• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

shutterstock_155865416

Last week, I handicapped the Bernie Sanders campaign. He since pulled off an upset in the Iowa Caucus, where he overcame a 40-point lead by Hillary Clinton (the day before, polls said he’d lose by two or three points) to a virtual tie so even that coin tosses and bureaucratic incompetence may have made a difference.

It’s a two-person race, with Hillary still in the lead nationally. But Bernie has momentum and enthusiasm. Can the Independent Senator from Vermont catch up? Democratic primaries are a referendum on the status quo, so Sanders’ chances depend at least as much on Secretary Clinton’s weaknesses as on his strengths.

Here’s what Hillary has going for her — and not.

The Good

As in her (losing) 2008 run against Barack Obama, Hillary’s strategists are selling competence and experience. “A progressive who gets things done,” she is calling herself.

Scratch a little, however, and there’s precious little evidence of substantial things she actually got done. Googling phrases like “Hillary Clinton’s biggest accomplishments” yields lists that include “most-traveled Secretary of State” and “gave a speech in Geneva standing up for gay rights.”

Hillary’s “achievements” are activities, not accomplishments.

Fortunately for her, most voters don’t question the Been Everywhere, Done Everything meme. She does have one hell of a resume: First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State. Though, for the life of me, I don’t understand why Bernie’s Mayor, Congressman and Senator resume (longer in total, more reelections) doesn’t count.

When you talk to people who are seriously considering casting their votes for Clinton, many say they like that she’s a woman president straight out of central casting — tough and strong, with the slightly dystopian Corporate Leader wardrobe to boot. Here’s to you, Jodie Foster in “Elysium.”

Clinton knows everyone in DC. She knows world leaders. She won’t need months to settle into the White House.

The Bad

The trouble for Hillary is, this is an antiestablishment year. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are benefitting from an electorate whose simmering disappointment over the replacement of Hope and Change in 2008 with the Too Big To Fail bank bailouts of 2009 is finally being articulated into rage at the ballotbox. As Obama’s cabinet member, that’s on her.

Clinton can’t run away from her Beltway insiderdom. To her credit, she isn’t trying. To the contrary, she’s hugging Obama, incrementalism, head-over-heart rhetoric as hard as she can. She’s just the wrong candidate for this year. Which means that, if she wins the nomination, she’ll go into the general election campaign as bruised by Bernie Sanders as Jimmy Carter was in 1980 after facing off against Ted Kennedy. Many Bernie Sanders Democrats will sit on their hands in November if she’s the nominee.

Hillary isn’t stupid. She knows her formidable organizational advantages — cash, a SuperPAC, party backing, endorsements by establishment organizations including trade unions and corporate media, which have enforced a blackout of Bernie coverage — no longer guarantee her once “inevitable” campaign. So she’s coopting Bernie’s positions on healthcare and other issues of interest to progressives.

Problem is, voters usually pick pure steak over mystery meat.

The Ugly

Obama’s famous 2008 slight that Hillary was “likeable enough” turns out not to be so true. On the campaign trail and on TV, Hillary is charmless. Which is why, the more Americans get to know her, the more of her supporters migrate to other candidates. She can’t up her personality game.

With the liberal/progressive base of Hillary’s party agitated at 1960s levels, she can’t explain away her conservative record. She’s never met a free trade deal or a war she didn’t like (See Diana Johnstone’s Queen of Chaos for the goods on HRC’s foreign policy blunders); millions of jobs and people are dead as a result.

She says she’s been fighting for progressive causes for years, but when? Where? Even on the micro-bore social “wedge” issues that her husband relied upon as president, she’s in trouble. Gays won’t forget her support of the Defense of Marriage Act. Straights think she’s a reed in the political wind.

But Hillary’s biggest flaw as a candidate isn’t policy. It’s her failure to internalize two truisms of politics.

Number one: Candidates win by projecting an optimistic vision of the future. When she criticizes Bernie Sanders for advocating changes that would be hard to get through Congress and expensive to pay for — free college tuition, Medicare for everybody — she projects a radical pessimism that makes many ask, why not? Why can’t the country that invades everyone, that sent a man to the moon, provide the same social benefits as most other nations?

And number two: Elections aren’t about the candidate. They’re about the people. This goes back to when tribes elected chiefs. Vote for me, and buffalo will rain from the sky! We’ll be fat! Water everywhere! That’s a winning campaign — not, hey, as the first elder from the Whatever Clan to become chief, I’d make tribal history and wouldn’t that be cool.

Obama didn’t win in 2008 by running as Future First Black President. He projected a sunny, winning disposition and a sense of the future we could buy into. Hope! Change! Yes We Can! Hillary’s campaign is all about her, not us.

That’s political suicide.

More articles by:

Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Coco Das
#OUTNOW
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail