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Why Clinton and Obama Aren’t As Similar As You Think

People tend to perceive the Democrats as unified and the Republicans as trapped in internecine brawling, but in his column today, David Brooks argues that ideological fissures within the Democratic party are bound to erupt if Hillary Clinton or Barack … Read More

By / February 12, 2008

People tend to perceive the Democrats as unified and the Republicans as trapped in internecine brawling, but in his column today, David Brooks argues that ideological fissures within the Democratic party are bound to erupt if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is the next president. The idea is that the new Democratic president will either withdraw from Iraq, or not, and will either make good on ambitious domestic proposals, or not. Either way, Barack or Hillary will inevitably split the party's liberals and moderates apart.

Well, maybe. Forecasting this far in advance is not a terribly productive exercise. Nobody has any idea what Iraq will be like in a year, and no one is certain what the domestic political and fiscal circumstances in a year's time will portend for the next administration.

Reading Brooks's first paragraph, I was hoping he would push back against the deeply-ingrained conventional wisdom that there are no significant policy differences between the Democratic candidates. Instead, he takes it for granted. Here is why it's wrong.

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