Hm. Why, again, did people doubt that Hillary Clinton would be a hit at Yearly Kos? Within the first 30 seconds of her appearence in the "breakout session" (which was cancelled, then re-launched a few hours early than originally scheduled) her mic went out. She smiled and went for an easy deadpan. "Vast right wing conspiracy." Huge laughter and applause.
She really relishes poking at her right-wing enemies, probably because they've become so effete and weak during the Bush-Republican gotterdammerung. "I wish we had this infrastructure 15 years ago," she says. "We've gotten better at building this infrastructure… that I helped start, with organizations like Media Matters and ThinkProgress."
You can almost hear the David Horowitzes and Dick Morrises squealing at that. If it had a sound it'd be Gollum's screams as he tumbled into Mount Doom. "We've got what we wanted! She admitted her vast conspiracy! Oh, wait, she's kicking our asses."
First question's a softball from an NEA member, about education. Hillary thanks her, because it hasn't come up at the debates and boy does she love talking on and on about education. electronic media records for children ("the Rand Corporation says we could save $80 billion per year by making medical records electronic, which we could plow back into health care"), national standards for testing, physical education classes, broad curricula, combatting child obesity, universal pre-kindergarten ("focused on disavantaged kids for whom English isn't the first language and the like")… by the end of a Clinton II adminsitration Ed Department will be bigger than the Pentagon. "I could talk about this all day," she says after 10 minutes.
Second question: Gitmo. "I voted against the Military Commissions Act." The reason: "Its unconstitutional denial of habeas corpus. We're going to try to restore habeas corpus and… reform the MCA over the next few months." If not of that happens, "when I'm president, we'll start to do both of those things," she says, unexcited.
Third question, from the very smart Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft: Wireless wiretapping and "how is your AG going to be different than Alberto Gonzales." Ah, easy: "I'll appoint an attorney general who'll obey the rule of law." And "there are a lot of qualified Republican lawyers he could have picked but time and again he's gone with cronies." (Hillary voted against confirming John Roberts, in case you were wondering.) FISA: she voted against the new version (which passed). "There is a legitimate role for surveillance of those who may be planning some action against our country but there should be checks in Congress and in the courts." When she's president she'll find an "appropriate, legally enforceable framework" for wiretapping.
Fourth question: Don't ask don't tell and would Hillary be willing to repeal DOMA, the Telecommunications Act, NAFTA, Welfare Reform. Don't Ask goes first. "I love this Barry Goldwater quote you don't have to be straight to shoot straight." It gets a very awkward murmur. Then she supports DOMA because it drew a "bright line" on marriage rights and gave room to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, which was "abominable." But she wants marriage "left to the states." Telecom: "Ask Al Gore." She'll "look at it more closely." NAFTA didn't have "the benefits that were promised." We need "smart labor agreements" that have ongoing evaluation of their impact. Ah, so that's why she opposed fast track and CAFTA. (Hillary's answer here reminds me of what Gene Sperling told me yesterday: Liberals don't think Hillary flip-flopped on trade, but that he learned from NAFTA.) Welfare answer is a dodge: She talks about child health insurance and universal health care.
Five and final question: Transportation. It's "a timely question" after the Minnesota bridge disaster and "I view infrastructure as being not only physical but virtual." So: Universal broadband. And back to mass transit: "It must become a priority of our country." "Encourage and incentivize" the use of mass transit: "This needs to be a public education effort."
Closing with a totally unbelieveable joke about how she needs to run to the green room: "I don't know what that means, but whatever." "policies that ignore the constitution, ignore the future, refuse to make smart investments" and "a war that, for the first time in history, a president refuses to pay for." The blogosphere has "made us better candidates and policymakers and it can play a major role in making me the next president… making a Democrat president. I appreciate what you do… well, not all of what you do."
Yes, this is wrapping up without a single question about Iraq. Never doubt the might of the Hillary advance team.
UPDATE: Someone in the comments thinks I'm calling John Roberts a hack. I thought I was making a blatant sarcastic comment about how Clinton wouldn't confirm a judge who was a supremely qualified non-crony. She's pretending she only votes against knuckle-draggers who did kegstands with Bush at Yale, and that's manifestly untrue. Also, when I say Clinton's "kicking ass," I'm referring to the way she's the favorite to be your president even though a large army of activist conservatives have 1)tried to destroy her and 2)linked her to numerous political conspiracies. She's bragging about how she's survived all that.