August 30th, 2008

The campaign chess game

I’ve thought about this question myself: does Palin’s VP candidacy change Hillary’s calculus for 2012?

I think it does. As Ms. Althouse says, it presents her with a conundrum: whose election would be best for Hillary? The way this campain is shaping up—Obama’s Biden move and McCain’s Palin countermove, and all those ads and answering ads—makes me think of it as a particularly knotty game of chess.

And there are more than two players in this game. There are at least three, and Hillary is most definitely one of them.

31 Responses to “The campaign chess game”

  1. Dane Says:

    I have always thought since failing to secure the nomination Hillary would rather have Obama lose than win the general. If he fails to get elected then his career of running for president will be over because if he can’t do it now with all the planets aligned in his favor he will never be able to do it. If he does get elected he will only be a one term president I think. Mainly because he will screw things up so badly that no one will want to vote for him again. This may allow Hillary to secure the nomination in 2012 but it will be an almost impossible uphill battle because it will be hard for ANY democrat to get re-elected. No democratic president (if memory serves) since FDR except Clinton has been able to garner a second term

  2. don Says:

    Of course.

    Either Hillary will have to sit out 2012, else she is likely to be facing a younger, better looking woman with a much better resume (as either P or VP).

  3. don Says:


    If Obama is running for his second term in 2012, would it be wise for Hillary to run against him even if he is an unpopular President?

  4. John Spragge Says:

    Problem: calling politics a chess game makes the American people into the board: inert, devoid of will, a ground for the master of mind to play on.

    I second what Senator Obama and many other great Americans have said: elections do not test the candidates, they test the American people. Right now, the American people have a choice to make, between a party that has no particular problem with a health care system that costs 10% more than most comparable systems and delivers, at best, mediocre results, and a party that proposes at least some level of meaningful reform. You can re-elect a party that has grown the debt with no visible sense of responsibility to future generations, including the young people without the right to vote who have to watch their elders piling up a debt that may well affect the quality of their lives and their nation’s standing in the world.

    I could go on about the issues, but you get the point: in a democracy, the voters can undo the most brilliant, subtle, devious political manoeuvres with a flick of the voting lever or a pencil mark.

  5. TmjUtah Says:

    …does Palin’s VP candidacy change Hillary’s calculus for 2012?”

    It ends it.

    Hillary is aging poorly already. In four years she’ll look worse, especially since no matter whether it’s McCain or Obama in office, Hillary is already back to campaigning.

    The next four years are going to be pivotal on just about every front you can name: foreign policy, domestic economic policy, energy, immigration, entitlements, and make no mistake about it there is a tax revolt/resistance to government authority revolt brewing back in the wings. Real issues that will not lend themselves to being kicked down the road.

    The Left in general is a hobbyist political party; a luxury we have been able to afford. That is no longer the case. Obama and Hillary are neither qualified by merit for high office nor in possession of any redeeming personal qualities that might allow a reasonable person to extend trust that they might work out if allowed the power they seek…

    … but there is a tremendous body of evidence, from Obama’s terrorist/racist/hack web of mentors and associates to Hillary Clinton’s astounding lack of any chops except being married to Bill, that that trust would be wasted.

    I have more respect now for John McCain than I have in years; if Palin can actually get him to revisit CFR and stop him from committing immigration amnesty, I might not be regretting my vote this November.

    Hillary is done. And she’ll probably handle the realization pretty badly once she recognizes that fact.

    I’ve gone through a grundle of popcorn this campaign. And I need to buy more.

  6. cSimon Says:

    Right after the announcement of Sarah Palin’s joining the McCain ticket (and like you, neo, I couldn’t stop grinning with delight) the second thing that popped into my mind was wishing I had been there (whereever there was) to see Hillary’s face. I don’t know much Yiddish, but I think my grandmother would have said that Hillary and her folks were “plotzing!”* For some reason it occurred to me immediately. Maybe I’m a bit more mischievous than I should be…

    I am truly excited and I admire McCain immeasurably for this bold choice. Frankly, everyone is calling this a gamble, but I don’t see it as anymore of a gamble than the Democrats putting up as their nominee for President a man with no qualifications whatsoever; no managerial or executive experience and no accomplishments that anyone has been able to dig up in all, really, since the guy first appeared in 2004 and gave a wonderful speech. (OK, we can allow giving good speeches to go into his accomplishments column, I suppose, but that still leaves him virtually empty of qualifications, and a talker, but a do-nothing! Promises, promises…. (and most of his actual promises have had to be dragged out of him as if pulling teeth, as McCain, his surrogates, even some of the press, have tired of hearing his rather limited vocabulary on the stump. Even once he started to talk about some issues, he has regularly waffled and compromised his supposed platform when the political winds dictated that he should probably do so.

    On the other hand, the so-called “meteoric” rise of Sarah Palin is due to several hard facts that no one can argue with: She is a DO SOMETHING executive with a lot of GUTS. With the hundreds of politicians we hear about daily, how many are willing to expose the corruption of others for fear they may be exposed themselves, or shunned among their colleagues. Only when it accrues to a particular Party’s political advantage do we occasionally see a such revelations.

    Sarah Palin has exhibited a bold integrity and conscientiousness: she has been willing to go after members of her own party and the “good ol’ boy” network because she’s not in it for the glory. She never was, and I think she has had the courage to do so because her name and reputation mean more to her than enrichment (which met very well come now — but has never been her goal). And, surprise, surprise — she really believes that she is there to serve her constituents — and has put the money where her mouth is: when the price of oil rose, and so did the income to the state of Alaska, she made sure the money wasn’t doled out in pork by state politicians, but sent it back to every man, woman, and child who were residents of the state!
    Who has EVER heard of that???
    Yes, she may have good looks. Yes, she definitely has charisma — she exudes self-confidence, smarts, and purpose. But she has ACCOMPLISHED.

    I finally understand my mystification regarding Obama and his acolytes. Politicians have made promises on the stump throughout the ages. That’s easy. But I’ve been waiting for all those starry-eyed worshipers to snap out of it, and say we want — we NEED — to know more. About you, buddy (Obama), about what you can do and why we should believe you, and, if you don’t mind sharing, just what ARE your qualifications.
    All we’ve heard from his his strategists and surrogates are that is “is going” to do…. Oh, and that’s he’s African-American and isn’t that historic and wonderful?

    My answer to that is a) ..and how do you KNOW he is going to do this and that and that? and b) historic is nice, but is way down on my list of electing a President for this nation. I’d absolutely have no problem electing someone who’s purple, so long as I believed they were DO-SOMETHING people, and not the politics-as-usual PROMISERS.

  7. cSimon Says:

    P.S. Forgot to include translation of the Yiddish word “plotz” which I used:

    *Plotz – Explode with emotions; Burst! Bust your guts out! Split your guts! Fall down dead right now
    To feel so tired, excited or bursting with emotion that you could fall over.

  8. Occam's Beard Says:

    I second what Senator Obama and many other great Americans have said

    should read

    I second what Senator Obama and many great Americans have said

  9. Dane Says:

    Don – she will have to run in 2012. It will be HER last chance. And we know that the egos of the Clinton’s is unequaled in American politics (possibly in America anywhere) she will not gracefully slide into the role of “elder Stateswoman”. If I were her I would take a serious look at running for NY governor to position myself for the 2012. If she does run for governor I will bet you a dollar to a doughnut (as my Mother would say) that she will not give up her senate seat to do so.

  10. Gringo Says:

    Mr. Spragge:
    Right now, the American people have a choice to make, between a party that has no particular problem with a health care system that costs 10% more than most comparable systems and delivers, at best, mediocre results..

    As a US citizen, I will accept criticism emanating from Canada (Spragge states in his blog that he is based in Toronto ) about the US health care system when Canadian citizens stop crossing the border to avail themselves of US health care in compensation for shortcomings in the Canadian health care system.

    That being said, there are issues with US health care.

    Great Human Rights Commission you have in Canada, Mr. Spragge. Definitely an indication of a system superior to that of the US. Perhaps you should dedicate your energies to resolving that issue instead of offering unsolicited advice to your neighbors to the South. Maybe I should claim that I am a US citizen and a Muslim, and that your criticisms of the US have greatly offended my Muslim faith, and take that complaint to the Human Rights Commission(s) in Canada.

  11. Dan Says:

    John Spragge may think as a Canadian he has a right to lecture us about heath care. I’m a practicing MD in Minnesota and I used to work with a Canadian MD (Craig Hildahl) from Winnepeg, who provided all kinds of insights into Canadian health care. Like the fact that there were two (2) cardiac surgeons in the city of Winnepeg, population 1 million. It’s no surprise that Windsor Canada ships patientst needing bypass surgery to Detroit…they can’t handle what they have. It’s cheaper to outsource to the US than PAY for the pump techs, RNs, ICU beds and surgeons to do the job. So where would they be without the US health care system? Nowhere.

  12. njcommuter Says:

    If McCain can play chess with Russia, Iran and NoKo the way he plays chess with Obama and the DNC, he could be very, very good for the USA and for the world. Of course, Congress will do their damndest to take away his rooks, knights, and bishops, but at some point they may actually wake America up.

  13. TmjUtah Says:

    “If McCain can play chess with Russia, Iran and NoKo the way he plays chess with Obama and the DNC, he could be very, very good for the USA and for the world.

    What makes you think chess is an option?

    I will be putting an essay up on my own blog in which I put up some likely scenarios we’ll be facing regarding the Russians come next administration.


    The Russians have already decided that their new foreign policy is going to cost them some military formations. But they are cool with that, because they are betting our own domestic opposition will do the real heavy lifting in giving the Russians carte blanche to rape Eastern Europe.

  14. J.H. Bowden Says:

    McCain-Palin: chickmate.


  15. njcommuter Says:

    From TmjUtah

    The Russians have already decided that their new foreign policy is going to cost them some military formations. But they are cool with that, because they are betting our own domestic opposition will do the real heavy lifting in giving the Russians carte blanche to rape Eastern Europe.

    Which means that a GOP administration will be playing chess on two fronts at once. I don’t know if McCain can do it, but Obama sure as hell can’t.

    Pick up a copy of Act of Darkness by Jane Haddam (pronounced “Had ‘em”, like the town in Connecticut). It features an empty suit politician, Stephen Whistler Fox. SWFox is the puppet of his principle handler, and reminds me much of Obama. (It’s a pretty good murder mystery.)

  16. TmjUtah Says:

    On other fronts –

    If you live in Utah, don’t wander into I-15 anytime after September, lest you get run down by a Class C RV towing an SUV, wearing Canadian plates bound for Arizona.

  17. Dane Says:

    When I lived in Denver there was a Canadian Dr who lived there and actually supplemented his practice with some acupuncture and other holistic approaches (though IO mention this only as an aside). I heard him speaking once and he called the health care system in Canada “triage by death”. If you needed a life saving operation you could get it if you could manage to survive until your turn came. And though I have not researched it I understand that for things like joint replacements, etc. once you reach a certain age you are not even considered.

  18. Tim P Says:

    I suspect that Hillary would still rather see Obama loose this election. That way she can pull an “I told you so” on a chastened democrat party and set herself up for 2012.
    Regarding Palin’s support from disaffected Hillary voters, she will get some in 2008, sure. However, in 2012, if Hillary is running, those folks will return to the fold.

    As for the inane comment above,

    Right now, the American people have a choice to make, between a party that has no particular problem with a health care system that costs 10% more than most comparable systems and delivers, at best, mediocre results..

    Our friendly Canadian troll would do well to remember that
    a) as screwed up as it is, and it is screwed up, many of his countrymen have to come here because their own system is worse. This was mentioned above as well. I felt it bore repeating.
    b) both parties are pretty much indistinguishable on this issue. Nobody is talking about real reform.

    Trolls should be ignored. I’ll try and do my part in the future on that count.

  19. DB Says:

    It occurred to me yesterday as I was absorbing the implications of the Palin pick for VP that given a likely McCain win and only one term, if Palin does an average job as VP, the 2012 election could be between HClinton and Palin. I don’t think it changes her basic calculus. She wants McCain to win – too messy to unseat even a bad sitting Obama as President – she knows McCain would be a single term President. She knew before Palin she would be running against McCain’s VP in 2012. IF it comes down to Hillary and Palin, it will mean the focus will be on the issues (to the extent it ever is) vs historic PC achievements.

    All of this speculation is fun but premature. The overriding fact(s) will be how bad the economy gets, who gets blamed for it, and then how does the government react to fix (or make it worse). NOBODY knows how all that will play out. All we can do is guess (which is not to say all guesses are equal!).

  20. David Holliday Says:

    I don’t see how anyone, after having such a big lead going in, essentially an incumbent’s advantage, and having lost that lead to someone who was basically an unknown, with no significant legislative experience, and who’s positions are not significantly different than any past liberal Democrat, would either deserve or be able to take advantage of a second chance. She didn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat like Reagan did back in ’84. She sounds tired and beat down. I don’t see Hillary Clinton as ever being a viable Presidential candidate again.

  21. David Holliday Says:

    Excuse me on the ’84 … obviously I meant ’76.

  22. John Spragge Says:

    OK… first of all, let me congratulate those of you who have addressed the issues. And let me say that I neither think of Canada’s health insurance system as the be-all and the end-all of health care, nor do I necessarily consider the reform proposals of either party a complete solution to your problems.

    A couple of specific answers:
    According to the numbers given in this page from the annals of thoracic surgery, if Winnipeg had two cardiac surgeons in a million people, that would not give them less coverage than, say, Europe has. But in any case, Winnipeg does not have, and never has had, a million residents. And I found a three cardiac surgeons in one program in Winnipeg without breaking a sweat. Not too bad for a population of two thirds of a million.

    You have to watch the urban legends in the US about Canadian health care. A few years ago, centrist Democrat Paul Tsongas criticized the Canadian model of the health insurance, only to find that the doctors at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto had done the research that had prolonged his life.

    As for cross-border patient transfers: Canada does not practice “juche” (North Korean autarky) in medicine. When it makes sense for us to contract out infrequently needed services to medical centres in areas where larger population creates a higher demand, we do so. We do the same with unexpected overflows in demand. Given the geography of this continent, that often means sending patients to the United States. And, of course, a tiny proportion of Canadians choose to go the the United States, on their own dime, specifically for treatment. That doesn’t invalidate our medical system, any more than the rising number of medical tourists from the United States invalidates yours.

    As for the other comments: if the anecdotes about dismayed Canadian doctors reflected the actual success of our medical system, it would show up in the aggregate numbers (life expectancy and infant mortality), and in both those areas, Canada has a small edge over your country.

    But whatever you think of the issues, clarifying your thinking on these matters actually has benefits for your country, in the sense of developing wise and effective policies. Obsessing over the personality and individual future of Senator Clinton merely distracts you from considering a hundred serious matters your government urgently needs to address.

  23. TmjUtah Says:

    John Spragge -

    The two most devastating influences on our health care system are these:

    1. Existing, expanding government subsidies that have gone a long way in training people to think that the fact that they are breathing entitles them to health care.

    2. Crushing medical liability costs. Reforming tort law to limit damage awards to some reasonable level would make it possible for actuaries to bring down the cost of liability insurance, and stop entire disciplines from freeing certain states.

    Is it Tennessee that you can’t get an OB in any more?

    Medical isn’t my chosen area to comment on – not since mine, and my wife’s chronic conditions became manageable. The health care “problem” originates with government, and expecting government to somehow improve quality or availability is simply ignorance on display.

    Since the motivation for politicians is increasing their own power and not in fixing any particular problem, healthcare will be on the table for years to come.

    It’s not broken now. But give the government control and watch the pieces scatter across the kitchen floor.

    Whenever you subsidize a service, the demand goes up beyond the ability of the provider to meet it.

    Trial lawyers donate more money, as a profession, to political campaigns than any other interest/lobbying group in the country.

  24. John Spragge Says:

    Again, I applaud you and those who address the great questions at stake today from an issue-oriented, rather than a personality oriented viewpoint.

    I do disagree with your assessment of the problems in the medical system, because I see the basic contradiction at the root of the problem as one of supply: we do not have, and never have had, a free market in medical services. If you want a perspective more “conservative” in origin than mine, read Milton Friedman on the subject.

  25. don Says:

    we do not have, and never have had, a free market in medical services.

    Yes John, we once had a free market in medical services.

    Our problem is that WW2 era taxes drove employeers to provide medical insurance, and ’60s era medicare. Both of these broke the natural market feedback on prices, since the resut is that the consumer no longer pays the bill.

    These things resulted in what is known as “medicare fraud” (prior to medicare it was called charity), and the regulations that resulted in managed healthcare.

    The solution isn’t single payer or socialized medicine. The solution would be to phase out medicare and other socialized systems, and reform the tax code.

  26. don Says:

    Something like 100k Canadians carry US healthcare insurance despite having payed for Canaidian healthcare via taxes. This seems to include a certain Canadian politicians who recently traveled to California so she could recieve quality healthcare.

    One of the fathers of the Canadian healthcare system is suggesting free market reforms. It would be ironic for the US to move to single payer systems while the Canadians and others are realizing how faulty their system is.

  27. John Spragge Says:

    OK, this has turned into a digression, but we, you and everyone else do not have a free market in medical services. We and you and most other countries have self-governing “professions”, the last vestiges of the medieval craft guilds. They may well work. They may well provide the best possible care. But they do not permit a free market in services, and they never have.

    As for Canadians with US health insurance: I have US health insurance when I travel to the US. I wouldn’t leave home without it. I can assure you that I don’t use it to get care in the US if I can get the same care in Canada.

  28. rickl Says:

    This is not a slam at anybody in particular, but why do people keep writing “loose” when they mean “lose”?

    This is becoming so commonplace that it’s almost considered an alternate spelling. Gack.

  29. njcommuter Says:

    Yes. What loosers!

  30. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Should Obama lose, by 2012 the ‘common wisdom’ will have been long since accepted that the party ‘should’ have nominated Hillary, “for surely she would have won.”

    Absent the emergence of another ‘surprise’ like Obama, Hillary will be the frontrunner for the nomination and I for one do not think she will let her last, if not best chance escape her grasp.

    Ego and liberal orthodoxy will not allow her to doubt that in a test of the ‘issues’ she cannot but prevail over Palin.

    The issue is not what Hillary can realistically do in 2012, it will be what she and the libs believe she can attain…

  31. Amused Cynic » Blog Archive » Maureen Dowd…Alone again, naturally…. Says:

    [...] Neo-neocon is noting the three-dimensional chess nature of this year’s game. [...]

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