Jewish World Review Jan. 31, 2005 / 21 Shevat 5765
Hillary's calculated move away from Democrat party
Hillary Clinton is likely to be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee because she is so much smarter than rivals now on the horizon. Once in the Senate, she made a beeline for the Armed Services Committee because she understood that the first female President will have to be a hawk, just as the first Catholic President (JFK) had to be adamant about not aiding Catholic schools, and the first Jewish President will have to voice doubts about Israel.
When she ran against young Rick Lazio for the Senate, my wife and I had dinner with friends, including four liberal Democratic women who were bitterly anti-Hillary, mostly because they thought she was an enabler for Bill Clinton's self-destruction. But they all voted for her, partly because Lazio was a poor choice, but mostly because she ran a strong campaign.
She startled a lot of analysts by running so well upstate, an area that's traditionally Republican and reliably hostile to urban liberals. Hillary Clinton lost the area only by a slim margin. People tell me she now knows more and responds better to upstate New Yorkers than any other statewide politician ever has. Imagine this ability going national?
Clinton seems to be on the move, laying the groundwork for a centrist campaign in 2008. She has come out in favor of immigration reform, in effect saying: close the borders. She has demanded a role for religion and faith-based programs in the public square. And last week, while clearly underlining her pro-choice position, she expressed many sentiments firmly held by the anti-abortion movement, including putting in a good word for abstinence.
On all three issues, Clinton is bucking the Democratic elites and the base of her party. She also is answering the big question currently bothering Democratic head scratchers: what do we have to do to win nationwide elections? Hillary's sensible answer seems to be: stop trying to overcome and stigmatize huge majorities of voters.
The number of Americans who want to seal our borders is in the 70% range. Three-quarters of Americans believe abortion should be restricted. Fewer than 25% would allow it in all cases. And America is lopsidedly religious, with believers in the 90% range. Yet the Democratic elite is conducting a relentless and escalating campaign against any public expression of faith. So far Hillary Clinton seems to be one of the few to recognize the scope of the anti-religion problem. She is a religious person but said recently, "There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles."
And, once considering the opponents of abortion to be sinister and sneaky, she's now more moderate.
You don't have to be overwhelmed by Hillary Clinton's sincerity to conclude that she is making some smart moves now. She is beginning to distance herself from Democratic dogma.
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