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Hillary Clinton Ignores Far Left – Will They Vote For Her Anyway?

By Warner Todd Houston

January 23, 2006

In a speech before a Princeton audience of about 800 on January 18th , Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator from New York, had a few words of scorn for the Bush administration's handling of the Iran nuke situation.


"I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran, because the White House chose to downplay the threats, and to outsource the negotiations. I don't believe you face threats like Iran or North Korea by outsourcing it to others, and standing on the sidelines. We cannot, and should not, must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. In order to prevent that from occurring, we must have more support, vigorously and publicly expressed, by China and Russia, and we must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations."


This is so filled with non-sequiturs and reversals of logic that it boggles the mind. It smacks of tirangulation as opposed to a clarification of her position as she tries to come at the problem from every angle to appear as if she can please all her potential constituents at once.


So, on one hand, we "lost critical time in dealing with Iran" because Bush tried to allow the diplomatic process undertaken by the Europeans and Iran to attempt to work itself out (wasn’t it the left who claimed Bush went to war without using diplomacy in 2001?).  She says we cannot "outsource" our negotiations to others (nice usage of a meaningless buzz word there). Yet, on the other hand, she insists in the self-same paragraph that we must have "more support ... by China and Russia" and that we "must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations" (seems like “outsourcing” to me!).


She is trying to have it both ways. Trying to make it seem that she is a hawk against the mad Mullahs in Iran, that she feels we "cannot, and should not, must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons", to please those who may want her to appear tough.  Yet, at the same time, she is unwilling to go far enough to insist that the US should utilize a military option or in any other way act "unilaterally" to prevent them from getting those nukes. Instead, she insists that we must rely on China, Russia and the UN to make "sanctions" to keep Iran from finally manufacturing those same nukes. But it must be remembered that Iran is a nation that has made it amply clear that it feels possessing nukes is a must and that no diplomatic solution is possible.


So, she sounds tough on Iran, yet still supplicant to the UN and international diplomacy. But, notice, she doesn’t try to please one major constituency with this stance. The constant pseudo tough talk has been the most interesting aspect of Hillary’s public stance since she became a Senator. She has been hawkish with her talk on Iraq, angering her most left wing supporters, and she is not changing that hawkish appearance on Iran to garner the far left’s support. She remains consistent with this avenue of policy advice.


And this is the thing about her current run for the presidency; and no one can claim she isn’t in the midst of such a run.


Hillary feels she has the room in her campaign to sound like a tough, military supporting, hawk, ignoring the anti-military left completely. Now, ordinarily, one would assume that a presumptive Democratic Party candidate for president would have to lock up the base before going on the stump and pretending they support the military. And the Democrat’s base is the anti-military, far left.


John Kerry, for instance, talked endlessly of “global solutions” and UN inclusion in US policy and acted as if using our military was anathema to his principles unless the UN told us to do so. He relied on his somewhat shaky service as an officer in Viet Nam to cement his bona fides as a true military supporter, yet talked against military usage the whole campaign. This was his attempt to satisfy both the far, anti-military left and the general, conservative Democrat voter.


It didn’t work very well.


But, Hillary’s tactic is more interesting. She isn’t making the slightest attempt to ally the fears of the far left. She is forging ahead and aiming solely for the middle of the road voter. With her hawkish stance she is trying to gain the support of both the conservative Democrats and those only loosely aligned with the GOP.


So, what about the leftist, Democratic base, those Democrats that hate the military, or at least hate the use of it? How can she go forward without their support?


She obviously feels that she has the room to ignore her base, the extreme left, because it seems she believes that they will vote for her no matter what she does. She has taken them for granted and is ignoring their concerns. (Hence why the Cindy Sheehans and the DailyKos types are calling for Hillary’s head on a pike)


But the danger she faces as a candidate is the primaries. If enough other Democratic challengers do pander to the left and make any headway doing it, it will have to drag Hillary leftward in the primaries as she faces those opponents. This will damage her drive to the middle because those who began to think her strong on the military will see that it was just a façade when she veers to the left during the primaries. And they won’t believe her when she tries to veer back to the center again if she comes out the winner after the primaries. She will come out damaged goods to the great middle.


But, as we stand right now, Hillary is not only taking her base utterly for granted, she is assuming that her challengers will be so weak as not to damage her current campaign tactics.


And, I cannot say that she is wrong to assume that the far, extreme left will vote for her no matter what she stands for when all is said and done. The Democrats have historically shown a far more reliable penchant for supporting the Party no matter the candidate than have the Republicans. When Republicans are not happy with a candidate, they don’t vote. (H.W.Bush against Clinton or Dole against Clinton just for two examples). On the GOP side, only Reagan really ever received a large Democratic cross over vote in the past.*


So, it might just be a good move for Hillary to assume that she has the base locked up despite her servicing that constituency with her rhetoric. It might just work for her to aim her moves solely at the centrists.


But, let’s hope she is wrong on both counts.


* Nixon also got a large Democrat crossover vote in 1972, but that was less because of Nixon than it was because the democrats picked a complete nut case in the personage of George McGovern as the candidate. McGovern was one time when the Democrats deserted the Party in droves… and rightfully so.


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