The Plank

Once Upon A Time, Clinton Thought Experts Mattered

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I assume Hillary Clinton wouldn't be pounding the gax tax issue if she (and her advisers) didn't feel it helped them politically. And they may well be right. Even if voters realize that it won't make much difference, it reinforces the class polarization of the primary campaign. Just associating the word "elite" with Obama reminds voters of this comments about bitter rural Americans, the time he spent listening to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, etc. 

But that doesn't mean those of us who do follow the issues closely have to go along quietly--particularly when Clinton starts insisting, as she just did on ABC's "This Week," that the opinions of experts don't matter. And while my colleagues have already piled on Clinton over this statement, I have to add one thought: Back when the issue of the day was mandates to purchase health insurance, her campaign wasn't nearly so dismissive about what the experts thought. On the contrary, they repeatedly cited the verdict of economists and other health care experts as proof that their position was correct.

I thought Clinton was right then, just as surely as I think she is wrong now. And while I'd argue the insurance issue is more important, if only because the gas tax holiday would be temporary, the argument itself is probably more egregious now because--as far as I can tell--the experts' skepticism about a gas tax holiday is unanimous.

--Jonathan Cohn

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