign policy. Given the choices facing us, I concluded that conservatives ought to consider supporting Hillary in order to ensure that a more liberal candidate such as Barack Obama or John Edwards didn't become our next president.

Republicans hated Bill because he kept stealing their ideas, not because he was a radical leftist. Now they're worried that the choice is between a triangulator and an liberal ideologue.

They also think she's more of an opportunist than an idealist - she might be happy just to get the brass ring. Ross Douthat:

As a conservative, I see this as an advertisement for a Clinton presidency, not a mark against her candidacy. I like my liberal Presidents to offer "no big ideas, no crusading causes" - particularly after eight years of George W. Bush, Big Thinker.

... And yet, and yet. She has a real record now, and it's no more left-wing than her rivals, and a good deal more restrained. Whether you're a libertarian like Andrew or a social conservative like me, you're not going to be wild about any Democratic president. But better a liberal "Nixon in a Pant Suit," I often think - and whatever her pathologies they can't hold a candle to Tricky Dick's - than the liberal, realigning Reagan that Obama has an outside chance of turning out to be.

Moderate Republicans see in her a bit of themselves. Here's Andrew Sullivan, who dislikes Hillary, but can still identify with her on a fundamental level:

I've written before that Clinton's relentless sensibleness on many issues - including the war, where her own journey has been in the same direction as mine - makes her hard to oppose.

And finally, for the far right, there's the war. Hillary is the only Democrat running who hasn't completely repudiated the case for the Iraq war.

(Rich Lowry)

In those moments in the Democratic debates that have offered a choice between saying what the pacifist left wants to hear or saying what someone who might someday be president should say, she has done the latter. Her default mode is seriousness, and all her preparation shows. When she was asked in the most recent debate about the possibility of nearly three decades of a Bush or Clinton in the While House, I found myself commenting to a friend, “Watch — she’ll hit this out of the park.” Which she did with a joke about regretting that Bush won in 2000.

(Fred Barnes)

There was a key moment, however, and once again it pitted Clinton, the New York senator, against Barack Obama, her counterpart from Illinois. The question was whether they'd promise to meet in the first year of their presidency with the leaders of such enemy nations as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

"I would," Obama said, foolishly showing his inexperience, and perhaps his naivete as well, in foreign affairs. After all, he said, President Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and still talked to Soviet leaders. "I think it's a disgrace we haven't talked" to leaders of the five anti-American countries, Obama said.

(Charles Krauthammer)

From the Nation's David Corn to super-blogger Mickey Kaus, a near-audible gasp. For Hillary Clinton, next in line at the debate, an unmissable opportunity. She pounced: "I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year." And she proceeded to give the reasons any graduate student could tick off: You don't want to be used for their propaganda. You need to know their intentions. Such meetings can make the situation worse.

Just to make sure no one missed how the grizzled veteran showed up the clueless rookie, the next day Clinton told the Quad-City Times of Davenport, Iowa, that Obama's comment "was irresponsible and frankly naive.

None of these men will vote for Clinton. With the exception of Andrew Sullivan, they look at the Democratic field and think, "she's a person I could vote for, but I'd rather have a real Republican".

Deep down they believe Hillary is the smart move for Republicans. She motivates their base helping Republicans generally, but if she wins, she's still the most conservative Democrat. It keeps the debate shifted to the right.

And they dream of a rematch in 2012.

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