In June 2007, just as the Democratic presidential primary was heating up, Bill and Hillary Clinton wrote a $100,000 check to a New York Times charity group. In January 2008, the Times editorial board endorsed Hillary over her much trendier rival, Barack Obama. The endorsement makes for an intriguing read in retrospect. Here are some highlights:
The Times editor clearly had a difficult time choosing between the "brilliant" Hillary Clinton and the "incandescent" Barack Obama. Ultimately, it seems, it was Hillary's "abiding, powerful intellect" that won the day. "We are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience," the editors wrote.
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The Times was definitely excited to have a choice between two historic candidates, but was getting tired of hearing about it all the time:
By choosing Mrs. Clinton, we are not denying Mr. Obama’s appeal or his gifts. The idea of the first African-American nominee of a major party also is exhilarating, and so is the prospect of the first woman nominee. "Firstness" is not a reason to choose. The times that false choice has been raised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign.
No doubt the Times will maintain its intellectual consistency on the issue of "firstness" throughout the 2016 campaign.
If you like your plan, you can keep it
On the issue of healthcare, the Times favored Hillary because "She understands that all Americans must be covered—but must be allowed to choose their coverage, including keeping their current plans."
Obama's naivety re: Iraq
Despite Hillary Clinton's more hawkish voting record, the Times argued she was better equipped to handle the situation in Iraq. Obama, the Times presciently observed, most likely had not thought through his plans for Iraq beyond "end the war," which could lead to disastrous consequences:
Mrs. Clinton seems not only more aware than Mr. Obama of the consequences of withdrawal, but is already thinking through the diplomatic and military steps that will be required to contain Iraq’s chaos after American troops leave.