STEVE NOVICK DEMOCRATS
Lately, I’ve been writing a lot on this page about my efforts to wrestle with conservatism. I’d like to think that my mind is open to conservative principles, and yet whenever I applaud myself for being open, one simple fact re-emerges to nag at my pride: I have never, ever voted in a contested two-party election for anyone other than the Democratic candidate.
Yes, it does bother me. It’s one thing to have a center of gravity. It’s another thing to be a blind partisan.
Well ... my track record is not likely to change for me in congressional elections, at least not for a while. I like my Representative, and I like my Senators. But we have a Presidential election coming up in 2008, and if the Democratic Party isn’t careful, I might not be able to make the above statement much longer.
In case you can’t tell, I’ve been alluding to the possibility that my party will nominate the putative front runner: Hillary Rodham Clinton. It pains me to write those words because Hillary is a woman, and for that reason alone I’d like to support her. I’d like to support her because we’ve never had a woman POTUS and it’s about time we did, particularly since “her kind” represents the majority of the population. I’d doubly like to support her because I’m sick and tired of strong women being painted as evil bitches. Nancy Pelosi, for example, did nothing prior to this past election to warrant all the vitriol that was heaped upon her by the GOP. Nevertheless, she committed the sin of sins – she’s a woman who didn’t act like a den mother or an ambassador’s wife – and that, combined with her being from “Sodom,” I mean San Francisco, caused the GOP-attack machine to speak about her like a character in the Crucible. You’re darned right that pissed me off, and the fact that Hillary is the target of the same kind of sexist nonsense makes me want to support her too.
And yet … and yet.
My basic problem with Hillary is that I’m a
In the name of full-disclosure, I would add that Novick is also one of my best friends. I met him when he was a first year law student at Harvard. He called himself “pound for pound, the youngest ever at
Novick is nobody’s idea of a conservative. He’s unabashedly liberal. But he’s a guy that even conservatives respect, and they respect him for the same reason they respected another famous diminutive liberal, Paul Wellstone. In both cases, these men have staked out a vision, have spoken plainly in support of that vision, and haven’t cared a whit whether their view was popular or shocking. Conservatives respect that. They also respect political animals who don’t take themselves too seriously. Back in law school, Novick said that he would run for office someday as “the only candidate with a legitimate left hook” – a reference to the fact that he has no left hand but wears a metal hook instead. More recently, Novick has jokingly referred to himself as “
Novick doesn’t have an ounce of hypocrisy. If he preaches it, he practices it. He’s also a man of his word. About 15 years ago, when he was still in D.C., he began a tradition of organizing a tribute every year for Robert F. Kennedy on the anniversary of his birth. The event was held at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice building (otherwise known as the headquarters of the U.S.D.O.J.). When Novick announced that he was moving back to
Surely you can tell by now why I’m a
I’m also troubled by all that’s been said about Hillary the “executive.” I’ve heard so many rumors about her alleged acts of arrogance to her subordinates that I’m beginning to wonder if she’d be more comfortable running a monarchy than a democracy. Moreover, far from having a Novickean sense of humor, Hillary exudes humorlessness and the lack of humility. Perhaps I’m reading her wrong; then again, I don’t think I’m alone in having this reaction.
The GOP has seen over the past few months how unpopular a party can get if they win the Presidency and then things go south. The Dems saw this for themselves when Jimmy Carter was President. Those who talk about how brilliant Hillary is might be wise to remember that Carter’s IQ is none too shabby. But there’s more to politics than IQ. You also have to have a winning personality. Carter came across as sanctimonious. Hillary might come across as imperious. I don’t think this country is ready for an imperious President right now, and I know we’re not ready for an imperious female President who doesn’t appear to have the courage of her own convictions.
For all these reasons, I’m concerned that if Hillary gets the nod in the summer of 2008, I might just write in
Would I be alone in taking that stand? Again, I doubt it. I know, for example – because I heard it from Novick himself – that former House Democratic Whip David Bonior once said that he didn’t mind other people knowing that if Hillary ever got the nomination, Bonior wouldn’t vote for her. Novick himself is unsure if whether he’d vote for Hillary, particularly if she runs against Giuliani. The only thing I can say for sure is that, unlike me, Novick definitely won’t vote for Novick … at least not for President.
I think back to the movie 1776 and the adopted home state of Madame Senator herself. “New York abstains, courteously,” the representative of that state repeatedly said, when it was time to vote for independence from