Friday, February 5, 2016

The Virtues of the Hedgehog vs. the Fox

I wrote about this in my last piece.
A hedgehog -Bernie-is about one big overarching idea and a fox-Hillary-is a bout many ideas. There is some disagreement on who won last nights' debate.

Most agree it was a good debate and that both did well. Some think Bernie's hedgehog strategy won the day. I note that these folks are mostly conservatives like Joe Scarborough and the Wall St. Journal.

Others-mostly Democrats-think Hillary won. Which tells you something.

But I do think how you score last night's debate is whether you prefer the hedgehog or the fox kind of argument.

The virtue of the hedgehog is that it's a simple argument. For Bernie it's that anyone who takes Wall St. donations is not to be trusted.

A simple strategy but it has the danger of being seen as overly simplistic. I think Chris Cillizzaa has a good take on how Hillary used Bernie's simplicity against him.

"I thought Sanders was forceful and effective, as always, when talking about economic inequality and campaign finance reform. I thought he may have allowed himself to be put in a box as a single or double issue candidate down the line by Clinton, however."

And for better or for worse, that is her only strategy. She is not the hedgehog and has to bring out the sense that Bernie is a gadfly who is only really conversant on a few issues.

Jonathan Chait:
"Sanders did not so much dispute the efficacy of Dodd-Frank as to broaden the question. His fixation with Wall Street is not systemic risk — i.e., the chance that another crash will trigger an economic meltdown. He frames Wall Street as a problem of political economy, not economy. Wall Street is so big and rich that it is inherently dangerous, and will by its nature corrupt the political system."

"Clinton does not believe that. Her political ideal is what some political scientists have called “pluralism.” A pluralist politics venerates the careful balancing of competing interests. It is okay to bring business to the bargaining table as long as there is also a place for labor, environmentalists, consumer advocates, and other countervailing interests. Clinton’s Democratic Party, and Obama’s, is one in which pluralist agreements struck important progress not only in financial reform but also health care, public investment, green energy, and other priorities."
So each candidate will have to pay to their strengths-Bernie the hedgehog, Hillary the fox. Who wins is which voters find more compelling.

My sense is that Democrats find Hillary's narrative more compelling. Bernie's focus is too one-dimensional. Ie, he's a hedgehog.

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