Hillary and the Yellow Brick Road

Walt Handelsmann updates Frank Baum.

One (though not he most widely shared) reading of The Wizard of Oz is as an allegory of Populist politics. The Wizard is William Jennings Bryan, who seems to his followers all-powerful but in fact merely distracts them from the fact that they have themselves the power, by using their (originally) Silver Slippers, to get off the pointless road made of Yellow (i.e., gold) Bricks, and escape from the (Troy) Oz.

Walt Handlesman has a new interpretation, which I find reasonably scary in the light of the apparent Hillary/Murdoch Pact.

I’ll vote for her and work for her if she’s the Democratic candidate, but I have a strong feeling she’d make a terrible nominee and a horrible President.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

8 thoughts on “Hillary and the Yellow Brick Road”

  1. I'm still in college — a little too young to really "get" the whole Hillary thing. I have my problems with her, and I also think she's done some good. I would very, very, very much appreciate some elaboration on why you think she'd make a terrible President. (Now that the cat's out of the bag, it's probably too late for your cushy appointment anyway!) This is especially in light of the following, which your post brought to mind–
    Brad DeLong (2003): "Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life…there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president."

  2. Alex – Mark will of course speak for himself, if he wants. My issues with Hillary (and keep in mind my bias: I'm not a natural Democrat – I'm a left-libertarian type) are:
    – She is a polarizing figure, for whatever reasons. That's not a positive thing at the particular point in time.
    – She combines a little too much dogma with a little too much craven politicking, in the wrong combination. See point one.
    – The Clinton administration baggage will be so, so much worse for her than, say, Gore: we'll have 4+ years of howling about the dual presidency, and blowjob jokes, and… fill in the blank.
    – She almost certainly will hurt any attempt made at fixing healthcare, by virtue of baggage. Whatever she does, even if it is popular *and* correct, gives an instant weapon to the opposition.
    – I dont trust her to be anything but narrowly calculating on the mess we've made with the various wars, and she doesn't have, to my knowledge, much of a handle on tense dimplomacy, something we desparately need right now, and will need more in '08.
    There is more, but those are the main objections this independent who really wants the Republicans in the wilderness for a few terms has.

  3. Brad nailed it. Hillary Clinton has had one major administrative/policy assignment in her career, and she blew it, in part because she wouldn't take advice and didn't know what she didn't know. Worse, she has never made a speech or published an article that reviews the failure, explains what she learned from it, and offers a plan about how to handle health care now. Not a good omen.

  4. It may be lost in the mists of time…but I remember having the strong feeling, during the early days of Whitewater, that Hillary was more the problem than her husband: her natural response to accusations seemed to be "admit nothing, and stonewall" rather than "apologize and move on"–and I think this led to a lot of the suspicion that where there was smoke there must be fire, otherwise why do this? She also seems, still, too much of an empty suit: no there there.

  5. Didn't HRC talk about the health care fiasco in her memoir?
    And there are plenty of good reasons for politicians to stonewall and not discuss fiascos – it can starve one's opponents of material, for one thing.
    The conventional wisdom is that she has sewn up enough segments of the Democratic primary vote that she will win the nomination as things stand.

  6. Hil is my senator & I'll vote for her again for that position. I will be very, very reluctant to vote for her for president because of her position on the disasterous war in Iraq, which appears to be some soft-core version of stay the course. As far as I can tell, she is closer to the Bush admin than even Joe Lieberman on the war.

  7. I agree with Joshua Marshall, a big reason to avoid a Mrs. Clinton nomination is to discourage the presidency as political dynasty thing. Would Bush II have been elected if he weren't related to Bush I? I seriously doubt it.

  8. Backing another Clinton means we're ready to stand still for even MORE dynastic rule in America.
    No Bush, no Clinton, no Kennedy. Enough, already.

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