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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2003
 
Clinton Phobia

Certain memes just won't go away. However many times she denies it, some people just refuse to accept that Hillary is not a candidate for President in 2004. And now that she seems to be backing Wes Clark, Ezra Klein thinks that she is angling for the VP slot on his ticket.

Now both Clintons are ambitious; no question of that. But both are, oddly enough, also capable of doing what they think is in the best interests of the country or the party without worrying first about their own agendas. If Ezra hasn't figured this out, he may be spending too much time reading the NYT editorial page.

Hillary surely would like to be President. But she knows what a divisive figure she is, and the fact that she turned down 2004 without even trying indicates to me that she has accepted that she is unlikely ever to get there. After all, she has been First Lady, and is the only First Lady in history to win office in her own name. She will be a serious candidate for a cabinet job in the next Democratic administration, especially if formed by a candidate that she and Bill backed. (But not in 2005, while a Republican is Governor in NY.) Or, since her seat is safe, she could stay in the Senate for several terms and become a liberal champion there, like Ted Kennedy. She probably has plenty of time left; her father lived to the age of 82 and her mother is still alive. These accomplishments may be enough to satisfy even Hillary's ambition.

A VP who would appeal to the party base makes sense for Clark, but Dean would be a far better choice, since he isn't so alienating to conservatives and many moderates.

As for the theory that Clinton will make Clark his puppet, the record shows that Clark was remarkably successful at standing up to Clinton when they disagreed, even when Clinton was Commander in Chief and Clark was absolutely bound to carry out his orders. That he would no longer have that independence when operating in his own name is absurd.

Correction: It was not Ezra but Matt Singer who wrote the offending piece. Since Ezra is not merely a fine blogger, but also the only Banana Slug on the Not Geniuses team, I regret having incorrectly criticized him. However, when I have time to take up the matter at more length, I will correctly criticize him for having repeated the fallacy that Clark can't be nominated.



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