Home 2016 elections Here’s the Question Hillary Should Be Asked

Here’s the Question Hillary Should Be Asked


Madame Secretary, you have said that as president, you’ll “break the gridlock in Washington.” You have also said that you are good at reaching “across the aisle” to get things done.

But although President Obama also reached across the aisle, the Republicans — rather than work with him — never budged from their determination to obstruct everything he proposed. And it didn’t matter what were the specifics of his proposal, The Republicans chose to obstruct across-the-board in order to make him fail.

Which leads to this question:

What are you going to do if the Republicans don’t respond to your reaching across the aisle but treat you the same way they’ve treated President Obama for the past seven and a half years?

Or, to put it another way:

You’ve shown you are able to confront Donald Trump — calling him out for the reprehensible things he says and does — and come out on top. Will you also be willing and able to confront and defeat the Republicans in Congress if they choose the path of obstructionism?


Something effective should be possible.

After all, obstructionism is an unjustifiable — and one might say un-American — way for a political party to use its power. Putting the quest for partisan advantage ahead of the quest to move the nation forward is not how the system our founders gave us is supposed to work.

Nonetheless, for the past seven years, the Republicans have been able to make obstructionism pay for them politically.

I’d like to hear Hillary tell us how she’ll make sure that they’ll be politically punished for it if they try that with her.

I’d like to hear something like this:

“First, I hope that the voters will elect a Congress whose top priority is to serve the good of the nation. At this point, in view of the Republicans’ record of the past seven and a half years, the surest way to do that is to vote out the Republican obstructionists and give us a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.

“But regardless, I hope to work with members from both parties to move this nation forward. But if the Republicans choose once again the path of obstructionism – preventing us from doing the people’s business, just for their own partisan advantage — I’ll call it out so that the American people see that Republican choice for the betrayal of the nation that it is.

  • Elaine Owens

    Hillary Cinton, in my view at least, has several things going for her that Barack Obama did not. She served in the Senate long enough to make contacts and friendships. Obama was in the Senate barely two years and was considered aloof by his fellows. Clinton worked closely with senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham while she was Secretary of State. In one way or another, she has been in Wahington since the early 1990’s, so she knows her way around and where the bodies are buried. She has gotten legislation passed in Congress. Plus, you can bet Bill will be having Republicans over for beer and guy talk at the White Houe

    • Andy Schmookler

      All that you say here, Elaine, is true. But I do not believe that they touch the level from which Republican obstructionism came.

      We know that around the time of Obama’s first inauguration, the Republicans made a decision to obstruct across the board in order to get the public to see his presidency as a failure. I very much doubt that this decision had anything whatever to do with how well Barack Obama had established personal or collaborative relationships with any of the Republicans.

      It was a deeper, purely partisan strategy to destroy a presidency they — the Republicans — did not own and control.

      And the question hanging over that decision was whether the response from the president would enable that strategy to succeed, or whether he would be able to use his bully pulpit to punish it.

      If one reviews the course of events in the first months of President Obama’s first term, one can see that the president’s response imposed no political cost on the Republicans for their non-cooperation.

      An important unknown now is in what condition the Trump candidacy will leave the GOP. But if we were to imagine that the GOP comes out of this fall’s election more or less like it has been — which I very much hope is not the case — with control of at least the House, and with the same spirit governing it, I know of no reason why such a Republican Party would be more willing to allow Hillary to succeed than they have been with Obama.

      Which would make the crucial question: will Hillary be able and willing to make them pay for the obstructionist course in a way that President Obama has not?

  • Andy Schmookler

    From the end of a Paul Waldman piece (https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/08/09/hillary-clinton-may-be-headed-for-a-blowout-but-can-she-bring-other-democrats-with-her/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1 ) in the Washington Post today:

    “The success of a potential Clinton presidency could turn in large part on
    whether Democrats get past those 50 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in
    the House. If Republicans control even one chamber, they’ll be able to
    stop any legislation they want to. And there are two big factors
    suggesting they’ll be as obstructionist as they can, particularly in the
    House. The first is that whatever seats they lose will be in swing
    districts, meaning that the losers will probably be the more moderate
    members. With them gone, that will leave a Republican caucus even more
    conservative than it is now (if you can imagine such a thing).

    “The second is that they’ll look back at the experience of the Obama years
    and see that obstructionism can produce huge gains in midterm elections,
    as the public gets frustrated with inaction and blames the president
    and her party.”

    To which I say, it would be the job of President Hillary Clinton to make sure that this time the public knows who to blame for inaction.