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Hillary Clinton Is Making Sense

Joe Klein has a nice piece in Time based on on interview he did with Hillary Clinton a few days ago. The most interesting nugget:

Just before our interview, Clinton gave a speech launching her energy-independence proposal. It would drastically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by auctioning off permits to pollute and is similar to Obama's--but Obama has added a fillip of honesty by telling his audiences that the program might result in higher energy prices. I asked Clinton why she hadn't been similarly honest, and she immediately turned it around: Obama wanted to spend the proceeds of the pollution auction--perhaps as much as $50 billion--on alternative-energy research and development. "I have committed to putting money from that auction into programs to ... cushion the economic impact on working and poor families," she said. And then she added scornfully, "So if you want to go and get some debating point telling people this is going to cost you money, then I don't think you've thought through the policy as carefully as you could ... This is going to be a tough transition. It's got to be done politically. One of the ways to make it politically palatable is to rebut the Republican talking point that ... it's another huge tax increase on Americans. You know what? It isn't." [emphasis added] 

I think Clinton makes an important point here. Sometimes Obama wants so badly to be seen as someone who'll level with you--a departure from the old Washington habit of trying to be all things to all people--that he's too quick to concede a Republican line of attack. The energy proposal is only the latest example. He did the same thing on Social Security--basically embracing the idea that there's a crisis that must be addressed in the near-term, when in fact that's just not the case. (Mike and I both weighed in on pieces of this. Obama subsequently moderated that line in the Philadelphia debate.)

Klein also has this nugget, which I've speculated about before:

"Who knows?" said Karl Rhomberg, a former Scott County Democratic chairman, after watching Clinton perform in Davenport, Iowa. He pointed out that four years ago, in November, Howard Dean was inevitable, and John Kerry was over. "But 40% were undecided going into the last week of the caucus. It'll be the same this time. Hillary is 20% smarter than the guys, but a woman has to be just to pull equal. And I can't stand thinking about what Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are going to do to her. People are just sick of that. They love Obama. He's very inspiring. But in the end, Iowans vote on electability. I hate to say it, but my guess is they'll vote for the white guy--Edwards--this time, just like they voted for the war hero last time [emphasis added]."

Combined this with the fact that Edwards probably has the largest base of hard-core supporters in Iowa and it would not at all shock me if he won the caucuses.

--Noam Scheiber