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April 12th, 2008
11:01 PM ET

Carl Bernstein's View: A Hillary Clinton presidency

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Editor's Note:  Carl Bernstein is a CNN analyst and author of A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.  He is also the author, with Bob Woodward, of All the President's Men and The Final Days, and, with Marco Politi, of His Holiness: John Paul II and the History of Our Time.  Here, he writes a commentary on the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. For an opposing viewpoint from former Clinton lawyer Lanny J. Davis, click here.

 

What will a Hillary Clinton presidency look like?

The answer by now seems obvious: It will look like her presidential campaign, which in turn looks increasingly like the first Clinton presidency.

Which is to say, high-minded ideals, lowered execution, half truths, outright lies (and imaginary flights), take-no prisoners politics, some very good policy ideas, a presidential spouse given to wallowing in anger and self-pity, and a succession of aides and surrogates pushed under the bus when things don’t go right. Which is to say, often.

And endless psychodrama: the essential Clintonian experience that mesmerizes the press, confuses the citizenry, confounds members of both parties in Congress (not to mention the Clintons themselves, at times) and pretty much keeps the rest of the world constantly amused and fixated.

Such a picture of Clinton Redux is, by definition, speculation. But it is speculation based on the best evidence at hand: the demonstrable and familiar record of Hillary and Bill Clinton coupled together in Permanent Campaign-mode for a generation, waging a continuous fight on the national political stage since 1992, an unceasing campaign for the White House, for redemption, for their ideas (sometimes) and for themselves (almost always), especially in 2008.

The basic dynamics of the campaign, except for the Clintons’ vast new-found personal wealth and its challenges, have been near-constant since they arrived in Washington: through Whitewater, health care, the battle of the budget, the culture wars, the tax returns released only under duress, the travel office, Monica, impeachment, the pardons and through Hillary Clinton’s often repugnant presidential campaign.

In many ways, the characteristic tone, secrecy, and resilience of the Clinton political march have been determined more by Hillary Clinton than by her husband, reflecting her deepest attributes and attitudes, fermented in recognition of the antipathy held against both of them, and often, the foul tactics of their enemies. As an aide put it (quoted in my book, A Woman In Charge: the Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton):

“She doesn’t look at her life as a series of crises but rather a series of
battles. I think of her viewing herself in more heroic terms, an epic
character like in The Iliad, fighting battle after battle. Yes, she succumbs
to victimization sometimes, in that when the truth becomes
too painful, when she is faced with the repercussions of her own
mistakes or flaws, she falls into victimhood. But that’s a last resort
and when she does allow the wallowing it’s only in the warm glow
of martyrdom—as a laudable victim—a martyr in the tradition of
Joan of Arc, a martyr in the religious sense. She would much
rather play the woman warrior—whether it’s against the bimbos,
the press, the other party, the other candidate, the right-wing.
She’s happiest when she’s fighting, when she has identified the
enemy and goes into attack mode. . . . That’s what she thrives on
more than anything—the battle.”

The latest transmutation of leadership in the campaign of Hillary Clinton for president –- Mark Penn’s departure or non-departure, be it window dressing or window cleaning –- is perhaps the best index we have of the more absurd aspects of her candidacy and evidence of its increasing bankruptcy.

The Clinton folks asserted to donors and reporters alike that this second “shake-up” in eight weeks at the very top of the campaign apparat represents some kind of great electoral moment, an opportunity for Hillary to state her case “more positively,” as if the negative approach had been forced on her; the beginning of yet another “turnaround” as if Penn, rather than Hillary (and Bill), has been the big problem. As if Penn were not an appendage of his two patrons, as if he were some kind of independent contractor twisting the candidate’s arm to do what comes unnaturally to her. The willingness of so much of the press, sensitized to the Clintons’ off-center complaints about one-sided coverage, to buy into this line is stunning.

In fact, the demotion of Penn –- like the departure of Hillary’s acolyte Patty Solis Doyle as campaign manager –- is a confession that, for all her claims of “experience” and leadership abilities, Hillary Clinton has now presided over two disastrous national enterprises, the most important professional undertakings of her adult life, both of which she began with ample wind at her back: the healthcare reform of her husband’s presidency, and now her own campaign for the White House. These two failures -– and the demonizing of her opponents in both instances –- may be the best indication of the kind of President she would be, especially when confronted (inevitably) by unanticipated difficulty and/or entrenched opposition to her ideas and programs.

It is exactly under such circumstances that she usually resorts to the worst excesses that mark her in full warrior-mode - and all its scorched-earth, truth-be-damned manifestations. Bosnia, anyone? Smearing the women involved (or even thought to be involved) sexually with her husband. Responding to Barack Obama with the same mindset, disdain, and arsenal as she did Karl Rove and Lee Atwater, as if Obama’s politics and methodologies were as mendacious and vicious as theirs–and her own. Tax information kept secret (in 1992 to hide her profits from trading in cattle futures; in 2008 to shield the identities of Bill’s foreign clients.) A campaign that openly boasts of throwing “the kitchen sink” at her opponent.

What you see is what you get: Hillary’s cynical view of the larger interests of the Democratic Party, exhibited in her 3 a. m. red telephone ad. And her simultaneous, incongruous suggestion that Barack Obama –- notwithstanding his supposed lack of national security qualifications to be commander-in-chief -– would make a good vice president on her ticket.

And, yes, a sense of entitlement that veritably shouts, “Look, because I believe in good things, and because of all I’ve been through, I deserve to win this.”

And yet, there is no denying that, compared to the Bush years, the accomplishments of the Clinton presidency, in which she was an elemental force (and generalissimo in the often successful fight against the forces of “the vast right-wing conspiracy”) are prodigious, marked by peace and prosperity, whatever the price of the Clintons’ methodologies and personal failings.

In projecting what a Hillary Clinton presidency would look like, there is the conundrum of her senatorial tenure and what had appeared to be a surcease in her Pavlovian resort to trench warfare: a period in which -– until the day drew near for her to announce her presidential candidacy –- she seemed (to her oldest friends, certainly) happier and more at ease, and straightforward in her public dealings, and less guarded, than at any point in her life since she followed Bill Clinton to Arkansas.

Hillary Clinton’s unique star power, her performance as a senator and fundraiser on behalf of her party are what gave legitimacy to the idea that she might be a credible presidential candidate: all premised on her changed demeanor in the Senate years, compared to her embattled tenure as first lady. As a steward of her state’s interest, and a patient student of senatorial compromise and collegiality, she was widely commended by former skeptics in Congress and the press.

True, her most revealing moment as a senator of national consequence was the vote she cast to authorize George W. Bush to go to war, which she’s been trying to explain since with dubious credibility. (“If I knew now what I knew then,” etc.) Twenty-one of her fellow Democratic senators had no doubts about what Bush intended, and voted against the authorization.

The second most revealing moment was her endorsement of legislation to make flag-burning illegal, the kind of pandering she once attacked right-wing Republicans of practicing. Meanwhile, she and her husband have regularly misrepresented their own postures and statements in the run-up to the war, as well as Obama’s record, with Bill Clinton claiming to have been against the war from the start, and Hillary saying she has consistently been more adamant in her opposition than Obama -– except for the matter of his single “speech” against the war before it started.

The assumption of many senatorial colleagues, former Clinton aides, and reporters (including this one) was that her presidential campaign would be much different from the one she and Bill Clinton waged through the White House years.

In A Woman in Charge, I wrote about her ability to evolve, observable especially in the years before she met Bill Clinton and in the Senate: to learn from her mistakes. Events have proven me wrong on that count.

The 2008 Clinton campaign, in fact, has been an exercise in devolution, back to the angry, demonizing, accusatory Hillary Clinton of the worst days of the Clinton presidency, flailing, and furtive, and disingenuous; and, as in the White House years, putting forth programs and ideas worthy of respect and deserving of the kind of substantive debate she claims she wants her race against Barrack Obama to be based upon.

Bill, meanwhile, has taken up Hillary’s old role as defender and apologist, with disinformation and misinformation, but (far less effectively than she defended him). Also with near-apoplectic tirades that have left their friends worried and wondering.

In the process of their search-and-destroy mission against Barack Obama, the Clintons have pursued a strategy that at times seems deliberately aimed at undermining Obama’s credibility if he becomes John McCain’s opponent — heresy in the view of an increasing number of the Clintons’ former suppporters and aides, a suprising number of whom now back Obama.

The choice ahead -– in Pennsylvania, and the remaining primary states, and for the super delegates, and perhaps even the arbiters of a deadlocked convention -– is clear enough at this point, at least in terms of what the 2008 Clinton campaign is about: the Clintons - plural. Theirs is a campaign for Restoration to the White House, not simply the election of Hillary Clinton. Theirs is, has always been, a joint enterprise, a see-saw routine in which the psyches and actions of each balances the board according to the personal dynamics of the moment.

A long-time associate of the Clintons, with whom Hillary has consulted in their quest to return to the White House, said early in her campaign: “She has a very plausible case for president. She had an eight-year super-graduate course in the presidency, a progressive platform…” He paused, and added: “[But] I’m not sure I want the circus back in town.”

That is what the Hillary for President campaign has become: the whole Clinton three-ring circus, with little evidence that moving back to the White House will alter that most basic fact.

– Carl Bernstein


Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Carla

    before people trash this article I would like them to tell me what facts they disagree with. If they can prove this article is not giving accurate facts then you have a point not until then.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  2. Bob

    Thank you Bernstien. You opned the eyes of the people and the superdelegates. I wish press will bring this to all American. We do not want a dynasty rule. Then there is no difference from middile east and many other countries. If that happens we can draw parrallel with them. This is a great country. Do not buy into bringing the divisive candidates to the presidential election.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  3. Mike in Texas

    Three months ago – both my wife and I said "we would be happy with either Clinton or Obama. That was when our first choice – John Edwards dropped out.

    Then came the Kitchen Sink, Bonsia Snippers and the 'say anything to get elected' strategy.

    Now, both my wife and I say if Clinton in the nominee – I am not voting for the first time since I became old enough to vote – 20 years ago.

    Clinton keeps saying that she is not hurting the party – I disagree.

    I wont vote for McCain, I won't vote for Clinton.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  4. Randall

    Hallelujah Carl! Your piece is spot on.

    And for you people crucifying Mr. Bernstein for stating a subjective point of view in a op/ed blog, please go find out what op/ed means. This is not an "article" or "reporting" as some of you people are calling it, and Mr. Berstein is well within bounds in writing it, as is CNN in printing it. If you want to read another opinion that fits more with your politics go read the anemic response by Lanny Davis. That is also an op/ed piece that Mr. Davis is well within his right to author and CNN to publish.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  5. denise hargrave

    OK Carl and where is Obamba's story????? what do you really know about him??? all that i have heard is words, and all i know is that he has to have someone hold his hands at all times(CNN,MSNBC AND NOW YOU!) Well i hate to disappoint you and the others, but i like what i see in Hillary and Bill, was he the perfect president? of course not, but who was??? But he did some wonderful things for us! And this is your story??? Why don't you people tell both sides???? and you call yourselves journalist and author's??? of what??? not in my book! and alot of others! You might as well let Busch stay another 4 yrs!! The way i see it, all you people are trying to do is to cash in on this presidency. Shame on all of you! for not being truthful! I want to thank all the many wonderful men and women out there that are endorsing her and voting for her! Not only do they have wisdom, but they are the ones who are so deserving to be writing a story about her and Bill.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  6. Susan

    What a mean-spirited analysis. He has joined the ranks of latte liberals who prefer feel good hype to the substantive possibility of change. Obama is not the answer. Hillary is the best option.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  7. california Lady

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU Carl Bernstein

    Finally someone has the guts to tell it like it is and give us a snapshop of what HRC would really be like as President.

    I couldn't agree with you comments more

    One more thought. People always talk about the prosperous the Clinton years were. It wasn't Clinton's smart economic plans, it was the Technology boom that really boosted our economy.
    Also, when he made promises to go into Bosnia and stop the killings, he reneged on his promise because Hillary told him to so she could start her Health Care plan which failed becaue it was done behind closed doors for number one and also, when another plan was suggested that was almost the same, but not hers, she said it was either hers or nothing. So folks, Hillary is why we don't have Universal Health Care to this day.
    Now – do you still want these people in our WH again.
    Please so dome serious reading before you cast your prescious vote.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:05 pm |
  8. Kristina

    Carl is right! I was a Hillary supporter in the beginning, but became dismayed with her circus act determined to say and do anything for power. As a result of her antics, she has lost my respect, and now I do not trust her. I do not trust her to know the right thing to do at 3am or any other time, I do not trust her to do the right thing, I do not trust that she has any higher principles to guide her, I do not trust her, I do not trust her. Barack may have some lessons to learn, but I do not believe he will accept learning to be as disingenuous as Hillary, as one of them.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:00 pm |
  9. Gerald in VA

    Very well said, Sir!!

    April 15, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  10. Diana

    No candidate is perfect; that is a given.

    But I do appreciate Bernstein's insightful, articulate, subjective perspective

    The one word that keeps coming back to me is "devolution:"
    This campaign seems to have brought out, largely, the worst in Clinton.

    Not only do I believe she is not the best person to fill the role of president, I sense that much of the world feels similarly, and we sorely need someone in the White House who can keep a tighter rein on their ego and work with other countries to build bridges where Bush has created chasms.
    kansas city, mo

    April 15, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  11. Brian

    You see Mary...this is what is known as an editorial. It expresses the opinions of someone and is not represented as a hard news item. Editorials are a valuable part of any news organization. Hopefully your high school civics class will discuss such things in further detail.

    April 15, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  12. Sam

    Brilliant Carl. Seems like you got the pulse..hope it touches some nerves.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:19 am |
  13. John Mass

    I could not have explained it better.
    Thanks for standing up and explaining the truth.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:58 am |
  14. Kate

    Living in Indiana, I've had opportunity to hear both Democratic candidates in the recent past. I've read books penned by both candidates. I was leaning toward Obama, but still keeping an open mind. Until these past few days. I have been so turned off by the bulldog, going for the jugular approach Hillary has been taking in regards to Obama's commentary. I consider myself intelligent enough to assess and evaluate statements from each candidate. I don't need his/her opponent to interpret them for me. To me, it smacks of desperation. I am so sick of all the sniping. I need the candidates to just focus on getting his/her own message out. As a woman, I would love to see the best qualified candidate for the presidency be a woman. But I need it to be a woman I can connect with and relate to....and it's not Hillary.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:57 am |
  15. Brad IL.

    Just another article of why I will vote for Hillary. Another kool-aid drinker. Obama had my vote , but after reading this and looking at factcheck.com, I know who should not be the President ( Obama ) . His political career has nothing to brag about, hell Jesse Jackson had more success than this guy. Obama should drop out so this party will have a chance to beat McCain. Alot of people will soon see that Obama has no policies of his own, just someone else's. We do not need a Ted Kennedy, John Kerrey, President. Let this man write what ever he think's is the truth,we all know it's not. Bill Clinton was a very good President , and if he would have had a Democratic House and Senate during this time he would have been a even greater President. So keep spinning the truth and we'll see John McCain in office in 2009

    April 15, 2008 at 9:54 am |
  16. Phoenix

    I read both these articles carefully. Bernstein's is indeed an opinion piece and a rant only better than some bloggers because of better spelling. He is speculating on a future based on very tenuous observations and a skewed view of the past. Davis draws a distinction between fact and opinion that should be investigated further; the electorate is being dissed here by being fed a constant diet of rancid opinions without specific references to judge the merits of those opinions. I think we deserve better in making such an important choice as POTUS.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:30 am |
  17. JustinA

    Hillary has been known to pick the wrong fights. She alienated senior democrats during her "fight" for health care reform. Leadership requires knowing when to fight and when no to fight. It also requires compromising and the art of diplomacy. Hillary fails miserably and seems to fight for the sake of fighting.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:29 am |
  18. Lori, Battle Creek, MI

    It's just too bad that there isn't more media coverage of this than a few misconstrued words Obama said recently. No wonder McCain would rather go up against Hillary then Obama. He will have a field day with all the baggage she has. I hope the superdelegates will have the chance to read this after Hillary batters them about how more electable she is then Obama.

    Mr. Bernstein, I congratulate you for expressing so eloquently what I have felt about Hillary since she was 1st lady. I just wish more people could see her true colors. I hope your voice will be heard more on this issue.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:18 am |
  19. rudy

    This is not a race about the best candidate but rather whether a black man has the right to ask for the presidency because of the color of his skin. Carl has always been perceptive but having said that it makes one wonder; where is the beef in his article. The question voters face is not whether a candidate is the most righteous man, or the one with the pure soul. Rather it is the selectin or choice between two evils. I for one believe that Obama is the worst evil not because of what it has been revealed about him but rather the pattern in which every day the revelations become more disturbing. Can you protect agaist the unknown? Carl, this is the question. I have always understood and admired your clarity of thought but his time, you bring a slight disappoinment.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:18 am |
  20. Leo in GA

    great article....reflects my views on the clintons.....8 yrs was enough

    April 15, 2008 at 9:16 am |
  21. zuheir alfaqih

    Wow ... Am not a Clinton supporter, but this was about as dreary and sangfroid a review as ever I've read ... It perhaps says as much about the author as the former first lady.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:16 am |
  22. Jay

    Nothing so one-sided can ever be taken seriously. Everything in life is much more nuanced. It sounds he just has something against Mrs. Clinton and needs to vent. These one-sided attacks seem to help Mrs. Clinton. There are troubling things about her that need to be explored, but there are positive aspects too. I am concerned about the future of journalism.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:15 am |
  23. Lydia

    Pat on the back for Carl Bernstein, telling the T R U T H. Everyone else seems afraid of the Clintons for some reason.

    April 15, 2008 at 9:15 am |
  24. Bruce

    This is an excellent analysis...

    The Clintons are a sinking ship... So if you are a Clinton supporter, I would carry a life perserver with me at all times... Her campaign has suffered one failure after another... Sen. Clinton believes, Sen. Obama isn't electible, I would argue, she would fair far less, She not liked by many people, She can't be trusted and she is involved in so many shady dealings...

    April 15, 2008 at 8:46 am |
  25. Doreen

    I recall very well that Bill Clinton's Presidency were very great years for all Americans. Great jobs and prosperity. Bill Clinton even left a surplus which George Bush squandered. I hope and pray Hillary wins.

    April 15, 2008 at 8:36 am |
  26. Jeff

    Carl's piece is right on. I voted for Bill the first time he ran and I don't regtret it. The Clinton years were a heyday compared to what Bush has put us through.

    But any sensible person with any powers of observation only has to watch the Clintons questionable actions and repeated lies to know that they are mainly concerned with thier own image and legacy above all else, including the state of our country.

    Anybody who saw Hilary get caught red handed lying about snipers and use the laughable political plattitude "I misspoke" and still wants to vote for her, has some serious issues with critical thinking and judgment of character.

    I get a chuckle out of reading angry diatribes from the brainwashed Clinton zealots who posted their protests here. They mirror the victim defense Carl talked about perfectly.

    I'm not sure Obama is best for the country and I'm not sure McCain is either. I am sure Hilary is not. We need someone who is more interested in trying to fix our problems than being honored and admired for trying to fix our problems.

    April 15, 2008 at 8:35 am |
  27. Tom

    Funny how anyone who criticizes Hillary Clinton is called a sexist. Does it follow that anyone who criticizes Barack Obama is racist? Interesting that Clinton backers have attacked female superdelegates because of their percieved obligation to back a female candidate for president no matter what. Didn't that King guy say something about having a dream that people will be judged on the content of their character, not the color of their skin? Or gender? So much for that.

    April 15, 2008 at 8:33 am |
  28. James

    This commentary is a valid and true depiction of Sen Clinton, I still like Bill, but the truth is the truth. This attack and destroy, the win at all cost mentality of the Clintons have become very distasteful to nonsupporters and suppoters alike. Remember that phrase
    " I you live by the sword, you will die by the sword"
    and Sen Clinton has the sword unsheathed!

    April 15, 2008 at 8:09 am |
  29. jim in pennsylvania

    as iowa goes so goes pennsylvania
    case closed

    April 15, 2008 at 6:39 am |
  30. R. Martin

    Excellent piece. Thanks so much–I couldnt have said it better. Lets keep the circus out of town. One extended run was enough and something seems a litlle off with the ringmaster, Bill. Or maybe he is just saying all these things at 10 at night when he is tired!

    April 15, 2008 at 6:28 am |
  31. jim

    Carl, how about next time you add some facts to your vitriol? If you want to make a claim, you should support it with something verifiable, not just an appeal to mythology.

    The Republicans spent tens of millions of dollars trying to get the Clintons on all these "scandles" you cite, but failed. Why? Because there was no there, there. So too one must consider your bit of hate published here by CNN.

    April 15, 2008 at 6:26 am |
  32. John

    Boy, was this a great piece of work to wake up to. No, I do not hate Mrs. Clinton. She's been a good senator here in New York State. I hope she remains a U.S. Senator and quits the circus.

    April 15, 2008 at 6:19 am |
  33. Joseph in PA

    Excellent article! It summarizes how I have come to feel as well about the Clinton's, and I was one of their biggest supporters, but it seems that the Clinton's biggest supporters are...themselves.

    Interesting also how many more Clinton supporters say they will not vote for Obama as opposed to Obama supporters not willing to vote for Clinton. I am a Democrat foremost before being the supporter of a candidate.

    I wish Mr. Bernstein's article could be front page on all the PA newspapers tomorrow!

    April 15, 2008 at 5:48 am |
  34. Blesson, India

    brilliant material ! i totally agree with this piece of writing. if Obama becomes the president, i can truly say that America would be under one of finest men in power. The man has it all.

    April 15, 2008 at 5:46 am |
  35. Shaunte

    Excellent commentary!!

    April 15, 2008 at 1:32 am |
  36. Ann Zen

    Right, but gas was $1.15 a gallon. The first President Clinton really cared about working people. He understood us, and if not for opposition from the GOP, he would have helped people a lot more than he was able. I will vote for whichever Democrat gets the nomination, but I do sincerely hope it is Hillary Clinton. She would do better than another under-prepared, arrogant male like Obama, who is so inexperienced and yet so cocksure.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  37. Patty

    Just the fact please!

    Keep your personal feeling out of the race....I expect these attacks
    from tabloids, not CNN.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  38. Jonathan

    This whole article is obviously a subjective and deliberately negative piece, but the thing I find most appalling is the assersion in the article that Senator Clinton's Presidential campaign is somehow a failure. She has overcome enormous odds, a one-sided smear campaign from an Obama-obsessed press, a vicious and largly ignored onslaught from the supposedly doe-eyed Obama campaign, all to emerge as a lagimate candidate who will not only will Pennsylvania (as well as having won virtually every major state) but will continue to compete for the nomination of her party as the most qualified contender by far.
    Hillay '08

    April 14, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  39. blake

    It's a blong, people. Nobody at CNN claimed that Mr. Bernstein's piece was neutral.... It was, however, extremely on point. If you like Hillary, get over it. Or see the light - this woman cannot possibly win against McCain, because too many despise her. She lies and bends the truth constantly, is presumptuous and condescending, attacks a fellow Democrat even when it benefits McCain and purports to be one of "us" when she and Bill have pulled in over $100 million in less than 10 years. Thank you, Obama, for pointing out that many of us are indeed bitter and want to move on from the Clinton/Bush legacies that have left us with little to be happy about. And thank you, Mr. Bernstein, for a very interesting piece.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  40. Manny

    OMG, what an editorial. Whether you support Clinton or Obama, McCain or the Man in the Moon, you gotta love the magnificent prose of an American icon, Carl Bernstein. I found myself suddenly divested of the topic at hand but more so simply enjoying one of the greats practicing his craft. More Bernstein please! Bravo!

    April 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm |
  41. BCC

    Most people capable of successfully leading have visible and many times considerable flaws. This is certainly true with both Senator Hillary and former President Bill Clinton.

    On-the-other-hand, the one impossible to miss flaw in people who cannot successfully lead is their inability to lead. This is certainly true of President George W. Bush.

    Based on his agreement with the major policies and failures of President Bush, Senator McCain projects the dominate characteristic of being incapable of successfully leading because he intends to follow the flawed logic and of unrealistic goals of President Bush.

    Based on a lack of meaningful experience and a lack of details on how to achieve his stated goals, Senator Obama projects the dominate characteristic of being incapable of successfully leading. In a phrase, promising change for change sake is not a strategy for success.

    So, take your pick. 1) Bash Senator Hillary Clinton, a capable leader but flawed human; or 2) praise Senator Obama an excellent speaker but a man without meaningful leadership experience and without details on how he will actually bring about change and how the change he promises will be a change for the better; or 3) praise Senator McCain who has pledged to follow in the footsteps of President Bush. Footsteps that will continue to lead the USA to foreign and domestic ruin.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm |
  42. Gary in DC

    I voted for Bill Clinton, both times. Overall, I think he was good for the country.The last thing I want is 4 more years of the antics we've seen from Bill Clinton during the past 6 months. We don't need 2 presidents!

    April 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm |
  43. Carolyn C

    Wow! I wish I could have written this. An insightful description of why Hillary's scorched earth approach will never unify the country. Thank you Karl!

    April 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm |
  44. Tony Rizzo

    The Clinton years : marked by personal failings but with peace and prosperity. I'll take it !

    April 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm |
  45. Joe Terrogano

    Thank you Mr. Bernstein for your insights.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  46. K

    Excuse me, but what planet are you guys on??? The presidency is a job for someone who can manage a country. Central to this job are POLICIES, PLANS, and CONCRETE IDEAS. I challenge any of you to present to me ANY policies, plans or concrete ideas that come from Barack Obama. I dare you. If you give me the same challenge with Hillary, I wouldn't even know where to start. I will come back to you with handfuls of policy plans. Now who's the best candidate?

    April 14, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  47. Jessica Schreiber

    I am confused by Mary's critique of the Bernstein's analysis. She repetitively refers to it as "sexist" without ever defining the term or providing a scintilla of evidence to support it. She has a right to disagree with Bernstein's analysis - but she cannot refute it by name calling, at least as far as I am concerned. I am a feminist and of Senator's Clinton generation - a natural ally who instinctively would like to support her. But I can't because she no longer seems to stand for anything. I have found her attacks on Obama disingenuous and cynical. It seems she would rather McCain win than allow Obama to run. His has been the better campaign from Day 1. He is the real thing - an authentic, charismatic leader with a remarkable ability to distill issues down to their essence and in inspire the best in us as Americans. Hillary has good ideas and policies as well - she just cannot articulate them very well, she lacks Obama's (and her husband's) depth or scope of understanding and does not come across as deep, or original or authentic. I understand the pain for her, but I cannot respect her self serving ambition at the expense of the Democratic Party and the country. Obama offers the greatest hope of Presidential leadership in a generation. Hillary Clinton is standing in his way. Bernstein is right and I agree with what he has to say. It gives me no pleasure to disclose that I have lost respect for Hillary Clinton as a result of how she has run her campaign.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  48. Hillary '08

    Thank you for presenting such an insightful article. You have provided me a perspective that I had not previously considered. I do believe you've convinced me that what I really want is a change from politics as usual. I am changing my support to Mr. Obama, who does seem to represent a real chance for change.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  49. Jimmy

    Bernstein is a prime example of one of those supposedly "neutral" pundits, all the while spinning and injecting his own biased beliefs in to the conversation. There is a difference between analyzying a situation objectively and writing a balanced article about the situation and having an axe to grind with someone and taking the opportunity to slam them in to the dirt every time they get the chance. Bernstein (and his anti-Hillary rant above) is an example of the latter. Whenever Carl can, he sticks a needle in Hillary's back. Bernstein is a man on a crusade to stop the Clinton's in every way, shape and form. It's too bad he can't do a better job of disguising that.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
  50. Tim

    Bernstein is so blatently biased against Clinton it is hard to take anything he says seriously. And let's not forget the serious gaffes that Obama has committed so far – Rev, Wright, Tony Rezco, and last but not least the "small town Americans are a bunch of gun-toting bible-thumping idiots who are too stupid to solve their problems" speech that just proves how elitist and out of touch he is with average Americans. Hillary may have made some mistakes, but that is nothing compared to the inexperience and elitist attitudes of Obama, and we are probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the skeletons in his closet.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
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