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February 11, 2008
Why Republicans Should
Root for Hillary Clinton Over Barack Obama
Now that John McCain has virtually locked up the Republican nomination,
most attention has been turned to the showdown between Democratic titans
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And that’s good for Republicans. The
longer the Democrats fight, the more vicious their battle will get. And
the Democratic Party and nominee will be weaker for it going into
But at some point, one of them will make it out alive and turn this
Democratic fury toward John McCain. Many Republicans hope that nominee
will be Obama. The idea is, he’s young and inexperienced, and will turn
out Hispanic voters in favor of Republicans – all of which is true.
Others add that his black (well, half-black to be more precise) status
and his full name – Barack Hussein Obama – would energize voters against
him. This is less convincing, since the net effect of his color would
probably be positive, but a legitimate argument nonetheless.
Despite these claims, Republicans should hope that Clinton becomes the
Democratic nominee, and might want to do what they can to help her in
what is now an uphill battle against Obama. And she could use the help –
after all, promises of exceedingly hypothetical “hope” and wholly
unspecified “change” are remarkably difficult to defeat in a Democratic
For one thing, Clinton is divisive. She has been around long enough for
people to be with her or against her. And many are against her – too
many, in fact, for her to win a presidential election. The only way for
Republicans to manage a loss against Clinton is to run someone as
extreme and unlikable as she is. But they didn’t.
Republicans nominated McCain, who would have the upper hand against even
a moderate Democrat considering his broad appeal to independents. After
hurting him in the Republican primary season, McCain’s reputation as a
“maverick” will finally present an enormous advantage in November. It
will be hard for Clinton to associate McCain with President Bush or the
far-right when his main political obstacles have been his moderation,
independent thinking and tendency to infuriate conservatives.
Further, Clinton’s years as a First Lady and as a two-term senator would
neutralize any claims about McCain being a Washington insider. Compare
that with Obama, who can turn his inexperience and mediocre 37-month
journey in federal politics to his advantage by claiming the ability to
change Washington (which, if his Senate months are any indication, he
would change to “the land where senators don’t work”). Obama is uniquely
positioned to assume the “outsider” role that governors have
historically claimed in their runs against legislators and other
Further, Clinton in November would bring out the traditional Democratic
base, and nothing more. Unlike Obama, she would not be able to motivate
new black voters and young voters who want to hope for change (whatever
that means). If anything, Clinton would not only turn independents
against the Democrats, but would also mobilize the conservative base
like no one else would. All those conservatives claiming to oppose
McCain would forcefully drag their families and friends to vote for the
maverick against another Clinton.
The Clinton legacy, of course, has not yet been effaced from the
American mind. Bill Clinton left us with a recession, a vulnerable
homeland and an insecure world. He disgraced the office of the
presidency. And he let his wife fool around with health care, which
proved to be a complete disaster. For lazy Americans who would normally
rather sleep in than head to the polls, these memories more than suffice
in providing the necessary energy to cast an anti-Hillary vote. Many
people might not want eight more years of Bush, but they definitely
don’t want any more years of Clinton. This is a problem that nominee
Obama would not have to face.
Demographics, of course, also have a big effect on the vote. Obama would
mobilize many more blacks than Clinton would mobilize women. And on the
margin, polls show that Americans are more willing to hand the
presidency to a black man than any woman. Age is also a factor. The
46-year-old Obama could be more attractive to younger voters than
60-year-old Clinton, considering McCain is 72 years old. And of course,
Obama’s potential first lady would be much more attractive than
Hillary’s, and would actually be able to compete with Cindy McCain for
the amiability award.
So, is it dangerous to suggest that Republicans help Clinton win the
nomination? What if she wins the nomination and then the presidency?
is conceivable that Clinton could win in November, but that doesn’t mean
Republicans should shy away from helping her in the primary season. For
one, her victory could mean that Obama would have won by an even bigger
But more importantly, Clinton would make a better president than Obama.
She would be more conservative, and her foreign policy skills would help
her deal with Iraq and the war on terror more competently than Obama
(although she would still do a dreadful job, overall). She would
moderate her actions in order to get a second term, and unlike Obama,
she would not have the charisma to carry out some of her more extreme
Clinton would be both easier to beat and a better president than Obama.
For Republicans, her nomination would present the best of both worlds.
© 2008 North Star
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