The Real Hillary
At last the Clinton Presidential Library has released the previously withheld papers on Hillary’s tenure as First Lady. At last the mainstream media are doing their jobs and digesting them for us. Now we have a complete picture of Hillary Clinton as a candidate for president. Here it is:
1. Hillary voted to authorize the war in Iraq. She did so without reading the NIE, which contained strong dissenting statements. Her claim that her vote was “sincere,” rather than political, is hard to reconcile with her self-portrait of a policy wonk perpetually in command of detail.
2. Like George W. Bush, Hillary missed the importance of events in Pakistan by at least six months. While that country’s democracy was imploding and Benazir Bhutto—a much more courageous woman—was keeping her grim date with destiny, Hillary was calling Barack Obama “naïve” for even raising the issue.
3. Hillary still has not presented a comprehensive plan for dealing with our single worst enemy: Al Qaeda Central, which now lurks in the Pakistani borderlands and has done so off and on since 2002.
4. Hillary’s solution to the mortgage-credit crisis is to freeze interest rates for five years. Most economists believe that doing so would further dry up further credit and make matters worse. No other candidate has proposed such a counterproductive “solution.”
5. With her husband Bill’s encouragement, Hillary has thrown four decades of Democratic credo under her campaign bus. Ever since Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” Democrats have believed that racial equality and racial harmony are the future of this country and of the Democratic Party. Hillary violated that credo by making Barack Obama’s race an issue in the campaign—consciously, deliberately, and repeatedly.
6. Hillary’s allowed her campaign to make a huge issue of intemperate remarks that Obama’s pastor made, not he. Smart mud-slinger that she is, she knew that the media—especially right-wing nutcakes—would pick up the video of those remarks and run it in a continuous loop for as long as Senator Obama is in politics. Most of us who love democracy thought guilt by association went out with our Bill of Rights.
7. Hillary lied repeatedly to inflate her résumé. The media are just beginning to catalogue the lies. She said she flew into Bosnia under fire, but the pictures and news reports depict a peaceful and routine reception, albeit in a troubled region. She said she helped negotiate a solution to the Northern Ireland stalemate, but records show a routine and ceremonial meeting with women’s groups, involving no discussion of substance, let alone negotiation.
If another candidate had any three of these strikes against him, he would be down in Chris Dodd or Dennis Kucinich territory. Any other candidate with all seven of these strikes against him would have been out of the race long ago.
So what keeps Hillary’s campaign “still ticking” like that annoying Eveready Bunny?
There is only one plausible answer: her gender. Women still constitute a majority of the electorate and of Democratic voters. Apparently, there are still enough of them unwilling to give up the dream of a female president, no matter how many flaws she has. Hard reality has ripped all the wings off Hillary’s improbable flying machine, but still she floats on female dreams.
Geraldine Ferraro wisely pre-empted this observation. She threw out a similar accusation against Senator Obama. He would, she said, be nowhere but for his African genes. Then Ferraro fell on her sword for Hillary.
But Ferraro’s charge was patently untrue. If one re-imagines Hillary and Barack as white males, a point-by-point comparison—on all dimensions that matter most—puts Barack far ahead. No white male, including Bill, did (or perhaps could) give the historic speech on race and reconciliation that Obama gave last week. As Bill Richardson said recently in endorsing Obama, he is a “once-in-a lifetime leader.” He would be the best candidate if he were green, like Yoda, with pointy ears.
But Ferraro didn’t fall on her sword in vain. By leveling the false charge against Obama, she reduced that chance that others would notice the obvious about Hillary.
As a male, I can only stand on the sidelines in awe and wonderment. What, I wonder, do successful, powerful women who have real résumés and lifetimes of real achievement think of a candidate whose entire public persona is based on empty public relations gimmickry, the last of which is only now being revealed? Do they think Hillary represents them and does them honor?