I can see I haven’t convinced Kevin Drum. But I’m not sure I’m going to try any harder to “prove” that her foreign policy will be mad. Maybe it will be good. There’s a lot of uncertainty. If there were some other clear reason to prefer Hillary Clinton, maybe I’d back her despite my doubts. But I don’t think there is. In domestic policy and electability terms, I think all three have some strengths and some weakness. On foreign policy, every indication available to me that there’s any difference between her and Edwards or Obama suggests that it’ll be a difference that doesn’t reflect well on her.
How sure am I that she’d be worse? Not incredibly sure. But to me the great difficulty of this race is that Clinton’s established such a strong presumption that she’ll be the nominee that it gets difficult to argue against her without making the case that she’s somehow horrible. Either she’s the devil, or else she should be president. But that’s silly.
When I see a race between two politicians, one of whom got Iraq wrong and one of whom got it right, to me that establishes a presumption in favor of the candidate who got it right, no matter whose husband the wrong one is. When it turns out that the one who got it wrong also has a group of advisors heavily weighted toward the group of pro-war “experts” who helped push so many Democratic politicians into taking her wrong position on the war in 2002, that re-enforces my presumption. When the one who got it right is closer to a circle of people who were cast out of favor due to their opposition to the war or willingness to associate with Very Shrill Howard Dean, that re-enforces my presumption. Stuff like the Kyl-Lieberman vote, the funny business on nuclear weapons, the “naive and irresponsible” bit all further re-enforces my presumption.
And I think once you look at it that way, the whole race looks different. There’s been a ton of commentary about how Barack Obama hasn’t said or done anything to debunk people’s presumption that Hillary Clinton should be the nominee. And that appears to be true. But what if you don’t start with that presumption? And I don’t think we should. To me, the presumption that a candidate who can say he has a record of sound foreign policy judgment that can be contrasted with Republican X’s record of support for Bush administration fiascos makes a lot more sense than the presumption that Clinton should get the nomination.