Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hillary Won Over Republicans in Laguna... So Why Not Progressive Democrats?

(Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot)

Remember when our own Todd Beeton braved the horrifying traffic on PCH, as well as the throngs of people who turned out for the Patriots Day Parade, to track down Hillary Clinton in Laguna Beach for a major fundraiser?

Well, did Todd know that there were Republicans in there? Check out the article on Hillary's fundraiser in The Laguna Beach Independent:

Among the guests... were several Republicans. "They have said to me point blank, 'she may have swayed me'," [Clinton Campaign's Southern California Finance Committee Member Terry] Baker said. "They couldn't wait to get in line to get their picture taken with her."

Host Stevan Gromet, a self-described conservative Republican and like Clinton, a Yale law school graduate, surprised guests with his introduction. "I am looking for pure, transcendent, charismatic leadership," Gromet said... "And what I heard from Hillary was an earnest and serious discourse about our country's political ailments, cast in terms and concepts that went beyond party politics... So if Hillary and I are two separate dots, her talk last week was definitely a connection between those dots with a bold line."

So what is it that's swaying Republicans to Hillary's side? And is it in any way related to the reasons why many progressive Democrats have turned against Hillary? And can winning the hearts and wallets of big Orange County and LA donors be the secret weapon to helping her win California?

Follow me down below for more...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Hillary Clinton seems to have plenty of devoted fans in Laguna...

Clinton was presented a patriotic memento prior to her departure by motorcade to John Wayne Airport and her widely covered appearance the next day in Alabama. Students Ali Baker and Chelsea and Marley Donenfeld presented Clinton with a flag-themed fleece blanket they had assembled the night before with the help of their mother, Joncie Donenfeld. "Because you wrapped yourself around the country with your work and your efforts, we thought the country should be wrapped around you," Marley told Clinton, who rewarded her with a kiss. "It was really neat," said Mrs. Donenfeld.

But then, there were all those angry protesters outside...

So what's gone wrong with Hillary?

Remember when I told you that Hillary needs to "deal with her Iraq vote while she still has time to do so"? Well, she isn't exactly doing a good job at that. Instead, she seems to be flip-flopping on her earlier pledge of "bringing the troops home". (From The New York Times)

In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton articulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at her campaign events, where she has backed the goal of “bringing the troops home.”

She said in the interview that there were “remaining vital national security interests in Iraq” that would require a continuing deployment of American troops.

The United States’ security would be undermined if parts of Iraq turned into a failed state “that serves as a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,” she said. “It is right in the heart of the oil region,” she said. “It is directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to Israel’s interests.”

And speaking of "flip-flopping", Iraq's not the only issue where she has not taken a clear position. Now, she is even "seesawing on the question of gay morality". (Also from The New York Times)

Asked on ABC News on Wednesday if she agreed with General Pace’s view that homosexuality was immoral, Mrs. Clinton said, “Well, I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.” She added, “I’m very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country, and I want make sure they can.”

Now while I appreciate Hillary's recognition of queers' love for their country, I don't understand why she felt she needed to dodge the whole issue of whether or not queer people can live moral lives. Though she seems to have a good record on standing up for LGBT rights, she does not want to be seen in public with her best gay friends. Judging from this disconnect, Hillary almost seems to want to keep her support for equal rights in the closet.

And once again, this gets back to Hillary's problem of being "whatever we want to see out of her". She tries to be liberal, and tries to be conservative at the same time. She accepts money from "self-described conservative Republicans" and talks with them about solutions "cast in terms and concepts that went beyond party politics", but she still occasionally throws red meat at the Democratic base by promising to "bring the troops home" from Iraq, and by promising the gays that they will "always have an open door" to the White House if she were President. So what exactly is Hillary Clinton, and where does she stand on the issues?

It really hurts me to say these things about Hillary. After all, sometimes I still want to see her win. I still see her as the "wronged woman" from Bill's sexcapades, and I still sympathize with her for all the shit that the "vast right wing conspiracy" still throws at her. If any American politician as endured more pain and suffering than Hillary Clinton, then I have yet to meet that person.

However, I also don't know what to think of Hillary the Presidential Candidate. She seems to be doing a better job at winning over swing voters than we give her credit for. Heck, she even seems to be winning over quite a few Republicans! However, I cannot see whether Hillary is for ending the Iraq War or continuing the Iraq War. I cannot see whether Hillary is for LGBT rights, or not so much for LGBT rights. I cannot see whether Hillary would defend our civil liberties, or violate them. I just don't know anymore.

So while it's good to see that Hillary has such broad support, I must wonder how deep it really is. After all, all the Republican money in the world may not necessarily win her the Democratic nomination.

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