Monday, January 14, 2008

Conservative Clinton

While Hillary's--and her various spokespersons'--statements on civil rights and race are drawing attention, other more-policy-focused remarks are also coming back to the surface.

At a forum in early December, Hillary came out against retroactivity in the reduction of crack-related offenses. Her pollster, Mark Penn, also made these revealing remarks:

In an interview after the debate, Clinton’s pollster, Mark Penn, pointed out that the Republican front-runner has already signaled that he will attack Democrats on releasing people convicted of drug crimes.

Aside from the fear-based nature of this conservative pander, I was immediately struck by Penn's reference to a, the, Republican front-runner. Given the noted volatility in the Republican race today, I wondered who Penn had in mind then.


Rudy Giuliani is already going after the issue,” Penn said. “He’s already starting to attack Democrats, claiming it will release 20,000 convicted drug dealers.”

Speaking in Florida earlier this month, Giuliani said he “would not think we would want a major movement in letting crack cocaine dealers out of jail. It doesn't sound like a good thing to do."

I wonder what Penn--and Hillary--think now that Guliani's no longer the front-runner? Should they change her position to fit with whoever they expect the GOP nominee to be? What if that prediction, too, needs to change in light of primary and caucus votes still to come? All this does is, besides illustrate policy-differences between herself and Obama, is reinforce the idea that Hillary lacks a central political core identity; something besides "experience".

Hillary's fears about how the GOP will smack us around on crime and other issues next fall has also led her to criticize Obama's more liberal--and I happen to think, wiser and more humane--stances on minimum sentencing guidelines and Cuba. (h/t Andrew Sullivan).

For this liberal, it's just more, confirming evidence that the choice between Hillary and Obama is a real, ideology and policy-wise, substantive one.

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