Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kristol's Advice to Clinton

I read this story today about Bill Kristol recommending to Clinton that she use "the politics of fear" to win out over Barack Obama, which he says is pointing out that Barack wants to negotiate with Iran, and then pulling out some quotes about "what Ahmadinejad has said about blowing up Israel."

My initial opinion of this is that the Republicans are looking at what they would do, if they were in her shoes, and then trying to head her off by having Kristol (1) call it "the politics of fear" in his piece, so if she actually follows the advice, everybody will say, "Look, she's taking Kristols' 'politics of fear' advice," and (2) having slimeball Kristol "recommend" it, so that she'll be even more averse to actually doing it-- what liberal wants to be seen taking his advice? That is, the Republicans are having Kristol float what they think is the best strategy for her, but they're doing it in a way to dissuade her from taking it.

I think this kind of a meme (not considering how Kristol's column has changed how the public will take things) would fit in nice with Clinton's practice of pitching herself as a tough-minded moderate, but I think the Republicans probably have been over-cynical this time, like they sometimes are. For one, Ahmadinejad is slime- and he may well really want to see Israel destroyed in a war- but as I recall, his publicly recorded statements actually aren't too clear about wanting Israel destroyed. They take some interpretation or some partisan twisting for someone to come up with that meaning. As I recall, he said something more like that Israel was on its way out, not that he actually wanted it destroyed. So if Hillary says "Here’s what Ahmadinejad has said about blowing up Israel. . .” she's going to open herself up to looking even more like a Republican, and alienate more of the super-liberal base. Furthermore, even if it gains her enough points from moderate liberals, it probably hurts liberals relative to conservatives in a general-election or long-term sense, because it gives the Republicans' hyperventilation about Iran some credibility when Hillary Clinton goes around sounding not only like she thinks Ahmadinejad is bad, but even like she's saying he's someone we should be thinking about deposing soon. You and I know she wouldn't be saying that, but for the whole media, it would be inevitably twisted into, "Isn't she really saying here what the Republicans have been saying all along, which is that. . ."

You get the picture.