CLINTON AND HER ENEMIES. I was going to post a substantial reply to Garance's post below, but Yglesias largely beat me to it, noting that "Clinton, like her husband, is both hated by the right and treated unfairly by the press and not a very liberal politician, coming from the party's more centrist wing and flanked by advisors from the same." I agree with Garance that Clinton is going to be subject to some awful smears and puerile, personality-driven (and sexist) press coverage, and liberals -- whether they support Clinton or not -- have a responsibility to point this out, rather than falling asleep at the switch as in Campiagn 2000.

On the other hand, I don't think that this should obscure the very real issues with Clinton's candidacy. In particular, I think any consideration of Clinton has to start with the facts that 1) Iraq will be the central issue of the 2008 campaign, 2) Questions of war with Iran with be central policy and political question as well, 3) Clinton made a catastrophic (and now very unpopular) error in judgment by being a strong contemporaneous supporter of the Iraq War, and 4) Rather than forthrightly admit her error like Edwards, she is now disingenuously trying to pretend that she wasn't a strong supporter of the war. This doesn't mean Clinton is "unelectable," and it doesn't even mean in and of itself that Clinton shouldn't be the nominee. But I think it's pretty clear that there should be at least a presumption against running a candidate who has a position on the campaign's central issue that is both bad politics and bad on the merits. One reason to be vigilant about the non-scandals and phony issues sure to be brought up against Clinton is to keep the very real questions of substance and politics in focus.

--Scott Lemieux

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