Ezra Klein explains Why Clinton’s TPP opposition unnerves me .
Clinton's reputation as a policy wonk is sterling; it's common to talk to Democratic (and, in some cases, Republican) staffers who tell you that they've never briefed a politician as sharp and informed as she is.
But Clinton's reputation as a policymaker is iffier — her critics can rattle off a long list of important decisions, ranging from the Iraq War to the bankruptcy bill, where they think she was swayed by polls or interest groups.
Clinton, of course, isn't just a policymaker — she's a politician, and particularly when it comes to reading polls and managing interest groups, she's a good one. Her vulnerability in the Democratic primary comes from the left, and to keep liberal challengers from gaining support, she needs to hold union support. Coming out against the TPP and the Cadillac tax is a great way to win over unions.
But it's not a great way for Clinton to show she's willing to make some unpopular decisions if they lead to better policy — and that has political benefits that don't show up in narrow issue polls."
And this is a broader problem for Clinton. Her political weakness, fairly or not, is that the voters and the media — or maybe it's the media and, thus, the voters — have decided that she's unusually poll-tested and calculating, even for a politician. Politically convenient policy changes don't help, and they cut against what should be her greatest asset: that she's an extraordinary policy mind who understands these issues better than her challengers, and so can be trusted to make better decisions on them.