Monday, January 14, 2008

Setting a Few Matters Straight: Why I'm for Hillary and not Obama.


Part One: She's Not the Devil!

Maybe it's just a gut feeling, but Hillary Clinton inspires confidence in me, and I'm just not sold on Barack Obama.

It could be that she's just been known to me for much longer than Obama. Or that I was pulling for the first Democratic First Lady in twelve years since Rosalyn Carter in the Clinton's fight for survival against neocons and spoiled Reaganites who were pining for their "good old days.

Maybe I saw at that time a toughness, an indomitable spirit of a person who became an expert at fighting that "vast Right Wing conspiracy" that we now know really existed and wasn't a figment of her imagination. All I know is that she became my Senator, I met her once, "Cackles" wasn't there at the time either. It was at our State Fair, and Cold Hillary never came. She was warm with everyone, and everyone felt proud just to be near her. She even posed for a picture for me.

hillary clinton at the state fair in syracuse, ny 1

Now, can someone explain to me why the Clintons are coldly calculating and Obama is not? According to,Hillary has consistently maintained the same positions that she had as First Lady. One example is on abortion:

Critics often cite Clinton's views on reproductive choice as an example of her repositioning. For instance, Chris Matthews has described Clinton as purportedly shifting her stance on abortion in a "transparent" effort to recover the so-called "values vote." He has also accused her of "trying to play it safe" on the issue by taking a "poll-tested path." Matthews has pointed to her assertion in a July 25, 2006, speech that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare" as an example of her changing position on the issue. But far from representing a point of departure from earlier statements, Clinton's remarks in July were consistent with those she made in a January 22, 1999, speech. While first lady, she said: 'But all too often, generally because of the loudest voices, the American people don't hear explained the efforts that we're engaged in to continue to work with people from all different walks of life to make abortion safe, legal, and rare.'

As for the controversial vote to give Dubya war powers, I will not join the rest by bashing Hillary for it. The country was in no mood for peace after 9-11. I was full of vengeance myself at that time.

To call Hillary a staunch supporter of the Iraq War as a hypothesis is very widely off the mark.

But the claim that Clinton was once one of the 'staunchest" backers' of the Iraq war does not withstand scrutiny -- nor does the claim that her criticism of the war is recent. While Clinton did vote in favor of the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, less than seven months after the war began, she expressed doubt about President Bush's leadership in the war, saying in an October 17, 2003, floor statement, that her 'yes' vote for an $87 billion supplemental appropriation 'was a vote for our troops, it was a vote for our mission. ... [I]t was not a vote for our national leadership.' During the same statement, Clinton accused the Bush administration of having "gilded the lily" on pre-war Iraq intelligence at 'the cost of perhaps not being able to take actions in the future that are necessary to our well-being and our interests because we may look like the nation or at the least the administration that cried wolf.'

Now we come to the "deviousness" question. First of all, if we learned anything from the past seven years, it's hard to slip one by diligent opposition researchers. Sooner or later, someone will check the source, listen to some disgruntled ex-employee, or check some coincidence and expose it. Someone who isn't drinking the Kool-Aid will notice the details that True Believers overlook or deny.

Then why has nothing stuck to Hillary? Time and again for the entire Clinton administration Right Wing s spent millions of taxpayer dollars trying to bring them down, through Whitewater, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and impeachment. They only succeeded in self-destructing à la Newt Gingrich and Robert Livingston. And yet back then they learned nothing! And they still know nothing. To date, the stupidest thing they could do was to try to pin their own crimes on someone else. Someone like Hillary. Attempts to accuse Hillary of the madrassa slander backfired according to Mediamatters when the datelines of some Right Wing articles on the matter came to the fore. And mindlessly the Right Wing kept sticking it's head into the mouth of it's own lion. Now any Progressive blogger can close that beast's mouth on Limbaugh's neck by simply right-clicking on any link to the articles in question.

Conservative efforts to raise questions about Obama's Muslim heritage had, in fact, begun days earlier. Indeed, on January 9 -- a week before the article -- Chicago Tribune metro columnist Eric Zorn wrote on the Tribune's Change of Subject weblog, "The crazies are sending around an e-mail that attempts to establish that Barack Obama is actually a Muslim who masquerades as a Christian for political advantage." But following the publication of the article, numerous right-wing media figures repeated the entirely unsubstantiated accusation that Clinton's campaign staff was responsible for spreading the madrassa allegation against Obama. Several Fox News hosts repeated the claim that Clinton had "outed Obama's madrassa past." Rush Limbaugh declared, "This is Hillary's team doing this." And conservative radio host Melanie Morgan asserted that Clinton "is going to try to derail the [Obama] train before it gets out of the station." As recently as January 30, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris persisted in leveling this baseless accusation.

A similar attempt to slander Hillary was made (though sadly compounded by an erstwhile Clinton operative,) that Hillary was behind a supposed leak about the ancient history of Obama's drug use.

Sadly, it’s not only the Right that is unfairly treating the Clintons. In her latest column, Maureen Dowd carries forth much of the mistaken impression that all of Hillary's actions are in part motivated by self interest, calculation, and cynicism.

She became emotional because she feared that she had reached her political midnight, when she would suddenly revert to the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite. All those years in the shadow of one Natural, only to face the prospect of being eclipsed by another Natural?

Even if you agree with this, which I do not, Dowd, whom I usually respect, gets it wrong when she concludes that:

Her argument against Obama now boils down to an argument against idealism, which is probably the lowest and most unlikely point to which any Clinton could sink. The people from Hope are arguing against hope.

However, she inadvertently contradicts that point with a preceding paragraph. in it she attempts to deride Hillary's allusion to Martin Luther King Jr. and LBJ and in so doing, opens the backdoor for every supporter of Hillary to sink that argument:

Hillary sounded silly trying to paint Obama as a poetic dreamer and herself as a prodigious doer. “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” she said. Did any living Democrat ever imagine that any other living Democrat would try to win a presidential primary in New Hampshire by comparing herself to L.B.J.? (Who was driven out of politics by Gene McCarthy in New Hampshire.)

Dowd missed the point entirely. In the debate, Hillary argued for change with experience. She had every right to allude to the civil rights accomplishments of Johnson. Dr. King could only fight the battle in the streets, but Congress was another matter.

In her criticism of Hillary's allusion to LBJ, Dowd forgets obvious facts where she should have been more diligent. In order to affect change, as a President Johnson needed to rely on his decade long experience in the Senate - and as Senate Majority Leader to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, considering the amount of controversy and bloodshed it caused at the time. Getting laws passed the Johnson way required him to know a lot about every Senator and Congressman. That required that decade's worth of Senate experience. The business with McCarthy in New Hampshire though important, is irrelevant to the argument.


The Hooplah on the MLK Statement.

Everyone misses the point that Hillary was speaking from the perspective of someone who was for 8 years a President's wife. This gives her at least one President's point of view, and that President, her husband, had to deal with a very belligerent Congress whose every move was act of war against him. This is not dissimilar to what Johnson faced from Dixiecrats in 1964. In fact, it lost him support from the South and was a factor in his choosing not to run for re-election. Remember George Wallace?.

Part Two "Keeping Barack Obama in Perspective" will appear in my next post.

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