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August 27, 2015


Tom Benjamin

I don't understand your take on Hillary Clinton. I guess I understand your concerns about her as a campaigner, but in 2008 she lost a close race to the best managed campaign and the best candidate I've ever seen. (And I've been watching since 1968.) She made unforced errors, but which Presidential campaign does not?

I have not followed every nuance of the email "scandal" but as far as I can tell there really was nothing to the story at the start and very little has been added since. There is no way for Hillary Clinton to make this go away any more than it was possible for her to put Benghazi to bed. That's the Clinton baggage. I would understand it if you believed the baggage to be too heavy and she could lose the election over the bullshit.

Yet you do seem to think she is likely to win the Presidency. I get the feeling that you believe she will win, but make an incompetent President, thereby opening the door for the Republicans in 2020. This may turn out to be so, but I can't see the evidence for it. She seems to be eminently qualified for the job, far more qualified than anyone else in the race.

What are political-management skills and how do they relate to the job? I understand that any President is in some respects a manager, but I have never heard anyone really worry about that in a Presidential campaign before. If I was a woman, I might wonder whether her gender has something to do with your concerns about her managerial skills.

Jon Ponder

An oft-forgotten fact about the vaunted 2008 Obama campaign is that they lost the popular vote in the primary by 270,000 votes. The final tally was 17,857,501 for Clinton and 17,584,692 for Obama.

Peter G

True but first past the post got him the delegates. It was the most amazing ground game ever organized in modern times I would think and most of the people who did are working for Hillary now.

Tom Benjamin

True, but I do not think the oft-forgotten fact detracts at all from the campaign. Obama was a great candidate, but you still have to marvel at a strategy and a campaign that took a relatively unknown, inexperienced black politician named Barack Hussein Obama all the way to the Presidency.

I watched it, and I have read all about it, but I still have difficulty believing it.

The point is I do not believe Hillary punted it away. She never had a chance.

Peter G

In terms of internal party support Clinton did not actually do that well in the 2008 campaign relative to the leaders of previous campaigns. But it's pretty solid now. Obama was not the first candidate to emerge from obscurity and become president. No one outside of Georgia knew who Jimmy Carter was. No one outside of Arkansas had the vaguest idea who Bill Clinton was. Almost everybody knows who Joe Biden is and his poll numbers are not promising nor a path forward clear.

Peter G

That would be a point where PM and I differ also. Is campaign savvy what it takes to make a successful president? There is powerful evidence before us that it makes no difference at all. Obama was much the superior campaigner and yet faced nothing but relentless opposition from the right. ( To allow that Clinton should be disqualified because she would invite even worse opposition is to surrender. )That is not PM's argument and I would not suggest it is. Taking him at his word, and I do, he fears Clinton incompetence in office based on prior evidence that I simply do not see. I would argue that she is much better prepared to handle the politics of Washington than Obama was and I see no reason to suspect she would be any worse at dealing with the Republicans than he is.


PM is especially interested in demagoguery. The constant around the Clintons has always been billions of tons of hot air, and it might seem like Hillary inspires her enemies and our conflict-driven media to become a demagoguery generator. It also wasn't encouraging to have Hillary compare Republicans to terrorists yesterday. There's a faction of the left that probably loved it, but trying to out-asshole the right seems like a losing proposition.

Mark Dittmer

Matt Yglesias takes apart Joe Biden pretty ruthlessly here ... I'm hoping you'll respond to this article ... To me it's a pretty damning argument against the purported value--often hyped up here--of a Biden candidacy.

Mark Dittmer

Oops, here's the link:

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