Hey, I thought you needed two people to play good-cop/bad-cop.
I know that the Clinton presidential campaign has had to cut back a lot lately on its former lavish expenditures, but they might want to consider that having her play both roles at once is something of a false economy.
It is, in any case, dizzying. Not only is it hard to tell which cop is going to show up at a given event these days, but sometimes you sit in anticipation wondering which one will show at up at a given moment during an event they both seem to be attending. Will it be nice Hillary good-cop, who mists over in New Hampshire or is honored to share the stage with the literal bane of her existence in Texas? Or will it be the tight-lipped, head-cocked, ferocious bad-cop of Rhode Island, spewing nasty bits of sarcasm that sink to the ground faster than a lead balloon, complete with audience groans for a soundtrack?
But then again, who cares? Would somebody please just get this person out of my face already?
Look, I know that campaigns are tough battles involving high stakes, fought by people who really, really want to win. I’ve lived in the Land O’ Republicans throughout my entire adult life, so believe me, I’ve seen it all and I get it. But I also understand how noxious this style of politics is, how demeaning it is to all concerned, and how corrosive it has been to American democracy. I therefore join hundreds of millions of Americans seeking something better. Something more worthy of a country that has the capacity to be great.
Democrats, by and large, understand this concept. Indeed, to look at wimps like Mike Dukakis and John Kerry is to observe that this is a party which has understood this principle just a little too well, actually. Okay, I admit, it’s nuanced here and there, so maybe these guys don’t quite get all the subtleties of the algorithm yet. It’s complicated. There are times when it is not only okay to fight hard, but even necessary, and there are times when it is not okay.
And Hillary, please jot down a couple of notes here when you’re running against someone who has not attacked you, and whose policies are almost identical to yours, and who will have to run against a savage Republican machine in the fall that’s a time when it’s not okay to go all scorched earth, babe. Especially if the only reason for doing so is to advance your personal career aspirations, vitally important as they are to you and two or three other people in this world.
To understand that motivation and that modus operandi is to understand everything there is to know about the Clintons. And I am so, so sick of them, sick of their “It’s The Clintons, Stupid” politics, and sick of their vicious methods. Wasn’t it enough when Bill flew back to Arkansas in 1992 to preside over the state murder of Ricky Ray Rector, a kid so mentally retarded that he asked to have the dessert from his last meal saved for later? Wasn’t it enough when they sold out working Americans with NAFTA, WTO and Chinese trade favors? Wasn’t it enough when they sold out gays with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Wasn’t it enough when they sold out struggling moms and their kids with a draconian welfare reform bill, in order to win an election they already had in the bag? Wasn’t it enough when they ordered bombing raids to divert our attention from his sordid sexual self-indulgences? Wasn’t it enough when they sold overnights in the Lincoln bedroom to the highest bidder? Or when campaign contributors could buy skanky pardons while deserving victims of judicial miscarriages who didn’t pony up were left rotting in jail with only their travesties to keep them company? Wasn’t it enough when they turned the Democratic Party into Republican-Lite?
No, evidently, “It wasn’t enough, but thanks for asking”. Now we have to have Version 2.0 the Hillary Step. That means carpetbagging to New York and running for Senate. That means pretending to give a damn about the state and playing coy about running for president. And that means voting for whatever was necessary to win, including the Iraq war resolution, which looked at the time like a political kiss-of-death to oppose. Turned out a little bit differently, didn’t it? Except for the kiss-of-death part. Just ask one million Iraqis, four thousand Americans, and two or three Democratic presidential candidates.
Clinton’s campaign has been a tour de obnoxious force from the get-go, no less so when it was full of arrogance and hubris than today, when it reeks of desperation, death and decomposition. And they are showing every bit the good grace about going down that you’d expect from them, given their rap sheet of crimes over two or three decades now. Think about John Edwards or Joe Biden or Dennis Kucinich if you want a model for how to do it right: You fight hard, but honorably. You attack the issues and policies, not the person. And you exit gracefully when you’ve been beaten. Hell, this year, even Republicans showed more class than the Clinton campaign. Here’s a newsflash for the Clinton camp: When Rudy Giuliani is more graceful than you are, it’s time to take a walk on the beach with Billy Graham or something.
If someone had asked you any other year than this to guess who was using cheap emotional ploys to win votes, you’d have said the Republicans, right? If you had been told that somebody was using race to divide the electorate, your disgust with the GOP would have automatically risen yet again, wouldn’t it? If you had heard that one candidate was trying to jimmy the rules in order to win an election that was otherwise lost by the quaint and traditional method known as voting, you’d have spewed out Karl Rove epithets once more, wouldn’t you? Well, guess what? This time it’s the other party. Or, at least, it’s certain people in the other party. No surprise the Clintons have always been more Republican than Democratic, anyhow.
Enough, already. I’m sick of the lies, sick of the divisiveness, and sick of the massive selfishness. And I’m pleased to say that it appears most of America is sick of it too. When I saw that clip of Clinton in Rhode Island sarcastically mocking Obama, trashing the hopefulness for something better he embodies and this just days after her good-cop smarmy ‘honored’ routine in Texas well, I just wanted to hurl. Check it out (but much better yet, see it on You Tube for the full sickening effect):
“Now I could stand up here and say, ‘Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified. The sky will open. The lights will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.”
But no, ladies and gentleman, Hillary Clinton has something even better to offer you than hope for a better country, a unified nation, respectful world opinion and a higher moral purpose. You see, she’s experienced. She’s “Ready On Day One”.
What I want to know is: Ready to do what? Experienced at what?
Will she bring to bear the same political savvy she employed when she was in charge of national healthcare once before? You know, when she managed to piss-off everybody imaginable, including members of her own party in Congress, with her secretiveness and arrogance? When she wrote such a byzantine piece of legislation and was so adamant against compromise that it crashed and burned before it could even be voted down to humiliating defeat? When her debacle was so destructive it contributed to Democrats losing both houses of Congress to Newt Gingrich and his corporate marionettes, for the first time in two generations? Is that what she means by “ready”?
Will she demonstrate the same amazing prowess that was on display when she was charged with selecting the Clinton administration’s attorney general? Remember how she failed to vet Zoe Baird and then failed to fight for her nomination? And then how she learned from that experience, going on to fail to vet Kimba Wood and then failing to fight for her nomination? ‘Cause, you know, even though I’m just out here in the cheap seats, from where I sit that wasn’t an entirely impressive show of leadership skill.
Maybe she’ll be ready on Day One to sign another NAFTA agreement, eh? Like she did before, during the First Ladyship for which she is (sometimes) taking credit as part of her whole “I’m so experienced” rap. Before, that is, she called for a time-out (do they have free-trade in cookies and milk?) from the policy she jammed down the throats of her own country, and especially her own Party and its constituents. Is this the agenda for Day Two?
How ’bout that foreign policy acumen, too? The Clintons, man, they’re nothing if not cheeky. I’m surprised Chelsea isn’t just some kind of giant human cheek rolling around in a Monty Python movie, given her DNA. What kind of gall does a person have to have to call your opponent unready to be commander-in-chief after the very best case you can make for your Iraq vote is that you were duped worse than an 1870s Kansas farm boy at the traveling circus? That, of course, is an outrageous lie anyhow, and the truth that she voted for war as a ticket to the White House is actually infinitely worse (which is why it is also equally well hidden). But just for the hell of it, forget about that and just take her at her word. Most all of the world’s population, including half the Democrats in Congress, knew Bush was heading directly to war, and was lying profusely about his motives for the invasion. Do we really want a president who couldn’t figure that one out? Or one who has the nerve to even show her face for a debate on foreign policy five years later? Is this what she means when she says “I’m tested”? Question: Are you still “tested” if you failed the test abysmally?
I’m sorry, but if Hillary Clinton has foreign policy experience, then I’m Henry Kissinger. And since I really, really don’t want to be Henry Kissinger, I’d only write that if I felt damn confident that she didn’t have any to speak of. You could, of course, count that time she was knocking back vodkas with John McCain in Estonia. Personally, I don’t really wanna know what happened in that little vignette. Unless they got a little randy while the spouses were back at home. In which case, I really don’t wanna know.
Meanwhile, please forgive me for being impertinent, but I’m told that it takes a wee bit of organizational skill and management experience to run something as vast and recalcitrant as the United States federal government. The biggest thing that Hillary has ever run is her presidential campaign, and all she’s done with that is run it into the ground. This race was her to lose, and she has. And not just because she’s a lousy candidate with no message other than “Restore the Queen”, either. Her campaign has been, in addition, a true management disaster. The Obama people have out-organized, out-hustled and out-smarted the feeble Clinton brain-trust every step of the way. It’s hard for the mind to even imagine how ineffective someone like this would be at the much bigger task of being president. Unless, of course, you happen to have lived through the 1990s.
Many people have wondered why the Clintons have run such an abysmal campaign in general, and why, in specific, they can’t seem to do anything else besides continually play the experience card and carp on Obama for absurdly insignificant supposed transgressions like plagiarism or his kindergarten transcripts (they’re joking, right?). The answer is simple, though. There’s nothing else for them to do. They did the emotion thing. That bought a few delegates. They did the race thing. That lost a slew of delegates. They sent Bill out there and all he managed to do was to remind people that the only thing a Clinton ever cares about is himself. What else is there? There are few political differences between the two candidates, to the point where Hillary’s attempts at making a federal case about his healthcare plan’s deviations from hers only seem comical and desperate. Because they are. Meanwhile, at a personal level, he’s charismatic, she’s not. He’s got integrity, she doesn’t. He attracts independent and even Republican voters, she repels them and would go into the general election already way in the hole. He’s not a Clinton, she is. No wonder she plays the faux experience card. It’s the only difference between the two of them that doesn’t immediately redound in Obama’s favor, even if it’s completely bogus anyhow.
And no wonder it’s all been falling apart for them. Americans are only stupid some of the time, and she seems to have caught the wrong point in the cycle. Hillary has now lost the last eleven contests in a row, always offering some excuse for why this one didn’t count or that one wasn’t really a fair test. It’s gotten so bad that a week or two ago even Bubba admitted that if she doesn’t win Ohio and Texas, she’s through. Despite the fact that that was already the understatement of the century, now the New York Times is reporting that in fact they’ll keep on campaigning even if they lose both states.
They quote Hillary as saying, “I think what’s important is that we have a lot of people yet to vote”. No, you don’t think that at all, Hillary. What you think is important is that you become president. Period. Indeed, you think it’s so important that you keep discounting the people who already have voted.
Enough already. For god’s sake. Enough.
Directly following her little “celestial choir” embarrassment, Hillary had this to say: “Maybe I’ve just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear”.
I’ll refrain from commenting on whether or not she’s lived too long, despite the destruction wrought by her family.
But I will say this: You are the specialiest of special interests, Hillary. It’s all about you, and it’s always been all about you. The rest of us can just be damned as we watch you joyride our hijacked nation yet again, right?
Well, I’ve got a better idea. How ’bout waving your magic wand, after all, and make the worst special interest of them all disappear, instead?
DAVID MICHAEL GREEN is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers’ reactions to his articles (firstname.lastname@example.org), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website, www.regressiveantidote.net.