22 March 2007

In Defense of Hesitant Hillary

Various left-wing bloggers have taken a swing at Hillary and Barack for their hesitancy of late. When first asked whether she agreed with General Pace's comment that homosexuality was immoral, Hillary said "Well, I am going to leave that to others to conclude." A day or two later, Hillary finally made her own conclusion, deciding that homosexuality is not immoral.

I have to confess that I initially joined in the disgust. Hillary's candidacy reminds me at time of Al Gore's - she often seems like a candidate who does not trust her own instincts and whether she is, as the cynics suggest, consulting her poll numbers before making up her mind or simply taking her time, the hesitancy seemed to me a liability.

And then I remembered something about the man we're so eager to send back home to Texas. One of the more remarkable things about his launch of the Iraq invasion is how little discussion preceded his decision. According to Bob Woodward, George did not even consult Colin Powell - his Secretary of State, the man who led the military against Saddam in the Gulf War. He merely told Powell that we were going in.

What if Hillary is a candidate who seems to realize that the decisions of a president are serious things and ought not to be rushed into based on initial "instincts?" We certainly could have used such an approach four or five years ago.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago she was just as hawkish and eager for war as Bush was. She didn't carefully consider her vote then, she gleefully marched in lockstep.

Pretty much every stupid thing Bush wanted to do, she voted for. Now public opinion has changed, and she's backpeddling as fast as she can.

I don't think she spent several days carefully considering whether or not homosexual activity is immoral. I think her advisers spent several days looking at the polls, and carefully crafted a statement that would appease liberals without angering the Christian Right.

Damon said...


Moral judgements and convictions should not be an item for discussion.

What one believes, is what one believes. It's that simple.

War...that can be discussed at greater length...opinions on homosexuality? Please. Spare me. Tell the truth and tell it without taking two days to ponder the political wieght.

Ron Davison said...

Thomas & Damon,
I could have (have had?) made the points you both made. I still say that after 6+ years of incurious George, I find hesitancy charming in ways that I never have before.

exskindiver said...

my father always said:
"less talk, less mistake.
no talk, no mistake."

my mother always said:
"think before you speak"

HC was just taking a page out of their book.

Ron Davison said...

I like your parent's sayings. Even more, I like the idea of politicians who would believe that. "Mimes for Office - When you've had enough of double talk and political yada yada."

Damon said...

The issue I have with it is this: If they are spending two days to form an opinion on something, am I getting what they believe or what they WANT me to think they believe?

Think before you speak. sure. i'm all for that. But dont consult anybody else to help you form personal opinion.

consultation is for public policy, not personal convictions.

Ron Davison said...

A person in public office might approach his / her office in one of two ways.

One is to say, "This is what I believe and you can depend on me to push for laws to support that." Such a person will offend two kinds of voters: those who disagree with his belief and those who disagree with the notion that his belief ought to be imposed, through law, onto his constituents.

The other is to say, "I have beliefs on this topic but I'm not even going to share them because I see them as a guide for personal behavior, not a basis for public policy."

If you're trying to play politics the second way, you may well take two days to share your opinion about what's morality.

Having said that, Hillary failed on both criteria. She didn't simply offer her opinion, as you suggest. And she didn't say, "My opinion on this topic is irrelevant to public policy - I simply won't (or will) support legislation that ..."

I guess bottom line is this. Hillary made a mistake. She handled this poorly. In that I agree with you and Thomas. But I still say given errors and character flaws are inevitable, I'm ready for erring towards hesitancy rather than impulsiveness.

clearthought said...

Clinton tries to please so many different groups: from the anti-violent video game parents to the anti-war collegians. She'll have to make a conscious choice about who her real target audience(s) will be if she is to prevent herself from stretching further her ambiguous views on big issues.


Ron Davison said...

That's a provocative thought. And really, why would she focus more on a particular target audience if such a focus meant she got fewer supporters? When you're targeting 51% of a population as varied as the US, I guess vague has a certain allure, maybe even necessity.