Is Hillary The Best Choice?

by | October 24, 2007

I don't quite understand Ross Douthat's take on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic field. He writes:

As I've probably said before, Hillary may not be the best choice for the Democrats, but she's definitely the safest; I think nominating her more or less guarantees the party 48 percent of the vote, since she's sufficiently tested and savvy and all the rest of it to make a Dukakis or Dole-style wipeout almost completely unimaginable. And in a year when things will (probably) be going the Democrats' way anyway, there's a lot to be said for nominating a known quantity and assuming that, in spite of what Jonah rightly calls the "irreducible core" of anti-Hillary sentiment, the political landscape alone will ensure that her guaranteed 48 percent rises to 51-53 percent by November '08. Whereas Obama and to a lesser extent Edwards both have a higher ceiling, but also a much lower floor, since neither has been through the fire already the way Hillary has (indeed, Obama has never run against significant GOP opposition of any kind), and either one could flame out disastrously in the heat of a general-election campaign.

Remember, John Kerry received 48% of the vote; it's extremely unlikely any Democrat is going to do worse than that next year. Moreover, it seems to me like you could just as easily make the opposite case: Hillary's "ceiling" is just what is so worrying about her. Because the senator is so polarizing, it's likely that some of the numerous advantages the Dems have in 2008 will be subsumed by personal animosity. Why not choose someone like Obama or Edwards, who both have greater upside potential, and are assured of being competitive because of the climate? 

--Isaac Chotiner 

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