Can Hillary Clinton carry on Bill Clinton's legacy?
Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Matt Bai: That’s a big question. That’s a question I’m wrestling with in my writing right now. I . . . I’m not . . . I’m not convinced she’s gonna win the nomination of the Democratic party. I think that’s a very open question. And if so, I think she’s got a long way to go to get to the presidency. But to me, to this point . . . Politicians evolve. I don’t know Hillary Clinton well. I’ve talked to her a couple of times. To me this is the defining difference between her and her husband. And of course the comparisons are inevitable and she has to deal with that, because if it weren’t for her husband she wouldn’t be where she is. So we have to be able to make that comparison. Bill Clinton identified a vision for his party and for the country that was . . . that was new, and counterintuitive, and divisive. It made a lot of people unhappy. It still makes a lot of Democrats unhappy – the idea of Clinton as in the idea of moving to the center; the idea that party orthodoxies of the New Deal and great society era were not adequate to the moment in governing. He made very little progress in convincing his party of that. But he made that argument and made it consistently through his presidency. And . . . and . . . and think, you know, outlined a real vision for where he wanted to take the country. She has not. I mean she runs to win. That’s her slogan, “I’m in to win.” Or you know some vaguery like “The change we need,” right? Some vague . . . a vague . . . It’s not a vaguery is it? It’s some vague comment, some vague slogan. But she, unlike . . . Unlike Bill Clinton, Hillary has not articulated, you know, some vision of where she thinks the country or the party needs to go; some . . . some rejection of the past, some notion that inspires people, or gets them thinking or debating. She has been a very conventional politician running effectively to gain power. And her . . . her essential argument is to pick up where her husband left off. And I don’t . . . I don’t . . . I don’t know that that’s enough to build . . . to build on the, you know . . . to build on the conversation that he started.
Recorded on: 12/13/07
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