Just as the Democrats could never seem to get a handle on Ronald Reagan in his sixteen years as Governor of California and President, the Republicans cannot get a handle on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
No matter what they tried-and they were admittedly timid-the Democrats could neither upset, mire, or throw Ronald Reagan on the defensive. He smiled, shrugged his shoulders and tefloned his way to victory after victory.
The Republicans are flummoxed when it comes to Senator Clinton. They could not even mount a hardy campaign against her in 2006, leaving a nominal Yonkers mayor the hapless task to take up the space on the ballot opposite her. She walked to victory, spending over $35 million in the process.
The reasons why Republicans cannot score points against Clinton is that she is so much like them on the key corporate power issues. Although she is on the Armed Services Committee, she took President Eisenhower’s description of the “military-industrial complex” and repeatedly rubber stamped the massive, bloated, wasteful and corrupt expenditures.
It was not for her to question any redundant weapons systems, no longer strategically needed in the post-Soviet Union era. It was not for her to act on the scores of investigative findings by the Government Accountability Office of the Congress documenting corporate waste, fraud and abuse and do something about them. Let a thousand weapon systems bloom was and is her mantra.
The corporate crime wave of the past seven years, draining and looting trillions of dollars from workers, investors and pension-holders did not catch her industrious attention either. Notwithstanding the publicized enforcement efforts of her state’s attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, whose popularity took him to a landslide win for the Governorship, she refused to extend his efforts in the U.S. Senate by pushing the regulatory agencies for a necessary crackdown on corporate crime. He gave her the ultimate political cover, by showing the great public support for his “law and order” drives, but she lacked the political fortitude and opted instead for the political cash for her campaigns.
Further contributing to the gigantic government deficit in Washington are the dozens of programs providing subsidies, handouts and bailouts to large corporations known as “corporate welfare.” One would think that all that experience in her husband’s White House, which she touts routinely, would have predisposed her to championing cutting corporate welfare that now amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars a year in an upward distribution of wealth from the have-littles to the have-lots. No way. Hillary lets the tax revenues and the tax loopholes grow and the windfalls swell the coffers of big business.
By this time the Republicans cannot describe her in the least as “anti-business.” Why the junior Senator from New York has done virtually nothing about the business crimes against the poor in her state, especially in the inner city where outrageous interest charges on pay-day loans, predatory lending, redlining, landlord abuses and code violations, lead and asbestos abound. Many of these financial scams benefit Wall Street financiers.
What’s left for the Republicans to work on? The Iraq war? Senator Clinton voted for the war resolution and refuses to admit her mistake in so doing. She remains generally a Democratic Hawk on foreign policy.
What about global corporate trade? She is a fervent backer of the World Trade Organization and NAFTA, though she now wants to tweak them with some unenforceable labor and environmental qualifications. The evidence behind the treaties’ supplanting our nation’s legitimate sovereignty and procedural safeguards through these transnational forms of autocratic, secretive governance, is overwhelming. The evidence that these trade treaties have cost good industrial jobs, driven down efforts to keep living wages, and contributed to the country’s huge trade deficits is also decisive.
Yet Senator Clinton follows the Republicans and neuters what could be the latter’s criticism of any potential demand for renegotiating these vise-like trade shackles that have led to shipping whole industries to the communist dictatorship in China.
Moreover, she has co-sponsored bills with Republicans and received their public praise, including that of former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich.
The new publication, Politico, headlined recently an article by Jim Vandehei and Carrie Sheffield with the words-“Clinton Presidency May be Inevitable, Republicans say.” Former House Majority leader, Tom DeLay, is quoted as saying: “If the conservative movement and Republicans don’t understand how massive the Clinton coalition is, she will be the next president.” He should know about massive coalitions.
The article also quotes other Republican Party bigwigs in the same vein. None of them offered any strategy. Instead they speak generalities that simply prove the point that Senator Clinton has them neutralized and nullified by the very brazen scope of her political expediency and opportunism.
About all these Republican operatives could offer is that a Hillary presidency would prod and shock conservative foot soldiers into action. Such an attitude means capitulation for 2008.
RALPH NADER is the author of The Seventeen Traditions