Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Case for Hillary

The case for Senator Clinton comes down to one word - triangulation

Triangulation, sometimes called the Third Way, was the governing philosophy of President Clinton during his eight years in the White House. (In fact, I would suggest that triangulation has been the governing philosophy in Washington DC for 20 years now, including both Bush presidencies as well as Clinton's.) When he triangulated, Bill Clinton would attempt to stay between and above the political fray among conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats. (For those of you who have read A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren, this sounds suspiciously like Neo's approach to theology.)

President Clinton was constantly criticized for governing by the polls, for focus grouping everything, and for being more concerned with his own power rather than the advancement of a particular ideology. While these are legitimate criticisms, we have to admit that the practical effect of triangulation wasn't all bad. It was only half bad, by definition.

Certainly, triangulation brought us a moderate tax increase, don't ask don't tell, and a dismal response to Islamic terrorism. But on the other hand, it also brought us:

Welfare Reform
A Balanced Budget
The Surplus
The Defense of Marriage Act

More than anything, the disgust for the Clintons by many people - I think - has more to do with their personalities and scandals than it does with anything they have actually accomplished in elected office.

If Senator Clinton governs like her husband did, I am forced to say that there could be a lot worse. Triangulation provides an opportunity for a strong, conservative leader (like Newt Gingrich was in the Nineties) to actually advance the conservative agenda even with a "liberal" in the White House.

Will she triangulate? I am not sure. Certainly, she supports some very liberal things, not the least of which is her plan to socialize health care. But she also has been supportive of the war against terror (I'm talking here about her actual voting, not her rhetoric). She also is proposing tax cuts on her website. Is that enough to suggest that she will govern by triangulation? I don't know. I suppose we won't know until she articulates this philosophy (which won't happen until the general election with such an ideological opponent in the primary as Senator Obama is) or until she is actually in office and has to govern. It's a gamble.

So ... if I was going to vote for Mrs. Clinton, I would do so for one primary reason - triangulation.


H said...

She also brings experience. She is arguably one of the most experienced candidates, and while I disagree with her on many counts (I do not intend to vote for her), all of you against socialized medicine need to have a sit down with those of us who have worked with poor, needy Americans, who can't afford exhorbant health care provided to the wealthy, by the wealthy.... and before you tell me how bad Canada's health care system is, let me just say that I don't think they would be our best model.

Socialized medicine should not be dismissed. Especially by those of us who believe God calls us to care for the sick.

H said...

I just read my comment, it sounded way more agressive than I intended it. This was not an attack on you. Rather, it was an opinion posted by someone with passion in this area. Sorry if I offended you.

Robb said...

No offense taken. I am all for us taking care of the poor and needy, as hopefully you know. It's not the end goal that I question - just the means of getting there.

One question, though. When did health care costs get outlandish?

Robb said...

And ... one more thing. If money was no object, I can't think of a single Canadian hospital I would want to go to above several in the United States. Doesn't government involvement in something typically decrease quality. If money wasn't a concern, wouldn't we all use FedEx or UPS to ship everything rather than the USPS?

Clint said...

H said, "Socialized medicine should not be dismissed. Especially by those of us who believe God calls us to care for the sick."

I agree, God calls US...not the government. If WE, myself included, would be a little less selfish and focus on relieving the worlds suffering NOW as much as saving them from "eternal suffering", then I think government involvement could be avoided. Because as Robb said, " government involvement in something typically decrease quality."

H said...

I guess the real issue is less socialized medicine and more healthcare reform. I do agree Clint, that it is our responsability to care for the sick. Unfortunately, "us" never seems to outnumber "them".

m said...

Oh my Hillary for president? Your true colors are showing...

Robb said...

Hannah, that is an interesting distinction to make. I think you're right - health care needs to be reformed, but that doesn't necessarily mean socialized medicine. Really good distinction.

Robb said...

M, did you even read what I wrote?

Matthew said...

Well, it seems that the whole question about socialzed healthcare is basically settled here, but, never to be one to not flog a dead horse, I thought I'd include my two cents anyway.

I have a friend from China who once told me about their leader who initiated market reforms. He said something along these lines, "we've tried pure socialism for years, and it has succeeded in making us all equal--equally poor. It's time to try something new. Since we can't all get rich at once, I propose we let some get rich first, and the prosperity will eventually spread to the rest of us." Thus was born "communism with Chinese character", which is essentially capitalism (they don't like to admit failure and are still Marxist enough not to like the word "capitalism", but they have no problem adopting capitalism's precepts as long as they can call it something else).

The moral of the story here is that socialism (and all of its derivatives) is not about bringing everybody up--it's about bringing everybody down.

The Lord calls us to help the poor and unfortunate. This is not in dispute. We are to help the poor with our materials and our efforts and with the materials and efforts of anybody we can can convice to help.

But...we do not have the right to use force to coerce others to help the poor. Socialized anything basically entails enlisting the might of the State to force people to do what others think is right (instead of stealing ourselves to give to the poor we make the government do it for us). This destroys individual initiative and virtue ("if the government is already taking my money to look after the poor, why should I myself have to do anything more?") and is an evil thing for this reason alone if no other.

Furthermore, involving the state tends to disrupt accountability and efficiency. When has a government committee ever gotten anything done faster or better than an individual or group of people who truly care and are actually in the trenches to see that a thing is done right? Who was the real hero when it came to distributing emergency goods after Katrina: the government at any level or the greedy capitialistic Wal-mart?

Also, why do all the people who think the government has basically screwed up everything from the War in Iraq to the IRS think its's suddenly going to "magically" fix things when it starts regulating health care? Why is it that expecting all the things from government that people used to expect from God isn't considered to be idolatry?

I would like to finish with this quote from Ronald Reagan.

"I’m sure everyone feels sorry for the individual who has fallen by the wayside or who can’t keep up in our competitive society, but my own compassion goes beyond that to the millions of unsung men and women who get up every morning, send the kids to school, go to work, try and keep up the payments on their house, pay exorbitant taxes to make possible compassion for the less fortunate, and as a result have to sacrifice many of their own desires and dreams and hopes. Government owes them something better than always finding a new way to make them share the fruit of their toils with others."

Robb said...

Thanks, Matthew, for making the case for Reagan.

Matthew said...

You know, the sad thing is that when I was a kid, I didn't think Reagan was much of a president at all. Keep in mind 3/4 of my extended family are Democrats, and I had one uncle who was practically a socialist--all I ever heard growing up was about how Reagan was the fount of all evil and how Republicans were indistinguishable from Nazis.

When I went through my youthful rebellion phase (such as it was), can you guess which direction I went? ;-)

I still don't think Reagan was all that great (although, obviously, I have come to enjoy his writings and speeches more and more), but the candidates for president have simply gotten so much worse over the years.

Oh well, The Lord will preserve us, or He won't--there's no sense in worrying about it overly much.

Josh Powers said...

Thanks for the balanced perspective Robb. The Clintons are easy to demonize but they are not bad politicians. Just to keep things stirred up, here ( is a moderate democrat's perspective on the candidates' skill in handling foreign affairs. The writer (Orson Scott Card, who I discovered after reading "Ender's Game") seems to make a fair judgment based on each candidates' response, and in this category Hillary doesn't compare too well.

m said...

No. Just giving her blog space is bad enough. What are ya Gay?