Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Note to Self: Read More of Ezra Klein

His commentary on the Krugman-induced inequality debate is very good, in "Who's To Blame for Inequality?" On the role of governments, his conclusion strikes me as reasonable, even if I disagree to some extent with the normative statements he makes at the very end:

It's also worth saying that government is far more effective as a check on inequality than as an accelerant. Various trends, some pernicious (corporate greed, union decline), some not (technology, globalization, single mother families), contribute to inequality. What government can do is tax and redistribute in such a way that growth is shared equally across society. During conservative moments, it doesn't even make an effort to do that, and society is the worse for it.

And he has been raising this very provacative idea--that Hillary Clinton should try to succeed Harry Reid, not George W. Bush. From the Los Angeles Times, with "The Job Sen. Clinton Should Want:"
Before running through her qualifications for the job, it's worth explaining why she'd want it in the first place. After all, Clinton is the unquestioned front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president. She commands an unmatched war chest, an unrivaled collection of political talent (headed by her legendarily adroit husband) and star power that most putative candidates can only dream of.

But if her candidacy gleams in theory, its reality looks a little dimmer each day. Clinton is a polarizing figure, commanding a strong base of support but little room for growth. A CBS News poll in late July found her favorables at 32% and her unfavorables at 39% — a worrying ratio for a figure so well established in the public mind.

Many of her potential competitors score far better on likeability indices, notably John Edwards, who's turned his charm into a 4% lead in the crucial early presidential caucus state, Iowa. More troubling for Clinton, Democratic leaders have shuffled the caucus and primary schedule, placing Nevada after Iowa and South Carolina after New Hampshire. Nevada is essentially one big union town, mainly through the hotel workers union Unite Here, which Edwards is closely allied with. Then comes New Hampshire, where Clinton is ahead by single digits, and then South Carolina — Edwards' birth state, which he won in 2004. It's a series tailor-made for Edwards, and thus daunting for Clinton.

Worse yet, the blogs — the weathervane of the emergent left — can't stand Clinton. Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, proprietor of the liberal megasite Daily Kos, even took to the Washington Post to write of his distaste. And her problems don't stop with the primaries — surveys show she routinely loses to John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in head-to-head matchups.

So whatever the hype, Clinton's path to the presidency isn't an easy one. But the road to Senate leadership may be. Clinton possesses qualities that could turn the thankless, grueling realities of congressional preeminence into something glamorous and powerful. She's a human megaphone, for one, able to focus the press corps on whatever it is she wishes to say that morning. Such a skill would prove invaluable to a legislative leader, allowing her to set the agenda and advance her priorities even from the minority.

I had not previously appreciated the early advantage Edwards might have in the early caucuses and primaries or the notion that being Senate Minority (possibly Majority) Leader might appeal to Clinton.

1 comment:

ishmaelabroad said...

I doubt even Senate Majority Leader appeals to her. Ezra's point was simply that it is a more attainable goal and a job she could excel at.

I personally think she would make a fine president (especially if paired with a Republican congress a la Clinton I), but can understand why people feel she is such a polarizing figure.