Clinton: bad choice on Hastings

Hillary Clinton has named disgraced former judge Alcee Hastings to be the co-chair of her campaign in Florida. Hastings was convicted of accepting a $150,000 bribe, removed from the bench and impeached by the then Democratically controlled Congress.

I’m not sure what Clinton was smoking when she chose such a person for her campaign. It shows poor judgment, especially after the failed attempt by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to name him chair of the Intelligence Committee.

I’m with cvillelaw and Mike on this one. I’d really like to hear her explanation for choosing him.

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10 thoughts on “Clinton: bad choice on Hastings

  1. Hillary is as status quo as they come. The powers that be have chosen her to be the dem candidate of 2008…Hopefully the grass roots will enable an Edwards or Gore candidacy to end up with the nomination….


  2. I’m going to leave aside for the moment whether Hillary represents the “status quo” or not, other than to say that I’ve noticed that “status quo” is coming to mean different things to different people–and thanks to the way it gets thrown around by anti-establishment iconoclasts, it’s coming to not concretely mean anything.

    I’m astounded by this move by Hillary–especially because the OTHER co-chair of her committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is such an outstanding choice, a rising star in the House from one of Florida’s population centers and a very wealthy district from the point of view of a democratic fundraiser. By contrast Hastings’ selection is even more mind-boggling…except he’s black, and there needs to be a minority voice within the organization to make sure that the campaign doesn’t lose focus on minority voters.

    Hastings’ has a lot of pull with minority voters (he HAS to, he couldn’t get elected to Congress with all that baggage otherwise), as well as in the Congressional Black Caucus, but there had to have been a better choice all the same. Hillary might as well pick Jefferson to co-chair her LA state campaign….

  3. Vivian:

    Obviously, Clinton believes that Congressman Hastings is an opinion leader/influencer for a key constituency in Florida that she needs to win the primary. Is it the case that Hastings still wields influence and garners respect among black voters in Florida? If so, why?

    Should Clinton set standards for her campaign higher than those of the voters she seeks? Is there a political price to be paid for doing so? In this case, would she be seen as “insulting” a “respected” member of the black community? After all, he’s been elected and reelected to congress several times after being forced off the federal bench.

    Ruth Marcus wrote a column on Hastings when Pelosi was confronted with the decision whether to name him as the chair of the House Intelligence Community. Despite the fact that the House had impeached him for bribery (the reason why he lost his federal court appointment), the Congressional Black Caucus backed his appointment as chair (as they have also defended Bill Jefferson).

    Should Clinton or any other Democratic candidate for the presidency be expected to set higher standards for his/her campaign than are set by party leaders or by the members of any of the several interest group caucuses that control much of the power within the Party?

    I, like you, would like to answer yes.

    But, is that a realistic expectation, given the costs likely to be incurred by doing so? Would it be Pollyanna-ish for us to hope for a candidate’s personal sense of ethics, honor, integrity to trump political reality when choosing “associates”?

    And, of course, for Clinton, it’s a particularly difficult question, since there’s the question whether she’d be accused of setting a double standard, having defended vigorously what I, for one, consider to be the indefensible, exploitive and unethical behavior of her husband while in office.


  4. Vivian – Thanks for the tag and for your post. Good comments from your readers, still no satisfactoy answers on why the HRC campaign has associated itself with Hastings. I am a yellow dog Democrat who has not decided yet who to support but who will actively campaign for the eventual Dem nominee. At this stage, Democrats like me can, and should, be “ployannaish” in evaluating our candidates. After the nominee is selected we lose some of that leverage to speak publically.

  5. I think Claire makes some excellent points. There’s a deeper issue about the costs of looking past Hastings, though. It’s essentially giving his constituency the finger. As while they might deserve that on the very narrow question of support for Hastings, it doesn’t account for a dozen other variables (e.g., what kind of primary challengers has Hastings drawn? What sort of (presumably) kamikaze Republican challengers provided alternatives, etc.).

    I dunno. I get the very uncomfortable feeling of being held hostage by a crook like Hastings. And I think the Florida part of it has much to do with it (what presidental canidate would give two seconds thought to telling Jefferson to go to hell?).

    In the end, I wish that Clinton would have found someone else. But I can live with Hastings. To the best of my knowledge, Hastings hasn’t been anything but a model Congressman since his election, with not even an appearance of relapsing into the behavior that got him impeached.

    But really, isn’t that an awful standard to hold people to?*

    *Republicans, you can kindly STFU with respect to that question. The party that has a number of known criminals if office really has nothing to offer on the matter.

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