Ed Kilgore’s case for an Obama-Clinton ticket has made me like the idea even less. He canvasses various things Clinton would allegedly bring to the ticket, but in almost every case I can think of better people to bring the quality in question. Then there’s this — “She would also bring some national security street cred to the ticket, which is an Obama vulnerability that I suspect is being underappreciated at the moment.”
This reflects, I believe, an incredibly damaging mindset that’s been crippling the Democratic Party for years and the prospect of excising this mindset is the single most appealing thing about the prospect of Obama being the nominee. Clinton’s “street cred” on national security consists, of course, of being massively wrong on the most important national security issue of her career. Paradoxically, a lot of folks find her massive wrongness on this hugely important issue reassuring because they and their friends were also wrong and they view having made the right call to be a suspicious quality. After all, the Iraq War may have led to thousands of U.S. deaths, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and millions of Iraqi refugees all at a cost of over $1 trillion and in ways that’s damaged the strategic position of the United States, but war opponents were all a bunch of hippies.
I say good riddance to that. I got the war wrong, and I think that gives me less “cred” than I would have had had I gotten the war right and I think that, politically speaking, it makes sense to put people forward who aren’t tainted by the war. But most of all we need to ditch the mindset that says “cred” on national security is composed of being hawkish even when that means being wrong.
None of which is to deny that Clinton would bring some very real strengths to the ticket. But it seems to me that, for example, Janet Napolitano brings just as much in terms of experience, ovaries, and a record of building political coalitions based on working class white and Latino voters.