Bartlett's Hillary Quotations | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Bartlett’s Hillary Quotations
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I'm a big fan of contrarian conservative commentary and have written a good deal of it myself, but even I can't quite go along with Bruce Bartlett's conservatives for Hillary column. Bartlett's argument is that the Democrats are certain to win in 2008, so conservatives might as well get with the program and try to ensure that we get the least horrible Democrat possible. Based on her refusal to apologize for her war vote and Bill's relative fiscal centrism, Hillary's his choice.

Where to begin? Let's start with Bartlett's electoral prediction. Even though this will be the toughest presidential election for Republicans since at least 1992, Democratic victory isn't guaranteed. Hillary has very high negatives; Barack Obama is an inexperienced campaigner. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson all outperform generic Republican numbers in many polls. Giuliani and McCain sometimes beat Hillary in head-to-head match-ups. It seems awfully premature to count them out.

Second, what does it even mean for conservatives to be "participating in the Democratic nominating process"? We should register as Democrats and vote for the least liberal candidate in their primaries? Conservative pundits should hedge their bets by writing pro-Hillary columns too? The former is certainly defensible but won't happen in large enough numbers to influence the outcome, much less serve as the only option for "politically sophisticated conservatives." And conservative commentators tend not to be very helpful to their preferred candidates in Democratic primaries (see Lieberman, Joseph).

Third, Bill Clinton's record in the 1990s is no guarantee of how Hillary would govern now. On trade, economics, and defense, the Democrats are to the left of where they were back then. The capital-gains tax cut was passed by a Republican Congress. DLC-style moderation was a response to liberal political weakness; it won't guide the party during a period of perceived liberal strength. Finally, "Rubinomics" wouldn't seem as fiscally responsible if Hillary's health plan had passed.

I'm as down on today's GOP — especially the candidates with a shot at winning the party's presidential nomination — as anyone, but I hope conservatives can do better than this.

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