Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clinton condemns dead license proposal; shows us her idea of leadership

In what can only be called a miracle of multitasking, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) managed to grandstand, close the barn doors after the horses escaped, then still beat a dead horse, and kick a man while he’s down, all while trying to catch the train after it had already left the station.

Caught last week with not one, not two, but really three hard to discern positions on New York Governor Elliot Spitzer’s proposal to provide state driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, Clinton caught a break when the National Democratic Party, taking the rather wrongheaded and cynical advice of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (via J-Ro), failed to provide much support at all for Spitzer’s simple step forward toward a rational immigration policy. After meeting with the New York congressional delegation (a meeting that Clinton skipped), Spitzer announced that while he still thought his original proposal was a good idea, this was clearly not the time to press ahead.

I am disappointed that Spitzer felt the need to first waffle, and then back down. I am disappointed that the Democrats opted for bowing to the conventional political wisdom rather than standing tall behind a forward-thinking idea. But, needless to say, I am most disappointed in the putative Democratic presidential “frontrunner” (ironic title, really) for exhibiting what I find to be the very antithesis of leadership:

[Clinton] issued a statement Wednesday afternoon in which she expressed support for Mr. Spitzer’s decision [to withdraw his proposal] and stated that licenses for illegal immigrants would not be on her own future agenda.

“As president, I will not support drivers’ licenses for undocumented people and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all of the issues around illegal immigration,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Well, gosh, that sounds, well, almost, um, clear. It completely lacks any specific proposals for how she will “press” or what she means by “comprehensive immigration reform,” but hey, she has finally expressed her unequivocal opposition to the Spitzer proposal NOW THAT IT IS NO LONGER ON THE TABLE.

America is at a turning point. The damage done by two terms of Bush Administration and over a decade of Republican congressional rule has left this nation in a very bad position on so many fronts—domestic, fiscal, global, and moral. The next president is going to have to get out in front of this mess, make big, bold proposals, and risk a little political capital to elect Democrats down ticket, and then convince them and their constituencies to join her or him in restoring America’s values and standing. Leading from behind ain’t gonna get it done. Triangulating isn’t going to motivate an electorate. Incrementalism does not make for a stimulating platform or an inspirational rallying cry.

Hillary Clinton’s sad attempt to appear “Presidential” on this issue has provided another window on what that job means to the junior Senator. Or, more accurately, how little it means outside of simply getting elected president.

(cross-posted on guy2k, The Seminal, and Daily Kos)

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