The Daily Brushback: excuse me, Sen. Clinton?

Today we introduce a new feature at S&R. In The Daily Brushback we’ll pose a question to a person famous or infamous that we wish someone in the mainstream media actually had the cojones to ask. We don’t expect answers, of course, but that’s never a reason not to ask. And since we have no “access” to risk losing, we can be honest, penetrating, rude, and even funny. The Daily Brushback won’t, despite its name, appear daily, but we call it that because it sounds better than The Periodic Brushback or The Occasional Brushback.

The inaugural question is for Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).


Sen. Clinton, we’d like to ask you to speculate a little bit. How do you believe you’d have formed critical opinions about policy goals and strategies had you lived in an era before opinion polls were invented?

7 replies »

  1. I think I’d probably be the last person to defend Hillary Clinton, but in all fairness, at a time when many are probably contemplating why we still have representative democracy, it’s nice to see a candidate actually keeping a finger on the pulse of the country. Of course, we know she’ll just say what the people want to hear … which is different from exactly which other candidate?

    Yes, it’d be nice if she had some established track record, showing support for these issues dating back a while, but she’s no worse than Rudy, flip-flopping on abortion rights.

    The question I’d ask her is: Senator Clinton, if elected president, would you wait until after the inauguration to start parading around in your Queen Bavmorda getup?


  2. Funny question, Dr S. And Fikshun comments, “we know she’ll just say what the people want to hear.”

    But some would say, her problem is just the opposite: She’s saying not what the people want — according to polls: get out of Iraq, nix on trade deals — but what corporations want.

  3. I like that question, but then again, I’d want to hear that question asked to all of our candidates. I’d love to hear what Hillary’s answer would be, and wish Dr. Slammy could find a way to make it happen. Perhaps a Michael Moore ambush would work.


  4. Fikshun: Maybe I should elaborate. The real problem is that she’ll say whatever the voters want to hear, but is unlikely to DO what they want done. When it comes time to act, she’ll have the radar attuned to what her rich backers want done.

    That doesn’t make her different from most other candidates, no, but her lack of transparency on the subject certainly makes this a fair question, don’t you think?

  5. Dear Dr. Slammy,

    Hi. I’m Hilary Clinton. Nice to make your acquaintance. I’m channeling this through JS O’Brien, since he’s very good at channeling (note that he talks to aliens and intercepts Iranian top secret memos). The great thing about going through JS is that no one will really believe it’s I, so I can tell the truth.

    And here it is.

    Modern presidential politics is about making the swing voters (and they are the only ones that really count these days) more afraid to vote for your opponent(s) than they are to vote for you. That means that campaigns must boil down voting records, personalities, past statements, current statements, and even (for me) what clothes one wears and what hairstyle one chooses into a series of simplistic but effective attack ads. The days when vision might carry an election are long, long gone. Positive messages can be quickly and effectively whipsawed by the most egregious obfuscation and downright lies.

    Listen, if a man who got Daddy to get him out of going to Vietnam by getting him into the Texas National Guard can appear more militarily competent and heroic than a man who won three decorations as a lieutenant on one of the most dangerous jobs in that war, then it’s all about message … not substance. If Max Cleland, who lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam, can be painted as a traitor to his country by a man who didn’t go, then no one is immune to the lie and the smear.

    Those things can be fought only with money. That is the unvarnished truth. If there is enough money, one can effectively refute the lies, but if there is not enough, the lies will bring you down. Does this mean that those with money now have an inordinate influence on American politics? Oh yes. Is this a good thing? Oh no. Is this reality as we know it? Oh yes.

    The fix is to provide public funds for campaigns, but this is legislation that will never be passed. Incumbent Congressmen and women won’t pass it because they have a fundraising advantage. Even if they wanted to, those with money would easily, easily convince the American people that it is a waste of their tax dollars. Those of us pointing out the more complex message — that every dollar spent to keep private money out of elections is about $1 million saved in graft and corruption — would be easily defeated and painted for ever after as spendthrifts “feeding at the public trough.”

    Which brings us to opinion polls. There are certain issues that resonate with swing voters. That’s a fact. Those issues tend to lend themselves to very simplistic attack messages. Vote the wrong way, say the wrong thing, and a candidacy can be blown out of the water in a matter of days, if not hours. Attempts to appeal to reason are admirable, but stupid. Any appeal to reason would need 10 times the ad dollars of an appeal to fear in order to work. I don’t have that kind of money.

    So, if politics is the art of the possible, I believe it’s true that what is possible has shrunk to a very small window, indeed. But there are still some things that can be done. The Presidency is more of a bully pulpit than it has ever been. It is free advertising of enormous value. Once one is President, there are things one can do, but one has to become President to do them. Falling on a; political sword in the campaign over “principle” is a good way never to be President.

    Hope this clarifies things. Ann, I loved your thing on the “bitch” comment.

  6. Doc,

    It more or less boils down to “NO ONE says what he or she means or really intends to do and wins. It’s that simple. Ron Paul is probably saying what he believes. He’s going to lose. He will have accomplished absolutely nothing.

    And that’s not my fault. That’s the voters’ faults. If they want to see the world so simplistically that they reject complex arguments, the so be it. It’s the way the game is set up.

    I don’t intend to lose.