Hillary Faith Politics

On Monday night CNN aired a forum on Faith Politics. The interviewer was Soledad O’Brien. Below are excerpts of Hillary’s remarks at the forum. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here particularly about abortion and Hillary’s desire to find common ground on this issue:

O’BRIEN: You don’t talk a lot about your faith, truly. I — I know because I have Googled everything you have ever said, actually.


O’BRIEN: But I’m going to ask you a delicate question. Infidelity in your marriage was very public. And I have to imagine it was incredibly difficult to deal with. And I would like to know how your faith helped you get through it.

CLINTON: Well, I’m not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith.

And, you know, I take my faith very seriously and very personally. And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves, so, that a lot of the…


CLINTON: … a lot of the talk about and advertising about faith doesn’t come naturally to me. It is something that — you know, I keep thinking of the Pharisees and all of Sunday school lessons and readings that I had as a child.

But I think your — your faith guides you every day. Certainly, mine does. But, at those moments in time when you’re tested, it — it is absolutely essential that you be grounded in your faith.

For some people, being tested leads them to faith. For some people, being tested in cruel and tragic ways leads them away from faith. For me, because I have been tested in ways that are both publicly known and those that are not so well known or not known at all, my faith and the support of my extended faith family, people whom I knew who were literally praying for me in prayer chains, who were prayer warriors for me, and people whom I didn’t know, who I would meet or get a letter from, sustained me through a very difficult time.

But I — I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought. And that’s all one can expect or hope for.


O’BRIEN: When you pray…


O’BRIEN: And this is a — a very personal question. And you can defer it.

CLINTON: Oh, go ahead, Soledad.

O’BRIEN: All right.


O’BRIEN: It’s just us girls.


O’BRIEN: What do you ask for? What do you ask God for?

CLINTON: Well, it depends upon the time of day.


CLINTON: And, you know, sometimes, I say, oh, lord, why can’t you help me lose weight?


CLINTON: Sometimes — you know, sometimes, it’s, you know, obviously praying for discernment, for wisdom, for strength, for courage, praying for my family and my friends, I mean, praying for people whom I don’t have any personal connection with that I — I hear about, or I know about, or that I’m — I’m struck by.

You know, I — I will tell you, your question sort of prompted this in my head. I was at a Methodist church in Decorah, Iowa. And I was attending Sunday morning service. And I walked in, and I met the pastor, Carol Cress (ph), who welcomed me to her church and her congregation.

And she introduced me to this man from the Congo who the church had taken in as a refugee. And he said that he wanted to ask for my help for the people of the Congo. And he told me about how he had been campaigning for democracy, and he had been thrown in jail, and he had been beaten, and then he had been dragged from the jail by the officials, and he had been hung on a tree and left to die.

And the members of his church rescued him. And he told me this just as I was walking into the sanctuary. And I was just so overcome. And I spent much of the service thinking about and praying about these people in this church in the Congo — I don’t even know where in the Congo — who had saved this man and given him the chance to come and witness to somebody like me.

So, I pray for all kinds of things, some of it, to be honest, trivial and self-serving and all the rest of it.


CLINTON: And, when I do that, I try to say, oh, come on, that’s — you can do better than that.


O’BRIEN: To God or your question?


CLINTON: Well, I say it — I say it to myself…


CLINTON: … because I assume, you know, that there’s the rolling of eyes going on, that… (LAUGHTER)


CLINTON: … I certainly can do better than that.

But, you know, somebody — somebody asked me — to go back to one of your earlier questions, somebody asked me if I were a praying person, you know, shortly after we had been in the White House.

And, you know, I said yes, I — I had been fortunate. I was raised to pray, you know, as a little girl, you know, saying my prayers at night, saying grace at meals, praying in, you know, church. I see my old friend, my youth minister praying in MYF, our Methodist Youth Fellowship.

And, so, they asked me, well, are you a praying person?

And I said, well, you know, fortunately, I — I have always been a praying person. And then I — I’m grateful for that. But, if I had not been a praying person, shortly after coming to the White House, I would have become one in a big hurry.



O’BRIEN: Senator, we have seven minutes left, and I want to get to a couple of questions from the panelists we have not yet heard from.

The Reverend Joel C. Hunter is the senior pastor at Northland Church, one of the largest churches in Florida; 1,400 locations worship with them around the globe every single weekend.

Go ahead, Reverend.

CLINTON: Hello, Reverend.


Abortion continues to be one of the most hurtful and divisive facts of our nation. I come from the part of the faith community that is very strongly pro-life. I know you’re pro-choice, but you have indicated that you would like to reduce the number of abortions.

Could you see yourself, with millions of voters in a pro-life camp, creating a common ground, with the goal ultimately in mind of reducing the decisions for abortion to zero?

CLINTON: Yes. Yes.

And that is what I have tried to both talk about and reach out about over the last many years, going back, really, at least 15 years, in talking about abortion being safe, legal, and rare. And, by rare, I mean rare.

And it’s been a challenge, because the pro-life and the pro- choice communities have not really been willing to find much common ground. And I think that is a great failing on all of our parts, because, for me…


CLINTON: … there are many opportunities to assist young people to make responsible decisions.

There is a tremendous educational and public outreach that could be done through churches, through schools, through so much else. But I think it has to be done with an understanding of reaching people where they are today.

We have so many young people who are tremendously influenced by the media culture and by the celebrity culture, and who have a very difficult time trying to sort out the right decisions to make.

And I personally believe that the adult society has failed those people. I mean, I think that we have failed them in our churches, our schools, our government. And I certainly think the, you know, free market has failed. We have all failed.

We have left too many children to sort of fend for themselves morally. And, so, I think there is a great opportunity. But it would require sort of a — a leaving at the sides the suspicion and the baggage that comes with people who have very strong, heartfelt feelings.

You know, when I first started thinking about this very difficult issue — because it is. It’s a moral issue. And it should not be in any way diminished as a moral issue, no matter which side you’re on, because I have seen cases where I honestly believed that the — the moral choice was very complicated and not so straightforward as to what a young woman, her family, her physician, her pastor should do.

And what concerns me is that there’s been a — a real reluctance for anyone to make a move toward the other side, for fear of being labeled as turning one’s back on the moral dimensions of the issue from either direction.

So, I would invite you, and I would be willing to work with you, to see whether there couldn’t be some common ground that one could find.


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Hillary In Command

Update: We did not realize how pedestrian our title was. We assure you the title Hillary In Command was thought up in isolation, not having seen other websites, Big Blogs or Big Media articles. However, checking out reviews of the second Democratic Party debate we discovered that we are being repetitive. The Hillary campaign did some work for us all by posting some reviews of how Hillary amazed even her fans. Prepare yourselves for another severe outbreak of EHS:

TIME MAGAZINE’S MARK HALPERIN NAMES HILLARY THE WINNER — ‘BOTTOM LINE: CAME IN THE FRONT-RUNNER AND LEAVES IN A STRONGER POSITION’: “Able to look commanding and presidential even as she fielded niggling, hoary questions that bordered on the absurd. Never lost her temper, her focus or her cool, and even dispatched a crowd-pleasing Dick Cheney zinger. Occasionally lapsed into the weary defensiveness she displayed during the health care wars of ’93 and various subsequent Clinton sagas. Bottom line: came in the front-runner and leaves in a stronger position.” [Time, 6/04/07]

ABC NEWS’ GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS — ‘SHE CAME IN THE FRONTRUNNER. SHE LEFT THE FRONTRUNNER’: “Listen, Hillary Clinton went into the debate last night as a frontrunner. Look at our poll. She was ahead 42%, Barack Obama 27%, John Edwards 11%. She came in the frontrunner. She left the frontrunner… the strongest best moment of the night belonged to Hillary Clinton when she was asked do you agree with John Edwards when he says the war on terror is just a bumper sticker.” [Good Morning America, 6/04/07]

AP ANALYSIS — HILLARY ‘PROJECTED AN AIR OF CONFIDENCE AND A MASTERY OF THE SUBJECT MATTER’: “With a new Washington Post/ABC News poll showing Clinton far ahead of her rivals nationally, the former first lady projected an air of confidence and a mastery of the subject matter at Sunday’s forum. She also insisted Democrats should focus their policy critiques on Republicans, especially President George W. Bush.” [AP, 6/4/07]

THE ATLANTIC’S ANDREW SULLIVAN — ‘SHE WINS THIS ONE. IT KILLS ME TO ADMIT IT. BUT THERE YOU ARE’: “In general, Senator Clinton bestrode the debate as an authoritative figure. In fact, I’ve never witnessed a U.S. political debate in which a woman clearly dominated as she did tonight… Still: she wins this one. It kills me to admit it. But there you are.” [The Atlantic, 6/03/07]

WMUR FOCUS GROUP — ‘FOCUS GROUP RESPONDENTS… FELT EVEN MORE STRONGLY ABOUT HER AFTERWARD, INCREASING HER RATINGS BY TWENTY-ONE POINTS’: “Focus group respondents viewed Clinton favorably prior to the debate and felt even more strongly about her afterward, increasing her ratings by twenty-one points. Interestingly, there was not a gender gap in the response. Both men and women evaluated Clinton similarly and both groups proportionately increased their favorable evaluations of her.” [WMUR Focus Group, 6/04/07]

WBZ-TV’S JON KELLER — ‘HILLARY CLINTON IN COMMAND’: “Hillary Clinton in command. She was crisp, well informed, and showed more anti-terrorist passion than the rest. That’s all good news for Sen. Clinton.” [WBZ-TV, 6/03/07]

CNN’S CANDY CROWLEY — ‘THIS IS HILLARY CLINTON’S VENUE’: “I think that this is Hillary Clinton’s venue. She has done very well in both debates. She has facts at her fingertips. She is sort of calm, answers the questions. She does very well. This clearly is her forum.” [CNN, 6/04/07]

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES’ JENNIFER HUNTER — HILLARY ‘FORCEFUL AND DETAILED:’ “But Sunday’s debate at St. Anselm College among the eight Democratic presidential contenders did not define a clear winner — although Clinton’s deep well of political experience was apparent and will likely keep her ahead in the polls. She was forceful and detailed in her answers.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 6/4/07]

BOSTON GLOBE — HILLARY ‘SHOWED LEADERSHIP:’ “On style points, all generally acquitted themselves well. Clinton showed leadership by resisting the moderator’s clumsy attempt to force the candidates to give instant yea-or-nay answers on complex issues like ending the genocide in Darfur.” [Boston Globe, 6/4/07]

ABC’s THE NOTE — ‘IT WAS CLINTON’S NIGHT. NO CANDIDATE LOOKED MORE PRESIDENTIAL’: “The consensus opinion: It was Clinton’s night. No candidate looked more presidential — despite (or because of) Edwards’ attacks — and the stage seemed to tip in her direction when she defended the field against Wolf Blitzer’s (enemy of enemies!) toughest queries.” [ABC News’ The Note, 6/04/07]

CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY’S CRAIG CRAWFORD — ‘CLINTON DID MORE THAN HOLD HER OWN… SHE WON’: “But Clinton did more than hold her own in the face-off aired by CNN. She won. Due in part to her commanding center placing on the stage among eight contenders, the New York Democrat came across as the boss.” [Congressional Quarterly’s Trail Mix, 6/04/07]

ABC NEWS — CLINTON PLAYED ‘ON A HIGHER PLANE’: “Clinton, meanwhile, was practically playing on a different, higher plane befitting a front-runner while pitching herself as the toughest candidate when it comes to national security.” [ABC News, 6/03/07]

While we await the transcript of the debate let’s quickly consider last night’s second Democratic Party debate.

Hillary Clinton was figuratively and literally in the center of the stage. Maybe it was because she wore a sun-yellow blouse but Hillary appeared to be the star around which particularly small asteroids circled in worship.

Obama continued his string of bad performances with a long string of long sentences strung together with many adjectives which contained nary a thought. Obama talked the most and said the least. Obama’s lurching performance at times was laughable.

Edwards was in eclipse. At least he has figured out he must wake his campaign from the lethargy it has fallen into. Edwards attacked but his attacks were ineffective. He did look good though.

Wolf Blitzer was eclipsed as well. Hillary was so in command she began moderating the debate. Hillary came to the rescue of all her asteroids when she objected to hypothetical questions.

Our favorite Hillary moment was her takedown of Condi Rice flying around the world and giving speeches but getting nothing done. She followed that with her smackdown of Cheney.

Hillary was also particularly strong on her answers to “gays in the military”. She pointed out how the present policy makes firing gay arabic language speakers who work in the military possible. Hillary slyly quoted the icon of the Republican Right, Barry Goldwater, to attack the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. When challenged on why President Bill Clinton instituted that policy Hillary noted the anti-gay climate in the military and in the U.S. Senate at the time. Hillary then appropriately stated that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was “an important first step.” Hillary said it was “a transition policy.”

On the Iraq war Hillary was Commander In Chief of the Democratic Debate. When bickering broke out Hillary ended it by saying “The differences between us are minor. The differences between us and the Republicans are major.”