Warren appealing to Dems, but Clinton a better bet

I get it. Liberals are afraid of a Hillary Clinton presidency. The Clintons are very smart. They know what it takes to win elections in this country. It is important to remember why Bill Clinton won — not once but twice — and retired as one of the most popular presidents in history. This, after being impeached (Yes, he was. The House impeaches and the Senate tries) and after the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Bill was incredibly popular because he read the electorate correctly. This is a fairly conservative country for all the reasons I have laid out in the past. To paraphrase Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” Clinton knew that people like fiscal conservatives while at the same time he, for the most part, adhered to a populist social philosophy. It worked like a charm.

So who would I rather see in the presidency, Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton? I’ll bet you can figure that out. I have immense admiration for Warren but I completely understand why she keeps telling everyone in no uncertain terms that she is not running. My operating assumption is that she knows she could give Hillary a run for her money. Primaries are won by activist Democrats and for the same reasons as Hillary lost to Obama, Warren might be able to pull off a win. My guess, however, is that Warren knows that she can’t win. Because Hillary takes positions like her pro-fracking stance (ugh) and she is tough on foreign policy, she cuts into the independent and Republican vote. To put it differently, Warren could win a primary but she couldn’t win the presidency.

This leaves us asking whether voters would rather have a right wing Republican in the White House or a moderate Hilary Clinton. Clinton would certainly have a good chance of winning so big that she could conceivably bring Democratic majorities to both houses of Congress. Of course, it is possible that the MoveOn.org folks who are pushing the Warren candidacy are doing so in order to fire a warning shot over Hillary’s head.

Finally, it would be great to have a woman president. She’s tough, for sure, but that’s what this country seems to want.

The newly released Senate report makes it clear that this country does use torture. It also makes a compelling case that torture does not work. My take is that the Bushes wanted the world to know that if anyone messed with this country, they would be punished, albeit without trial. Many of us are appalled by these findings. We’ve done it before. We put Japanese citizens in camps. We slaughtered the Native Americans. We have suspended Habeas Corpus. Apparently, the FBI wouldn’t go along. We hear that then Secretary of State Colin Powell was not even told because he would have “blown his top.” Of course, Dick Cheney called the people who did this awful stuff “patriots.”

The Senate Democrats released the report before the Republicans took over. I think that they were very courageous to do so. This country is really at a crossroads. Are we going to operate under the rule of law or are have we come to a place where we ignore the rights of foreign nationals and, inevitably, of our own citizens?

Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is on the correct side of this one. He knows that if we employ torture, there will be a sign on the American door that our enemies can do the same thing. Before you write back that they’ll do it anyway, I would caution that we want the world on our side, not theirs.

It’s just wrong to torture.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle 12/14/14

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