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June 16, 2008

John Scalzi Gives You Tomorrow’s Punditry—Today!
Posted by Patrick at 10:39 AM *

John Scalzi, June 7, 2008:

I do think that when the dust settles what we’re going to find is that Clinton’s stock is going to go way up. Just as being gaveled out of the presidency was the best thing to happen to Al Gore personally (if not the best thing to happen to the nation, given what the alternative turned out to be), I think Clinton’s going to find herself completely springboarded out of her husband’s political shadow, and able to write her own ticket, politically and otherwise, from here on out. She’s the Most Important Clinton now, which is not insignificant (and which must kind of burn Bill, no matter what he says publicly).
Cover story by John Heilemann, New York magazine, June 23, 2008: The Fall and Rise of Hillary Clinton:
What strikes me as inarguable is that Hillary is today a more resonant, consequential, and potent figure than she has ever been before. No longer merely a political persona, she has been elevated to a rarefied plane in our cultural consciousness. With her back against the wall, she both found her groove and let loose her raging id, turning herself into a character at once awful and wonderful, confounding and inspiring—thus enlarging herself to the point where she became iconic. She is bigger now than any woman in the country. Certainly, she is bigger than her husband.
There’s more, mixing acute observations with overdramatized baloney in the usual breathless oh-what-a-big-deal-this-is manner of New York magazine’s political coverage. But I think Scalzi and Heilemann’s core point is correct: whichever party wins the general election, Hillary Clinton is now firmly established as a cultural figure of transcendent power and reach. She’s not just a former First Lady, a junior Senator from a large state, or a failed Presidential candidate. She’s a rock star. And she’s not done yet.
Comments on John Scalzi Gives You Tomorrow's Punditry--Today!:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:33 PM:

Note: Persons attempting to use this thread to refight the Democratic primary election will be roundly mocked.

The subject at hand is the realm in which politicians act, with greater or lesser effectiveness, as tribunes of deeply-felt desires. Arguments over issues and specifics belong somewhere else.

#2 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Is it OK to use this thread to ask Mr. Scalzi for use of his Tardis?

#3 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:02 PM:

As a certain character in one of my favorite movies put it "I for one am v-v-v-very interested to see what's going to happen next!" I want to see what Hillary is going to do with that power. I just hope she doesn't fade into the background. Fortunately that's not too likely.

I predict that whatever she does, it will be designed with the intention of maximizing the probability that Barack will be our next President. Or, actually, doing whatever the Obama campaign thinks would best serve that purpose, even if it conflicts with her own political judgement. At this point I trust the Obama campaign not to make the same mistake the Gore campaign did with Hillary's husband in 2000, so that lessens still further the chance that she'll just live quietly from now on.

#4 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:04 PM:

Considering not just Al Gore and Hilary Clinton, but also such less laudable examples as Ron Paul (who seems to have run for president as a way of boosting his subscription newsletter business) and Pat Robertson, it looks like Not Being President is a pretty viable and worthwhile career path.

#5 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:05 PM:

Chryss 2: Not if you're going to use it to refight the primary. No election can be free and fair when time travelers are involved!

#6 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:07 PM:

will be roundly mocked

Now that that's squared away, we can triangl-ance over the topic at hand. We have to get the cor-rectangle on these matters, after all, before we get an a-polygon-set of puns.

Damn, too late.

But seriously. In some ways, not becoming president is a gift, too. As president, you get four, maybe eight years of serious power, but then what*? She could easily play the elder stateswoman long game for decades.

Would she be a good nominee for the Supreme Court? Or would she prefer the legislative branch?

* unless you're Jimmy Carter, of course

#7 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:10 PM:

Xopher: `No election can be free and fair when time travellers are involved' is, of course, Arrow's theorem.

(Time flies like an arrow... sorry, I'll go away now, it's the drugs.)

#8 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:25 PM:

abi: My prediction is that, when Obama wins the general election, he and his allies in the Senate will see to Clinton's election as Senate Majority Leader. From there, she can be the driving force in that chamber for the new health care agenda, whatever its final form turns out to be.

I think she'd be a lot more useful - and a lot happier there - than as the Secretary of HHS. The battle for health care reform will be fought in the legislature; the Cabinet department's role will be more advisory than anything else when the policy is being created. (As I understand it, anyway.)

#9 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:45 PM:

I'm skeptical. Primary / election season always creates temporary auras of stardom, relative to previous national obscurity. When the contstantly recycling echo chamber moves its focus elsewhere the memory of the general public is quite short. In six months or a year, it seems quite possible that Hillary will be back to being a more-recognizable-than-most junior Senator.

#10 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 04:07 PM:

#9, Ulrika: Maybe. But I doubt that; Clinton's smart and ambitious, and I think she can use her temporary stardom to bootstrap herself into a greater, possibly even iconic position as the leading female politician in the US.

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Why not Justice Clinton?

#12 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 04:33 PM:

I've heard the theory that the pundits like Clinton more now because she did what every good little woman is supposed to do: she lost.

I hope that Scalzi's prediction ends up accurate. I nodded energetically to Obama's speech when he accepted the nomination, that whatever happens, Hillary Clinton will have been responsible for many of the solutions we end up with when we solve crises like healthcare--and that she should absolutely get the credit for it.

#13 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Xopher @3: OMG I love love love that movie. "Keep the pack, I just quit!"

#14 ::: KB ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court!

Oh, what she could do there to restore some real balance.

#15 ::: Joe Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 05:07 PM:

If the Democrats somehow manage to lose, she'll have Howard Dean's stature as "the candidate we should have picked". If they win, I don't know - depends on what she does next.

#16 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 05:44 PM:

I love the thought of Hilary Clinton on the Supreme Court just because of what it would do to Antonin Scalia's blood pressure. But I think she's wasted there. I think she should stay in the Senate and raise hell.

#17 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 05:50 PM:

#16 Lizzy L

I agree with you.

However, No More Batshit Fanatic Rightwing Misogynists on the Supreme Court (and may the universe move to excise Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts from the bench, and send at least Scalia into a jail cell for perjury/lying under oath, and Thomas, too, and likely also Alito and Roberts....)

#18 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Hillary for President in '08 ! ! ! ! !

Now MOCK me, damn you all, MOCK MEEEeeeeeeee!

It's a form of attention, after all...

#19 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 06:15 PM:

I'd be wary of having to replace Democratic Senators because they're picked to do something else.

#20 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 06:30 PM:

Given that Senator Clinton would be replaced by someone appointed by New York's Democratic governor, I don't think that's a huge issue.

I like the idea of Clinton on the Court simply because I like the idea of every right-wing brain in the country exploding with a single zit-like pop, from sea to shining sea. The thought might even be enough to get me past my reservations about her views on the proper balance between executive and legislative power.

#21 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 06:38 PM:

What a beautiful thought, Patrick. But the only liberals I want Obama to appoint to the Supreme Court are young uns with a full set of milk teeth and no driver's license.

#22 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 06:49 PM:

I'm skeptical. Primary / election season always creates temporary auras of stardom, relative to previous national obscurity. When the contstantly recycling echo chamber moves its focus elsewhere the memory of the general public is quite short. In six months or a year, it seems quite possible that Hillary will be back to being a more-recognizable-than-most junior Senator.

I think the extended primary season will make a difference in this. In recent history, we've tended to have the runner-ups drop out of the primaries early. This leaves them in a comparatively weak position, as they can't say, as she can, that they collected many primary votes in all of the states. By staying in the primary, and collecting so many votes, Hillary has made herself more formidable politically than if she'd dropped out early.

She has approximately half the popular votes for the Democratic nomination, give or take depending on the way you count. She must be treated with respect, because a failure to respect her is a failure to respect all of the people who supported her - people who are essential for a Democratic win in November.

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Patrick @ 20... I like the idea of every right-wing brain in the country exploding(Yay!)with a single zit-like pop(Ewwwww.), from sea to shining sea(Gross!)

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 07:14 PM:

I like the idea of Hillary Clinton on the Supreme Court -- and there is no reason why she couldn't be there for two decades or more (Anthony Kennedy was appointed by Reagan, John Paul Stevens by Ford)-- not only for the reason Patrick gave, but because I think that it is the kind of job that she could do very well.

#25 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 08:12 PM:

I'm just visualizing the scenes of carnage at the Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute....

| Conservative pundits heads exploding, oh! Four- or five-hundred
| commentators, ten stories into into the sky and it—it's a terrific
| explosion, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's flames now, and
| the Weekly Standard offices are crashing to the ground, not quite to
| the parking garage. Oh, the humanity, and all the research assistants
| streaming out here. I told you you; it—I can't even talk to people.
| Their friends are in there. I—I can't talk, ladies and
| gentlemen. Honest: it's just laying there, a mass of headless pundits
| and gore and smoking ruin. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and
| talk and...lady, I—I—I'm sorry. Honest: I—I can hardly breathe. I—
| I'm going to step inside, where I cannot see it...I can't. Listen,
| folks; I—I'm gonna have to stop for a minute because I've lost my
| voice. This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed.

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 08:23 PM:

albatross 25: I was thinking more along the lines of the reaction of the Ewoks to the site of the flaming remnants of the Death Star in their sky.

#27 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 08:24 PM:

SIGHT!!!! Dammit, I HATE seeing a typo right after clicking Post.

Oh, the humanity.

#28 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 08:54 PM:

Xopher: {Citation Needed}

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 09:20 PM:


That was quite a broadcast there. The pictures on my /r/a/d/i/o/ brain-monitor were really good.

#30 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 09:51 PM:

albatross, #35: As God is my witness, I thought turkeys neocons could fly!

(Did I guess right?)

#31 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Ack! Xopher, it's catching! Messages from the future...

#32 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 10:16 PM:

Ulrike @ 9: Strictly speaking, Hillary Clinton isn't a junior Senator; she's the Junior Senator from NY. Charles Schumer -- the Senior Senator from NY -- was sworn in to office in 1999, and Senator Clinton in 2001. In terms of overall seniority, she's around 68th place (out of a hundred senators), so she's got her choice of future positions. If she stays in the Senate, she can rise to more positions of serious power.

#33 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 10:24 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @ 20: "The thought might even be enough to get me past my reservations about her views on the proper balance between executive and legislative power."

Clinton strikes me as a politician very willing to compromise her personal beliefs for the sake of politics.* Given that the narrative she was indoctrinated in was "Democrats suck, centrism is their only hope," I'm guessing that her personal views are considerably to the left of what she represents in public. Once on the Court, I think she might feel less constrained to play the centrist. Maybe, like Gore, she would benefit from getting out of electoral politics.

*In other words, an effective one.

#34 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 11:06 PM:

#25, albatross: The Weekly Standard has research assistants? They do fact-checking? On the face of it, this is seems about as likely as an uncontacted tribe of Amazonian hunter-gatherers having a Ruby on Rails specialist.

#33, heresiarch: I don't think Hillary Clinton's politics are quite as simple as you claim. She's definitely to her husband's (and Obama's) left on domestic issues--and, on foreign policy, distinctly to Obama's (and perhaps Bill's) right. What my political spider sense tells me is that there are possible American futures in which this is a combination of supreme electoral effectiveness. I'd like to opt for "other futures," please, and a vowel.

#35 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 05:40 AM:

Hillary Clinton destined for stardom? Doubt it. The comparison to Al Gore is misleading, because it took him some years of brooding and finding a cause worth believing in, a cause he had always believed in, to fire him up into "stardom". If Hillary Clinton has a similar cause she believes in, she has hidden it well.

In my own opinion this year was not just her last, best chance of becoming president but also her last, best chance of staying relevant. She represents the triangulating, 1990s wing of the Democratic Party and with Obama's victory in the primaries the party has finally moved on from there. Only in the unlikely case that Obama loses the general election will she have another chance.

#36 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Lee #30:

I was riffing on the Hindenberg crash radio transcript. Though the "Turkeys could fly" WKRP episode would be a fun one to do.

Patrick #34:

I didn't manage to cause willing suspension of disbelief?

I visualize the Weekly Standard fact checkers being quite busy, honestly.

Fact Checker: Hello, is this the PR department of Exxon-Mobil? I'm waiting for your comments on our story about drilling in Alaska. Can you get back to us pretty soon? We've already gotten approval from Bechtel and BP, and we're just waiting on you and Haliburton so we can run the story. Thanks!

#37 ::: GiacomoL ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 11:30 AM:

Somebody said Hillary is the new Ted Kennedy: a brand damaged enough to stop her from running again, but basically unassailable in her Senate seat, and a Democratic powerhouse without whose approval nobody will really dare to move.

I'm not sure I'm happy about it, but hey...

#38 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 02:49 PM:

With respect to Hillary Clinton's future: she made her first moves as First Lady on health care, and got shot down for it. Apparently, the political scenery is changing, and Washingtonian policy makers are gearing up for major policy changes. There's an article in today's Washington Post in the Business section. Ben Bernanke kicked off a Senate Finance Committe "summit" by saying that health care spending consumes more than 15% of the nation's economy and about 25% of the budget -- and it's growing.

It's not hard to see Senator Clinton back in this arena, with potentially more success on making changes.

#39 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 03:04 PM:

With a little effort, and a helping of the talent of the sort which I sadly lack, #25 could be turned into a sonnet without losing the breathless live news reporter rhythm.

#40 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 12:00 PM:


Oh, the humanity!

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