Monday, February 11, 2008
The problem with Hillary
In these days of ever stranger bedfellows, there is an old Arabic proverb that has been bandied about (to the point of cliché) to explain some of the more unseemly political alliances of the day: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
Using this maxim as a guide, one might imagine that Hillary Clinton would be the presidential candidate of choice for progressives/liberals. After all, Hillary's long list of political enemies reads like Madam DeFarge's knitted register of people to be beheaded. Hillary has long been the target of some of the most nasty attacks that the right-wing can muster up with their limited and crippled imaginations. Granted, Hillary is not much of a progressive, her 1993 health care initiative notwithstanding, but her enemies are a Who's Who of the very worst that the Republican party has to offer. Surely, if such hideous creatures as Tom Delay, James Dobson, and Rush Limbaugh hate her, she can't be all bad, eh?
Well, speaking as a progressive, I'm afraid that just ain't enough.
Hillary Clinton will always have this problem: as a United States Senator, when she was in a position to show courage by defying the Bush administration's most egregious excesses, she deferred. She went along with them, lending them a sheen of credibility and providing them with a method to diffuse accountability as their lies became apparent to the world.
As the Bush administration initiated its propaganda campaign for an invasion of Iraq, we were subjected to all manner of stories, some of them preposterous on their faces, about the threat that Iraq posed to the United States. (The Center for Public Integrity documents the lies on its web site.)
The campaign was so obviously full of lies and false assertions that many people could see through it from the start...everyday ordinary people who were not privy to intelligence briefings or classified information. They came out in their millions against the war in 2003.
Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton (and John Kerry and John Edwards) voted to give Junior the authorization to use force against Iraq if Saddam Hussein did not comply with various UN resolutions. Now with the lies exposed to the point where even many Republicans can see them, Hillary uses the same line as the Bush administration to defend that sorry decision: "It wasn't just me. Lots of people were fooled."
Well, sorry, Hillary. It is certainly true that many people were fooled, were made fools of, by the Bush administration. But you, with your access to the real dope, must have known that it was a lie. J'accuse, madam. You went along with the lie for one reason only: you thought Bush would get away with it. In the time before the invasion, Junior had high approval ratings, and the nation was still dazed by the 911 terrorist attacks. It would have taken an extraordinary amount of courage to stand up to Bush and his war drums. And we all know how scarce is that kind of courage within the Democratic party.
With that vote, and with your subsequent plaintive excuses, you expose yourself as a hack, an amoral pragmatist, who will do whatever you deem most likely to advance your political stock.
If the Democratic party pathetically nominates you, I can't say you won't get my vote. My disgust for the Republicans is too strong to not be registered in that small way. But it will be a joyless vote, cast in despair.
We knew the Iraq invasion was a lie all along, Hillary. You did, too. But you chose to go along with it, in the belief that the Bush administration could keep the lid on, could continue to fool just enough of the public to maintain the facade of legitimacy.
That's your problem, Hillary. You believed they were competent. Sucks to be you.