Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hillary in the shadows

I stopped by a 7-Eleven the other when I noticed a tabloid on the magazine rack with a headline that screamed “Hillary’s Running against Me, Obama Rages.” It’s “war.” The implication is that Hillary and Bill Clinton are moving behind the scenes to undermine Obama in 2012 so that she can claim what is rightfully “hers.” Not exactly farfetched, given the Clintons’ surly behavior after Obama secured enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination for president. Frankly, Hillary has a lot of backers for a potential challenge to Obama in 2012 from some odd places. Peggy Noonan, a former speech writer for Ronald Reagan and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, claimed that in general people thought Obama was “in over his head, and out of his depth”—which, of course, is the opinion of the right which rabidly opposed his policy initiatives regardless of the fact that they were largely crafted by friends of Wall Street, and should allude to the enormity of the problem the Republicans bequeathed the country. The failure of the economy—meaning continuing unemployment—to turn around more rapidly than previous recessions (that were much less deep than this one does), is according to another WSJ lackey, Pete Du Pont (and right-wing extremist), represent a “big opportunity” for Clinton. Du Pont claims that Clinton is “physically and intellectually” strong enough to take out Obama; Obviously he thinks that Hillary is not a “team player”—especially since he believes that she is an economic “pragmatist,” meaning supporting more tax cuts for the rich that didn’t create jobs when Bush employed it the first time.

Du Pont clearly has a poor memory; Hillary, who was the presumptive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and her husband proved incapable of handling adversity without going over the edge. Besides Bill’s egregious South Carolina primary behavior, there was Hillary’s “Hard-working Americans—white people” and RFK assassination head-scratchers. Clinton’s over-reliance on sycophants and groveling disciples who only wanted to please her ruined her campaign in the 2008 presidential primaries, and her frequent temper tantrums (at least behind the scenes), her habit of over-dramatization and self-victimization that led to those rather bizarre statements and observations, and the sense of “entitlement” that she and husband Bill seemed to possess—these turned-off many voters. Besides, opined the fawning Canadian journalist Bogdan Kipling, “Anyone who knows the Clintons well knows they have no love lost for either Barack or Michelle Obama. Both believe they were outmaneuvered by the Illinois upstart in the Democratic primaries because they received terrible advice from top campaign aides, including several they now believe were moles for Obama.” For Clinton fanatics like this, conspiracy theories and other such paranormal paranoia is all too typical, as revealed the book “Game Change.” Kipling goes on to say that “There is every reason to believe that the Clintons will deliver a comeuppance to the Obamas in 2012. By that time, both will look like eminence grises after the amateurish performance of Obama and his buffoonish advisers during his first term.” Quoting a “friend” of the family, “The constant travel and the never-ending demands of the secretary of state's office are taking a devastating toll on her,” she said. “She turns 63 this month, but she's starting to look more like 70 although she's in excellent physical health.” But didn’t Du Pont claim that she is “physically strong?” Any ways, Kipling ends his frothing by declaring “Here's betting Hillary will look years younger and be all smiles when she delivers her inaugural address from the west steps of the capitol in early 2013.”

Can these people possibly be serious? Well, to people who make the ridiculous claim that Obama’s policies have been “deadly left-liberal,” anything is possible. Although Bill is playing good soldier for now, I don’t put anything past the Clintons and their groupies with vengeance on their minds. Another argument that Du Pont claims is in Hillary’s favor is that “she is one of the most experienced prospective candidates the Democratic Party has had in a long while: wife of a governor, U.S. first lady, senator and now secretary of state…This is a good record to run on as someone who knows how the government works…she is an experienced foreign-policy adviser who understands the threats to our national security: unresolved conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, rising threats of nuclear capability in Iran and North Korea, and uncertainties in Pakistan.” Again, this is Clinton groupie talk. Hillary was a rarely seen figure during Bill Clinton’s governorship in Arkansas; polls showed that he lost his first re-election bid partly because voters had a negative opinion of Hillary. After the Hillary-led health care debacle in 1993 that led to the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, she was nowhere to be seen for the next six years, much less allowed to formulate policy. As far as her foreign policy “successes” since she became Secretary of State, that is a matter of opinion; “understanding” threats is not the same as resolving them, especially when resolving them is supposed to be your job. The problems in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran and North Korea have advanced no further toward resolution since Clinton took over. We may also recall that North Korea refused to deal with a diplomatic novice like Hillary during the hostage episode involving two American journalists; the North Koreans thought that Bill would be more suitable, and he was used by them as a domestic propaganda prop.

There is, of course, the question of whether Hillary was cut-out to be a diplomat, given past experience. On a trip to Africa, a very undiplomatic Hillary scolded a Congolese student for having the temerity to bruise her ego. The student, who said afterwards that he was referring to what Obama thought about China’s increasing influence in Africa—which should be of concern to the U.S.—was mistranslated (French is hard) as a referring to what Bill thought. Hillary burst out “You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Clinton used the trip to promote a gender rights crusade; many African observers criticized the focus on “cultural” issues over economic issues, and especially the kind of “aid” the U.S. typically provided; aid that merely averted humanitarian disasters tended to promise that such disasters will continue. China, meanwhile, is promising to help build roads, schools, hospitals and electrical grids in exchange for access to Africa’s rich resources.

Although Clinton advanced the idea of a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which supposedly sought mechanisms to utilize “diplomatic, defense and development” to advance “smart power,” Clinton is apparently unwilling to “share” power herself, blocking attempts to integrate the US Agency for International Development into the Cabinet as an autonomous entity; she also blocked the creation of an agency in the NCS which would oversee development and relief projects. At the same time, Clinton has been criticized for resisting the utilization of more State Department resources in “nation-building” efforts, forcing the Defense Department to divert its priorities and resources into that area—and in fact has failed to create any “team” within the State Department to deal in any substantive manner “nation-building” efforts. So much for Hillary’s “prowess” in foreign affairs; it might be suggested that her real “mission” is to make Obama look incompetent in foreign policy by doing as little as possible except to give an occasional speech.

Most of the public knows nothing about this, because for the most part, Hillary has been invisible save for an occasional sound bite on the Clinton News Network; she also conspicuously sat on the bench during the mid-term campaign season. While Obama was being shelled from all sides for either being a “racist,” “communist” and “socialist” on one hand, he was attacked for being a closet right-winger on the other, Hillary and her supporters watched in silence, if not in open glee. The attacks by the right on Obama could be seen by their constituency as rationalizations of why a black man as president is dangerous, especially if he isn’t a pliable puppet like black Republicans tend to be. Not just race but racism factored in the attacks on Obama, in order to demonize and marginalize him, and the groundwork for this attack began as soon as the primary season ended. Obama wanted to be everyone’s friend, but the right only saw an opportunity to regain lost “credibility” by appealing to their racist base. Yet the media, outside what was left of the so-called “liberal” media, never addressed the reason why many whites judged Obama with almost insane harshness for crimes that could be traced to Republican polices, and for an agenda that exists only in Rush Limbaugh’s and Fox News’ paranoid fantasies.

Obama failed to make friends with Republicans not from want of trying; they just didn’t want to be friends with him, for cynical political reasons. Hillary, on the other hand, tends to seek division, especially when she is crossed. She, like her personal constituency, tends to personalize disagreements into slights, usually along gender lines. One can imagine CNN talking heads pounce on every criticism of Clinton as “sexist,” just as they did during the 2008 primaries; thus Clinton would be protected by at least some segments of media in a way that Obama is not, despite the ugly, evil and downright fraudulent nature of many of those attacks. One should not ignore the fact that white female voters—who represent the largest voting demographic—would be far more sensitive to accusations of “sexism” than they would be to racism, especially when the latter is couched in terms of white paranoia and fear. If Clinton were president, even Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity would refrain from using terms like “Nazi,” “terrorist,” “Communist,” “anti-American” and the like to describe her, for fear of alienating a large segment of their “fan” base.

At any rate, it remains an open question whether Hillary still wants to be president. In a recent interview on a New Zealand television station, Clinton claims that she is not interested in a future run for the presidency, that she is “happy” serving in the State Department, apparently because she can run it like a personal fiefdom. You can’t blame her for that, given all the grief that Obama has had to endure from the right in these economically-challenging times. But Clinton’s fanatical followers are apparently chomping at the bit to “change” her mind.

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