I'm Not Convinced

by The New Republic | February 5, 2008

Earlier, Jason pointed to a novel argument for Hillary Clinton's candidacy being advanced up by past(?) Clinton apparatchik Lanny Davis (and, perhaps, Terry McAuliffe as well): specifically, that she'd be more likely, as nominee, to pick Barack Obama as her v.p. than he'd be to pick her. Leave aside, for a moment, the defensiveness and inanity of this suggestion. (If Clinton chooses Obama as her running mate under anything less than the extreme duress of a convention deal, I will eat an article of clothing to be determined.) Leave aside, too, Davis's astonishingly counterproductive opening argument that the reason Hillary wouldn't be Obama's v.p. is that she's already too important for the post (she has Bobby Kennedy's Senate seat for God's sake, never mind the interludes of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, James Buckley, and Charles Goodell). And you're left with--well, actually, I'm not sure there's anything left.

Still, before we accord the crown for least-persuasive pro-Hillary argument (and let me be clear: I think there are entirely reasonable arguments that can be made on her behalf), we should at least consider Mickey Kaus's exceptionally counter-intuitive case:

Suppose you were a single issue voter, and your single issue was immigration. Specifically, you were opposed to legislation that combines some form of amnesty (legalization of existing illegal immigrants) with tougher border enforcement. If so, you would probably be pretty depressed right now--three of the four leading presidential candidates explicitly favor such "comprehensive" reform....

Which of the three pro-legalization candidates is least likely to accomplish their legislative goal? When you think about it this way, a clear and somewhat surprising ranking of top three emerges.

1) Hillary Clinton would probably be the best president for anti-comprehensivists. She's cautious. She's been burned by GOP opposition before (to her 1994 health plan). Is she really going attempt both health care reform and immigration reform in her first two years? ... And Hillary herself has made anti-illegals noises in the past, including reversing her endorsement of Gov. Spitzer's drivers license plan.

Barack Obama, by contrast, has (in Mickey's words) "shown an ability to bridge the partisan divide and get things done." And God knows we can't have that. So, if you're a Democrat whose top (or only) priority is ensuring that no comprehensive immigration reform gets passed (and Mickey seems confident he's not the only one), then

Vote Hillary. She won't get it done!

Who's less persuasive, Mickey or Lanny? And can any late dark horses emerge (no, Coulter doesn't count) to intrude upon their presumed championship round?

--Christopher Orr

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/im-not-convinced