Clinton Counterfactuals

An overwhelming number of emails have arrived since we asked whether the debt crisis had given any readers a sense of “buyer’s remorse” about supporting President Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008.

The responses have varied wildly and readers have posed some interesting thoughts – a selection of which are shared below.SN was not a Hillary supporter from the start, but feels he could be now:

“I was a Biden delegate on caucus night, but actively supported Obama after that. I never liked Clinton and thought she was a Lieberman-type hawk who wanted to bomb Iran. On the other hand, if she mounted a primary challenge at this point I would caucus for her.

MS was a Hillary supporter, and expresses some sense of vindication:

“Hillary understands the politics. She lived it. Obama just wants to be loved. The junior shrink in me thinks it’s because he’s a skinny guy who probably had to learn early on to use his wit and charm to get along in the playground. But no matter what he does the Republicans will never like him. And while he’s trying to charm them he’s betraying everything he promised us during the campaign.”

However, many readers thought things would have been much the same under Clinton, or even worse. Some noted that her candidacy could have negatively affected the balance in the Senate and House in the 2008 general election. Others thought current Hill-Raisers were overlooking her past. EG, for instance, had the following to say:

“Hillary Clinton’s biggest political legacy is Bill Clinton’s white house, and he made his political career in capitulating to Republican demands. Ask these same progressive groups how they feel when they look back at things like NAFTA, Welfare reform, and the collapse of the Clinton healthcare proposal.”

BA thought there would probably have been little difference:

While I totally share the anger of those who suggest that Clinton would have handled this differently, what got us to this impasse is not Obama’s insufficient partisanship, but rather the rightward drift of the mainstream of the Democratic Party, which has completely embraced right-wing ideas about budget balancing, even in the midst of what is, in all but name, a deep recession. Clinton was nearly identical on matters of policy to Obama in the 2008 primaries. And the one notable policy disagreement–Clinton’s embrace of an individual healthcare mandate–was eventually taken up by the Obama administration.

A similar thought about the irrelevance of counterfactual history questions was also raised by RS:

“I think this is an escapist fantasy- it doesn’t matter who the Dems have in the White House as long as the GOP is dominated by its own far-right wing and as
long as the media are collectively incapable of going beyond he said-she said
reporting. We have just witnessed the GOP putting a gun to the head of the US
economy and demanding concessions, and the press continues to paint this as a
‘typical partisan spat’ in which ‘both sides must rise above political

This sense fueled the anger of some, such as GG, who thought that we were wasting time:

“Are you kidding us? Out of all of the very smart comments that appear on your message boards on a daily basis, you put, on your front page, a simple-minded comment that could have very well have been written by a paid right winger or someone from the Democrat Party’s version of the Tea Party? Shame on you.”

The anger of ES was directed in a slightly different direction:

“If my fellow Democrats and all those progressives wanted to govern without having to make big compromises, then they should have focused their energies last year on winning the House again. Instead, they spent a lot of time complaining that the Affordable Care Act didn’t have a public option. They made that the hill they wanted to die on and when they lost that fight, they left the battle.”