Thoughts on New Hamphsire

I know that I mostly irritate people when I write about politics. I frequently get comments from readers who say something like "how can you be such an idiot when it comes to politics?". To that I say that this blog is at some level about me. I am who I am. And I am not going to hide my politics. In fact, I’ve been totally open about them for as long as I’ve been blogging and that’s not going to stop just because my politics are incompatible with those of many of the people who read this blog. At worst, I’ll irritate you and you’ll stop reading this blog. But at best, we’ll have a conversation and I’ll learn something. One of the most frequent commenters on this blog, Steve Kane, almost always disagrees with me on politics. But his comments make me think hard about my beliefs. He hasn’t converted me to his beliefs, but he’s moved me a bit over the years.

Anyway enough justification for posts like this. The Gotham Gal and I (and Josh until he went to bed) watched the votes come in last night for almost four hours. We watched the pundits talk and talk and talk. Man was that annoying. But we also got to see speeches from Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, brief remarks from Rudy, and speeches from John Edwards, Barack Obama, and finally Hillary Clinton.

I am very happy with the way that New Hampshire voted. Of the republicans, John McCain is by far the best candidate. He’d make a fine president. I don’t agree with him on many positions, but I think he’d be a fine leader for this country. He’s certainly earned the right with his service of our country over the years and he’s got the experience to get the job done. I wish he’d be more vocal about campaign finance reform. He used to be so strong on that issue. Now you almost never hear about it from him. Oh well. He’s become more of a politician in the past eight years which is probably good for him.

But the big story for me is the democrat race. There you’ve got two incredible candidates in Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I am certain that Hillary will make a fine president for our country. She’s spent her life working for this moment, she’s been in the white house, she’s advised her husand for thirty years, then has spent the past eight years building her on political career. What we finally saw in NH was the real Hillary, who spoke from the heart about why this means so much to her and why she’s given her entire life to this goal. People see Bill and Hillary as totally fake polticians who will do anything and say anything to get elected. Who are washington insiders and establishment politicians. All that is true at some level, but I for one am a big fan of both of them and I think Hillary is well prepared to be the first woman president of our country and I’d like to see her get there.

On the other hand, there’s Barack Obama, who is certainly among the most gifted democrat politicians of the past 50 years. I see so much Jack Kennedy in him (and no I did not know Jack Kennnedy, I was two years old when he was killed). He has the power to lead our country to a new place in the world and I don’t see that in any of the other candidates on either side of the aisle. I have my doubts about Barack’s ability to get anything done and worry that he’d be Jimmy Carter instead of Jack Kennedy, but given the option to vote for him in the Nov election, I’d pull the lever for sure. As Andrew Sullivan said in this piece in The Atlantic about Barack (which to me lays out the best argument for an Obama presidency):

Sometimes, when the world is changing rapidly, the greater risk is caution.

I look forward to the Ali-Frazier-esque heavyweight fight we are going to watch between these two. As should be the case, they are going to have to fight for the nomination now, from the northeast to the southwest, from conservative states to liberal states, and we’ll find out who has the mettle to go the distance, who is most electable, and who can make the best case to be the next president of the United States.

I say that because the republican field is a mess. None of the candidates look capable of pulling together the three wings of the party (religious right, national security, economic conservatism). McCain is probably best suited to the job, but he can’t and won’t rally the religious right to his cause. My gut says he’ll be the nominee and he’ll be like Dole in ’96. A good man, who would do a fine job in the White House, who will inspire few (his speech last night sucked), and who will not win.

The rest of the republican field is a bunch of flawed candidates who don’t have a shot.

My gut tells me its a democrat year in 2008, and we’ll have Obama or Hillary as our next president. So the next month is where its at and I for one will be watching closely.


Comments (Archived):

  1. S.t

    Quarterback for the Packers…In a news conference Deanna Favre announced she will be starting QB for the Packers this coming Sunday. Deanna asserts that she is qualified to the starting QB because she has spent the past 16 years married to Brett while he played QB for the Packers. During this period of time she became familiar with the definition of a corner blitz, and is now completely comfortable with other terminology of the Packers offense. A survey of Packers fans shows that 50% of those polled support the move.When Hillary Clinton has experience because she has eight years in the White House, doesn’t anyone say, ‘so has the pastry chef’?Fred — you wouldn’t let her run one of you portfolio start-ups.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah I would.It’s not what you say. Bill would never have been what he was without her.Deanna favre doesn’t do anything on the football field.But when bill clinton picked bob rubin for treasury secretary, hillary wasone of his closest advisorsWhen he decided to balance the budget instead of a ton of other things hewanted to do, hillary was one of his closest advisorsDon’t kid yourself. She’s been at the center of major policy makingdecisions for almost 20 years.fred

      1. Paul

        The difference between an actual politician and Hillary is that Hillary did not have to make the actual decisions or live with the consequences of those decisions. It really looks like people want to re-elect Bill Clinton and this is the best way to do that. Lurleen Wallace comes to mind. (BTW, I lived in Alabama then – was too young to vote)

        1. fredwilson

          She’ll have to win the presidency on her own.I don’t see a vote for hillary as a vote for bill at all.She’s a very different person. We’ve seen a lot of her in NY and I like whatwe see.fred

  2. Paul

    Keep being yourself and don’t let anyone suggest you stop just because they disagree with you. I do have to disagree with you on the democratic candidates. I don’t know what others think qualifies someone to be a president, but neither Clinton or Obama pass my test. Barak has been a senator for all of two years and five days. Two years! Hillary cherry picked a senate seat for herself, but otherwise has not done much. Give me a two-term governor (Richardson, Romney) or big city mayor (Guiliani) any day over that. At least they have proven leadership skills, have run large bueracracies, and been re-elected by their constituents. I really don’t get how Obama and Clinton have the qualifications to be seriously considered. For Clinton: was close to power (married well)? really, really wants it (your 30-year thing)? Aren’t you grasping for anything at that point?

  3. DonRyan

    Fred- As a Republican, I have donated to and would vote for Obama. There is no chance in hell I would vote for Hillary. I just can’t imagine another 8 years of Clintonism. None of the Republicans inspire me although I agree that McCain is an honorable man. If Hillary comes up strong, I’ll just hope that Mike Bloomberg decides to jump in.

    1. fredwilson

      If mike got in, we’d have such a great set of choices I wouldn’t know whatto do with myself.I’d probably vote for Mike. I love the guy.fred

  4. dave

    I don’t agree with everything here, of course, but I strongly feel you not only have a right to express your political views here, but have an obligation to do so.People who say you shouldn’t don’t imho understand America. We all, together, are the government of the country. I think this is just beginning to dawn on some of the candidates (Obama and Huckabee the most, imho).What’s going on in politics is what’s been going on in journalism. When the transiton is complete, the vision of our country’s founders will have been realized.

  5. JeffreyM

    After watching the NH returns, I’ve come to the same conclusion – Clinton, Obama and McCain. No big surprise here. Of interest though is Edwards.Every indication is that Clinton and Obama will remain neck and neck for the duration. An early withdraw by Edwards will swing a sufficient number of votes, in either direction (likely Obama), to have an impact. Further, it’s a safe bet both will short list angry white male liberal populists. It‘s going to be interesting (and entertaining) to watch Clinton and Obama step over each other courting Edwards for an endorsement and as a running mate.

    1. Jon

      I live in New York too and voted for Hillary. But I am hard pressed to identify anything she has actually done for the State. Bill, one of the best US politicians ever, is constantly in the local media — Hillary so not much. What specific actions/programs are you referring to?I think it is ironic that Iraq seems to have faded as an election issue. I suppose the drop in violence makes it less newsworthy. Hillary was lock-step with Bush on the War. Making “the right decision given the information on hand but turning out to be the wrong decision” is not the same thing as making the right decision. How long will people support a Betamax candidate?

  6. Seenator

    I have been so wrong about everything in this election that I dont want to make any guesses. After the almost perfect call/guess of 2006, my confidence has taken a beating.I am not sure who is going to win the Democratic nomination but whoever it will win the presidential elections.I think this election like the 2006 mid terms and unlike the 2004 election is going to be about the independents. The only way independent voter can be neutralized by “super charging the base” like Bush did in Ohio in 2004, where the turnout of republican voters overwhelmed the independent voter.To truly energise the base, one needs a combination of BOTH the 1) The republican party establishment and 2) The support of evangalical christians.Rudy/McCain/Romney could have 1 but dont have 2. Huck would have 2 but not 1.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s my analysis tooI wonder if anyone can put the three legged stool back together anymoreRomney tries and ends up looking like a two faced flip flopperFred

  7. michael

    first, who cares if you irritate people? those who don’t agree with you then abandon you weren’t really ‘there’ to begin. so thanks for posting.i had a few observations. one, it’s clear the country wants democracy to work, wants the year-long conversation to happen. that’s important and good.two … well, i can’t describe how much the media nauseates me. tweety’s post iowa reaction was abhorrrent — man-love of obama on the one side, ding-dong the witch is dead on the other. ick.three, while women came out in droves for a variety of reasons to back hillary, she probably didn’t beat obama as much as mccain did, as he drew a large independent vote his way.four, obama lost percentage-wise but gained 12 delegates to hillary’s 11. that, naturally, wasn’t reported anywhere despite being on prominent display in the ‘situation room’ right behind the drooling bobbleheads. (i’m not suggesting anything other than this being a very interesting note, showing how close this primary was.)fifth, and most important to me, we have seen how both candidates deal with loss, all the more exaggerated due to the extreme pressure / attention. obama came across gracious, cool and still inspiring … though clearly less so than in iowa. on that note, hillary (and bill) exploded, no matter what the media says. regardless the ‘meaning’ of the tears, do i really want a someone as president that, on their own, has to be beaten, lose poorly and demonstrably so, then regroup, in order to lead? this isn’t definitive, but it is illustrative.

    1. fredwilson

      Good points. All the more reason to watch this play out over an extended period. No hasty decisions pleaseFred

  8. Vivek

    I’m surprised that you think McCain is the best the Republicans have to offer. Out of the media chosen front runners (Guliani, Romney, McCain) he’s the choice I suppose, but surely Ron Paul is a much better candidate when it comes to issues, policies and talking sense? It’s a matter of opinion I guess, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on why McCain is your pick of the whole GOP field when Paul has made the most sense in any Republican debate I’ve watched and has plenty of money to stay in the fight.As for the Democrats, I agree it’s down to Obama and Clinton and my preference is towards Obama. He is a much more gifted orator and just seems more genuine when compared to Clinton. I’m also inherently biased against Hillary because the last thing I want to see is a Bush-Clinton dynasty spanning 24-28 years. That combined with her votes on Iraq (which she voted for without properly examining the intelligence) and for the Iran resolution (Iraq should have taught her something right?) and her almost hysterical response to Obama winning in Iowa pushes me towards Obama.

    1. fredwilson

      Good points on hillary vs obamaI think ron paul is really a libertarian and is attractive to me on that basis. But he can’t win the republican nominationFred

  9. uncle tommy

    when i heard bill clinton say he smoked but didn’t inhale, i knew that was total calculated horseshit. and by the way, so did ALMOST everyone else in the entire world. i voted for him because the other choice was absolutely the worst possible of the two. he went on to be a great president in every way except in HONOR. that first big lie foretold his next big lie.hillary is capable and efficient and probably well suited for the odious task of being president. (what TRULY enlightened, conscious, REAL human being would want the damn job) but she is an enabler and that just as probLematic as the abuser. to be so she has to be one who calculates rather than being present. she is not so honest either. the first man cost us dearly. we ended up with the draft dodger and the awful version of spin democracy with no soul or decency. the second might cost us dearly again because liars and enablers usually do. they just can’t help themselves.i’m going to vote for the most PRESENT person available, regardless of the outcome. which may not leave me many choices if at all.

    1. fredwilson

      I love getting a comment from my uncle tom on this blog!!!!This make my day and possibly week. Thanks uncle tom.You are a wise man and I will take your advice to heartSounds like obama is your manFred

  10. cortland

    Fred,After spending 13 years in Arizona, I can assure you that John McCain would not make a fine president. He is a war-mongering, bad-tempered, corrupt, right-wing politician who should not and can not be trusted with leading the free world. The GOP has a terrible field of candidates and McCain leads the pack.HRC’s victory was a great thing. A couple more and she’s on her way to the nomination, and most likely, the presidency.

    1. fredwilson

      Well that’s helpful. Nothing like the locals to know their polsWhen tennessee didn’t go for gore, that was sure tellingFred

  11. john demayo

    I enjoy your political commentary, thoughts and musing and would encourage you to continue to write on these topics. Honestly I find the posts related to music a little annoying, but hey, the blog is about you and not about what I want to read, right?

    1. fredwilson

      I wish you could select the categories of interest and create your own version of the blogI do have tech only feed and music only feedBut not tech and politics less musicFred

  12. Leigh

    In dec last year, I was in NYC for business and my husband similarly was in Atlanta. Both of us ended up having political temperature check discussions with our African American cab drivers. What we found interesting was that both of them were voting for Hilary. Actually, that’s not true. Even more fascinating, was that both were actually voting for Bill AND Hilary and both said the exact same thing only in slight different ways…America is in big trouble. We don’t need a rookie. Obama = Rookie / Hilary = Hilary AND Bill and Bill = successful presidency = prosperous AmericaSo looks like at least Hilary’s got the North and South African American cab driver votes wrapped up.

  13. Stephen L. McKay

    Fred,On McCain you wrote; “I don’t agree with him on many positions, but I think he’d be a fine leader for this country.”I don’t get that. It’s like hiring a well respected architect who specializes in, and is a fanatic about ultra modern to design your house when you want a colonial. Sure he/she will get the job done, but will it be the job you wanted?Also, I think Courtland is right. I have seen glimpses of McCain’s temper, and it can be pretty nasty (remember when he cursed at Maria Shriver in 2000)!McCain deserves my respect for his service, but not never my vote for president.

  14. fbias

    As with some of the comments, I too hope that you do not stop writing, on occasion, about your opinions on anything you feel compelled to write about. Politics is certainly fair game for a blog like yours, and I appreciate your willingness to put your opinions out there and defend them. It’s a very healthy and vital component of the political process. I also happen to agree very much with your viewpoints. I would happily vote for either Clinton or Obama, and feel both candidates would make excellent Presidents. I hope that the nomination process remains positive and productive for the Democrats. Given the heavyweight fight that is occurring, there is significant risk that it could become overly negative, bitter, and destructive for the two candidates. I am hopeful that the Democrats don’t implode during what should be their year. I don’t think it will happen, and I think Clinton and Obama will refrain from tactics that might ultimately tarnish their campaigns, but the risks are certainly there.As far as the comments about Favre’s wife playing quarterback, Chris Rock made the same analogy in his New Year’s Eve show at Madison Square Garden. He stated that were his wife to come on stage and run through a brief stand-up routine, not a single person in the audience would find her the least bit amusing. The analogy is good for a laugh from someone like Chris Rock, but it is completely flawed. While the extent and value of her experience in the White House certainly warrants discussion, to entirely dismiss it as nonexistent, inapplicable, or irrelevant is totally absurd.

  15. Andrew Parker

    I really hope you’re right; both Hillary and Obama would be great, I’m sure. In fact, I have little preference between the two; I think even Edwards would do a great job.The pessemist in me though believes that Hillary is unelectable due to two reasons:1) Sexism (still strong, just more unspoken today)2) The though of Hillary being president is so terrifying to the three wings of the Republicans (evangelicals, national security, and econ conservatism) that her candidacy would act as a coalescing force… Republicans would set aside their differences and rally behind one candidate in an effort that says “anyone but Hillary!”I’m an independent (I don’t believe in a two-party system, so I won’t register anytime soon), so I can’t vote in the primary. But, if I could vote in the primary, I’d vote for Obama solely for the reason of “electability” in a general election.

    1. michael

      I have to agree on the electability front: I have been actively devouring the conservative points of view, and it is quite plainly obvious that a Hillary candidacy would pose serious challenges; rightfully or wrongfully, they plainly have it out for her. this is probably why she does not poll well against any of the GOP.(And this is not to disparage her, but just to draw attention to a facet of the primary races.)

  16. ErikSchwartz

    I spent the last 3 days on talk radio row in Manchester NH. I also attended a number of rallies including Obama’s last night (they’ll give anyone press creds these days :-), Foneshow is a media outlet).Some observations:Hillary has almost no draw amongst independents.Obama was hugely hurt by the fact that UNH is on winter break, and dartmouth is just barely back.Ron Paul drew a lot of students that might have supported Obama and never would have supported Hillary.Bill was EVERYWHERE on the ground.The Clinton organization is superb.No one except dyed in the wool democratic activists are excited about Hillary.Watch what happens with the super delegates, the Clintons are leaning on them not to commit to Obama. This is potentially HUGE.Obama is an incredible speaker, even better in person.IMO, the only republican Hillary could defeat is Giuliani, and she could only do that by waging the ugliest campaign in history (Rudy lived with his two gay friends after his wife threw him out… that kind of stuff.)Against any other GOP candidate her loss would be on the scale of Dukakis.What state that Gore lost in 2000 do you think Hillary would win?ErikPS I’ve posted some pics from the weekend on the foneshow blog, I also twittered and twittergrammed a bunch (twittername is eriks)

    1. ErikSchwartz

      Two last things, I think there was a large anti Romney vote amongst MA expats (which is much of southern NH). That probably made some independents pull GOP ballotsHillary is only “experienced” compared to Obama. The GOP is just dying for her to play the experience card.

  17. jeremy

    I saw Lou Dobbs last night talking about how he doesn’t like how “likabiity” s such an important factor for people, but I disagree with him. And I think you do as well.I’m not a Democrat, but I differentiate people people whose opinions with whom I disagree (like yours) and people I don’t respect on the other side.I watched Obama’s and Clinton’s speeches last night.To me, Obama is authentic. Clinton is not. I think she’s contrived. I don’t want either of them to win, but if Obama did, I could say, “I don’t like his politics, but I like the man”…and that’s the basis for consensus and collaboration. I have a hard time w/Hillary on that.I love when you blog on politics because you are open to the debate and it’s (for the most part ;-), not about attacking the other side for being “stupid.”

    1. fredwilson

      Nobody is stupid when it comes to what you believeFred

      1. Michael Cullina

        Fred, you are the Obama of VCs: inspiring in your decency and humanity. Thank you for your great blog.Sorry for the over-effusiveness, but there you have it.Founder, Philly Fred Wilson Fan Club

  18. Hiren Patel

    As a 23 year old Democrat and as a College grad. who dived into startups in NY and now in Cali. without a technical degree, connections, the “experience,” I see Obama mirroring what I’ve gone through. When you want to do big things, you have to dream big, you have to be a little irrational but still drive forward with what you believe in. I really didn’t know what to do after college but I knew whatever I set my mind to, I’d be able to get there by dreaming big. I picked tech startups as something to try out for 3 years even though I knew most people don’t hire business grads without experience (they want cs majors from Stanford or people with experience). I dug into the NY tech scene and got my first test of startups and later on made the move to Cali without a job and very little savings (I had enough to survive out there for 2-3 months) and here I am 10 months later with a job as a marketing/project manager for a young startup for the past 6 months.What I am trying to say is from my perspective, experience isn’t that big of a deal to me vs. seeing if a person has a strong internal drive. I see that in different ways between Obama and Hillary.Hillary has been working and building up to this moment for years and dreams to make big things happen once she gets to the top. While Obama is fresh to the scene and is dreaming big right now. Whether he can actually achieve what he is doing is all up to his drive in my opinion. They will both make good presidents, but I think Obama might be willing to push us like no other candidate could.

  19. DavidAlport

    I support your political punditry on your blog. My one suggestion: Try to use the word “Democratic” when describing the party. Our nation’s “lamest president ever” makes a specific point of misusing the phrase, because calling it the “Democrat Party” implies that its members are less democratic than if he used the proper phrase. Here’s a little bit of discourse on the subject. http://nstockdale.blogspot….

  20. MMG

    For a non-journalist, you write a heck of an clear-minded analysis, Fred. That said, I think the big losers in the campaign so far aren’t the feckless Republicans; it’s the media. Already they have made a huge error in declaring the death of the Clinton campaign, jumping on the post-Iowa “bounce” that showed Obama up by 13 points at one stage, according to “their’ polls. The post-NH coverage of Hillary’s win was equally mindless. And I’m not sure how CNN could believe referring to their pundits as “the best political team on television” is effective branding.I’m not sure if it’s because of an abbreviated primary season but so far I have been amazed at how trivial the pundits have been in their analyses. Maybe the well-worn notion of “change” should apply to the media as well!

  21. andrew

    if she wins i bet her running mate will be Bill. Two for one and a killer combo. This is the year for change.

  22. Hockeydino

    Imagine if AVC guy sypported someone on principle like Ron Paul instead of a front runner who stands for polling. Ahhh…then maybe he wouldn’t say that he can’t win the nomination.A blogger reader can only dream.

  23. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    I truly hope a Democrat gets the White House and I’m with you…it’s down to Barack or Hillary. I actually think more Repubs would vote for her if she wasn’t married to Bill and didn’t have that morally iffy situation behind her. There are many women Repubs holding office already. McCain would be a reasonable alternative if the Repubs take advantage of any Dem screw ups.

  24. Ada

    This is really some very interesting reading. My two cents, I think Hilary is a very cunning and strategic woman and as long as she is fighting for a good cause I think she’s definitely someone who would get the job done! I am not convinced that she revealed her “true self” in New Hampshire, she revealed a component of her personality that helped persuade people. That said she has the balls to deal with anything if you ask me, and I respect that. On a negative side to the Hilary argument, its clear she has wanted this her whole career, which to me is not the right candidate for the position.While Barack doesn’t have the great experience for the job, it seems like the country has found him and been inspired by him and for all of you who are launching companies, you all know that timing and popular opinion is really what makes things happen. (Particularly with regard to the speed of his rise.) I think its cool to see a phenomenon that is distinct to this time in history and I think that is distinctly important. I think Hilary is definitely paving the way for a woman president, but not sure it will be her, think it will be someone like Barack who people just really want to see empowered.

  25. Gerald Buckley

    It’s anyone’s race to win or lose at this point. Lookit, Bloomberg gets in on the action at the seventh hour and the whole thing changes. Likewise, some skeleton comes traipsing out of the closet and there’s that “likability” monster chopping the legs out from under a potentially GREAT president. Would almost be fun to have a regular old someone sit on the sidelines waiting for all the highly polished credentials to fall by the wayside or bow out and then sweep the race. How I’d love to see a regular Joe/Jane to run the country at least once in my lifetime.Please, keep the political aspect to the blogging… too few bloggers are willing to discuss it openly.

  26. jeffleo

    Isn’t everyone a little bit nostagic? Of course people affiliate the good feelings they had about Bill with Hillary. But aren’t they doing the same thing on the other side of the aisle when they rally for John McCain? Of those that favor McCain, isn’t it likely that they yearn for McCain circa 1999 before Bush trashed McCain’s candidacy with the illigitimate child rumor among others? This is not to take away from Hillary Clinton or John McCain. But you gotta admit that we all hope that some of the goodness from the past resurfaces int he present.

  27. Steven Kane

    who? me?

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah you

  28. aripap

    Great summary of the situation. Especially re: McCain. Unless Edwards is the Democratic candidate there’s no way I’ll vote Republican, but nevertheless I feel better about our country if McCain is the nominee.