Hillary wins the battle, but is she losing the war?

"Thanks for the help with the email thing, Bernie. Now eat my dust!"

“Thanks for the help with the email thing, Bernie. Now eat my dust!”

Democrats should not expect Joe Biden to get in the race. Democrats should want Joe Biden to get into the race.

That’s my takeaway after watching the Democratic Party move leftward before my eyes for two-plus hours during Tuesday night’s debate. Having lost one presidential primary to a candidate running to her left, Hillary Clinton clearly is determined she will never be out-progged again. But as she drifts leftward to fend off another primary challenger, this time from Sen. Bernie Sanders, she risks making it harder to win the general election.

It was always the general, not the primary, that lent a Biden candidacy any semblance of logic: The vice president could run a credible general-election campaign in the event Hillary’s campaign melted down amid, say, the never-ending email scandal. But her fellow Democrats, starting with Sanders, declined Tuesday to make an issue of her inability to explain satisfactorily why she insisted on conducting sometimes-classified government business via a private account hosted on a home-brew server, or whether she’d risked national security by doing so, or whether the entire episode revealed something un-presidential about her character. They thereby gave her a pass on the only issue she can’t effectively parry, making it harder to believe she won’t be the Democrats’ nominee.

But will she be a damaged nominee, and not only by the email story that has eroded public confidence in her honesty? That may depend on just how far off-center she stays until she has the nomination wrapped up. And by the end, Democrats may end up wishing Biden — or someone capable of steering things back toward the middle — had gotten in the race.

Tuesday night’s debate was not a good omen for her on that count. When pressed by debate moderator Anderson Cooper on whether she is — as she told a New Hampshire crowd in July — a progressive, or — as she told Ohioans last month — a moderate, Hillary offered a bit of quintessentially Clintonian triangulation: “I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.” From there, it was a series of similar back-and-forthing from her:

  • When asked about Sanders’ apparent rejection of capitalism, Hillary offered about as strong as defense of it as you’ll get from a Democrat these days: “(W)hen I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families. … we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world.”
  • When it came to gun control, though, she attacked Sanders — who sports a D-minus rating from the NRA — as being soft on the issue because he wouldn’t hold gun manufacturers liable when one of their products is used to commit a murder.
  • When pressed on the repeal of banking regulations while her husband was president, Hillary, who has been paid millions of dollars to speak to Wall Street banks and taken in millions more in campaign donations from Wall Street, argued that she would be tougher on her benefactors than even Sanders (who called her “naive” for believing so).
  • When asked about her previous comments that she wouldn’t make college “free” for the children of Donald Trump and other rich people, Clinton didn’t defend her position so much as end up at the same place as Sanders: “My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free,” she said, albeit with a vague provision requiring students to work 10 hours a week.
  • She dodged a potential controversy when, after being asked if she agreed with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley that Obamacare should be expanded to cover illegal immigrants, Cooper suddenly gave her an opening to talk about running for office on her own right, and not because of her last name. (Though that was a strange moment, I thought Cooper otherwise did a fine job pressing candidates for answers on the issues.)
  • Hillary appeared to voice support for taxpayer funding of paid family leave, although her own plan calls for businesses to pick up the tab. During that answer, she made the bizarre claim that GOP efforts to cut government funding for Planned Parenthood somehow amounted to a GOP embrace of “big government.”

Remember, this was about as close to the center as anyone on the stage, save former Sen. Jim Webb, got Tuesday night. We will have to leave it to future moderators to press Clinton (and the others) on how much all this would cost, and how she’d pay for it.

***

But enough about Clinton. There were four others on the stage, weren’t there?

That’s not necessarily a rhetorical question. Webb often went long stretches without talking, about which he voiced his displeasure often. And we all would have been better off if Lincoln Chafee hadn’t spoken as much as he did. (That includes Chafee’s campaign.)

O’Malley was more of a presence on the stage than those two, but he doesn’t have to merely rise from virtually non-existent to the mid-teens, as the more obscure Republicans contenders might in their much larger field. Both Clinton and Sanders are well above the highest point he’ll ever reach, and nothing about Tuesday night will change that.

That leaves Sanders. If you liked him before, you’re probably just as jazzed about the “political revolution” he called for. If not … meh. I still do not believe even Democrats circa 2016 would nominate him, but his influence on the field — read: Hillary — is obvious. He is drawing the party toward him, not vice versa, and that will have real implications next fall. For all the talk about Trump’s outsized effect on the GOP, Sanders is proving every bit as adept at pulling Democrats sharply in a direction that pleases one vocal segment of the base but will be a turn-off to most independent voters and even some of the party faithful.

With that, a parting question: Let’s say the general election became a four-way race among Hillary, Bernie, Donald and _____ (Jeb, for argument’s sake). Is Hillary or Jeb/other Republican more likely to win that one?

Reader Comments 0

156 comments
lvg
lvg

Hillary saw a  right wing conspiracy in Monica's blue dress. She has hired the top conservative  PR person to do exactly what she claims was done to her while randy Billl was getting torn apart. She lives and breathes right wing conspiracy and has no intention of compromising.  Republicans with their  shenanigans in Congress and  with extreme right wing anarchists now in control have played right into her script.. This only makes Trump and Carson who are nonconspirators and outsiders look acceptable .

Hillary's best line - "I am an outsider because I am a woman."

What was she when she was Senator and Secretary of State? A potted plant????

Juanx
Juanx

What is missing in Jay's column is the omission of substance comparisons between the GOP and Democratic debates. The Democratic contenders were addressing issues the voters want addressed. The GOP select committee, now e-mail,  has been put out to pasture. The GOP contenders provided bumper sticker statements like, "make America great again".

M H Smith
M H Smith

@Juanx

Hillary's emails will never be forgotten in the public mind no matter how many "laugh at her self moments" Hillary tries to capitalize on. Her honesty issues are something Hillary can't laugh down. Sanders and others may try to refocus attention away from it but it is here to stay.   

Chuckley
Chuckley

You clearly didn't watch that debate or aren't smart enough to grasp politics. Take it from someone who's worked for campaigns: she did what she needed to do. Her "I'm a progressive who likes to get things done" and "I can work with the right" lines were good enough to stave off any talk of her venturing too far left. And there's only 6 debates.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Chuckley "I can work with the right"

She said nothing of the sort, at least according to my searches of the transcript for "I can," "work with" and "the right." See for yourself: http://time.com/4072553/democratic-debate-transcript-primetime-cnn/

OTOH she did say she could "take the fight to the Republicans" and that the enemy she was most proud of was "probably the Republicans."

Hey, it's politics, and party-primary politics at that. But let's not pretend she was running in the middle last night.

Mandingo
Mandingo

I see this race shaping up like 2008 . Obama was talking about ideas and solutions while the GOP focused on Muslims and birth certificates. In 2016 Clinton will talk about ideas and solutions while the GOP focuses on Benghazi and email servers.Proven recipe for defeat in the General Election.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

 Is Hillary or Jeb/other Republican more likely to win that one?


Seems the question is always who will win the independent vote? Who will win votes outside their base? I actually think Jeb can but he won't be able to get his party's nomination. Either would Rubio. Hilary can appeal to independents more then Carson or Trump. 

Dusty2
Dusty2

@McGarnagle 


Jeb is going to win because Americans long for a sensible, smart, experienced man they can trust.


They are so absolutely tired of, self-important, spoiled, extravagant, semi-racist. semi-religious, semi-patriotic, betrayer of former allies, oval office absence, inner cliché decisions, broken agreements, depleted  military and total absence of knowledge concerning the finances of our country by Democratic  PRESIDENT OBAMA.


We cannot survive another such political " tsunami" as that upon us now.    

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

"That’s my takeaway after watching the Democratic Party move leftward before my eyes for two-plus hours during Tuesday night’s debate."

Compared to the repub candidates, there is NO room left to the right. All are pandering to the rw cons, if you haven't noticed.


"When pressed by debate moderator Anderson Cooper on whether she is — as she told a New Hampshire crowd in July — a progressive, or — as she told Ohioans last month — a moderate, Hillary offered a bit of quintessentially Clintonian triangulation: “I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.”"

As opposed by the Repubs who have gotten nothing done because they are obsessed and blinded by their ideology. President Obama has kicked their butts on down the road....that is what they are angry about!


 I am not enthralled with Clinton, but she may be the best of ALL the candidates. Time will tell when the repub dust settles how far "left" they go to include the middle in their supporters, who have been quiet to date.


So with Clinton as your article focus today, I guess tomorrow 's article will be Benghazi driven, eh?

Terpman
Terpman

Clinton's arrogance and smugness say it all....We can do so much better

Trump & Carson

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

" Is Hillary or Jeb/other Republican more likely to win that one?"

Hillary. 


The Republicans have shown that they are anti-common sense on so many issues that it's hard to take any of them seriously anymore. 

Immigration reform?  Tell me who is for it on the Republican side, and I'll show you everyone else who will criticize them for having common sense. 

ObamaCare? Well, the country enjoys the improvement in healthcare and I don't see the country rolling back those benefits.  How about another useless vote for repeal? Ugh. 


The main problem Clinton has is her name, and the over the top negativity that her name garners in the far-right of the country.  I thought in 2008 that Obama would be a better choice because of that over-the-top response.  I was wrong because Republicans are so over-the-top anti-anything that even if Jeb! changed parties, Republicans would attack him mindlessly just because of party purity. 

Quandry
Quandry

The last 10 years of our political malaise has shown us that compromise and a divided government (Republican versus Democrat) do not work.

Neither party is willing to compromise, so the American people are now forced to make a choice between the two.

We need a majority party to control both houses of congress and the White House in order to get things done.

This is very clear but the question now is which party do we want in office to do this?

Maybe this is the only way – compromise and negotiations mean zero to both parties…

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Quandry I disagree. The House Senate Presidency needs to be diverse so that idiots (either party) is not given  carte blanche to shove their doctrine down the peoples' throats!

Dusty2
Dusty2

Mrs. Clinton does have EXPERTISE! She has much practice in twisting the truth.  Cover up jobs are her specialty and she has done it many times and is doing it now.  It started with coverups for her work at Rose Co.  Then coverups for her husband's frequent "encounters" with young women..  (Great conspiracy is her favorite excuse.)  Her coverup of important "lost" papers that were found in her White House quarters. Now she is to be excused about her years as Sec. of State and her lack of protection for ambassadors.  Ah yes, it was NOT her job to see that "things" were run correctly under her leadership.  What was her job then?


And now she wants to be PRESIDENT?  Are the Democrats making jokes?  We would laugh except it is very sad to suggest another totally maladjusted administration to follow the present one. 



MarkVV
MarkVV

@Dusty2 You got it all wrong. This administration followed a totally maladjusted one.

Dusty2
Dusty2

@RoadScholar @Dusty2 


You are so easy and repetitive.  There were no coverups.  Wars cost money.  Our debt grows now without war.  I saw plenty of dead and wounded in plenty of places  including TV...  NO, I wasn't at their funerals.  

Nigerian-Prince-In-Exile
Nigerian-Prince-In-Exile

@MarkVV On the contrary, Dusty2 is spot on! The current administration is bereft of leadership and the ne'er-do-wells of the world are not missing their opportunity.

Dusty2
Dusty2

@MarkVV @Dusty2


I got it ALL right.  As to maladjustments, there are several doctors over at Emory who can adjust your type of maladjustment. It is probably chronic liberal politicitis,  a painful state, but proper voting might cure it. . 

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Dusty2 Like the Iraq war coverups? Where did all the money go? And the WMD's? Why weren't the wounded and dead shown on tv?

GaBlue
GaBlue

Was this intended to be a comedy piece? 

Dusty2
Dusty2

@GaBlue


"Was this intended to be a comedy piece?"


No. A Republican is in charge here. 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

"With that, a parting question: Let’s say the general election became a four-way race among Hillary, Bernie, Donald and _____ (Jeb, for argument’s sake). "

Jeb's still running?  How can you tell?

EastCobbRINO
EastCobbRINO

There is no difference between a democrat drifting to the left during the primaries than republicans trying out flank each other towards the right. Both are then trying to return to the middle for the general campaign. That is why Romney & McCain lost. They caved to the extremists on the far right to get the nomination and there was too much damage done. For all the Obama haters out there, there would not have been a first term for Obama if McCain had his first choice of VP. And the GOP is just going to lather/rinse/repeat this election cycle with even moderate candidates having no shot at the nomination. And if a moderate does somehow manage to snag it, they will have left behind enough damaging evidence to kill their chances in the fall. Hopefully Priebus saved the post mortem from 2012 to dust off after the 2016 loss.

MarkVV
MarkVV

The “e-mail scandal” proves mainly one thing – how little of substance the Republicans can gather to attack Mrs. Clinton. One might think that the appreciation of the audience of Bernie Sanders’ comment was simply because those were Democrats, but that conflicts with the fact that many of them were supporters of other candidates than Mrs. Clinton, and should have welcomed an attack on her.

Those trying to make Mrs. Clinton’s e-mails an important election issue may have some success with unthinking people as they keep suggesting - here most notably Kyle - that even without any criminal action it shows “lack of judgment” disqualifying her for the job she seeks. They ignore the fact that Mrs. Clinton is not running for a job as an IT expert or anything similar, she is running for the office of the President. These people promulgate a fantasy that there exists some kind of universal “judgment quality,” which applies to everything. It does not. A president does not deal with technical details of this kind, and hopefully most voters will make their decision on the basis of the real issues facing the country and how each candidate would deal with them. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@MarkVV Are honesty and trustworthiness "real issues"?  Can you delegate those two things to technical experts?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @MarkVV Are honesty and trustworthiness "real issues"?


Yes they are. But not in the Hillary killed Vince Foster she is a liar sense that floats around in Republican heads. 


Was Jeb Bush lying when he said invading Iraq was a mistake ?  Or was he lying the next day when his answer changed ?



RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@MarkVV @RafeHollister I arrived under sniper fire!  Need more?  Brian Williams was fired for the same type lying hype, but I guess you hold him to a higher standard.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @MarkVV I arrived under sniper fire!  Need more?


Yes. A politician embellishing one story doesn't make someone a liar or untrustworthy.


Far from it.


Im curious. Do you think she had Vince Foster killed ? I always like to know how far down the rabbit holes go with some people. 


 Brian Williams was fired for the same type lying hype, but I guess you hold him to a higher standard.


But guess what. Bill O'reilly wasn't

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@MarkVV They ignore the fact that Mrs. Clinton is not running for a job as an IT expert or anything similar,


Nevermind most of theses issues regarding emails etc didn't exist 20 years. There isn't much precedent there. 


Its an important discussion to have but they are just using it for a political end much like the Benghazi tragedy. Which means everyone loses. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

What do we KNOW at this point, regardless of who is elected President? (1) Character of leaders no longer matters, lying, cheating, and blatant corruption are EXPECTED from politicians and in some cases demanded by the special interests; (2) the US Treasury (taxpayers, by extension) is open for raiding; (3) if you work and earn a living you will be forced to pay for all this nonsense.

Quandry
Quandry

@DawgDadII We've been doing this for quite some time now!  Many of us voters just simply hold our noses while we cast our votes!!!

Sometimes we don't have any choice.

Quandry
Quandry

“It was always the general, not the primary, that lent a Biden candidacy any semblance of logic: The vice president could run a credible general-election campaign in the event Hillary’s campaign melted down amid, say, the never-ending email scandal.”

With all due respect, I disagree.

If I was advising the DNC it would be to stick with Hillary.If Biden enters the race and get the nomination, he will be running on President Obama’s record.The Republicans will ask the electorate “Do you want four more years of Obama?”T he answer to this question will be NO!

Hillary is distancing herself enough from President Obama – so the Republicans can’t make the case (of four more years of Obama) with her.

Stick with Hillary – if she can energize the Demo voters and get them to the polls (i.e. high voter turnout) she will win the Presidency.

Quandry
Quandry

@quickworkbreak @Quandry 

I think you missed the point of my argument.

The key to the Democrats winning the White House for another four more years is going to be voter turnout; regardless of the nominee.

It’s all about marketing.Hillary would be more marketable and would energize the African-Americans, the Latinos, and Asians and yes women (who make up 53% of the voters who vote) to the polls.

The Republicans wan to take back the White House – they are already energized – who best to counter that is Hillary Clinton.

My prediction:

Low Voter Turnout = Republican Presidency

High Voter Turnout = Democrat Presidency

quickworkbreak
quickworkbreak

@Quandry  I think your assumption is wrong. You probably assumed the electorate didn't want 4 more years of Obama in 2012, and he's been even more successful in his 2nd term. He would easily win.

Caius
Caius

Going into the debate I thought Clinton had to survive to keep her campaign viable.  She more than survived, she owned the thing.


But lets talk presidential politics. That is what this is all about, electing a president. Some of us want a Republican to win, if it is the right Republican.  But Republicans are digging a deep hold without a ladder to climb out of the hole.


A few scattered thoughts. In 2012 53% of voters were women. In 2012 Obama received 55% of women's votes; 56% in the  2008 election.  In 2012 Obama received 67% of single women's votes.  Using polls (I detest using polls, but...) depending on the poll, 53% to 63% of women are opposed to defunding  Planned Parenthood.  Obamacare requires insurance companies to provide women with contraceptives, free of charge.


So Republicans have you voted to repeal Obamacare?  Have you voted to defund Planned Parenthood?  Have you voted to close abortion clinics? 

Republicans, do you plan on getting women to abandon these issues, that are real personal to them, and replace that personal concern with an equal or greater concern with Clinton's e-mails?.....good damn luck!


Last question - Have any of we men ever been pregnant?


Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Caius Republicans have been against abortion since before Roe v. Wade, and have won half the presidential elections since that case was decided -- including a majority in the early years when Americans were more likely to be pro-choice than they are now. So I find it hard to believe that's what's holding the GOP back. The Senate race in Colorado last year proved a Republican can win even when a Democrat makes these the main issues. But that Republican was a good candidate, something the GOP hasn't had in presidential elections in a while. A good candidate would win despite the "war on women" narrative.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Caius Their War on Women continues with the sham videos and the attempts to close down PP.


Their misogynistic frontrunner Trump make comments about Fiorini's appearance and Megan Kelly's menstruation cycles and gets a bump in the polls. 


Says a lot doesn't it ?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Caius So you're just going to ignore the first half of the post-Roe era?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar And now he's fading in the polls, in part because Fiorina ate his lunch in the last debate, and you conveniently ignore that.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Kyle_Wingfield What the base wants from their candidates just reinforces the "war on women" narrative.  There are a number of important positions that a candidate could take to neutralize the criticism, but Republican candidates (for the most part) run the other way and claim that "the market" will solve the problem (or that it's "not really a problem at all"), which not a single women's issues voter will accept, since the market hasn't solved the issues so far... and women still think the issues are very real.

Republican candidates accept the Tea Party criticisms of our society without question, but if women want equal pay for the same job, the answer is "well, we can't have that, that would be socialism" or some other stupidity.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Kyle_Wingfield And if women want politicians to leave them alone when it comes to aborting an unwanted pregnancy?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@ByteMe Clearly, Republicans think there should be restrictions on abortion. As I noted at the outset of this thread, that's nothing new.

Caius
Caius

@Kyle_Wingfield @Caius Yes.  It is beside the point.  This is not the 1980, 1984 or 1988 election.  The electorate changes.  Maybe it will change this cycle.  But we will not know until late on election night. Today I go with the last two elections and what they teach me. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Caius "The electorate changes."

Here's the best data available. My memory was off; the bulge in support for the pro-choice position came in the late 1980s/early 1990s, but as you can see it otherwise has remained fairly consistent since Roe. Note that "pro-choice" out-polled "pro-life" in 2000 and 2004, while "pro-life" won out in 2012 -- yet the presidential results were opposite in all three cases : http://www.gallup.com/poll/160058/majority-americans-support-roe-wade-decision.aspx

So, I ask again, why would the GOP stance on abortion be more likely to hurt it now? Especially when, if you read on in the Gallup report, Americans strongly favor making abortion illegal after the first trimester, which is ~13 weeks -- or well before the 20-week ban Republicans have proposed?

Caius
Caius

@Kyle_Wingfield @Caius Thanks for the reply. The Colorado Senate race was an off year election, I do not translate that into a presidential election.  Turnout is different. Explain the women's vote for Obama. Republicans have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections. There is a problem. I believe it is the women's vote.