Hillary’s Western Swing
"I didn’t make a speech. I made a decision."
— Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Eugene OR, April 5, 2008
Two weeks after Democratic Primary presidential rock star Sen. Barack Obama came to Oregon and drew 30,000 folks to two arena gatherings, Sen. Hillary Clinton showed up in the Beaver State to state her case and as is customary for a Clinton campaign, to belittle, – er, "critique" – that of her opponent.
Speaking to decidedly smaller crowds of around 2000 each in two high school gyms, HRC trotted out her tired "it takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush" line. She offered "meat and potatoes" proposals, such as getting the Federal Government behind a conversion to "green energy," likening such a plan to the Space Race of a half-century ago; a plan to make college more affordable (always a hit in a college town like Eugene); and, of course, she pandered to Oregonians, promising to rush back and vote for (if it ever comes to a vote) continuation of Federal subsidies to timber counties –notwithstanding the fact that these communities are hurting financially due to the State and Counties failure to appropriately tax Big Timber–one of Bill Clinton’s top constituencies (a few years ago, even Big Timber’s mouthpiece The Oregonian wrote that the tax subsidy enjoyed by the industry was over $1 billion per year). This rescue is akin to the US taxpayers bailing out impoverished Michigan counties rather than requiring that the State tax the auto industry.
The New Decider
In the end, the real HRC came out in the Q & A session. First she responded to a question about how her attacks on Obama have made the campaign so toxic that neither candidate may win in the fall. Her take is that as a veteran of many hard-knuckle campaigns, she understands that some folks see it as down and dirty, but she herself sees it as "one of the most positive and civil campaigns that I have been a part of or know of. It is not a coronation, it is a contest. This country is worth fighting for and I’m going to fight for it."
When another audience member asked her to explain her Iraq War vote, she again parsed out her rationalization that she had not voted for the invasion/occupation but had merely voted to give Bush "that option if he concluded war was necessary."
Not content to leave it at that, she also took a shot at Obama, noting, "I didn’t make a speech. I made a decision. And it was a decision based on my best assessment of what would be in the best interest of our country in that very uncertain time."
Sure. She made her decision based on keeping her option open–Iraqi and American lives and fortune are nothing compared to her entitlement to become president.
HRC remains tone-deaf to how Bill Clinton’s characterization of Obama’s anti-war position–as he was running for the Senate – as a "fairy-tale" turned substantial segments of Democrat voters against her campaign. She deludes herself in thinking that her own characterizations of Obama’s principled, putting his career on the line, stance as mere speechifying will put that Bubba-released genie back in the bottle and bring people around to seeing her as a worthy new "Decider."
I kept thinking, what is she doing in Oregon anyway? She’ll, likely lose Oregon’s May 20th Primary by double digits and she desperately needs to win in Pennsylvania. She left Oregon and headed for Montana, another state she hasn’t a prayer of winning. (That’s a lot of carbon footprint for little apparent return.)
Murder/Suicide Right on the Stage
Jeffrey St. Clair first wrote, and then the New York Times twice seconded, that it appears that HRC’s strategy is to now wound Obama so badly that he cannot win in November. And then she can ride in on a white horse in four years and rescue the White House from the extension of the Bush regime under her "best Senate friend" President McSame.
This quick western tour affirms that theory. The sleazy "kitchen sink" approach has failed so far, though the guilt-by-association attacks on Rev. Jeremiah Wright may well be just the dodge some folks unwilling to vote for a black man need to salve their consciences. The "as far as I know" crack about Obama as Muslim (when she has attended many of the for-show Senate prayer meetings with Obama) went nowhere as a Primary issue. But, even that one has resonance with racist, hate Islam wing-nuts who will use it as an excuse to vote for fellow crack-pot McCain.
So, now it’s back to assailing Obama as one who gives good speeches, but is not ready to lead. Her "positive and civil" campaign also notes that of the three candidates, only two have "foreign policy experience" and are thus ready to be "commander-in-chief." We all know who the odd candidate out is.
Empty Rhetoric or Bald-Faced Lies?
Which brings me to this: do Democrats want orator Obama (and I agree his sermons are often lacking in specifics; though he at least talks to adults like they are adults) or do they want someone who embellishes her otherwise boilerplate speeches with pure out-and-out horseshit?
In the recent past, we have seen Hillary’s often-told tale of coming into Tuzla with her teenage daughter and entertainers while under sniper fire discredited. Though somehow, she can compound the lie with others about sleep-deprivation and misspeaking, when she was reading it off her notes for the umpteenth time; not to mention, she wrote it up in her book. Like Bush pretending to search for WMDs under a desk, she insulted us further when she went on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and joked she was late because she was "pinned down by sniper fire at the Burbank airport."
Then the lie Clinton won Ohio with was discredited. That whopper had a pregnant woman going to the hospital, only to be denied admittance because she had no insurance and didn’t have a $100 deposit. The second time she told it the woman was rejected at two hospitals. The third time: the baby died. The fourth: mom herself died two weeks later.
Come to find out, yes, a pregnant Ohio woman did rush to the hospital, her baby was stillborn and yes, she died two weeks later. But, she was not the uninsured minimum wage worker of Clinton myth; she was a restaurant manager with insurance who was admitted immediately to the hospital.
It’s not that lying to pad the resume, avoid Indictment or to advance her political fortune is anything new for Hillary Clinton. She famously said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary (debunked); she told New Yorkers she was a Yankee fan when she lived in Chicago (debunked); she told rural new Yorkers that she was a "dunk hunter" (debunked); she claimed that her daughter Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center at the time of the 9/11 attack (debunked by Chelsea herself.) And, those subpoenaed Rose Law billing records just happened to show up one day on a hallway table in the most monitored home in America!
Those Radical Clerics
I was in Seattle a couple weeks ago for a surprise 60th Birthday for a college buddy. Earlier in the day, Dan, John and I went for a hike on the beach just north of Seattle. While working our way back up the slope to John’s house, we stopped off at a neighborhood bar–a 1930s place that sits surrounded by large homes that sprung up around it.
While watching NCAA basketball, I overheard the bartender and a bunch of older white guys down the bar just going off on the Rev. Wright issue. Seems they were all Marines and they were hopping mad that Wright was coming under attack. One of them cited the fact that he knew of three Marines whom Wright had helped "save their lives" back in the LBJ era when Wright served as a medical corpsman.
I thought I was having a Hillary "mishearing" moment and commented such to Dan sitting at my side, but it was all true. Wright gave up his student deferment and enlisted in the Marines in 1961. After two years in the Marines, Wright reenlisted as a Navy corpsman, graduating as valedictorian of his corpsman class. He later even served on the team that treated LBJ in 1966 at Bethesda Naval Hospital and gained three letters of commendation.
Obama did his pastor a grave disservice, not to mention his own campaign, by not forcefully retelling this history in his now-famous speech on Race. Contrast Wright’s actual patriotism and compassion with the ravings of the pro-GOP clerics (Hagee, et al.) that McCain has been aligning with and it’s no contest–kinda like the Democratic Party Primary.
MICHAEL DONNELLY wonders if Ron Paul was a figment of his imagination; if Cynthia McKinney will break from the undemocratic Cobbite wing of the Green Party as she seeks the GP nomination; if Ralph Nader will garner even .05% of the vote (though somehow he’s polling at 5%); if Bob Barr’s Libertarian run will be Perot Redux and tilt the race to Obama. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org