Hillary Bats .500

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton addressed a pro-abortion rally in words that were interpreted as signalling a move toward the center on the issue:

In a speech to about 1,000 abortion rights supporters near the New York State Capitol, Mrs. Clinton firmly restated her support for the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. But then she quickly shifted gears, offering warm words to opponents of legalized abortion and praising the influence of “religious and moral values” on delaying teenage girls from becoming sexually active.
“There is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate – we should be able to agree that we want every child born in this country to be wanted, cherished and loved,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were generally well received, though the audience was silent during most of her overtures to anti-abortion groups. Afterward, leaders of those groups were skeptical, given Mrs. Clinton’s outspoken support for abortion rights over the years.

This moderation of tone is politically smart, I think. Many on the right blasted Mrs. Clinton for being insincere or hypocritical in her comments. Well, sure. But the reality is that few politicians on either side of the fence are doing anything practical about the abortion issue. Anti-abortion politicians denounce the current legal regime to win the anti-abortion vote, but such posturing means nothing unless either 1) a Constitutional amendment is adopted, or 2) judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade are appointed to the Supreme Court. A Constitutional amendment simply isn’t going to happen, and there is no sign that the Bush administration has any intention of appointing judges who will vote to reverse Roe. So politicians on both sides are only posturing, and in that context, it is smart for Clinton to position herself toward the “middle” on the issue.
Clinton’s pronouncements on abortion followed on the heels of some rather extreme comments on the economy. She attended Donald Trump’s wedding in Florida, partying with the highest of high society, then delivered a warning that the economy may be about to collapse:

“I think the economy is standing on a trap door, and I don’t know that we necessarily hold the levers,” she told an audience at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center.
In quotes picked up by the Bradenton Herald, she complained, “The history of America is … to make sacrifices today for a better tomorrow. The progress that then occurred moved everyone forward.” Clinton delivered her dire economic warning on the heels of attending Donald Trump’s lavish Palm Beach wedding to Melania Knauss, where she rubbed shoulders with the upper crust in the ballroom of Trump’s Mara Lago mansion, modeled after the Versailles Palace ballroom.
“I don’t see that thoughtful, visionary direction that got us where we are today,” the former first lady complained. After blasting the president for the exploding national debt, the top Democrat boasted that his predecessor – her husband – “did it just right.”
“The deficit reduction act didn’t get one single Republican vote. He took on the gun lobby with the Brady bill. He took on health care,” she declared.

In a sense, predicting an economic downturn is safe; sooner or later, after a period of solid growth such as we have been experiencing, the economy is certain to lose ground for a while. Paul Krugman stands out as a pundit who has issued doom and gloom predictions for years, all of which have turned out to be wrong. But when the inevitable recession finally arrives, he will claim that his years’ worth of wrong predictions have finally been vindicated.
It doesn’t seem, though, that most Americans share Mrs. Clinton’s dire vision of the future. Consumer confidence rose again in January:

A widely watched indicator of consumer confidence unexpectedly rose for the second month in a row in January, hinting that the economy would continue to grow in the first half of 2005, a private research group reported Tuesday.
The Conference Board, a New York-based business information group, reported that its index of consumer confidence rose by 0.7 points to 103.4 in January, up from a revised 102.7 in December.

Still, one out of two isn’t bad.