The N.Y. Times Endorses Hillary Clinton

The editorial board of the N.Y. Times has endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primaries today, noting that the “early primaries produced two powerful main contenders: Hillary Clinton, the brilliant if at times harsh-sounding senator from New York; and Barack Obama, the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois.” 

The endorsement takes an interesting look at the race so far and draws the distinctions of the two main contenders, narrowing it to “choosing Mrs. Clinton,” while “not denying Mr. Obama’s appeal or his gifts.”

The idea of the first African-American nominee of a major party also is exhilarating, and so is the prospect of the first woman nominee. “Firstness” is not a reason to choose. The times that false choice has been raised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton would both help restore America’s global image, to which President Bush has done so much grievous harm. They are committed to changing America’s role in the world, not just its image.

On the major issues, there is no real gulf separating the two. They promise an end to the war in Iraq, more equitable taxation, more effective government spending, more concern for social issues, a restoration of civil liberties and an end to the politics of division of George W. Bush and Karl Rove.

Mr. Obama has built an exciting campaign around the notion of change, but holds no monopoly on ideas that would repair the governing of America. Mrs. Clinton sometimes overstates the importance of résumé. Hearing her talk about the presidency, her policies and answers for America’s big problems, we are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience.

The Times editorial board states that “after seven years of Mr. Bush’s inept leadership,” any Democrat will be faced with even “tougher questioning about his or her fitness to be commander in chief,” and they felt that Clinton is ready to face the challenge, Obama is not: 

Mrs. Clinton has more than cleared that bar, using her years in the Senate well to immerse herself in national security issues, and has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military. She would be a strong commander in chief.

Domestically, Mrs. Clinton has tackled complex policy issues, sometimes failing. She has shown a willingness to learn and change. Her current proposals on health insurance reflect a clear shift from her first, famously disastrous foray into the issue. She has learned that powerful interests cannot simply be left out of the meetings. She understands that all Americans must be covered — but must be allowed to choose their coverage, including keeping their current plans. Mr. Obama may also be capable of tackling such issues, but we have not yet seen it. Voters have to judge candidates not just on the promise they hold, but also on the here and now.

The sense of possibility, of a generational shift, rouses Mr. Obama’s audiences and not just through rhetorical flourishes. He shows voters that he understands how much they hunger for a break with the Bush years, for leadership and vision and true bipartisanship. We hunger for that, too. But we need more specifics to go with his amorphous promise of a new governing majority, a clearer sense of how he would govern.

The potential upside of a great Obama presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can’t foresee. The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president.

Tackling the issue of the Iraq War which the editorial board opposed and disagreed with Clinton’s vote, the board makes the valid point that, “That’s not the issue now; it is how the war will be ended.” 

Mrs. Clinton seems not only more aware than Mr. Obama of the consequences of withdrawal, but is already thinking through the diplomatic and military steps that will be required to contain Iraq’s chaos after American troops leave.

Shifting to domestic policy, they note that “both candidates would turn the government onto roughly the same course — shifting resources to help low-income and middle-class Americans, and broadening health coverage dramatically,” and “Mrs. Clinton also has good ideas about fixing the dysfunction in Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education program.”

Mr. Obama talks more about the damage Mr. Bush has done to civil liberties, the rule of law and the balance of powers. Mrs. Clinton is equally dedicated to those issues, and more prepared for the Herculean task of figuring out exactly where, how and how often the government’s powers have been misused — and what must now be done to set things right.

Finally, the N.Y. Times editorial board took the opportunity to call on “Mrs. Clinton to take the lead in changing the tone of the campaign,” stating “It is not good for the country, the Democratic Party or for Mrs. Clinton, who is often tagged as divisive, in part because of bitter feeling about her husband’s administration and the so-called permanent campaign. (Indeed, Bill Clinton’s overheated comments are feeding those resentments, and could do long-term damage to her candidacy if he continues this way.)”

We know that she is capable of both uniting and leading. We saw her going town by town through New York in 2000, including places where Clinton-bashing was a popular sport. She won over skeptical voters and then delivered on her promises and handily won re-election in 2006.

Mrs. Clinton must now do the same job with a broad range of America’s voters. She will have to let Americans see her power to listen and lead, but she won’t be able to do it town by town.

When we endorsed Mrs. Clinton in 2006, we were certain she would continue to be a great senator, but since her higher ambitions were evident, we wondered if she could present herself as a leader to the nation.

Her ideas, her comeback in New Hampshire and strong showing in Nevada, her new openness to explaining herself and not just her programs, and her abiding, powerful intellect show she is fully capable of doing just that. She is the best choice for the Democratic Party as it tries to regain the White House.

All in all, the N.Y. Times editorial board chose experience over rhetoric and inspiration. In the Republican primaries the Times endorsed John McCain.

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11 Responses to The N.Y. Times Endorses Hillary Clinton

  1. markg8 says:

    What’s to like?

    NAFTA? Welfare reform? Dont Ask, Don’t Tell? The Communications Decency Act? Easing media ownership laws? Defense of Marriage Act?

    This is some of the legislation Bill Clinton signed into law. Most of it in an effort to save his presidency after the disastrous failure of Hillary’s healthcare reform bill lost congress to the Republicans.

    Obama is right, Clinton didn’t shift the American debate our way. The Clintons just triangulated their way through the 1990’s doing their best to ameliorate the worst aspects of Republican legislation.

    In the end the man who told us if we worked hard and played by the rules broke the rules, got caught and allowed the Republicans to stifle any gains he could have made for us. We lost congress and he couldn’t even help Al Gore become his successor.

    If we nominate Hillary and she gets elected you can expect more of the same small bore efforts. These two won’t build the huge mandate we need for the great changes that have to be made. There will be no coattails. They won’t change the debate. They’ve never even tried.

  2. “more of the same small bore efforts”

    You haven’t been listening. I think Obama is an empty shirt precisely because his emphasis is on ‘change’ without specifics. He has inspiration without the built-in Hill experience to make the ‘change’ happen…if we even knew what the ‘change’ was going to be.

    The Hill, and the Rep Right, isn’t ready to hold hands with anyone. Period. The next President has to be willing to fight not whine when attacked by opponents.

    Hillary Clinton is, BTW, concretely not Bill Clinton. We are not voting on the past. We are voting on the future.

  3. Follow-up:

    Jeffrey Feldman says it far better than I can. [emphasis mine]

    Despite trumpeting his ability to bring a ‘new tone’ to politics, last night’s debate showed an Obama who scolded, complained, and pointed fingers. His performance last night raises a serious question without a clear answer: How can a Presidential candidate bring change if he is so easily thrown off message by his opponents?

    Having dominated previous debates with his quick wit and charisma, Obama’s rhetoric and body language last night gave the impression of a candidate stuck–like everyone else–in old-school mud slinging politics.

  4. alrudder says:

    For those who bash Bill Clinton from the 1990s, I have two names: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. What would Constitutional Law be today if Bush Sr had appointed alternates?
    If I need to say more…….: A balanced budget and lower interest rates. A president beloved the world over. More child immunizations. And hey, at least they tried to do universal health care, unlike some Democrats today.

  5. Pingback: Major Endorsement « The Krile Files

  6. Jeanne says:

    I think I will call Sen. Clinton’s campaign “The audacity of power.”

    NY Times certainly wants to be a player. First the editorial page chooses Gloria Steinim to write an article right before the New Hampshire primary. Then this editorial dismissing Sen. Obama experience and exaggerating Sen. Clinton’s experience to be a lot more than Sen. Obama right before S. Carolina. NY Times may have been watching Sen. Clinton but they surely have not been watching Sen. Obama. One thing Sen. Clinton certainly doesn’t have as much experience as Sen. Obama – experience in unifying people. Sen. Clinton and her believers are doing everything to undercut that unifying message with their game of politics as usual. (By the way NY Times the term “Clinton bashing” as you used it is so 1990s, today it means that the Clintons are doing the bashing.)

    Sen. Obama is quite qualified to be President. He can inspire people to try to work together for the sake of our Country’s future. New ideas to get our Country moving again, not old leftovers. He has worked hard, regardless of what may be said by Sen. Clinton and the old nay Sayers. Believe in YOUR future.

  7. Darrell Prows says:

    Jeanne: I don’t really see anyone saying that Obama isn’t qualified for the position. What I get is that those not prefering him are simply saying that he’s not the best one this time around. I’m not sure that I’ve seen anyone who has said that they will sit it out of he makes it to the general, and I wish I could say the same thing with regards to Hillary.

  8. Jeanne

    What’s interesting to me is that in touting Obama, you are perfectly willing to take part in Clinton Bashing yourself. What’s also interesting is that no one is supposed question Obama. If they do they are bashing. That is absurd. We choose a candidate by looking at all they offer, and their history.

  9. bjerryberg says:

    Sen. Barry Obama’s meteoric rise to prominence troubles me. The universal media adulation is curious–no–make it ridiculous. Hmm?

    Why is a guy who not very long ago represented the University of Chicago district in the Illinois legislature getting lavishly funded as a presidential candidate.?

    What exactly did he –or his wife–do in Southside Chicago’s Hyde Park to have earned this multi-million dollar war-chest?

    I suspect the answer lies in the recent confab in Omaha, keynoted by Billion Dollar Mike Bloomberg whose Mussolini-like candidacy depends on fracturing both major parties.

  10. Yes. Pamela, “people” should be able to question Obama. You stated, “No one is suppose to question Obama, if they do they are bashing.”
    I think you and everyone will agree, however, that there is a difference between asking him a question, as opposed to making statements about him. The following ARE NOT questions:
    1. Senator Clinton “states” that he thinks Republican ideas are
    good. (as opposed to Democratic ones)
    2. Senator Clinton “states” that he thinks Regan was a great
    president.
    3. Senator Clinton “states” that he opposes legislation related
    to the punishment of sexual preditors.
    4. Senator Clinton “states” that he is beholding to an inner-city
    Chicago slum lord.
    5. Senator Clinton’s husband implies that his campaign has
    a fairy tale nature to it.
    I could go on, but I hope every one gets the point. NONE OF THESE ARE QUESTIONS. Rather, they are all statements which serve the very purpose to which attribute to Barack, BASHING. If Hillary says, “Is if true Senator Obama that you feel Republican ideas are superior to those of Democrats?” , he would answer her QUESTION. If she said, “Senator Obama, do you consider President Regan to be a great American president?, he would answer her QUESTION.
    Let’s stop with the spin again. The Clinton’s are NOT asking him questions.. Instead, they are clearly making misleading STATEMENTS, with the sole intent of bashing. The last time I checked, a question ends with a question mark and a statement ends with a period!!!! Buzz

  11. Buzz

    It really is part of the process. See my latest post.