Monday, June 11, 2007

Credit Where Due: Brad DeLong sets the record straight (updated)

by Ken Houghton

One of the things we expect of our politicians is that they learn from mistakes. Many months ago, Brad DeLong posted about an encounter with Hillary R. Clinton and painted her in a seriously unflattering light—without bothering to mention that, high-profile as it was, it was Mrs. Clinton's first encounter with Washington politics.

Saturday, he corrects the record:
I am, I think, not fair to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her people say that if all she had done was 1993-1994 Health Care Reform, it might be fair to argue that she would be "abysmal." But she has done an awful lot more over the past fifteen years, and done almost all of it very successfully. It's the disaster of 1993-1994 that is the anomaly and the outlier, they say--and they have a point. She definitely has the political smarts and (on almost all issues) enough of a grasp of policy substance to distinguish truth-tellers from liars, which is the most important presidential qualification (one which George Bush definitely lacks, and the Republican candidates appear to lack). Managerial expertise is harder to gauge: there's nothing else quite like managing the Executive Branch.

And those most responsible for the current gap between what our health care system is and what it ought to be do not include Hillary Rodham Clinton. The real villains in 1993-1994 had names like Robert Dole, The HIAA, Newt Gingrich, and so forth.

UPDATE: In looking for Dr.DeLong's original posting, I found this one from May in which he made a similar point:
I am told that Hillary Rodham Clinton rejects Jonathan Cohn's claim that she "was right the first time" and stands by her judgment that the process and the plan were flawed"... we made a lot of mistakes." I think that she is right—and that ability to learn is one of the many things that makes her an attractivce politician today—certainly infinitely more attractive than any of the Republicans on offer.

Again, credit where due, and I can only blame my lack of reading anything not directly related to some other subjects for not having seen this piece before.

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Since he was an insider and (I think) a lot of his biases are also mine, Brad's viewpoint on this debacle had definitely affected my view of HRC. OTOH, my upstate NY family members of various political stripes (ranging from very liberal to Perotista independent-nutball) were uniformly impressed with her retail political skills. That she's come, or coming, around on the war also shows at least that she can read polls of the Democratic nominating and general electorate.

Also, IMHO, Brad deserves a lot of credit for running the periodic "DeLong Smackdown Watch" feature, and recognizing that his band of Clintonomists partly (if inadvertently) enabled the depredations of Bushonomics, among other things.
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