Hillary Clinton Jumps the Shark

The Clinton campaign has placed far too much importance on recent polls out of Iowa showing Barack Obama with a lead and might turn these polls into reality by their desperate appearing actions. Clinton has now attempted two attacks on Obama with each backfiring against her.

The first mistake was over claiming that a mandate to require everyone participate in her health care plan made it a more universal plan than Obama’s. Showing that she has learned absolutely nothing since HillaryCare I, HillaryCare II assumes that simply making her plan mandatory would be seen as a virtue. Clinton, as well as Edwards, fail to comprehend that Americans want a health care plan which will allow them the opportunity to obtain more affordable health care, not a new set of orders from Washington to rule their lives. The logic that a mandatory plan is more likely to be universal is both repulsive to the pro-freedom sensibilities of many Americans, and isn’t even true considering the likelihood of less than universal compliance. Even Robert Reich has debunked Clinton’s charges against Obama on both Social Security and health care:

She says his would insure fewer people than hers. I’ve compared the two plans in detail. Both of them are big advances over what we have now. But in my view Obama’s would insure more people, not fewer, than HRC’s. That’s because Obama’s puts more money up front and contains sufficient subsidies to insure everyone who’s likely to need help – including all children and young adults up to 25 years old. Hers requires that everyone insure themselves. Yet we know from experience with mandated auto insurance – and we’re learning from what’s happening in Massachusetts where health insurance is now being mandated – that mandates still leave out a lot of people at the lower end who can’t afford to insure themselves even when they’re required to do so. HRC doesn’t indicate how she’d enforce her mandate, and I can’t find enough money in HRC’s plan to help all those who won’t be able to afford to buy it. I’m also impressed by the up-front investments in information technology in O’s plan, and the reinsurance mechanism for coping with the costs of catastrophic illness. HRC is far less specific on both counts. In short: They’re both advances, but O’s is the better of the two. HRC has no grounds for alleging that O’s would leave out 15 million people.

Clinton’s other attack on Obama is even more absurd. A few weeks ago I noted a report that Obama had written a paper while in kindergarten saying he wanted to be president when he grew up. I never would have guessed that this, along with a similar paper in third grade, would be considered meaningful by the Clinton campaign’s opposition research. Nobody is surprised that presidential candidates have had such ambitions for years and that they sometimes try to play down their ambition.

Obama responded by comparing himself to an internet startup and Clinton to Microsoft which captures the feel of the campaigns to date. If he really wanted to go for the jugular he might have suggested that if his kindergarten and third grade papers are being reviewed then Hillary Clinton’s papers as First Lady should also be made available for similar consideration. If not for the strike, we could also imagine the late night comedians having a field day speculating as to the content of Bill Clinton’s elementary school papers. John Edwards admits that when he was in third grade he wanted to either be a cowboy or Superman. It seems nobody ever grows up dreaming to be an ambulance chaser.

The real question is why Clinton is acting out of such desperation when she still has many of the advantages of front runner and remains within the margin of error of Obama. Clinton is ignoring two historical facts about the Iowa caucus. Voters don’t make up their minds until the last minute and they don’t react well to negative campaigning. While perhaps an effective negative ad might have a chance of working, weak attacks such as these will only backfire against her.

Clinton does have two problems in Iowa besides falling in the latest poll. As Clinton is the second place choice of far fewer voters than Obama and Edwards, the fifteen percent threshold rule in Iowa could deliver many more votes to her opponents as supporters of weaker opponents are forced to go to their second choice. An even more serious problem for Clinton is that her strong points have been the illusion that victory for her was inevitable and that she best knew how to run the perfect campaign. The first illusion is destroyed when she falls behind in the polls, and the second becomes questionable when she responds this poorly to adversity. Voters who supported her because of either of these two reasons are left without a good reason to vote for her. Having lost those illusions, Clinton must actually fight for votes, and Obama just might have the edge in such a battle.


  1. 1
    Wayne says:

    The thing that I find interesting (and frightening) about HRC’s health care proposal is that she is so adamant that insurance be mandatory. On one hand, HRC (and all the Dem’s) support the Roe v. Wade decision that stated that law’s restricting abortion violated the women’s right to privacy with regards to terminating a pregnancy, yet HRC feels that the American public doesn’t have a right to privacy when it comes to deciding if health insurance is more vital than food, clothing or shelter. How can she possibly justify this?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I briefly provided part of the rational for mandates, as well as providing an argument against them, in the post linked here where I refer to Edwards and mandates in the second paragraph.

  3. 3
    Wayne says:

    I read the position’s on supporting and opposing mandates, but the issue that scares me the most on this is that the constitutionality of mandates requiring health care is doubtful, given the privacy precedent in Roe V Wade.

  4. 4
    Wayne says:

    Sorry, I didn’t go back far enough in your archives. You did cover this, quite well I might add.

  5. 5
    Florian says:

    Health care is about AFFORDABILITY, not about being mandatory.
    Especially in a society which has been polarized into have’s (few) and have-not’s (many), access to proper health care becomes critical (as is access to proper education), that means the primary attribute is affordable, which further means subsidized and regulated (prevent “entrepreneurs” to twist the system and make themselves rich at the expense of the population).

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