Category Archives: Hillary

Hillary and The Liberals ’16 (Updated)

The year before an election year, it is perhaps appropriate to start talking about Democrat hopefuls, party goals, and what the base of the party – liberals – will do when the Third Way Masters decree yet another Republican-lite candidate. If we’re going to have an impact on the process, we’ve got to figure out how to make an elite that believes in coddling corporations for the sake of donations understand that there’s more to democracy than raising $$$ to get elected with.

This will not be easy. Continue reading

Obama’s Corporate Support

I never intended this to be an anti-Obama site. And it isn’t. But I did note the reluctance of many to include Obama’s DLC connections and business-friendly background in their assessments of him as if they didn’t mean anything and have done my best to correct that one-sided view. Which desperately needs to be corrected.

Leave us stop pretending that Barack is some sort of latter-day saint and skip right to the uncomfortable truth: he’s been getting money from ordinary people, alright, but he’s been getting a lot more from…you guessed it: the corpo’s.

Sen. Barack Obama credits his presidential campaign with creating a “parallel public financing system” built on a wave of modest donations from homemakers and high school teachers. Small givers, he said at a fundraiser this week, “will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally been reserved for the wealthy and the powerful.”

But those with wealth and power also have played a critical role in creating Obama’s record-breaking fundraising machine, and their generosity has earned them a prominent voice in shaping his campaign. Seventy-nine “bundlers,” five of them billionaires, have tapped their personal networks to raise at least $200,000 each. They have helped the campaign recruit more than 27,000 donors to write checks for $2,300, the maximum allowed. Donors who have given more than $200 account for about half of Obama’s total haul, which stands at nearly $240 million.

Yes, boys and girls, Obama takes lots and lots of $$$ from the Big Boys of Big Business. Something those of you with stars in your eyes, but especially those of you trying real hard to find some reason to believe BO isn’t a corporate puppet, are going to have to deal with.

One more barrier on the road to Obama-Mania.

And in case it isn’t clear, Hillary’s no better,

Hillary’s “Family”

I’ve occasionally been asked why I don’t seem to go after Hillary with the same frequency or consistency as Obama. The primary answer is that as far as I’m concerned, Hillary is a foregone conclusion. There’s no more need to cover her than to cover Bill Richardson: she isn’t going to win.

The second reason is pointlessness. Hillaryites refuse to listen to anything negative about her, especially if it happens to be true. Trying to tell a Hillaryite something as obvious as the fact that she’s a conservative is like trying to convince a concrete block to do jumping jacks.

But the third reason is the one that concerns me today: everybody else (non-Hillaryites) go after her. When you criticize Hillary, you join a brigade from all sides of the spectrum doing likewise. It’s a crowded field. Still, occasionally there’s a reason: something important is being ignored. Today I was reminded of that something by Talk to Action’s Fred Clarkson.

In the wake of the controversy over Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, Barbara Erenreich, writing at The Nation, thinks it is only fair and reasonable to ask Hillary Clinton about her relationship with Doug Coe, the controversial leader of The Family, and for that matter, The Family itself.

Barbara’s right, as usual. It’s more than fair, it’s about time. Jeff Sharlet wrote about that relationship in Mother Jones last fall. I remember intending to write about it then but got sidetracked by something else. Given the attacks on BO and Hillary’s sainthood in the eyes of too many Democrats, it’s time this got more of the attention it deserves.

The usual critical take on Hillary – and it’s accurate as far as it goes – is that she’s power-hungry, a bit of a Mitt Romney-type who will say anything to get elected. Generally, that’s probably true but as Sharlet points out in MJ, there’s more going on than that.

Clinton’s God talk is more complicated—and more deeply rooted—than either fans or foes would have it, a revelation not just of her determination to out-Jesus the gop, but of the powerful religious strand in her own politics. Over the past year, we’ve interviewed dozens of Clinton’s friends, mentors, and pastors about her faith, her politics, and how each shapes the other. And while media reports tend to characterize Clinton’s subtle recalibration of tone and style as part of the Democrats’ broader move to recapture the terrain of “moral values,” those who know her say there’s far more to it than that.

Through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. Her collaborations with right-wingers such as Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) grow in part from that connection. “A lot of evangelicals would see that as just cynical exploitation,” says the Reverend Rob Schenck, a former leader of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue who now ministers to decision makers in Washington. “I don’t….there is a real good that is infected in people when they are around Jesus talk, and open Bibles, and prayer.”

A lot of political good, the critics would respond. But there’s a weight of personal history here. As far back as high school, Hillary was flirting with conservatism and right-wing religion as the result of her friendship with a 30-yr-old minister named Don Jones.

Under Jones’ mentorship, Clinton learned about Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich—thinkers whom liberals consider their own, but whom young Hillary Rodham encountered as theological conservatives. The Niebuhr she studied was a cold warrior, dismissive of the progressive politics of his earlier writing. “He’d thought that once we were unionized, the kingdom of God would be ushered in,” Jones explains. “But the effect of those two world wars and the violence that they produced shook his faith in liberal theology. He came to believe that the achievement of justice meant a clear understanding of the limitations of the human condition.” Tillich, whose sermon on grace Clinton turned to during the Lewinsky scandal, today enjoys a following among conservatives for revising the social gospel—the notion that Christians are to improve humanity’s lot here on earth by fighting poverty, inequality, and exploitation—to emphasize individual redemption instead of activism.

Niebuhr and Tillich’s combination of aggressiveness in foreign affairs and limited domestic ambition naturally led Clinton toward the gop. She was a Goldwater Girl who, under the tutelage of her high school history teacher Paul Carlson (whom Jones describes as “to the right of the John Birchers”), attended biweekly anticommunist meetings and later served as president of Wellesley’s Young Republicans chapter. Out of step with the era’s radicalism, Clinton wrote Jones from college, lamenting that her fellow students didn’t believe that one could be “a mind conservative and a heart liberal.” To Jones, this question indicated that Clinton shared Niebuhr’s notion of Christians needing to have “a dark enough view of life that they can be realistic about what’s possible.”

She may have lamented her compadres‘ lack of belief but it’s understandable given that Hillary was forcing a reconciliation between two opposing belief sets, thus violating each and proving pretty convincingly that she didn’t understand either. Hillary, to put it bluntly, wanted it all, iow she was a “compassionate conservative” long before Karl Rove came along to build a campaign on that lie. The difference between them, of course, is that Karl knew it was a lie. Hillary is so dumb she believes it to be possible to this day despite all available evidence to the contrary. Including her own husband’s version.

Eessentially what “compassionate conservatives” end up doing is pursuing conservative agendas while talking like compassionate liberals. Bill would make us feel like he had great empathy for the poor just before he “reformed” welfare and threw many of them off the rolls to get along as best they could. He portrayed NAFTA as a boon for US workers even as it helped drain working class jobs from the country. He would give speeches about protecting the working poor from scam artists and corporate skullduggery and then promote policies and laws that protected corporations from being accountable for scams and skullduggery.

If you understand Hillary’s determination to squeeze a round peg into a square hole despite repeated warnings that one of them would have to give, then you have to ask which she preferred to bring into reality. Sharlet notes:

When Clinton first came to Washington in 1993, one of her first steps was to join a Bible study group. For the next eight years, she regularly met with a Christian “cell” whose members included Susan Baker, wife of Bush consigliere James Baker; Joanne Kemp, wife of conservative icon Jack Kemp; Eileen Bakke, wife of Dennis Bakke, a leader in the anti-union Christian management movement; and Grace Nelson, the wife of Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Florida Democrat.

Clinton’s prayer group was part of the Fellowship (or “the Family”), a network of sex-segregated cells of political, business, and military leaders dedicated to “spiritual war” on behalf of Christ, many of them recruited at the Fellowship’s only public event, the annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Aside from the breakfast, the group has “made a fetish of being invisible,” former Republican Senator William Armstrong has said.) The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God’s plan.

Sharlet exposed The Family back in January or ’04, and I wrote about it then in a post titled “Christian Theocrats Exposed“. The Family turned out to consist of such ultraconservative theocrats and hard-line GOP stalwarts as Jim DeMint and James Inhofe – the guy who thinks the Bible should replace science textbooks and that history books need to be rewritten so they line up with theocratic goals (Jefferson was a right-wing evangelical theocrat, according to Inhofe).

Those are the people Hillary has been hanging around with – voluntarily – for the past 16 yrs: elitist right-wing Xtian theocrats.

Clinton declined our requests for an interview about her faith, but in Living History, she describes her first encounter with Fellowship leader Doug Coe at a 1993 lunch with her prayer cell at the Cedars, the Fellowship’s majestic estate on the Potomac. Coe, she writes, “is a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God.”

The Fellowship’s ideas are essentially a blend of Calvinism and Norman Vincent Peale, the 1960s preacher of positive thinking. It’s a cheery faith in the “elect” chosen by a single voter—God—and a devotion to Romans 13:1: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers….The powers that be are ordained of God.” Or, as Coe has put it, “we work with power where we can, build new power where we can’t.”

(emphasis added)

You can understand why a supposedly liberal Democratic presidential nominee might not want to grant an interview about her long association with a far-right conservative evangelical/theocratic prayer group. Not exactly the image she’d like to present, eh?

But if you think about it you’ll understand how the flow went. It’s simply the opposite of what we’ve always thought it was. Instead of Hillary being a liberal who played conservative for power, she’s a conservative playing liberal, a Goldwater right-winger who found the opportunity to gain power in pretending to be a Kennedy-style left-winger.

It fits. She’s a member of the financial elite who went to Wellesley College to become a corporate lawyer. She’s never been liberal, let alone progressive. She understands and values money and the people who make it. That she isn’t already a Republican is a matter of timing and pure, unadulterated ambition. No wonder it was so easy for Bill to steal GOP values – they’re the ones he and Hillary have believed all along: elitist corporate Xtian values.

The Family, from that angle, was an inevitable power connection. But 16 years surrounded by her enemies is more than ambition. It’s belief.

Personally, I don’t want her in a position to prove it.

“What Are You, 4 Years Old?”

For Kyle, Duncan, Markos, Alegre,  and the other so-called “progressives” who’ve been taken in by the Kabuki.

Just Hillary: publius v Eric Martin (Updated)

There’s an interesting argument/discussion/debate going on between Eric Martin of Total Information Awareness and publius of Obsidian Wings about Hillary Clinton that I suspect is a foretaste of the controversy that’s building in the Left Blogosphere as her candidacy intensifies and the primaries get closer. I haven’t been invited and have no business sticking my neck into this, so of course that’s precisely what I’m going to do. I haven’t made up my mind about Clinton yet, and the points brought up by each of them are the ones I’ve been debating with myself (mostly; there’s one element that bothers me that neither of them mentioned, at least not directly). And I don’t think I’m (we’re) alone in that.

publius begins with noting that he can’t get up any enthusiasm for Hillary and he’s wondering why.

I also don’t really care about her 2002 vote. A lot of smart people supported the war in good conscience. No, what bothers me is not her initial support, but her ongoing support in the face of obvious and ongoing failures. What bothers me is her prolonged post-war silence. As Yglesias has documented, she consciously played up an image as a war supporter and a hawk for years. In doing so, she essentially abandoned progressives on the foreign policy and national security fronts until very recently. “Abandon,” I think, is the most appropriate word to use. After all, the netroots’ skepticism of Clinton is rooted in the feeling that she left everyone out to dry when they could have really benefited from her speaking out.

Eric defines this as the standard criticism that she is “cynical and calculating”, responding:

The second criticism has been unfairly attributed to Clinton quite consistently throughout her political career – at least when compared to other politicians. It’s not that Clinton doesn’t possess these strategic imperatives, it’s that the groupthink has settled in such that Hillary has come to represent the conniving electoral gamesmanship of politicians in general. Let me divulge a secret though: ALL politicians have political aspirations, and the vast majority are looking to the next election, or next “promotion” available. Does anyone doubt that perennial candidate John McCain has wanted to be President for a very long time? That he has taken cynical, calculated steps to facilitate these goals. Yet, his career is not marked with the same level of suspicion as Hillary’s. How about George “clearing some brush on my ranch” Bush? Come on people.

But I’ll go further: since political power comes through winning elections, I actually admire Hillary’s desire and ability to play the electoral game. Good on her. Whereas the cold, calculating maneuvering of other politicians is greeted with praise and admiration at the skill and mastery at how they can game the system, with Hillary, for some reason, it’s viewed as unseemly and improper. It would be myopic to discount the influence of sexism on this rather obvious double standard.

(quote edited to correct one obvious typo)

While I think Eric’s characterization is fair and accurate as far as it goes, I also think, with all due respect, he’s missing the main point. What publius seems to be on about is less her maneuvering than her lack of leadership. Asking “Where was she?” is a fair question. While others were sticking their necks out and sometimes getting them chopped off, where was Hillary? Hiding in a bunker?

At the point when a political figure lets other people take all the risks and suffer all the consequences of an unpopular stand she will later adopt as her own, cynicism is not uncalled for. More importantly, it raises perfectly legitimate questions about what she would do as president. Continue reading

Hillary in New Hampshire

Hillary Clinton has just made her first real foray into NH, and that means the ’08 campaign is officially under way. If her experience there is any indication of what the future holds, she’s got a tough row to hoe.

The response to Clinton’s visit to New Hampshire, her first since 1996, was typified by Roger Tilton.

Tilton, a financial consultant from Nashua who had risen at 4 a.m. to make the drive north, asked Clinton to apologize for her vote [on the war]. She refused — reiterating her stance that “I have taken responsibility for my vote.”

Tilton was unmoved. “Until she says it was a mistake, she won’t get my vote,” he said.

Clinton was in Berlin, NH, way up in the nor’east corner of the state where the borders of NH, Maine and Canada meet. I grew up in southern NH. When I was a kid, northern NH was a bastion of support for the ultraright wingnut John Birch Society. Those were the guys who thought FDR was a Commie mole who was going to hand the US to the Soviets and fluoridation was a Commie plot to turn America’s children into Commie robots. Everybody who wasn’t a member – and almost everybody was – gave the JBS lots of vocal support if they knew what was good for them.

Northern NH has changed but not all that much. Continue reading

Pets for Hillary

Well, Hillary’s campaign is off to a flying start what with the introduction of her stirring slogan:

Let the Conversation Begin

Yessir, that’s a barn-burner alright. Bound to charge people up and send them into battle with the forces of evil loaded down with Weapons of Mass Narcosis (WMN’s).

But the brilliance doesn’t stop there, oh no. With the kind of cutting-edge, forward-thinking, outside-the-box innovation we’ve come to expect from the Democrats the last 15 or 20 years, Hillary and her team are blazing new trails untramped by previous candidates. For example, she’s now pioneering an effort to reach a neglected but no-doubt valuable constituency: animals.

I shit you not. This is straight off her campaign website. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Leave it to the mastermind of the 15,000-page Clinton health-care plan to come up with an strategy so comprehensive that it targets pets.

Is this her constituency? People who dress their animals and name them after make-believe movie pets? (“Brinkley” was the name of Tom Hanks’ dog in You’ve Got Mail.) And we’re supposed to run out there and work for, raise money for, and vote for somebody as leader of the Western world who thinks this kind of stuff is “cute”?

Despair washes over me like a bucket of deer urine.