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There has been, of late, a lot of unwarranted excitement about the possible presidential candidacy of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She has become the darling of the liberal elite, mainly due to her very direct questioning of bank regulators.
Such questioning is all well and good, but in the real world it’s results that matter. However, politics in the United States can hardly be considered ‘real world’. Catchy phrases (remember President George W. Bush and the ‘Axis of Evil’?) or soaring oratory, as demonstrated repeatedly by President Barack Obama, is enough to generate a fan base sufficient to be elected or reelected.
And so we have Senator Warren, seen by many as a viable alternative to former First Lady, senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who many will never forgive (for good reason) for her vote authorizing the immoral, illegal and ultimately disastrous invasion of Iraq. Again, in the real world, it was known that Iraq had no so-called weapons of mass destruction; United Nations’ inspectors, led by Hans Blix, were confirming that fact until Mr. Bush told them to leave or be blown to bits by his bombs. But in the world of U.S. politics, a vote against that invasion would have been used by future opponents as evidence that the person so voting was weak on terror (whatever that is supposed to mean), and thus not fit for elective office.
Let us look at one example where that very event occurred. In 2002, Democratic Georgia Senator Max Cleland, a disabled Vietnam veteran who lost one arm and both legs in that earlier imperial disaster, was running against Saxby Chambliss. Senator Cleland had voted in favor of an amendment to the Chemical Weapons Treaty. This amendment allowed representatives from U.S.-designated ‘terrorist’ nations to participate on the U.N. team looking for weapons in Iraq. Mr. Chambliss ran television advertisements picturing people resembling Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, while criticizing Mr. Cleland as opposing homeland security. On election day, Mr. Cleland, who six months earlier held a 22 point lead over Mr. Chambliss, lost 53% – 46%. In the real world, Mr. Cleland’s patriotism, however misdirected, could not be questioned, but in the political world, reality doesn’t count.
We will return to Mrs. Warren, the new savior of the people, who hammers away at bank regulators in speeches that are widely distributed on Facebook, but don’t have much real-world impact. One must admire her preparation, since she obviously is not at her best speaking extemporaneously. For example, during Israel’s most recent slaughter of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, when Mrs. Warren was asked her opinion of Israel bombing families, she literally ran away from the reporter! Later, apparently after consulting with her handlers, who no doubt reminded her of the $87,838.00 that various Israeli lobbies donated to her election campaign, she chanted the mantra of Israel’s ‘right’ to defend itself from Palestine’s nearly-harmless fireworks. This works in the political world; say whatever is required by the people controlling the purse strings and do nothing to offend them. In the real world, people know that Israel is a powerful country, an apartheid regime that occupies Palestine in violation of international law, and commits unspeakable acts of brutality against men, women and children. But in the bizarre world of what passes for governance in the U.S., politics always trumps reality.
With the 2014 mid-term elections now history, U.S. citizens and the rest of the world are about to be assaulted by a presidential campaign. Mrs. Clinton, with a bottomless pit of funding from every special interest group that has nothing to do with what’s best for the citizenry, may, if she so decides, steamroll over all opposition. It could be argued that in 2008, it was only her vote for the Iraqi invasion that drove people to her opponent, then Senator Barack Obama, who spoke forcefully against the war, rhetoric that didn’t quite match his actions when he moved to the White House. But that vote was a long time ago; the current military violence being perpetrated in various parts of the world by the U.S. is now being done by a Democrat. That, in the political world, makes it not only acceptable, but necessary.
Yet Senator Warren may be a force to be considered; with the left, many of whom hate any policies, including wars, except those started or continued by a Democratic president, fawning all over her, she may be unable to resist a run for the presidency. The political world may demand it, the real world be damned.
One may argue that Mr. Obama has advanced the cause of health care, provided significant support for gay rights, and reduced the amount that the U.S. tortures political prisoners (we must not forget Guantanamo, the Cuban-based U.S. torture chamber, which Mr. Obama promised to close six years ago). However, the fact that the U.S. still doesn’t have universal health care, gay rights are still limited and the U.S. still tortures political prisoners is the result of political realities. In the real world, it is recognized that everyone is entitled to health care, that sexual orientation is no one’s concern and that torture is simply not acceptable; these are all ‘no brainers’. But when one must be careful of this fringe but loud constituency or that powerful lobby group, real world considerations fade into the political mist.
Senator Warren may be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016; she may be the next president. Her supporters will refuse to recognize that, like President Obama before her, she doesn’t rise above the mundane political considerations to champion the cause of the people. She is a well-spoken politician who knows what she has to do to further her career. That includes dancing to the tunes her financers play, creating compelling vignettes for Youtube, and above all, doing nothing to annoy or displease the nation’s major power brokers. These are political realities, and anyone who looks for any candidate in the current culture to be something different, is naïve indeed.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).