Blaming the Clintons

The excellent John Fund has a piece in the WSJ Opinion Journal in which he argues that the Clintons are hurting the Democrats by “crowding out” and “inhibiting the development” of fresh, electable presidential candidates. Fund cites the grievance to this effect voiced by Democratic commentator and one-time Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich. To me this grievance is lame. The failure of the Democratic presidential contenders to impress has little if anything to do with the Clintons. In my opinion it stems from the fact that (1) few contenders seem impressive at this stage of the cycle (think of Bush in 1999 and Clinton himself in 1991) and (2) in this case the contenders are, for the most part, not very impressive. To blame the Clintons for the failure of the phlegmatic John Kerry to light any fires strikes me as absurd, but characteristic of Estrich, who probably still thinks that Dukakis lost because of Willie Horton.
Fund also cites Estrich’s opinion that Hillary Clinton is unelectable. I disagree. In the post-9/11 environment (which may or may not endure) seriousness counts. Unlike most Democrats, Ms. Clinton is serious and seems to be working diligently in the Senate to become even more so. I think liberal and swing voters might well trust her more than any other Democrat to mend the economy and fight terrorism. Frankly, I would trust her more than almost any other Democrat on the terrorism front. Accordingly, in a “crisis” election, I think that Hillary is electable.


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