May 8, 2006Problems and Possibilities (Tasini for U.S. Senator) -- Hillary Clinton brings out the most rabid hatred of the right wing. That alone is almost enough to make me like her. Though mercilessly ridiculed for saying it, she was right about the "right wing conspiracy" that was out to skin Slick Willie from the moment he emerged as a possible presidential contender in Arkansas. She was unfairly dragged through the mire with that whole absurd Monica Lewinsky thing after they couldn't wring a crime out of the Whitewater real estate deal, and it made her almost heroic to have pulled through the sex scandal it with some dignity. She wrote a book about how a community must consider the children a collective responsibility and there should be no "single mothers" left to struggle to barely survive if we are really pro-life in any sense of the word. I certainly supported her when she ran against the fraud Giuliani's candidacy for U.S. Senator. The need to put a stop to his political career was enough reason for that. And supporting her against the nameless forgettable GOP flack they put in Giuliani's place when he quit was a pre-cortex operation. Now we find her name coming up as the "front-runner" as a Democratic party candidate for president in 2008. This is a seriously bad situation. (See Molly Ivins "I will not support Hillary Clinton for president")
What is most grim about this situation is to be staring in the face the frightening prospect that this is all the better the American people can do at a time of grave national crises stacked up deeper than this country has ever seen -- though we have only begun to experience the negative effects of this so-called presidency. When the Republicans are doing almost nothing that more than a few diehard loyalists would admit supporting, the so-called opposition party can't even begin to cobble together a credible alternative.
The political system of the U.S. is so totally shackled down by the corporate elite that it has almost entirely ceased to function. That is what Hillary Clinton's status as a so-called frontrunner is telling us. As Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, writes in the Washington Post, "Hillary Clinton has a few problems if she wants to secure the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. She is a leader who fails to lead. She does not appear 'electable.' But most of all, Hillary has a Bill Clinton problem."
He refers to the fact of her being a vestige of the Clinton government, which was a failure in spite of how great it looks in comparison with the Bush government. It was a failure because it led to the Bush administration. Bill Clinton's inability to curb his sexual excesses even to avoid an obvious trap created the opening through which the GOP lynch mob could insert Ken Starr, and it destroyed the Clinton agenda, whatever legacy he may have been able to leave, besides all the right wing crap like NAFTA, welfare reform, etc. It discredited Democrats, "liberals", "the left", to the extent that there is such a thing in American politics, and disenfranchised the people of the country who should be represented by a real opposition party.
That failure was not Hillary's fault. Nevertheless, she is associated with it. But much worse, she does represent the broken political system in which she is player, which now runs this country to the detriment of all but a tiny big money elite who control virtually the entire government. The evidence of the obsolescence of that entire political system fueled with corporate money, which is ultimately provided by the government at the expense of taxpayers, is to look at Hillary Clinton's record as a senator. It's astonishingly lackluster, as if it's been some kind of game of hide and seek, or how can I sail through this senatorial career with the least activity that may cause any sort of political problem?
In other words, how do you conduct the office of U.S. Senator from New York as a vehicle toward the presidency? Seen in that perspective, Clinton's senatorial career makes a lot more sense.
Why -- at this time of political, economic and social catastrophe under the Bush administration -- would she co-sponsor a bill with Kansas Senator Pat Brown to make flag-burning a crime? How does this benefit New Yorkers? How does it benefit anyone? It's hard to find any real value to a law that makes flag-burning a crime, other than the political pandering to deeply dividing emotional issues. She's pandering to the right wing, the "base" that enables Bush to hold onto office while working blatantly against the interests of 95% of Americans. He can count on the loyalty of the few, the rabid, the obsessed right wing religious fanatics. As a skilled and canny politician, she can barely resist making an effort to get that group in her back pocket, as Bush and Rove have so enviably done.
If there is another argument for why Clinton would be up to such an absurd and useless exercise, I'd like to hear it. In any case that act alone should tell New Yorkers why she is not going to be acting in their best interests as she uses the Senate office to campaign for president after the next election. These are serious issues. These are very serious times.
At least Al Gore is talking about the environment in the way it should be talked about: as a problem that is going to wreak untold havoc without reference to parties, races, countries, etc. as we have seen with Katrina. It's an overwhelming problem, but one effective thing that could be done right away is get rid of this fundamentalist anti-science pro-big oil administration that forces government agencies to remove the facts about global warming from their websites. This is no time for flag-burning laws. It's ridiculous to channel any energy into such a non-issue. Of course feeding it with a law will only inflame the issue, create a target for the defiant, create a new battleground. All for nothing. Like the war in Iraq.
Clinton supported Bush's wish to have full power to do anything he wanted to Iraq. This one isn't quite as naked as the flag-burning amendment. But again, it makes sense from a political standpoint, not from a moral one. She was no doubt conscious of the fact that giving Bush the opportunity to make that play might possibly weaken him later. In any case, she was not up for going against the tide of patriotic fervor the Bush administration had churned up using the fear of 9/11. As an astute political thinker, she made a choose-your-issues decision, and she decided it would not be advantageous to take on the war issue at that point. If she opposed it vehemently, like Senator Byrd for example, she would expose herself to political dangers. Therefore that course was ruled out.
Kerry was much the same way. We gave Bush our backing based on promises he made to us that he never kept, Kerry said. He promised to exhaust other options, etc... Promises which turned out to be disingenuous at best. From a sort of legalistic point of view, the position is valid enough, justifiable. Again, the careful path. But we don't need careful politicians, we need real, passionate, bold leadership. Coming up with good justifications for bad moves is not good enough. Kerry was smart enough and experienced enough to know Bush was not to be trusted. He had a staff that could have investigated the claims and shown them to be unworthy of war. Others knew it and said it, why didn't he listen to them?
I have on occasion as a mental or spiritual exercise tried to find something good to say about Bush. It's a very difficult thing for me to do. Even though I disagree with and disapprove of practically everything he has ever done, don't even consider him a legally installed president, consider him a war criminal and fully believe he intends to turn the US into a full-fledged totalitarian state, these careful politicians make him look good at least in one narrow aspect. At least the guy goes for what he wants. He has no morals, lies constantly, doesn't care how many people die for his lies. Everything he wants is reprehensible. But he does know what he wants and he goes for it. Kerry and Clinton do not show that capacity.
Hillary Clinton also visited Israel, visited the infamous wall and pronounced her approval of it, even used it for the backdrop of a photo op. How would she have liked the Berlin Wall? Would she have been one of the many Americans who did not find it expedient to speak out against the Nazi death camps? How can she support this new wall? Is it because of another powerful interest group she does not want opposing her bid for president?
Hillary Clinton was on the board of Walmart for six years. Though not a tenth as deleterious as the Bush administration, Clinton is also corporate America. That's who she represents for all intents. It would be a thousand percent better having her as president than Bush, we might lose fewer major cities for example. But having her as president would not change what really needs to be changed about America. Just the outer layer.
All this brings me around to Jonathan Tasini, a Democrat who is running against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. I met Tasini last week and was very impressed. Tasini represents a new kind of possible politician -- possible but barely realized in the current environment. A guy who actually believes in something and acts on it.
Tasini is running for Senator because he opposes the war in Iraq, he said. Because Clinton doesn't, and because it the war in Iraq is the mother of all issues today, he is opposing her. He is not going to let her sail into an anointment as senator of New York without having to confront New Yorkers with the pseudo right wing measures she is putting forward to pander to the right wing for her presidential aspirations. He will force her to address her real constituency, which she wants to be able to ignore and still keep in her pocket.
Tasini is a union organizer, a former president of the National Writers Union, a believer in the rights of working people. He's Jewish, but does not support the militarism and brutal policies of the government of Israel or the influence of the Israel lobby on US policy.
Hearing what Tasini had to say was exciting. It's so rare to see a political candidate really stand for principle.
In Other News ...
Calling it -- A federal judge called the FCC's lawyer's arguments "gobbledygook" and said they made no sense. More Bad News for Republican Politicians -- "There is growing evidence that Republicans will face a voter turnout problem in the November midterm elections." Cook Political Report Conservative Revolt against Bush.