Elections '08 National Politics Presidential Race



In this week’s New Yorker Magazine,
George Packer writes insightfully and eloquently about the very different ways that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama approach the presidency. It’s very definitely a must read. Here’s one of the nut ‘graphs.

The alternatives facing Democratic voters have been characterized variously
as a choice between experience and change, between an insider and an outsider, and between two firsts—a woman and a black man. But perhaps the most important difference between these two politicians—whose policy views, after all, are almost indistinguishable—lies in their rival conceptions of the Presidency. Obama offers himself as a catalyst by which disenchanted Americans can overcome two decades of vicious partisanship, energize our democracy, and restore faith in government. Clinton presents politics as the art of the possible, with change coming incrementally through good governance, a skill that she has honed in her career as advocate, First Lady, and senator.

But then it gets much more interesting. Here’s the link.


UPDATED: Commenter Reg makes the point that Packer’s article has a distinctly Hillary-leaning tilt (It does to some degree, but still is very much worth reading and discussion.). So to balance it out he suggests this American Prospect piece. Indeed, the two make a good pair. Read away and let me know what you think.

I’ll be headed through the (heavy) rain to UC Irvine to meet with my very smart Literary Journalism class. I’ll look for your fabulously clarifying analysis when I get back.

(PS: Last night we had a Tornado warning in Topanga. What’s that about???)


  • It doesn’t matter–for Democrats or Republicans. That Rodham-Clinton woman is going to be the next President, even if she has to kill someone.

  • Hey, if Richard Holbrooke thinks she’s a great choice, who’s gonna argue with that ? Only problem with that article – not enough James Carville and Madeline Albright…

  • Sorry, but I thought Packer’s article was, predictably, a big wet kiss to fellow “liberal hawk” Hillary (who was as wrong on Iraq as Packer famously was.) For political analysis as opposed to Vanity Fair analysis, which is what Packer mostly provides in that article, that gets to the heart of why Obama is the superior choice, read this piece by Mark Schmitt at American Prospect.


  • Oh, I don’t know, reg, maybe. But, I still felt it was worth reading and I came away feeling that my last week of soft-on-Hillary thoughts were wrong headed and she has a fundamental personality flaw that, although we may be stuck with it, should be a deal breaker. But I’ll check out the Mark Schmitt piece. Thanks for the link. I may link to it too if I can quickly read through it before I have to head off to Irvine.

  • Poor Reg. Like our mutual friend Marc Cooper he treats any article on the race that doesn’t portray Hillary as one of Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of anngry God” as a “wet kiss”. And its NEW YORKER reg not VANITY FAIR. Same publisher but very different vibes.

  • My point about the Packer piece was that it’s personality-driven. I don’t think that’s the essence of what we’re dealing with. I think we’re dealing with approaches to politics that are pretty finely honed and rooted in values and, dare I say it, experience,, not “personality quirks” (life lived isn’t simply “personality”) Of course, Obama gets the same treatment because that’s what sells mags. That said, I think that Packer scrambling to get the word on Hillary from Richard Holbrooke qualifies his article as more than a bit “hack” and deliberately dipping from the well from which Packer also drinks. Holbrooke is one of the reasons nobody who doesn’t believe fundamentally in the virtues of American imperialism should vote for Clinton. And the line about forgetting what was actually said a few daysl later after hearing Obama’s speech and responding to it positively was rich. The “choice” here is getting fed a canned speech that doesn’t move you WHILE you’re hearing AND forgetting the content within hours, at best. I guess the root of my reaction is that I’ve heard everything I ever want to hear about either Clinton two or three times over. It’s beyond boring and I dread 8 years of this recycled melodrama. If Democrats choose to run with this duo, we deserve to continue to be the shitty party we currently are. Which will inevitably be our fate in the hands of Hillary, Holbrooke and the rest of this sorry crew…

  • It’s funny about the Packer piece – because it’s a bit of a rorshach test (which also IMHO affirms my point) because I didn’t read it as a “dealbreaker” estimation of Hillary but as a soft reading of her weaknesses conjoined with the “hope” that she would become “the best Hillary she can be” which is something quite admirable. Maybe I missed something. I have little-to-no admiration for her – just the certain knowledge that tepid DLC Clintonism isn’t totally reprehensible – like the guys on the other party’s side of the November 8 contest – just totally uninspiring, utterly predictable, personality-driven (which is ironic when one considers the half-assed brickbats thrown at Obama form “conventional wisdom” Dems) and holding out little hope for the fortunes of the Democratic party as a whole other than the defensive, GOP-lite posture of the ’90s.

  • Celeste: (PS: Last night we had a Tornado warning in Topanga. What’s that about???)

    It’s global warming! Al Gore says that it’s getting worse! Run! Buy your carbon credits from him before it’s too late.

    On the primaries, who cares? It’s over. The links below sum up the attitudes of a lot:

    LINKS to Physics Geek:

    One more thing

    If things turn out how I fear they might during this presidential campaign, it will actually prove quite liberating to me because I simply will not care. If [insert Democrat here] squares off against John McCain, I will ignore the process, the debates, the polls and pretty much any news channel until after the first Tuesday in November.

    Post debate wrapup

    I didn’t actually watch it last night because (a) I had some clothes to fold and (b) we need to get this crap over with. …Once you start to think of Romney as a six-foot-tall erect penis, you just can’t see him any other way.

    Spring training starts soon.

  • The Clinton’s are about to take over everything, Woody – from the internet to the food supply. The best you can do at this point is to go to Sam’s Club and stock up on bottled water while you still can.

  • Reg I just read the NEW YORKER piece and it seems even-handed to me. Yes it was a “Personality” piece. That’s what they call a “Profile” in the NEW YORKER. But, eye of the beholder and all that.

  • You didn’t find it intriguing that Packer’s piece opened with the story of a Yale Law Classmate who sublet to Bill and Hil in New Haven and was at their wedding – as they were at his. And was an early FOB. But is now supporting Obama?

    That not enough for you? Maybe he had to say that the scales had come free from his and now he walks the path of truth and righteoeness?

  • That was nice…but I really, really don’t give a shit what Richard Holbrooke thinks. And the opener was basically an intro to a piece about Hillary…who I’m increasingly also not giving a shit about what she thinks.

  • Celeste,
    I am trying to post a comment about Hillary Clinton, but my McAfee Virus software is warning me about a spy-ware program on your web-site. I am now very concerned, since I’ve just read about Hillary Clinton is killing persons posting disparaging comments about her or her campaign tactics.

    Sincerely Mr.WACKO (Why Are Clinton’s Killing Opponents)

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