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I like a challenge - and Hillary

May 12, 2007|By ROBERT GARY

Taking the tough cases comes naturally to me, being not just from Manhattan, but from Greenwich Village. So now - for something completely different - Why I like Hillary.

Reason No. 1: Her combination of good policy and good prudence. She's a person who wants to make government work, doesn't think it's hopeless, doesn't see government in DeLay/Abramoff terms as one big opportunity for larceny by trick and device. Hillary still has her ideals - this is a very good thing - and she's also had the experience of getting ahead of herself with her massive national health care proposal, so she is tempered in the fire of that experience and is now prudent and cautious. We want a leader who is going to get it right, because they care, they are smart and they are cautious when caution is called for.

Reason No. 2: Her Rolodex is huge - she knows all the best people, the policy wonks who made Bill's eight years good for most Americans. Bosnia looks like a huge success compared to Iraq. A lot of the middle class was far better off after eight years of Bill and Hill than they were when George Bush Sr. left office.

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With that kind of human-resource contact base, Hillary could put real thinkers in the top 300 jobs. It wouldn't be like G.W. Bush and the 300 stooges (Cheney, Tenet, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Harriet Myers, Alberto Gonzales and at least 294 others).

Reason No. 3: I forgive her for not being a stay-at-home mom. I forgive her for not standing by her man like in the country song. Call me a latitudinarian, but there are some minor crimes and sins that I find forgiveable. I also forgive Bill for not being a NASCAR dad. People should be who they are - not just seeking to be identified with some big-block demographic. I find Hillary authentic, and most people who hear her talk come away with that impression.

Reason No. 4: She's got experience in two very senior leadership roles. As Bill's Hill she probably had more power than most first ladies, just a little bit of it officially, but a lot as a most trusted advisor on a wide range of matters.

Bill said, "Two for the price of one," and that's how it went, at least for the first five or six years. Then as junior senator from New York, she's served on very important committees in the Senate, and distinguished herself as a good listener, a good policy shaper, and a good oversight legislator who asks the tough questions and gets the real answers. If George W. Bush had been that way with George Tenet, things might be quite different today, so it's an important skill for the president to have.

Reason No. 5: She's got a little bit of what Bobby Kennedy had - the capacity for charismatic leadership without an ego to match. Other people are deeply impressed by her presence, yet she is not overly full of herself.

She has small-ego charismatic potential, like Bobby had, and she could be as well-loved, mostly by the same people I guess, but they deserve their innings just like anybody else. American politics is a baseball game. It's the Dems' turn at bat.

Obama is too green, and you can't get elected president of the U.S.just by repeating "Why can't we all just get along?" Eight years from now Obama might have the right stuff. At this point he's a green kid out of Harvard with a lovely speaking voice and very good manners. The Senate is a good place for him to acquire some seasoning.

Some little part of these reasons may appeal to someone else, but I'm not counting on it. I realize that Hillary has 40 million hard-core non-fans. But, just as I think that Giuliani is the only GOP candidate who has a real chance against Hillary, I also think that Hillary is the only Dem who has a real chance against Giuliani. A fiercely fought contest between the two strongest candidates is why the party system exists. If it works, that's what we get. Hopefully this country has a brighter future (either way) starting Jan. 20, 2009.

Robert Gary is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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