New York Times Endorses Hillary Clinton
This is big. The New York Times has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. It's no tepid endorsement. It "strongly recommends" her candidacy.
Big Tent Democrat just e-mailed me and said the endorsement sounds like something I would have written. Let's take a look.
First, it describes the top contenders.
Hillary Clinton, the brilliant if at times harsh-sounding senator from New York; and Barack Obama, the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois. The remaining long shot, John Edwards, has enlivened the race with his own brand of raw populism.
Then, it rules out John Edwards:
The former senator from North Carolina has repudiated so many of his earlier positions, so many of his Senate votes, that we’re not sure where he stands. We certainly don’t buy the notion that he can hold back the tide of globalization.
The Times then moves to historical firsts, which I've written about several times. As to race and gender, it says:
“Firstness” is not a reason to choose.
It then points out, as I have many times, there's no big difference between Hillary and Obama on issues:
On the major issues, there is no real gulf separating the two. They promise an end to the war in Iraq, more equitable taxation, more effective government spending, more concern for social issues, a restoration of civil liberties and an end to the politics of division of George W. Bush and Karl Rove.
Mr. Obama has built an exciting campaign around the notion of change, but holds no monopoly on ideas that would repair the governing of America.
Now, here's the meat of the endorsement:
Hearing her talk about the presidency, her policies and answers for America’s big problems, we are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience.
It is unfair, especially after seven years of Mr. Bush’s inept leadership, but any Democrat will face tougher questioning about his or her fitness to be commander in chief. Mrs. Clinton has more than cleared that bar, using her years in the Senate well to immerse herself in national security issues, and has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military. She would be a strong commander in chief.
Moving on to domestic issues, particularly health care: The Times praises Hillary and says of Obama (another point I've made many times):
Mr. Obama may also be capable of tackling such issues, but we have not yet seen it. Voters have to judge candidates not just on the promise they hold, but also on the here and now.
The Times says it wants change from Bush and his policies, just as Obama's supporters do.
But we need more specifics to go with his amorphous promise of a new governing majority, a clearer sense of how he would govern.
The Times then addresses who will be ready on day one to be President.
The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president.
On Iraq, the Times says it opposed the war and notes Hillary originally supported it. But, the issue now, is how do we get out:
That’s not the issue now; it is how the war will be ended. Mrs. Clinton seems not only more aware than Mr. Obama of the consequences of withdrawal, but is already thinking through the diplomatic and military steps that will be required to contain Iraq’s chaos after American troops leave.
On civil liberties, the rule of law and balance of power:
Mr. Obama talks more about the damage Mr. Bush has done to civil liberties, the rule of law and the balance of powers. Mrs. Clinton is equally dedicated to those issues, and more prepared for the Herculean task of figuring out exactly where, how and how often the government’s powers have been misused — and what must now be done to set things right.
After asking Hillary to tone down the criticism and tone of the debate, it talks about her 2000 campaign for Senator (which I chronicled at the time here.)
We know that she is capable of both uniting and leading. We saw her going town by town through New York in 2000, including places where Clinton-bashing was a popular sport. She won over skeptical voters and then delivered on her promises and handily won re-election in 2006.
The Times concludes:
Her ideas, her comeback in New Hampshire and strong showing in Nevada, her new openness to explaining herself and not just her programs, and her abiding, powerful intellect show she is fully capable of doing just that. She is the best choice for the Democratic Party as it tries to regain the White House.
Big Tent Democrat is right. If I were to endorse Hillary Clinton right now, those are some of the arguments I would make. I think the Times is correct that Barack Obama is not ready or experienced enough to be President and that his change meme sounds good but lacks specifics. If he stays in the Senate or moves to another position in national politics and does a good job over the next several years, I could endorse him in 2016.
That leaves Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for me. I'm still not committing. I want to wait until the Feb. 5 voters have a chance to weigh in. But, if and when I decide to endorse Hillary, I will provide even more reasons to do so than those given by the Times.
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