Before I get into the main bit, a quick thought/link. Because the media actually thinks Clinton stands a reasonable chance to take the nomination, I’ve been considering doing a reanalysis of the figures (more of a restatement, since we all apparently need to be reminded of such things). As often happens, however, Slate.com preempts me. As such:
Hillary Clinton, Fairy Princess
Can we please stop pretending she has a plausible chance to win the nomination?
Here’s a rule I would like every political reporter, campaign official, TV talking head, and politician in the United States to follow. Go ahead and say, if you like, that Hillary Clinton retains a serious chance of winning the Democratic nomination. If you say this, however, you must describe a set of circumstances whereby this could happen. Try not to make it sound like a fairy tale…
OK, let’s see how Hillary can get close enough to call it a tie. If she gets within about 30, that’s pretty close, right? To do that, she needs to win, on average, 65 percent of the vote in every remaining contest. That’s still in the realm of extreme improbability. How about 60 percent? That’s a difference of 74 delegates, which is starting to sound like too many to justify throwing up your hands and declaring, “Close enough for government work.” And, anyway, that’s still too improbable to take very seriously. Do I hear 55 percent?* Which is to say: What if she wins every remaining contest, on average, by the 10-point spread she achieved in Pennsylvania? (It was really 9 points, but everybody thinks it was 10, so let’s say 10.) OK, that’s possible. Difficult to achieve, but possible. But that puts Obama 115 delegates ahead of Clinton. That is definitely too large a plurality to shrug off as a virtual tie.
The rest of the article discusses many of the other metrics of the race, including the superdelegates, and how she simply can’t win.
Anyway, on to the main topic of this post. I cannot help but comment on Clinton’s support of the gas-tax relief. Much has already been said about this, that making any comment would be repeating what’s already been said. Economists unanimously denounce the plan, for good reason. Once the “relief” is put into action, the price of gasoline will undoubtedly rise as a function of supply and demand. As such, any savings people would receive would disappear immediately. Instead of the money going to much needed government transportation programs, the money would go to the oil companies who are already making record profits. And what happens when the gas tax is reinstated? The prices would already be unnaturally high, and putting the gas tax back into place will be extremely damaging to everyone, even those Clinton is supposedly trying to “help” with this program.
What’s most disturbing about this plan is that while it promises much damage for little, if any, benefit, Clinton is still using it to win over those who apparently don’t think about things too much. As far as I can tell, such politicking goes against everything Clinton supposedly stood for.
For instance, her main defense of her proposed mandatory health care plan is that we all need to make sacrifices for the greater good. Unfortunately, with her health care plan, that individual sacrifice is large in order to get a meager benefit for all. With the gas tax, the sacrifice for all is great due to lost transportation dollars, but the benefit is miniscule, if even existent, to the individual.
She even defend the plan today, when asked about the fact that no economist thinks that the gas-tax holiday is anything but an awful idea, by saying that she didn’t understand why they jumped all over her plan, whereas no one criticized it when the government “bailed-out” Bear Stearns: “I didn’t hear people talking about it being pandering. I think it’s time we didn’t just bail out Wall Street. What about bailing out Main Street?” (Washington Post).
First of all, it would be silly to call it “pandering” since the people who managed the Bear Stearns deal weren’t running for office, nor were they advocating such a thing despite the fact that every expert thinks it’s a bad idea. Quite the contrary, the Bear Stearns deal very likely saved our economy. Not only that, the “bail-out” of Bear Stearns was not a meaningless handout, it was a loan, a loan to save the economy. Loans get paid-back, whereas handouts do not. For her to criticize the Bear Stearns deal, it makes one wonder what type of judgment she would have, and what would happen to the economy, if she was President.
And yet, Clinton touts the gas-tax holiday even though she cannot site even a single economist in support of her plan, and uses it to win over people who like the concept of handouts, but don’t think through the consequences.
I thought it was the Democrats who were supposed to think about the consequences and advocate a reasonable financial strategy, and it was the Republicans who were all about lower taxes and free handouts with little to no care for what it would do to the country. We’ve been complaining for years that the Republicans and the Bush Administration ignore experts and instead act against their advise, we certainly don’t need 4-8 more years of that. From John Dickerson:
Embracing intellectual obtuseness and deflecting criticism with charges of elitism is a tactic George Bush often deployed while campaigning. It’s striking to see Clinton do it because she has been a regular and harsh critic of Bush’s blindness to expert opinion. It’s even more striking to hear her aides actually sound like Bush administration officials. When I asked Communications Director Howard Wolfson if the Clinton team could offer any intellectual ballast for the gas-tax vacation, given that so many policymakers had criticized it, he said, “The presidency requires leadership. … There are times when the president does something that the group of experts, quote unquote, does not agree with. Presidents get advice and then act, and that is what Senator Clinton is doing.” Or, as George Bush used to put it: A leader leads. Even if off a cliff.
I used to think my only issue with Clinton was the way she went about doing things (or that she’s willing to destroy the Democratic Party and the ideals for which she stands in order to become President), not her policies. But with her vote on the Iraq war and her refusal to admit it was a mistake, with a mandatory health care plan that’s “mandatory” and not “universal,” and with her push of this terrible gas-tax holiday idea, I’m starting to have serious misgivings about what sort of leader she will be. Apparently, it’s going to be someone who cares about her short-term numbers, and not someone who cares about the tough, long-term fixes this country needs.
And with this gas-tax holiday pandering, it’s starting to be clear that she will lead according to what she believes will be popular, no matter how damaging it will be to the country, and not lead according to what needs to be done to ensure a decent future.