Okay, so Hillary Clinton thinks the election outcome will be determined by whether or not her running mate has a national security background, because Donald Trump has pronounced this a law-and-order election. Seriously.
Facing a fall contest against a Republican opponent focused on law and order, Hillary Clinton has narrowed her search for a vice-presidential candidate, telling several potential running mates that she needs a No. 2 who would bring national security experience to the Democratic ticket.
Mrs. Clinton’s shortlist includes James G. Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who served as the 16th supreme allied commander of NATO, and Senator Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She is widely expected to present her choice at a rally in Miami on Saturday, according to people involved
— Hillary Clinton Is Said to Seek National Security Experience for Vice Presidential Pick, Amy Chozick, New York Times, today
This, folks, is what’s wrong with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee for president. I ask you folks: How many of you think the folks who’ve been downsized from, say, their well-paying blue-collar jobs in the Rust Belt will determine their vote based on whether or not Clinton’s running mate has national security experience, because Donald Trump has pronounced this a law-and-order election?
Seriously. Vote on this in the Comments thread.
Setting aside for moment that her supposed big selling point is the breadth of her government experience, and particularly her national security, and that most people don’t recognize that presidents normally have several national security advisors and that all that’s really necessary is that the president have a, y’know, brain and a semblance of mental stability, the fact that Clinton is so, so easily spooked into triangulation-and-toughness mode is genuinely scary.
So I’ll repeat here what I wrote yesterday:
One of my pet peeves about Hillary Clinton is how mindless—how autopilot-y—her political instincts are. I wrote recently, and had written earlier, about her factually off attempt last summer to pander to current and aspiring small-business owners by promising that she could have the federal government streamline the time it takes to start a business and cut down on regulations on small businesses. The federal government plays virtually no role in the regulation of small businesses—local and state governments regulate most small businesses—and the role that government at any level plays in business startup time is a matter of about a week for most businesses.
But hiding in plain sight were things she could have mentioned about the role that the federal government could play in things of critical importance to small business owners of various types. And some things that, thanks to Dems, it already does. Specific regulation of the financial services industry, for example—such as the Durbin Amendment, a form of antitrust regulation of Visa and Mastercard concerning business fees for credit and ATM card transactions, enacted by the Dem.-controlled Congress in 2009—has mattered a lot, and should be strengthened. And other antitrust enforcement and proposed legislation, such as to decrease the market chokehold of the major transportation companies and Big Ag, would make a significant difference to small-business owners, including farmers.
Elizabeth Warren talked about this in a highly publicized speech a couple of weeks ago. And Bernie Sanders discussed it often on the campaign trail, including, in Iowa, proposals for antitrust legislation to limit the market power of Big Ag.
Clinton reflexively equates the possibility of Dems attracting white rural and small town residents with triangulation. I myself have long believed that standard-issue triangulation is not the ticket to winning some support in rural and small town areas, but that specific sophisticated policy discussions about nonconventional issues—such as about antitrust regulation—is. Ditto for small-business owners and aspirants.
The rap on Vilsack apparently is that he’s boring. And that he wouldn’t make a good attack dog against Trump.
I don’t think Clinton needs an attack dog, in the conventional sense, as her running mate. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both get extensive media coverage for what they say, and people really listen to and care about their speeches. They’ll play a tremendous dual role in educating the public about the Dem platform—and the Repub one. And Warren can skewer Trump like she was born to do it.
My own choice for VP nominee is Sherrod Brown, whom I’ve been a huge fan of since he appeared on my radar screen during his 2006 Senate campaign; he and Dick Durbin are my favorite senators. Brown would make a wonderful candidate, and would appeal to rural and small town voters precisely because he’s a liberal—in ways that would matter to them. But I share the hesitation about him that Clinton and other Dems have: his seat would be turned over to a Kasich appointee for a while.
And I think his teaming up with Sanders, Warren, Durbin, Jeff Merkley, Baldwin and Jack Reed in a Dem-controlled Senate, along with a couple of new true progressives, would prove historic. Which is what I think Clinton should campaign on.
And, innocently, I added:
Then I added this:
That crazy thing, though, may not be enough to determine the outcome of this presidential election, after all. And it’s not because, see, Donald Trump has declared this a law-and-order election.
Just when I thought we’d gotten lucky, in that someone within her trust-and-personal-comfort realm who is among her finalists actually could make a difference in the campaign, for the right (no, not that way) reasons, and would make a good president should that situation arise, she reverts to form.
Clinton will have my vote. But I recognize now my naiveté in expecting her to run a rational, spooked-free campaign. It’s not what she does, because it’s not who she is; whoever she is, it’s not that.