Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hillary Clinton Announces

Senator Hillary Clinton announced today that she's running for President in 2008. Actually, she announced that she's forming an exploratory committee, but that means she's running, at least pending the results of the committee's report, which I'm sure will be positive. Some parts of the Internet are thrilled that she announced her candidacy on the Internet, and some are positively gaga that she has hired Peter Daou, a well known blogger who has worked for Salon magazine, one of the first online magazines. I'm not one of these people, however.

I'm not all that impressed with people who have cell phones, PDAs, or whatever the latest gadget is. They're interesting devices, but the fact that someone uses one tells me very little. A better question is: Why does he use it? Does he use it because he has to for his job, because he needs to keep in touch with his family, or because he just wants to keep up with the rest? The first case strikes me as impressive only if the person in question has a severe learning or other disability that makes learning to use a cell phone difficult. The second at least tells me that his family is an important part of his life, and that's a positive thing. The third may be good or bad, depending why someone wants to keep up. Is it to see what he's been missing, or just a way to indicate his status?

Merely using a technology tells us nothing about a person. The motivations for using that technology, and what the person had to do in order to be able to use it are another issue. How effectively he uses it is also interesting. On that level, Senator Clinton's use of the Internet so far hasn't been all that impressive. She hasn't used it to keep in touch with America all that much, apparently having delegated that task to her IT staff. She's pretty good at getting her message out, given the overall quality of her campaign website. Perhaps we'll do a critique later, but so far it's miles ahead of Senator Barack Obama's. For now, I'll just reiterate that this isn't all that impressive. Howard Dean turning to the Internet in 2004 was impressive. It showed that he was willing to adapt and consider what were then new ideas. Now it's almost assumed that an Internet presence will be part of any national or statewide campaign. Dean was also very effective in utilizing the Internet, which showed an ability to understand new ideas. So far, that isn't evident in the Clinton 2008 campaign. We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, here's what I want in a candidate. I want a candidate who is a good speaker, has at least a minimal amount of charisma, has demonstrated the ability to lead a government, and who wants America to go in the same direction I do. The things I want to know about a candidate are:

  • What is the candidate's goal in Iraq? I don't expect a battle plan, what I expect is to be able to answer the question I posed, which is whether he intends to stay, leave, offer humanitarian support (and if so, how?), or just get out and let the Iraqis deal with the mess? Or, is there another alternative? So far, Clinton's answer has been "more of the same, or maybe a little less". That's not good enough by a long shot.

  • What he will do about the looming health care crisis. Nearly one sixth of this country is uninsured (PDF), and according to a proposal by the American Medical Association, nearly all of us may be underinsured (PDF). Does the candidate see that there's a problem? If so, what is he going to do about it - socialized medicine, single payer, mandatory coverage, or supplemental insurance? Clinton's been so burned by her experiences during the Bill Clinton Administration that I don't think she's dared propose anything. I can't blame her too much here, but to be taken seriously on this issue I think she'd better come up with an idea about what she wants to do and communicate that plan to the voters.

  • What does the candidate intend to do to restore the rights we've been losing during the Bush Administration? Will he allow the continued illegal surveillance of domestic communications? How about the suspension of habeas corpus in the Military Commisions Act (AKA "the Torture Act")? What about Guantanomo and the black site network? Does he intend to repeal the parts of the Patriot Act that allow warrantless searches? So far, nothing meaningful from Clinton on these issues. She has been remarkably silent as a U.S. Senator, in fact, and has not even hinted at doing anything in the way of repealing the acts in question, impeaching or censuring Bush for his clear violations of several laws, or of doing anything other than what's being done right now. This is totally unacceptable to me, and on its own is enough to disqualify her as a serious candidate, in my opinion.

  • Does the candidate have a meaningful plan for mending the woeful state of our disaster preparedness? So far, not much on this has been heard from Clinton.

I rarely hear any candidates expressing interest in these issues, much less concrete positions. So far, John Edwards has said the right things about some of them, but in Hillary Clinton's case, and most of the other announced candidates, there has been little more than pablum so far, or the candidates' records indicate that they feel differently than I do.

So, for me at least, this has been a big yawn. Wake me up when Senator Clinton takes an unpopular stand on something more significant than violent video games that don't involve converting people to Christianity and flag burning. When she does that, it won't matter if she sends the message by heliograph, I'll find out, and so will the rest of the Internet.


Anonymous said...

Cujo - I agree with all the bullet points you listed as things you are looking for in a candidate. I'll add two of my own:

I want someone with foreign policy experience. That could come in the form of someone like Richardson, who clearly has the most impressive credentials in that arena, or it could mean someone (like Clinton) who has traveled widely, especially to hotspots like the Middle East, China, South Asia, Africa and Latin America. Or it could be someone who has enough national political experience to have been privy to foreign policy matters, like Edwards.

But more than anything, I want someone who will deal honestly with the American people, because that kind of leadership is, currently, sorely lacking among both Republicans and Democrats. I crave a candidate who will deal in a straightforward manner and answer the questions asked, as Howard Dean did when he was running for prez. And on that account, neither Clinton nor Obama has cornered the market.

Cujo359 said...

Hi shoephone,

Yes, honesty with us is something I should have thought of. Of course, plain old honesty, as in not being corrupt, is nice, too, but I guess I assume that the Democrats will be honest - of the current crop of likely candidates, I can't think of one who's been rightly accused of corruption.

Foreign policy experience, would be nice, as well. Failing that, at least a candidate should show a willingness to meeting with people who have different views and ideologies, plus proven skills at negotiating.