A staunch Obama supporter talks about posting "Hillary 2012" on his Facebook page. At salon.com, Jonathan Bernstein wonders if President Hillary would have been a stronger leader. Froma Harrop is talking up a challenge to the President from Hillary or Ed Rendell or...anybody.
This kind of talk has been going on under the radar for a few months now, but, following the debt ceiling deal, it appears to have broken open in public. The left is seriously disillusioned with President Obama.
As it happens, yes, I do think President Hillary would have done some things different--two things, in particular. First, she would have focused on jobs first, then health care. (President Obama pursued health care reform first because he promised Ted Kennedy he would.)
Politically, Hillary's approach probably would have worked better, if for no other reason than that her "street cred" with core Democratic constituencies such as labor and the working class would have been bolstered right in the beginning by her support for job-creating policies.
Second, she would have fought harder. That's not a slam on President Obama, by the way. He correctly perceives that white America would recoil from an African-American man they perceive as angry or "riled up." Therefore, he pursues compromise, bipartisanship, making deals, "changing the atmosphere," and all that. He pretty much has to do it that way.
As the first woman president, Hillary's problem would have been the opposite. She would have had to prove her toughness. She would have gotten a political boost for standing her ground and fighting hard. It would have been in her political interest to do so. As it happens, she's quite good at this.
Plus, these Washington Republicans are not the southern Illinois politicians one would work with during the day and play poker with at night. If you're not tough as nails, they'll eat your lunch.
So yes, I do think a President Hillary's approach would have been different, and likely more successful. The political atmosphere, however, would be just as charged and just as noxious as it is now. The emails you get from Uncle Edgar would be misogynist instead of racist, but loathsome all the same.
All that said, I find it somewhat difficult to share the liberals' pain. It's their own fault they're disillusioned.
They fell in love with Barack Obama. People in love often imagine their beloved to have the most sterling character possible, so it followed that Barack Obama must needs incarnate the long-deferred liberal dream.
"He's Bobby Kennedy," George Clooney famously said--(which was rather curious since most of Bobby's constituency supported Hillary). He was anti-war, or so they supposed on the basis of one anti-war speech given by the state senator in 2004, in the most liberal district in Illinois, that was so little noted at the time that no Chicago newspaper mentioned it, and no observer present could remember it.
Now, they're finding out that he's not the liberal heart-throb they thought he was and they feel like lovers spurned. Yikes! Hell hath no fury!
You should have known. Where did you think those hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions were coming from? 20 year old college students? You didn't notice the kind words for Ronald Reagan, or the reluctance to even say, "I'm a Democrat"?
But that was then, and this is now. What next? Liberals will have to manage their grief and support the President anyway on the grounds that, for all his faults, he's better than the opposition. Most will, but many won't.
They stayed home in '68 and we got Richard Nixon. They stayed home in '80 and we got Ronald Reagan. They flaked off to Nader in '00, and we got George W. Bush. There's a pattern here, people. Take note.
Image: Hillary speaking in Hungary, State Department photo