Part 3, the conclusion to our interview with Brian Jones.
OL&L: There are some among our conservative friends who, as much as they despise the Clintons, and don’t want them back in the White House, if there must be a Democratic President, they actually prefer Hillary to Barack because they know she’ll do what’s popular, what’s safe, and wont veer hard to the left.
Brian Jones: I think there’s a pragmatism to Hillary Clinton that’s hard to get away from. Hillary is someone to took a poll about where she should live in New York when she ran for the Senate. She’s driven by ambition and calculation. There’s a belief among some that that ambition will keep her kind of on the straight and narrow. She won’t go too far off the deep end. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure. It makes sense to me that that’s how she operates, and that’s how she’ll continue to operate. It’s how her husband operated and why you had him talking about things like seat belts and school uniforms and never really doing anything big in his presidency.
Obama is much more of an unknown. Sometimes it seems like he’s coming at Hillary from the right, but then you look at his voting record and find that he is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal.
I do believe there is something to this notion that she would be more of a centrist candidate. And maybe that helps her in the general election.
OL&L: One of our friends, a self-described Libertarian, said that he will vote for Obama because he views him as a symbol of hope and he believes his rhetoric about change. But the thing that struck us about his support for Obama, and we wonder if this is common among Obama supporters, is that despite what Obama is saying to appeal to the base, he believes Obama is smart enough that once he gets in office, he’ll make the good decision, that he won't be ultra liberal. Do you believe that to be true?
Brian Jones: There’s no doubt he’s a very intelligent person. And it’s the game that every politician plays in the primary—some better than others. They start off appealing to the base and then try to broaden their appeal in the general election. They search for ways to appeal to more people—whether that’s through compassionate conservatism or whatever. Ronald Reagan was able to successfully appeal to a group now referred to as Reagan Democrats,
In the case of Obama, I’m not sure you can say which way he’ll go. For anyone who goes through the process, is ambitious enough to seek the Presidency and reach the level Barack Obama is at right now, there have to be elements that, for lack of a better word, are commonsensical. In an Obama Presidency you’re going to see higher taxes. You’re going to see a larger federal bureaucracy. You’re going to wind up seeing more government spending. Remember, Bill Clinton came into office and within a year passed the largest tax increase in the history of the country. You’re going to see policies that aren’t going to get many centrists and Republicans excited.
OL&L: With Democrat turnout and campaign donations at current levels, you don’t see a Democrat in the White House as an inevitability, do you?
Brian Jones: Now way. I don’t see it at all. Elections are about choices. Right now you see a lot of energy for the Democrats. But at the same time, we haven’t reached the point where you’ve got one candidate vs. another candidate where you can really begin to engage on the issues. In the last months or so, as the campaign has become front and center for people, the generic ballot, which tracks whether someone would vote for a Democrat or Republican for Congress, the Democrats, who had a double digit lead for a number of months, have seen their lead shrink to 4 or 5 points. I think that, as soon as we get to focus on the issues, realize what’s at stake, and have a candidate who’s the manifestation of that, it will wind up changing. This notion that the Democrats have it in the bag is a complete misnomer. You could have talked to many Democrats in February 2004who would have said that there was no way George Bush was going to get reelected. And this year we’re going to have a new face, and I think there’s a very good chance Republicans could wind up keeping the White house.
OL&L: Fantastic. Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Jones.
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