11/09/2007 02:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In Fairness to Hillary ...

Hillary Clinton's been taking some hard knocks lately from quite a few people, including me. Some of those criticisms have been fair, in my opinion, while some have not - and some are downright offensive. And at least one of those criticisms was based on inaccurate information.

It's time to set the record straight: Tim Russert's attack on her for Bill's alleged "refusal" to release their correspondence was based on faulty information, as has now acknowledged. A number of us drew our conclusions from the same inaccurate reports. Given what we know now, her response during last Tuesday's debate was right on the money.

If any group should know enough assume press reports are accurate, it's the blogosphere. Apologies to Sen. Clinton for this one.

Here's something else voters are entitled to know about Sen. Clinton: She has a rather progressive voting record in the Senate (1, 2).

That doesn't mean she isn't still finessing some other issues, especially Iran and Iraq. That's troublesome, both morally and as a national security strategy. And here's one of my greatest objections to actions like voting for the Lieberman/Kyl Amendment or joining Bill in trying to have it both ways on the torture question: It feeds the GOP's rapacious appetite for abuse of government institutions. Torture is both a moral question and an area where we can "support our troops" - by joining their generals in unequivocally condemning an ineffective practice that increases their risk of receiving the same treatment.

These are not normal times, and Sen. Clinton should be careful not to foster a climate that makes it easier for the Administration to continue committing its misdeeds. Nor should she project the image of a cozy insider - for examply, by allowing her campaign's leader to earn revenue from Blackwater while she's campaigning as the candidate of change.

I also think that triangulating on matters of war and torture makes her a weaker candidate, rather than a stronger one. It alienates independent voters and plays to a negative identity narrative as a "waffler" (that's a longstanding GOP strategy that predates the "Kerry flip-flop" meme). And she runs the risk of suppressing voter turnout by alienating her base, which could cost Democrats the election if she's the nominee.

But I'm no "Hillary Hater." If she is to be the candidate (which is yet to be determined), I'd like to see her be a candidate that a) represents my interests more closely (don't we all do that?), and b) has the best strategy to win. And I'd like to see her candidacy contribute to changing today's ugly political climate.

Is that too much to ask? Time will tell.

But fair is fair. Her voting record is essentially progressive, and she did not finesse the records question.

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