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Saturday, July 30, 2005

MORE HILLARY: Dana Pico of Common Sense Political Thought somewhat disagrees with my speculations about the Hillary Clinton's Roberts strategy:
My question would be: if Senatrix Clinton is trying to sound more moderate ... to ... pick off a red state, why would she vote against Mr. Roberts unless her vote would be one that would actually defeat his confirmation?
Here's my thinking on that. Hillary needs to continue sounding moderate (hence her laudatory remarks about Roberts' background and qualifications) but she also needs to make symbolic gestures to the left wing of her party (like casting key votes they approve of). Granted, this is a tricky balancing act, one she'll need to negotiate continuously in the months to come. I agree with Dana that, as a senator, Hillary's voting record will be exploited by the GOP nominee in 2008, just as Kerry's was last year. A vote against Roberts could hurt her in red states. But she's banking on her increasingly moderate rhetoric creating a general impression with the electorate that she's a reasonable, common-sense, consensus-seeking kind of gal. At this point I would say Hillary is actually more likely to vote against Roberts precisely because he stands to be confirmed by a decent margin. Of course, with many weeks to go before the Senate votes on the confirmation a lot could change. The left may decide to go all out to defeat Roberts, in which case Hillary may decide she needs to vote for Roberts so she doesn't look like she's part of a lynch mob. Bottom line: Hillary's vote will be based solely on political calculations — and she may not make up her mind until the very end. Obviously it's not too early to ruminate about what may happen in 2008, but it's still very true that a lot can and will happen between now and then — as Howard Dean will surely attest. Assuming Rehnquist retires this fairly soon, Bush may get a second justice on the Supreme Court. If that happens, Roe v. Wade is likely to keep getting nibbled at. That's sure to please the anti-abortion GOP base, but it may make swing moderate voters (especially women) nervous about the Republicans and, to that extent, more willing to consider Hillary. The biggest percentage gain for Bush in 2004 was married, white women. Will they reward or punish the GOP if the scope of Roe gets narrowed? Here's a heretical thought: I'm not altogether persuaded Hillary's got a lock on the Democratic nominaton, anyhow. Bill Clinton was and is a political natural; Hillary's shrill and (as Nixon said after meeting her) cold. Taking Hillary's full measure on the campaign stump in 2008, the Democrats may decide not to close the deal. Sure, she's way ahead now; but again, remember Dean.