April
25th 2008
The Clintons R Us

Posted under: American history

UPDATED BELOW

Over at Corrente, VastLeft has an interesting run-down on Obama v. Clinton.  (Obama supporters, be warned:  it’s pretty snarky, so it might just make you angry.)  However, I think he makes an excellent point here in the way these two candidates are perceived and described by Democrats and by the news media:

What? Their voting records are “virtually identical”!? Still, when Obama made those votes he was being an awesome, young, transformative progressive. When Hillary made them, she was old, machine-like, and totally Republican about it. How could anyone fail to see the difference?

It’s been interesting to watch Obama run the Bill Clinton 1992 primary and general election campaign against Hillary Clinton.  Democrats have a history of loving their Washington “outsiders” and young (or young-ish) upstarts in Presidential politics, and arguably, those candidates have been the most successful of our candidates in second half of the twentieth century.  (Think Kennedy, Carter, and Bill Clinton.)  When Democrats have nominated insider favorites like Humphrey, Mondale, Gore, and Kerry, well–let’s just say that it hasn’t worked out so well, Gore’s victory in the popular vote (and in Florida, as it turned out) notwithstanding.

Obama’s problem, especially in some of the remaining primary states in May and June, is that lots of people in those states remember the Bill Clinton years very fondly.  Historiann lived in southwestern Ohio during the second Clinton term, when gas was 89 or 99 cents a gallon, and the Ford plant in Cincinnati and the GM plant in Dayton were running three shifts turning out Explorers and GMC trucks like they were never going out of style.  A lot of those men and women are now ten years older, gas is $3.50 a gallon, and people aren’t buying trucks and SUVs like they used to, so their jobs (if they still have them) are precarious.  Their unions–if they’re still in one–have been forced to accede to contracts that erode their retirement  and health care benefits.  They’re looking at a future for their now-teenaged and older children that may not offer them as good a life as the life they enjoyed in the 1990s.  The results in from Ohio and Pennsylvania suggest that these folks don’t think that Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame for the last seven and a half years of a declining dollar and global reputation, and increasing inflation and insecurity.  Although Bill Clinton and Al Gore worked to pass NAFTA, which is part of the cause of much of their insecurity, they trust Hillary Clinton more to reform NAFTA and health care.  (Obama has done a terrible job with NAFTA.  He’s allowed H. Clinton to own fair trade, when he should have hung that around her neck like an anchor–a tactic I wouldn’t see as fair or just, but I think he missed a real political opportunity.)

Just as Hillary Clinton had to run as a wise elder stateswoman who can get the job done, so Obama had to run the Bill Clinton “third way” campaign of 1992 as the attractive, youthful outsider who can energize young voters and reform Washington, but that decision has potentially painted his campaign (and perhaps the Democratic party) into a corner.  One commenter at Corrente, wasabi, summarizes the situation succinctly:  “The only way Obama was going to knock off the [then] frontrunner was to tear the Clinton legacy apart. The only way to do that was to convince everyone that Dems and Repubs are all alike, and it’s time for a transformation.  What a shame that he had to pick this time in history, when the country finally caught on to the destructive policies of the Republicans to push the meme that it’s not really the fault of the Republicans after all, but that darn partisanship.”

Maybe this turnabout is only fair play:  after all, a lot of party people back in 1992 were backhanded by Bill Clinton’s centrist campaign, which implicitly suggested that the Democratic party had become too liberal and explicitly touted plans to help the “forgotten middle-class” (not the poor), as well as distanced him from core Democratic constituencies (a la his “Sister Souljah” moment.)  And now, where there are differences between Obama and Hillary Clinton, he is running to her right on health care reform and gay rights, for example.  Yet many of Obama’s supporters seem invested in the notion–contrary to most of the evidence–that he is the more progressive candidate.  No one thought that of Bill Clinton in 1992–as I recall, the favored candidate of the brie-and-chablis set and the college Democrats that year (to the extent that we had one) was Jerry Brown.  Bill Clinton was correctly understood as a “third way” centrist who was going to be as hard on the excesses of both liberalism and conservativism, the post-ideological policy-wonk candidate who was interested in ideas that worked, regardless of where the ideas came from.  That’s pretty much who he turned out to be as President, while dealing with losing Congress and the years-long scandal-sniffing machine that culminated in his impeachment.

For obvious reasons, Obama must have and will continue to have a conflicted relationship with the legacy (and person) of Bill Clinton.  Obama has run a (Clintonian) centrist campaign that’s been (un-Clintonianly) vague on the details.  (Don’t take just my word for it–see Paul Krugman’s column this morning, for example.)  If Obama wins the nomination and the general election, what kind of President will he be?  I think the Clinton style and legacy will be with us for a long time, whether or not that’s the surname of the next President. 

UPDATE, 4/27/08:  Obama’s big interview on Fox News Sunday was today, and guess what?  He thinks that “there are a whole host of areas where Republicans in some cases may have a better idea,” such as industry deregulation, tort reform, and charter schools.  And, he mentions Ronald Reagan as a president whose example he would hew to in revising the capital gains tax.  Whaaaaaat?  Does he realize he’s still running in the Democratic primary?  So much for the school teachers, the trial lawyers, and anyone who doesn’t want a side of e-coli with their burger.  That should put to rest those persistent delutions that he’s the more progressive candidate.  It should, but it probably won’t.  (H/t to mydd for the run-down.)

Actually, I kind of get it that he tossed out the bones of tort reform and charter schools–most people don’t know what tort reform is, and many public school teachers support and teach in charter schools.  But industry deregulation?  Is it possible to deregulate industry further after seven and a half years of Bush?  Are people really unsatisfied with the amount of lead in their consumer goods and mercury in their fish, to the point that they’re demanding more?  Sheesh.

43 Comments »

43 Responses to “The Clintons R Us”

  1. Professor Zero on 25 Apr 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    I have not seen evidence that Obama or either Clinton, is progressive, although I do rather like Jeremiah Wright. I lived in Louisiana during the Clinton years when welfare was cut, the Federal death penalty was expanded, NAFTA was signed, and on, and on.

    The entire discourse of the country is quite conservative nowadys. I think people find Obama “progressive” because he keeps talking about the future, whereas HRC keeps saying the devil is in the details, which makes her more depressing. It’s why I have constant conflict with one of my department chairs: he thinks everything is all right or will be and leaves details to chance, so things crash; I have a little more experience and I know the devil is in the details and I say let us look at these, so we don’t crash; I am resented for this.

    This means I understand what it is to be in the Hillary position. But I have real trouble with anyone who had the chance to vote against the Iraq war and didn’t, and doesn’t retract it, for one thing. For another, I am tired of the Clintons and of dynasties; I never liked Bill and always supported more progressive candidates against him.

    Finally, of the people I know IRL the HRC supporters are *very* conservative, and the Obama supporters are much less so. I don’t think it is all because the Obama supporters are just deluded, they’re too bright. So are the HRC supporters. But they are still a lot more conservative and have values, interests and perceptions that differ quite greatly from my own.

    My candidates were Gravel and/or Kucinich and I then considered Edwards but voted for Obama, in the hopes of being able to move him leftward. This may not be possible but I believe I already know it is not possible with HRC.
    That is why.

  2. GayProf on 25 Apr 2008 at 3:27 pm #

    It’s true — I don’t really see much difference between Obama or Clinton. Nor do I think that a victory for either will automatically mean the dawn of a radically new era.

    Real change, it seems to me, has never resulted from politicians waking up one morning and suddenly seeing the light. It has usually taken the blood, sweat, and tears of grass roots organizing to break about social justice.

  3. GayProf on 25 Apr 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Oh, and, btw, I voted “undecided” because my chosen candidate (Richardson) wasn’t on my ballot. But, then, Democrats didn’t feel my vote really mattered anyway.

  4. rootlesscosmo on 25 Apr 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    What they said, pretty much. My current election slogan is “This time skip the infatuation and go straight to the bitter disenchantment.” I mean, I’m going to vote for the Democrat (though it hardly matters in California), and if the Democrat wins we’ll have some better judicial and regulatory agency appointments, which would be a relief; but we won’t get single payer, we won’t get labor law reform, the US Security Council delegate will still automatically veto any resolution even mildly critical of Israel, and at the end of the first term there will still be at least 35-40,000 US troops (plus “contractors”) in Iraq. So why wait to have events rip the scales from our eyes? Let’s lose ‘em now and talk about something else.

  5. SF on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:14 pm #

    I just have to ask this question, because I have not had time to research it, and maybe one of you knows the answer. My roommates insist that Hillary put out an ad prior to the Penn primary linking Obama’s name with Osama. Is this true?

  6. Roxie on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    You nail it on this one, Historiann. What drives us batty in Roxie’s World is that Obama has always been at best a reformer in the mode of Clinton 92, but he’s been canonized as a radical in the mode of RFK 68, even by the Kennedys, for heaven’s sake! And HRC, in the latter stages of the campaign, is much more seriously addressing the bread-and-butter issues that rightly matter to working-class Dems. Damn Mark Penn anyway. It’s what she should have been doing all along.

  7. Historiann on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    SF, maybe your roommates are thinking about this ad released before the PA primary. It didn’t mention Obama at all, and briefly showed a picture of Osama bin Laden to illustrate the issues and challenges of recent American history that the ad referrs to (pictures of the depression, gas lines, Hurricane Katrina, etc.)

    Here’s the ad, called “Kitchen.” It plays off of Harry S Truman’s famous saying about the Presidency, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

    http://www.hillaryclinton.com/video/169.aspx

    I thought it was a total creampuff. It’s fascinating to hear that this ad has morphed in people’s minds into an invidious comparison of Obama with Osama. But as you know, girls have to play by different rules. Clinton isn’t allowed to suggest that she’s the better candidate–that’s unseemly and proof of her insane, unladylike ambition! It never mentions any of her opponents, and merely reiterates her argument about experience and competence. And, unfortunately, because of the studied incompetence of the Bush administration, it’s quite likely that Osama bin Laden will be one of the many problems faced by the next president. There was a sensationalist headline in the New York Times describing the ad (but, conveniently, not linking to it) that claimed, alarmingly, that “On Eve of Primary, Clinton Ad Invokes bin Laden.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/us/politics/22campaign.html

  8. Ari on 25 Apr 2008 at 6:58 pm #

    I’m trying to stick to my promise not to comment here. But I just want to say that this is an excellent post. Not that you need or want my approval. Still, totally great stuff. Bravo!

  9. Ari on 25 Apr 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    Y’know, as soon as I pushed submit, I regretted having posted that comment, even though I stand by the sentiments expressed therein. Anyway, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled lurking now. Sorry about that.

  10. SF on 25 Apr 2008 at 9:29 pm #

    Wow, now I am pissed at my roommates (and disappointed, but then it just goes to show how blindly ideological the Obamaites are). I actually think that the ad is good (the first good one I’ve seen from HRC). Thanks for the clarification. And yes, Historiann, bravo for today’s post. And thanks for the link to Krugman.

  11. Indyanna on 25 Apr 2008 at 10:53 pm #

    Krugman’s piece today was indeed about the most lucid and concise statement of the case we’ve seen this Spring. You could almost rest the case on that note. The biggest service that the interminable Pennsylvania primary did may have been this: I always imagined that Bin Laden was sitting there in his cave all the while I was sitting in my office, late and way-past time for bed, clicking on Google News for “6578 more stories…” on the primary, wondering where the hell “Pennsylvania” is, and when this primary is going to actually happen, and didn’t Plane 4 take out “Pennsylvania” anyway? Retrospectively, it almost seems like some kind of a psy-war operation. The real action has now moved on to the real Indiana, and we’re sitting here looking around for oxygen masks.

    Yes, the post today was a very good and insightful analysis of the phenomenon of left-centrism in Democratic politics the last couple of decades.

  12. David on 26 Apr 2008 at 12:21 am #

    Obama is not “to the right” of Clinton on gay rights.

  13. Historiann on 26 Apr 2008 at 7:40 am #

    Thanks for all of your comments. But, no one has answered my question: what will an Obama presidency look like? Do you all agree with me that it’s going to look a lot like the Bill Clinton presidency? (Which by implication seems to undercut all of the Obama-loyalist frenzy of hatred for all things Clinton?)

    And, David: you keep insisting that Obama is better on gay rights than Clinton, without any evidence. (You keep citing stuff that happened when Bill Clinton was president, rather than looking at where Hillary Clinton is now and what she says.) The gays think Clinton is better–do you think they’re “low information” voters suffering from false consciousness? Please read the linked Advocate article, and look at what they’re saying on the gay blogs about it before making evidence-free claims.

  14. Knitting Clio on 26 Apr 2008 at 9:45 am #

    Hi Historiann,

    Yes, I agree with you, and so, apparently, does Angela Davis. See my latest blog post.

    As to gay rights — see Hillary Clinton’s appearance on “Ellen” a few weeks ago. Has Senator Obama been this outspoken about supporting gay rights? I don’t think so.

  15. rootlesscosmo on 26 Apr 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    no one has answered my question: what will an Obama presidency look like? Do you all agree with me that it’s going to look a lot like the Bill Clinton presidency?

    I was trying to say that, more or less, and so will a Hillary Clinton presidency. Remember the bitter disenchantment phase with Bill C.? Lani Guinier, Joycelyn Elders (the ol’ when-in-doubt-throw-the-sharks-a-Black-woman move), welfare reform, bombing the Somali pharmaceuticals plant? As I say, I think there are reasons to vote Democratic in November, but I don’t think they’re terribly compelling, and I’m baffled by the passionate loyalty both Democrats awaken in their supporters when they’re barely distinguishable from each other or from the last Democratic president. “Less repellent than McCain”–say, there’s a slogan to stir the blood!

  16. David on 26 Apr 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    I think gays are locked in an abusive relationship with the Clintons, yes. Sorry if you find that patronizing. I have gay friends who support Clinton, and gay friends who support Obama, though, so they aren’t a monolithic group. But I do think there’s something frankly a little weird about how much of the gay community loves the Clintons even though the Clintons never did anything for gays besides stab them in the back when it was most convenient.

    The only evidence you’ve used to suggest that Obama is to the right of Clinton is his refusal to do interviews with gay papers. Well, he’s also refused to do interviews with black papers, which I guess places him to the right of her on African-American issues.

    I did read the Advocate article, and in that article he comes out strongly against don’t ask, don’t tell, and the Defense of Marriage Act, and he also speaks honestly about the political hurdles to be overcome on gay rights questions.

    Can someone point me to a Hillary Clinton speech in which she addressed the issue of equality between gays and straights, that was to a mainstream audience? Just one will suffice. Obama has included that in all his major speeches. The Jefferson-Jackson dinner speech, the speech at King’s church, speeches after his big wins and after his big losses. He’s said it time and time and time again.

    As for Ellen, Obama went on there months ago, before the primaries started.

    Really, this has to be the silliest line of attack ever, and the deafest. It almost sounds as if the people making this charge have simply never heard an Obama speech.

    To Historiann’s question, I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. Clinton tacked hard to the right after 1994, so that changed his presidency. I expect that he will be to the left of Clinton on foreign policy questions (i.e. he’s not going to nuke Iran, under any circumstances), but other than that I don’t know.

  17. Historiann on 26 Apr 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    OK, so your answer is that he talked about gay rights in his speeches. However, I think that it’s more meaningful that Clinton sat down more than once with all kinds of gay media to talk to them about LGBTQ issues. That’s what people do in political campaigns–by speaking to different constituencies, the candidate signals that their interests and needs are important to them.

    According to The Advocate interview, “Unlike his rival Hillary Clinton, who’s given interviews to Logo and several local papers since appearing on the cover of The Advocate last fall, the Illinois senator has talked only once, to The Advocate, to address the Donnie McClurkin controversy.” The Advocate article continued, “Some may call the chat a shrewd political move by the Obama camp ahead of the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. We call it access.”

    So, apparently David, you have access to a covert gay rights agenda that Obama has and is keeping secret from one of the largest gay publications in the country. In fact, he said this later in the interview, in response to a question about who or what had changed his mind about the gay community, about a Prof. of his at Occidental:

    “He was the first openly gay professor that I had ever come in contact with, or openly gay person of authority that I had come in contact with. And he was just a terrific guy. He wasn’t proselytizing all the time, but just his comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues.”

    So, by implication, most homosexuals are uncomfortable in their own skin, and proselytizing “all the time.” And he said it to The Advocate! It’s a dumb thought, and even more extremely dumb to say that to a gay newspaper. I can’t believe that the gays aren’t flocking to his camp. (At least, all of the mentally healthy ones who don’t proselytize.)

    (For those who are interested, the Ellen interview from earlier this month is posted at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo6VMpSlMiI&feature=related

  18. Geoff on 27 Apr 2008 at 12:17 am #

    I think the burden of proof is on the person charging that Obama is to the right of Clinton on gay rights. Stating that he is to the right of Clinton is an inference that he is somehow less supportive of gay rights than Clinton, and there hasn’t been anything yet mentioned in this discussion that would lead to such a conclusion.

    What I find disappointing about these threads is the way Democrats are speaking to and about other Democrats. I haven’t heard language like this ever, and I’ve been involved with campaigns and politics since 1992 — as one of those Jerry Brown supporters. Please, folks, let’s not paint with a broad brush, build up straw men, or take either candidates statements (or ads) out of context. Whatever the candidates have been saying about each other in public, the debates on the internet between their supporters have been far more bruising.

    Some (and I’m not speaking of anyone here) seem to think that once we settle on a candidate, the momentum will swing back to the Democratic candidate, and that McCain’s weaknesses will become apparent. I have no such optimism. As Professor Zero said, the entire discourse of the country is conservative these days. I think McCain is a strong candidate, the strongest the Republicans could have chosen. We’re going to need to put these issues behind us soon.

    I’d love to see us discuss what we like in Obama and Clinton. I caucused for Obama, but am glad to see that if Clinton gets the nomination, she’ll fight like no Democrat since LBJ to win. She’s also shown up consistently at the conventions of a union of which I am a member. The healing in this party can’t start soon enough.

  19. Historiann on 27 Apr 2008 at 7:10 am #

    Geoff–good comment. Clinton and Obama are very close on their stated policy on gay issues. But, I think the fact that Clinton has regularly talked to gay media about gay issues is evidence that she sees them as part of her governing coalition. Gay people also seem to get that–and they also get that Obama hasn’t been so willing to sit down with them. I would call that running to her right–or perhaps running away from gay issues on his part. I don’t get why he’s running away from the gay in the primary, unless he fears that being seen as gay-friendly will hurt him with other constituencies. (Again, in the primary, I don’t know who that would be!) Moreover, HRC has never made the patronizing comments about “not proselytizing” gay people that Obama made. To the Advocate!

    And, the fact that he’s running to her right on health care reform, and even running nasty Harry-and-Louise style ads against her, complete with Republican scare-tactic talking points, has not been contested here. My point is that where there is daylight between them policy-wise, Clinton is more progressive than Obama on the issues I care about.

  20. Historiann on 27 Apr 2008 at 7:41 am #

    p.s. to Geoff: the gay issue is one that has been debated here before. David repeatedly shows up and claims without evidence that Obama is better on gay rights, mostly because of Bill Clinton’s policies, not because of any information he can present about Hillary Clinton.

    And, if you check the discussion threads in my political posts, most of the commenters are Obama supporters. Only a few have made nasty or destructive comments, but those that have have all been about or against HRC. This blog has repeatedly called out BS when it’s slung against Obama. It’s just that in my opinion, there’s obviously been much more hatred and obscenity directed at Clinton both by the media and (as you point out) by Democrats.

  21. David on 27 Apr 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    Geoff,

    I support Obama because he is the first politician in my lifetime who seems both progressive and authentic in his progressivism. I support him because he wants to elevate the discourse in this country. A great example of this was the PA debate, when the moderators were going after Clinton on the Bosnia thing, and when it came time for Obama to respond, he just said that these issues were a waste of time and he didn’t have anything else to say about it. Likewise, in the Ohio debate in February, when Clinton said that the photo of him in African garb didn’t come from her campaign, he said he took her at her word and that was it.

    Throughout this ridiculous campaign, you continually see him trying to move beyond the awful narratives that the media tries to construct during political campaigns. He has tried to do it with the whole Wright fiasco, and many other issues besides. I think he’s trying to appeal to “the better angels of our nature,” and that is the thing I respect and admire about him the most. He panders, but he panders much less than the other contenders.

    On policy issues, both he and Clinton are too conservative for me. But I accept that as part of the way American politics works. I know that my vote does not matter one bit, and I know that substantively there would be little difference between a Clinton and Obama presidency. This campaign is little more than a sport.

  22. David on 27 Apr 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    Historiann,

    You made the claim in this thread, which was the only reason I posted here to begin with, that Obama was to the right of Clinton on gay rights. The evidence you have brought forth for this assertion is that Obama has not given interviews with the gay press. By this logic, you must then accept that Obama is to the right of Clinton on African-American issues as well.

    But, enough: Please tell me on what issue related to gay rights Obama is to the right of Clinton. Does Clinton support gay marriage as opposed to civil unions? No. So her stance is the same as Obama’s.

    Obama and Clinton have earned the exact same score from the Human Rights Campaign, 89 out of 100 percent. Obama has a long record of opposing discrimination against gays, dating back to his opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. By contrast, in her 2000 campaign for U.S. Senate, Clinton stated that she would have voted for the DOMA.

    So Obama is currently on exactly the same page as Clinton when it comes to gay issues, but he has a longer track record of opposing DOMA. There is virtually no difference between them, but substantively Obama’s track record shows more consistency with regards to gay rights issues.

    There. That’s my evidence.

  23. David on 27 Apr 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    Just to give some follow-up here: In 2006 Clinton acknowledged that her position on DOMA had “evolved” and that her 2000 stance did not reflect “the many long conversations with friends” about LGBT issues.

    http://gaycitynews.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17379741

    In early 2004, before his campaign for U.S. Senate was heating up, Obama was already calling attention to the need to repeal DOMA. He again references his 1996 opposition to the bill.

    http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=4018

  24. Historiann on 27 Apr 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    For other views on Clinton versus Obama, please see:

    http://noquarterusa.net/blog/2008/04/26/open-letter-to-all-lgbt-community-members-and-supporters/

    (Warning: some of the commenters on No Quarter can be very nastily anti-Obama. However, that article is fair, and reviews all of the reasons many LGBTQ people are skeptical of Obama–Donnie McLurkin, the “don’t take my picture with Gavin Newsom” incident, etc.)

    The Human Rights Campaign prepared a handy sheet comparing the two on major gay issues, and they have identical positions:
    http://www.hrc.org/documents/Questionnaire_ReportCard-ClintonObama.pdf

    Finally, it’s clear that Clinton has done much better in garnering the endorsement of gay organizations and newspapers–here’s a run-down of what happened in Pennsylvania, for example:
    http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=17357

    I maintain that it’s very important that Obama is seen as running away from (and not wanting to be photographed with) gay rights people and organizations. If he did this to any other group inside the Democratic coalition, there would be holy heck to pay–unions, for example. How would unions feel if Obama wouldn’t meet with them?

    In supporting Clinton, LGBTQ people and organizations are either suffering delusionally bad false consciousness, or they know who’s really their friend. You be the judge.

  25. David on 27 Apr 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    What you seem to be saying is that Obama is not as effective a panderer to gay groups as Clinton. They are identical on the issues. Clinton has some inconsistency in her past but she’s forgiven for this because she gives interviews and has photos taken? Is that the argument? And Obama merits the scorn of gay organizations for not doing the same, even though he’s been advocating for gay rights for his entire political career?

  26. Historiann on 27 Apr 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    You admit that Obama is ducking and Clinton is effectively courting gay organizations, so you have to call it “pandering.” Nice try. “She’s pandering!” is the lame excuse the other team offers when their candidate isn’t as effective at getting support from a key constituency.

  27. David on 27 Apr 2008 at 6:09 pm #

    Well, you haven’t effectively responded to my posts above, where I clearly lay out how Obama has a better record on gay issues. But if you are more impressed by newspaper interviews and photographs, then there’s nothing else to say.

    And yes, “pandering” is what the Clintons have always done very well. Target a constituency, promise them the world, and then, to borrow Melissa Etheridge’s phrase, “throw them under the bus” as soon as it is in your own political interests to do so.

  28. David on 27 Apr 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    Oh, and definitely nice comments on that site. Good to know that there are gay people out there who think Obama is a “misanthrope” who hates blacks, whites, and gays, that he is homophobic for not appearing in a picture with Gavin Newsome, that he is like Hitler was with the Jews, and that he is also a fascist. Further, I learned from reading the comments that Obama supporters are “savages”, that Obama wants to assimilate with Middle Easterners and is in league with Hamas. He’s also “crippled psychologically” and “dumber than a brick.”

    Yup, “anti-Obama” is one way of putting that. I’ve heard Obama supporters say a LOT of things about Clinton, but funny, I’ve never heard them compare her to Goebbels.

  29. ej on 27 Apr 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    I’m not sure what interview the folks at MyDD were watching, but Obama didn’t exactly cite Reagan as a model, he merely defended his capital gains cap of 28% as the one in place under Reagan (he was talking to FOX) and as far as the regulation issue, he was addressing ways of regulating that weren’t necessarily top down, which is not the same as deregulation.

    That said, it was an odd interview. I have to admit, it was the first time in my life that I actually watched anything on Fox news, and they weren’t the flesh-eating monsters I had anticipated. It almost seemed like they were being nice to him, which is odd…

    I have nothing to say about either candidate and the gays.

  30. Historiann on 28 Apr 2008 at 7:02 am #

    David, as I have said before, we just thoroughly disagree. I think Clinton is the better and more progressive candidate on the issues I care about. She has been responsive and open to gay organizations and gay media, which is something that gay people have noticed and responded to. I don’t know how that can be construed as a bad thing, but you’re welcome to your opinion, just as you’re welcome to your opinion that Obama is better on gay issues.

    I warned you that the comments on that website are over the top–I don’t agree with them, nor do I endorse every idea in the letter or the comments. But, I thought the “open letter to GLBTQ” people was a useful summary for why many gay people don’t feel totally comfortable with Obama. I suppose anyone who links to DailyKos or Talking Points Memo has to take responsibility for the filthy misogyny that’s in the comments threads over there?

  31. Historiann on 28 Apr 2008 at 7:05 am #

    ej–the quotation from the Fox transcript is this:

    (OBAMA) In terms of capital gains, I’ve suggested we might go back up to 20 because –

    WALLACE: You have suggested 28.

    OBAMA: Well, but what I’ve said is, I certainly would not raise it higher than it was under Ronald Reagan. But the fact is, is that I’m mindful that we’ve got to keep our capital gains tax to a point where we can actually get more revenue.

    http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/04/27/transcript-obama-on-fns/
    ______________________________________

    The pro-Obama blogs are in a major snit over the interview, and the fact that they were told that Obama “takes on” Fox News in the interview, when clearly, he didn’t. See this comment from a pro-Obama blogger:

    http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=3D9BAC288EFE1B4B7713D53E01EAE17D?diaryId=5412

    Hey kids: politicians lie. That’s what they do, and that’s what Obama apparently did in spinning this interview to pro-Obama blogs.

  32. David on 28 Apr 2008 at 8:21 am #

    No, I don’t think you have to take responsibility for those comments, but they were shocking to me nonetheless. And I’ve never seen that level of insanity on Daily Kos, though I have seen some nasty things said about Clinton there. But comparing Clinton to Hitler? Nope, never seen that one before.

    But I was grateful for having the opportunity to read those comments.

  33. David on 28 Apr 2008 at 8:23 am #

    Also, for the record I was impressed with Obama’s interview with Fox. As EJ pointed out, in that passage he’s not citing Reagan as a role model, just referencing how high he’d move the capital gains tax. But nonetheless, surely we can agree that raising the capital gains tax does not make Obama a closet Republican and admirer of Ronald Reagan?

  34. Historiann on 28 Apr 2008 at 8:24 am #

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=hillary+clinton+is+hitler

    Nope–Hillary Clinton has never been compared to Hitler!

    As for Ronald Reagan: this is not the first time he’s cited Reagan as a guiding light. Again, I just think it’s a questionable thing to do when you’re trying to win the Democratic nomination.

  35. This is now officially a post-Rachel blog : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 31 Aug 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    [...] is claiming that Obama represents a rejection of “Clintonism,” which is just silly (as I could have told her last spring!), and she’s now claiming that any former supporter of Hillary Clinton who doesn’t [...]

  36. The Ladies of Edenton meet the next lady of Foggy Bottom : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 22 Nov 2008 at 11:39 am #

    [...] way towards repairing the damage done to the international reputation of the United States.  And, as I said back in April, “the Clinton style and legacy will be with us for a long time, whether or not that’s the [...]

  37. The Ladies of Edenton meet the next lady of Foggy Bottom : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 22 Nov 2008 at 11:39 am #

    [...] way towards repairing the damage done to the international reputation of the United States.  And, as I said back in April, “the Clinton style and legacy will be with us for a long time, whether or not that’s the [...]

  38. cgeye on 06 Jan 2009 at 11:01 am #

    As an addendum to David’s post on 26 Apr 2008 at 2:18 pm:

    Ha. Fucking. HA.

    Yes, it’s unsporting to reach that far back, but I claim it makes a difference when a candidate doesn’t mind being seen with you, talking to you in public, and not dismissing your concerns, large and small, for political gain. Clinton, on the whole, has been and will continue to be a better supporter of feminist and gay rights. McClurkin’s inclusion was not an outlier, as we now see.

    At least the Clintons faced armed right-wing soldiers when Bill backed DADT, and the whole of Congress with DOMA. Obama folded in the face of evangelicals who only voted for him (if they did) because McCain’s campaign ran out of steam. Sucking up to them *after he has won* is nothing but showing his true intentions — to place all progressive groups under the bus.

  39. Historiann on 06 Jan 2009 at 11:18 am #

    You said it, cgeye. David was my one persistent commenter who throughout the primaries refused to interpret what Obama actually said and did in the rational way. He was like many Obama supporters wholly devoted to his fantasy candidate. (And equally devoted to a Satanic notion of Hillary Clinton. Funny how those two holograms always went hand-in-hand in the minds of some people.

  40. cgeye on 06 Jan 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    Yep, everyone forgets how the militias were barking and active before Waco and OKC, and how they were the real radicals pushing the Overton Window so far right it sailed out of the frame and onto the pavement. Nothing, NOTHING the fragments of the left are trying to do now compares to that, IMHO.

    Clinton had to push back against them AND the Congress AND his own party to get anything other than corporatist favors done — and folks have the balls to compare those trials to Obama’s, when he’s not even in office yet? Yeah. Right.

  41. Barack Hoover Obama or Barack Delano Roosevelt? : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 21 Jun 2009 at 10:51 am #

    [...] of 1929 and 2009 may hold up.  (Unfortunately!)  Longstanding readers know that I think  Obama is more like Bill Clinton than any of his other predecessors–and I think my analysis from last spring still rings true.  Baker’s article seems [...]

  42. In the words of Homer J. Simpson, “It’s funny because it’s true!” : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 04 Oct 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    [...] be lucky than good.” He could do worse than emulating Bill Clinton’s example–as I have already long since predicted he might–in finding himself quite fortunate in the enemies he [...]

  43. Assemble your own Frankenstein President! : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 03 Jan 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    [...] far.  As I delight in reminding you, it’s been clear to me since the 2008 primaries that Obama would govern much like Bill Clinton–although why he does so with substantial Democratic congressional majorities (instead of [...]

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