In an article entitled Frustration Over Iraq Vote Unlikely to Trouble Clinton, Raymond Hernandez of the New York Times explains the mentality of Camp Clinton.

A recent poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found that 88 percent of Democrats who were interviewed said they approved of Mrs. Clinton’s job performance. That number would be remarkable under any circumstance. (By contrast, 71 percent of Democrats approved of the job that Charles E. Schumer, New York’s senior senator, is doing.) But Mrs. Clinton’s approval rating comes at the same time that 83 percent of Democrats in the sample told Quinnipiac pollsters that they regarded the war in Iraq as a mistake.

Political analysts say Mrs. Clinton’s standing within the party gives her greater room to maneuver politically.

“She has the left in her back pocket,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac institute. “She doesn’t have to worry about catering to them. She has to worry about attracting centrist Democrats, the mainstream of the party.”

Those poll numbers are for New York State, where she is running for a second term in the Senate. She is facing an anti-war primary opponent, Jonathan Tasini. Cindy Sheehan has endorsed him. Of course, Tasini is unlikely to help the anti-war cause:

In a recent interview, Tom Matzzie, the Washington director for, a liberal advocacy group, suggested that the antiwar movement would potentially undercut its own message by waging what he said would be a hugely unsuccessful primary challenge against Mrs. Clinton.

“The case I would make is that 2006 needs to be a year of reckoning for Republicans on Iraq,” he said. “If the antiwar candidate is creamed by Hillary Clinton, it’s a distraction.”

No offense to Tasini, but I have to agree. Hillary Clinton’s re-election is a foregone conclusion, and it will send the wrong message if her victory is seen as validation for pro-war candidates in the 2008 presidential primaries.

The bigger problem is the mentality of dismissiveness towards the liberals in the party. Hillary is positioning herself in the center on a number of issues, including her asinine sponsorship to protect the flag.

Tellingly, some Democrats who are not directly connected with her campaign have argued that such positions may be necessary to ensure her political viability in the long run. If she does end up capturing the party’s nomination for the presidency in 2008, these Democrats said, she cannot afford to be seen as a captive of liberal orthodoxies, since she would need the support of moderate and conservative general-election voters.

That argument was at the heart of the politics of Bill Clinton, who succeeded in defusing issues that Republicans had often used against Democrats.

Mr. Carroll, of Quinnipiac, argues that many of Mrs. Clinton’s more moderate positions will help inoculate her against what he says will be a line of attack against her in a Democratic presidential primary: that she cannot win a general election for the White House because she is so politically polarizing.

“When we are talking about the presidency, centrist Democrats will try to make the case that she is not electable,” Mr. Carroll said. “I don’t know if it’s a valid argument. But it will be made.”

…But Mr. Matzzie, of, said that while Mrs. Clinton had solid support among liberal Democrats, her break with them on a crucial issue like Iraq could lead to questions about her commitment to her own supporters.

That, he said, could ultimately fuel a sense within the larger electorate that she is politically disloyal.

“If she is perceived as disloyal to her base, then who is she loyal to?” he said. “The genius of Bill Clinton is that he was always perceived as loyal to his base. But we didn’t have an issue during his presidency that was as divisive as Iraq.”

The Clintons are not loyal to anyone but themselves. They know how to govern, and they are savvy strategists. I find it hard to argue with their strategy, as Hillary needs to defuse her lightning rod image in order to have a decent chance to compete in many purple states. But they are living in the past.

Democrats (and many independents) are craving leaders that will stand up and call it like it is. That is what bloggers do everyday and that is why liberal blogging is such a growth industry. Call Bush a chickenhawk and the greatest threat to the country, as Paul Hackett did, and legions will line up to support you. And you’ll get bonus points for doing it early before it was popular or merely politically expedient.

Hillary is doing what she needs to do, after years of being pilloried by the right she is distancing herself from the base (the special-interest groups). It’s a strategy that makes a lot of sense…for her. But it is not a strategy that makes a lot of sense for us. We want to swing the pendulum back further than the centrism of Bill Clinton and the DLC. We think conditions are ripe for a big backlash against the GOP. But, we will not see that backlash unless the contrasts between our policies and Bush’s policies are made as stark and obvious as possible. Hillary is not the right vehicle for that.

I would not be heartbroken if she became President. But I guarantee that I will fight against her nomination. If she wins, it means we have a lot less influence than we had hoped. It means that we are already in Hillary’s back pocket.

I don’t feel that way. Do you?

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