Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

27 March 2008

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?


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  • At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 1:58:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am a retired woman with a prior real resume and I am incredulous and ever so sad that Senator Clinton has no capacity for self reflection. I have read her books and although I agreed with much of what she said, they seemed superficial to me. Later, I realized that she does not synthesize information and then reflect on it. Rather she reports it in a journalist like style. Your delineaton of the current status of her candidacy is spot on. It is time she graciously steps aside for Senator Obama. Her inability to reflect on where she is and has been will make difficult for her to do. Who has the strength to help her see a future not tied to the Presidency?

  • At Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 10:43:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Thank you for your poignant and well-written comment.

    In the same vein, you might be interested in David Brooks' column from earlier this week, in which he speculated on the reasons for Senator Clinton's inability to see or concede the inevitable.

    Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton is far from alone. Dubya is a totally unqualified, spoiled and idle rich kid, who managed to get himself elected governor of Texas and used that office as a springboard to the presidency, after only six years' experience. Should we really be surprised at the results?

    One problem is that we Americans---far more than any other people---confuse the most important job in the world with the entertainment business. Then we compound the error by confusing political campaigning with advertising and public relations. As I've written separately, Bush and Rove were probably the most effective demagogues in human history.

    If we want to cut this disastrous trend short, we've got to elect leaders who have a minimum of candor and self-insight. The American people seem to sense the need. Either Obama or McCain would be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, Hillary would not.

    That's why so many intellectuals and professionals like me have gotten involved in Obama's campaign. Every time I connect with old friends (usually over the Internet), I find that, coincidentally, they or their children support Obama, usually actively. Everyone with intelligence and a good education seems to understand that the American dream, our democracy, our world leadership and probably our standard of living are hanging in the balance.

    This is no time to sit on your hands.


  • At Friday, March 28, 2008 at 12:26:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To be fair, I doubt most members of Congress actually read the NIE cover to cover...that's what they have staff for. But otherwise great article.

    FYI, I added you to the blogroll I am building on my blog of bloggers who support Obama. If I mischaracterized your blog or you don't want to be listed just let me know and I will remove you. You're welcome to post a reciprocal link if you so choose, but no pressure.

  • At Friday, March 28, 2008 at 6:00:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jay Dratler, Jr., Ph.D., J.D. said…

    Dear purple state pundit,

    Actually, staff were not allowed to read the NIE at the time, as it was secret. A special room was set up so senators could read it privately.

    The NIE is only 90 pages long, and the senators had ten days to read it. Bob Graham did. In caucus, he urged all Democrats to read it, and he voted against the war resolution. (For details and links, see my original post.)

    In my view, the fact that only six of 100 senators read the NIE, when the issue was war or peace, speaks volumes about the quality of members of Congress, including Hillary. Some tasks cannot be delegated, even by the high and mighty.

    As for your blogroll, I'm happy to be on it. I'll reciprocate when I have the time to review your blog.



  • At Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 6:22:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd first like to say that I enjoy your blog very much. This is my first comment here.

    I'm curious if you think reading the NIE would have ultimately made a difference for any of the members of Congress, Clinton included. I have recently watched episodes from Frontline entitled "The Dark Side" and "Bush's War". These episodes state that the NIE included information that was of dubious veracity.

    While it is certainly shameful that more officials didn't read it, I find it highly unlikely that it would have made a difference. Furthermore, it may have given some Senators even stronger resolve to go to war based on the false information contained therein.

    What do you think?


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