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    August 10, 2007

    Grade the Dems: Hillary gets an B

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillaryclintonhrcdemforu (Don't forget to vote in the Vizu poll in the right column below on which candidate you think did the best last night.)

    Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed last night what we already know about her — whether the issue is gay rights, Iraq or any other political hot potato. She will talk a good game, connect with her audience and ultimately commit to doing the absolute minimum she thinks she can get away with committing to.

    Whether it's gays in the military or gay marriage, Hillary will calibrate her position according to the political winds, and so will accomplish nothing more and nothing less than what's achievable without the expense of any political capital. That is not leadership.

    Just look at how she defended her record: DADT was justified as a "transitional" measure to spare gay service members from witch hunts. I'm old enough to remember that (Bill) Clinton seemed so shell-shocked by the whole debate that he never actually defended his view. He just kept repeating "we don't have a person to waste." Same with DOMA, where Hillary rationalized her support for it, even though she now supports a repeal of it — well, a half-repeal of it. (Obama opposed it from the beginning and backs full repeal.)

    Joe Solmonese dominated the early questioning of Hillary and after an inexplicable softball on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," pushed her on marriage. Even with such a friendly questioner, Hillary was unable to articulate the reason she's opposed to gay marriage except to say "it's a personal position."  At least Edwards admits to being on a "journey." At least Richardson says he wants to focus on what's achievable. Hillary says nothing at all. She instead skillfully changes the subject, focusing on Karl Rove, George Bush and every other applause line that occurs to her.

    She did say that the right strategy was to leave marriage up to the states to decide, leading Solmonese to ask why states' rights isn't any more a red herring now than it was during the black civil rights movement. Hillary's response was telling: "This has not been a long-term struggle yet," she said about the push for marriage equality. So don't expect anything approximating rapid progress if she's your president, she might as well have added.

    Melissa Etheridge ended up asking the same tough question of Hillary that I had hoped would be asked. She recalled coming out publicly for the first time during the week of Bill Clinton's inauguration, and all the excitement and encouragement felt by gays because of his election. But she also remembered how "our hearts were broken" when "we were pushed under the bus." Bill Clinton signed DOMA and DADT, and nothing got done on ENDA or hate crimes.

    Challenged to explain why we should expect better from her than her husband, Hillary signaled that we pretty much shouldn't. She defended her husband's record, even though she now opposes his two signature pieces of gay-related legislation, and suggested we should have been satisfied that a few gays got White House jobs and Bob Hattoy spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

    Why don't you lead, asked Melissa. "I think I am a leader," responded Hillary. I think I disagree.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton is no doubt more genuine in support of gay rights than John Edwards, but neither of them impresses me as likely to truly lead on our behalf. Richardson may be gaffe-prone, but at least he's proven he can get things done, and Obama has the potential to truly inspire progress on our issues in a way Hillary and John Edwards can't fathom.

    The choice gets clearer and clearer.

    Here's Hillary's full 15 minutes:



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    1. Amicus on Aug 10, 2007 9:32:20 PM:

      Who knows where Hilliary really is on these issues?

      If Gravel is there to remind all that nothing will be handed out from on high, then Hilliary is there to promise ... a leg up, maybe, but no shortcut on the long journey?

      Wandering recriminations may - emphasize may - only hurt the community. I have this in the back of my mind. What do the candidates say in private? Do the candidates say, "Hey, no matter how much you give 'the gays', if it's not everything, no one is satisfied and there are bitter, bitter recriminations, to boot. So, don't expend capital to give something that isn't everything." Also, what did the Clinton's do for the black community that has them so endeared to it? Pride of place, mostly? In a way, isn't that also what they offered the gay community? (These are not strong views, factually supported, just ruminations...).

      Obama is younger and doesn't seem to have these calculations. He's offered up a National LGBT Council. I think that is fantastic, if it can get LGBT leadership to work together and cooperate more, with coordination/help from the Office of the President, even.

      All that said, Hilliary showed that she can bring it. Up against any of the GOP's candidates, if she brings out the attack she made last night, even her older "shoot straight" line, it may be enough in the general election to stop their rhetoric dead on the issues or fight it to a draw.

    1. Sean on Aug 10, 2007 10:45:46 PM:

      The Clintons can not be trusted. We all have to keep an eye out on them. They have shown a willingness to throw gay people under the bus when it becomes politically expediant.

    1. Brian Miller on Aug 12, 2007 10:10:34 PM:

      As long as gay people continue to insist that Democrats who don't support full equality under the law "represent opportunity for gay people," we'll continue to exist in a situation where the only progress that occurs is through lawsuits ala Goodridge.

      As long as Democrats like Clinton, Obama, and Richardson know they can persist in their homophobic positions without penalty, they'll continue arguing against gay equality.

    1. Phillip on Aug 13, 2007 1:48:58 PM:

      Chris - Your bias against against Hillary is just so obvious, no one takes anything you say about her or the other candidates seriously. But what should we expect from someone who ruined the Blade (Jake Gannon, anyone?). You are so over - just go back to your Brazilian clubbing (as lame and sad as that is -how old are you now, 40+?)

    1. Chris on Aug 13, 2007 9:00:29 PM:

      "Whether it's gays in the military or gay marriage, Hillary will calibrate her position according to the political winds, and so will accomplish nothing more and nothing less than what's achievable without the expense of any political capital. That is not leadership."

      You're absolutely right. She's not going to do any more than the bare minimum for anybody, except what's needed to get herself re-elected. Everybody knows not to trust her, and if the Dems nominate her, they're throwing the party under the bus.

    1. DaveNPA on Aug 14, 2007 11:43:09 AM:

      Chris' bias "against" Hillary is to wake you people up so that you'll see that she is no stronger on gay rights than any other candidate. Everyone "taking her to task" for her husbands decisions, DADT and DOMA, is getting quite annoying (I mean, do you really think Bill said "Hillary, what do you think I should do about the gays" when he was in office? And even if he did do you really think her advice got to the oval office?) If we, as gays, vote for a candidate on this "One Issue" (Marriage equality) how hypocritical is that of us who scold christians for voting on the "One Issue" of who is "Pro-Life"?

      While having a Pro-Gay president would be nice, it would be better if the president could keep the economy rolling, taxes low, us out of war, and somehow fix the health care system.

    1. Neil on Aug 14, 2007 4:13:41 PM:

      Interesting thoughts Phillip. Good to see Hillary has wrapped up the bitter queen vote. Course we know that already, right? :) :) :)

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