March 13, 2008

The Clinton Monster, Unleashed

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By David A. Love
Published by The Black Commentator
March 13, 2008

In desperation, some people will say and do anything to get a vote.

Under the military principle of scorched earth, an advancing army will proceed to destroy anything of use to its enemy, including infrastructure, land and natural resources, food supply, transportation, what have you.

Observing Hillary Clinton and her conduct in the presidential race against Barack Obama, I cannot help but make comparisons with a scorched earth strategy. Clinton, it seems, has concluded that if she is going down, she is taking everyone down with her. Not only is she destroying her party’s chances of victory in the White House, more importantly, she is killing the best opportunity of a progressive-led governing coalition this nation has seen in generations.

In a prior commentary, “Clintons, Your Black Pass Is Hereby Revoked,” I decried the use of the race card by Hillary and Bill Clinton in South Carolina and the early primary season. But since that time - with Obama as the clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination - the Clinton camp has become even more guileful and grimier in its tactics. Machiavelli would be proud. Karl Rove is somewhere blushing.

As Senator Clinton said of the attack, “Well, now the fun part starts.” Her goal, of course, is to do anything that will mess up her rival, politically disfigure him, assassinate his character, and render him unusable damaged goods.

And she will throw Obama under the bus, to be sure. But so, too, will she sacrifice the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the poor, labor, people of color, the folks she and her husband eschewed while in the White House, and as leaders of the conservative, corporatist Democratic Leadership Council. Evidence of the Clinton “kitchen sink” strategy abounds:

  • There was the talk from the Clinton camp of Obama being unfit for presidency because of his youthful drug use.
  • There was the photo of him dressed in traditional Kenyan clothing during his visit to Africa, allegedly leaked by a Clinton staffer. And there were the suggestions that Obama is a Muslim, an attempt by the Clinton campaign to tap into and capitalize on this nation’s anti-Muslim sentiment.
  • At the time of the South Carolina primary, President Clinton, acting as his wife’s hatchet man, compared Obama to Jesse Jackson. The statement, designed to peg Obama as a Black candidate with no widespread appeal, was made at the suggestion of Clinton campaign manager Mark Penn.
  • Senator Clinton has heaped praise on Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, and touted his qualifications for president, while denigrating Obama, the probable Democratic nominee. Stating that she and McCain are qualified and have the experience to be president, but Obama is not, suggests either that Clinton would endorse McCain over Obama, or she is trying out for the GOP vice presidential spot. Meanwhile, President Clinton suggested that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be “unstoppable,” with frontrunner Obama, of course, at the bottom.

A cornerstone of the Clintonian narrative is that she possesses the requisite experience, that she will be ready for the job on “day one,” ready for the emergency phone call at 3 A.M. (as if a president does not rely on an army of advisors – and who wears a business suit to bed?). On the one hand, she provides scant evidence of the vast experience she claims to possess, particularly in the area of foreign policy. On the other hand, to be sure, Clinton does have experience of a different kind, albeit not the type she would care to publicize. For example:

  • Sen. Clinton endorsed the disastrous, deadly and costly Iraq war, a cynical move to bolster her national security image. A gender card carrying, faux feminist who will cry when her career is at stake, she has not shed a tear for the multitudes of widows and orphans created by this war, or the thousands upon thousands of women and children who were killed in this war.
  • With a lifetime of commitment to serving corporations, she is the leading recipient of lobbyist money of any presidential candidate.
  • Poor when they came to the White House in 1993, the Clintons have amassed great wealth through public service and associations with sketchy individuals. Sen. Clinton lent her campaign $5 million of her own money. They are reluctant to disclose their tax returns, or reveal the list of contributors to the Clinton Presidential Library.
  • As first lady, Clinton was put in charge of healthcare reform, an abysmal failure. Arrogant, secretive and unwilling to be a team player who works well with others, she refused to allow potential political allies into the process. This allowed foes to paint healthcare reform as socialized medicine, dead on arrival.
  • With their approval of the welfare reform bill in 1996, under the GOP Contract With America, the Clintons betrayed and alienated Marian Wright Edelman, their friend at the Children’s Defense Fund. Her husband Peter Edelman, who at that time was a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services, resigned from his position. “His goal was re-election at all costs,” Mr. Edelman wrote of Bill Clinton. “Whatever his rationalizations, he was at bottom interested only in himself. His political approach was not to calculate the risks but to take no risks at all.” Edelman elaborated: “He has tended generally to make things worse for the politically powerless. …His penchant for elevating shadow over substance has hurt poor children.”

There is a consensus that, barring some unlikely and unforeseeable circumstances, Clinton mathematically cannot overtake Obama in pledged delegates and win the nomination, even with a Michigan and Florida revote. Her only pathway to the nomination is through thievery, that is, destroying Obama, and strong-arming the super-delegates into throwing their support behind her second-place candidacy in the dead of night.

The party elders may try to convince themselves that when this happens, all of the Democratic constituents will come together and rally behind the nominee, Hillary Clinton. Guess again. Obama - who has drawn millions of new people into the process, including independents, Democrats, Republicans and young people - is the stronger candidate against McCain in the general election. These Obama supporters, who, if organized, could form the basis of a new grassroots multiracial movement in this nation, will not roll over for the establishment this time around. Nor will the specter of a new McBush administration scare them into voting for the evil of two lessers.

And African Americans - who have rejected the Clintons’ racialized politics, never to return to the fold - will see once again that when Black folks get into the game, they are told they are not ready, that they are unqualified, and must take a back seat. Suddenly, the rules are changed.

Deprived of its core, this would signal the death of the Democratic Party, as people finally realize that the two major parties, siding with the establishment and entrenched corporate power, represent a difference without a distinction.

Ultimately, under this scenario, Clinton will emerge as a candidate with high negatives, an inherently defective product and damaged brand name, with half of the population who simply will not vote for her. Combined with a Republican base energized to defeat her, she would lose the general election in a landslide, and rightly so.

The vetted, tested and entrenched Clinton not only mocks Obama’s positive message of change and hope, of people working together to get things done, of divesting ourselves of the old ways and doing things differently. She also stands diametrically opposed to what Obama represents in this campaign, and disregards and dismisses his supporters, and the promise they represent.

The Clintons have created a monster this election season, out of their arrogance, their sense of entitlement, their lust for power for power’s sake, and their insistence on dynastic succession. Had Obama lost 11 straight contests, he would be a footnote in political history. Clinton remains in the race because the Clintons are the establishment, they own the party, they hold onto politicians in their hip pocket. And in a cynical power play, they would patronizingly offer the Black frontrunner and likely nominee the VP slot.

Progressives were fooled once by the Clintons, but woe upon us if we let it happen again.

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