Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In 2003, a Berkeley Professor Made the Best Case for Why Hillary Clinton is Likely the Best Presidential Candidate Out of the Entire Current Horrific Bunch

The Berkely professor Brad DeLong, who was  Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration under Lawrence Summers, wrote in a post, Time to Pound My Head Against the Wall Once Again, in June 2003:
My two cents' worth--and I think it is the two cents' worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994--is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn't smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.

So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation's health-care system...

Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch--the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.
Bottom line, she is likely to be incompetent and inefficient in the White House. That's what makes her an attractive candidate from a libertarian perspective.

When we, as libertarians, are facing a list of candidates that are all statists don't we want in office the candidate who will be the least competent in exercising interventionist schemes?

As the great libertarian Murray Rothbard once put it:
Who wants good people in government? Good people should be in the private sector. Helping us out, helping themselves out in the private sector. We want schmoes in government. We want people who can’t find the doorknob. 
In addition to being incompetent, there are plenty of people who hate Hillary, It would be very difficult for her to rally the country, or even parts of it, the way a Donald Trump might be able to. Further, a Hillary presidency would provide libertarians with the opportunity to serve as the intellectual vanguard in teaching the Hillary haters why her interventionist ways are evil.

Admittedly, it is not much. I would much rather have Ron Paul running this year, a man that I could support, and gathering Trump-like votes, or a person even half the libertarian that Dr. Paul is,but that is not the case.

The libertarian battle is mostly an intellectual battle and for strategic reasons, the best we can hope for in this presidential cycle is a hated bumbler where we can provide the intellectual fire power as to why the bumbler should be hated and why liberty is the best alternative.



  1. Back in '93, Rothbard seemed to argue against the idea that the worst candidate was the best option. See The Watershed Election, page 3: "b. Clinton will be so bad he will discredit the Democrats..."
    He also seemed to find Hillary a great threat even back in '92. See: Working Our Way Back to the President, page 4 - "#6 Let's never, never forget the looming menace of the monster Hillary..."
    Reading these old Rothbard articles, it's interesting to be reminded of some of the parallels to the '92 election: a Clinton candidacy, and the Republicans trying to fight off a populist outsider. Back then it was Buchanan. Trump is certainly no Buchanan, but is he close enough? Rothbard was willing to endorse Buchanan in ’92; what would he think of today’s election?

    1. My view is not that the "worst candidate" is the best. It is that if they are all bad (and they all are), you would want the least competent one. Big difference.

    2. Fair enough, get her into office and hope for gridlock; although given her record with Libya and Syria, she may not be incompetent enough.

    3. Pat Buchanan’s speech at the ‘92 Republican Convention helped Bill Clinton. Also, Rothbard thought the Old Right may come back, he was wrong.

  2. The least competent one may also be the one making the most demands on my wallet. Also sending young men to get killed in the Middle Eastern deserts!

    You are in non-sequitur territory here, Robert Wenzel.

  3. Hitler was incompetent too....
    Khmer Rouge? North Korea.... All incompetent...