Hillary Clinton: The Calculating Triangulator Who Will Say Or Do Anything To Get Elected!
One of the attack lines against Sen. Clinton involves the individuals whom she has reached out to or hired, to help her in her campaign. Strangely enough, part of this attack line is that she even gives the time of day to people who supported the Iraq war - an incredibly CalculatingTM act that is of course Massively HelpingTM her Democratic primary campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. (Did I mention she's CalculatingTM?) This is so unlike Sen. Obama, who through his amazing Politics of Hope, Optimism and Change,TM the kind of non-politics that Sen. Edwards apparently feels closer to, has shown he will staunchly avoid people with questionable ethics and poor judgment. Let me show you the difference between them, using just a few examples out of many more that are available on the internets.
1. The Politics of HopeTM
2. The Politics of ChangeTM
3. The Politics of OptimismTM
4. The Politics of Hope, Optimism and ChangeTM
5. Some "Final" Observations on The Politics of Hope, Optimism and ChangeTM
1. The Politics of HopeTM
Sen. Clinton the Terrible has pollster Mark Penn on her payroll - Penn definitely has ethical issues and I criticized Sen. Clinton for keeping him on her payroll. Guess who Sen. Obama specifically hired as his Communications Director? Robert Gibbs - who was part of the team that ran and never apologized for the infamous and despicable Osama bin Laden/Howard Dean ad during the 2004 Iowa primaries, an ad which included this statement (emphasis mine, throughout this post):
But Howard Dean has no military or foreign policy experience and Howard Dean just cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy
Which, of course, may explain why James Dean, Gov. Howard Dean's brother seems to consider Barack Obama a member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. (Hi Gov. Dean, your brother sends his hugs, holiday wishes and much of his credibility.)
Setting aside the fact that Sen. Obama has little military or foreign policy experience, this was one of the key ads that destroyed the anti-Iraq-war Howard Dean campaign - the campaign that the progressive blogosphere and activist base was mostly supporting. (Did I mention Sen. Obama is dead set Against the Iraq WarTM on Principle?TM) No surprise then that, when Sen. Clinton was well ahead in the polls, we first saw the faltering Obama campaign initiate and sustain false attacks on Sen. Clinton's character - modeled exactly on Bill Bradley's attacks against Al Gore - by calling her a liar for her entirely sensible and honest stance on social security. In other words, the charismatic and inspiring Sen. Obama demonstrated his Moral BackboneTM, i.e., how he Will Not Say or Do Anything to Get Elected!TM Then, when the Clinton campaign responded by justifiably challenging the honesty of Sen. Obama (which got Chris Matthews' and his cohorts' panties into a twist about the Eeeevil Sen. Clinton), his campaign then mimicked the fraudulent "attack, attack, attack" script that the Chris Matthews' and Tim Russerts of the world used against Al Gore, and capped it all off last week with a deliberately misleading attack on progressive icon Paul Krugman, who dared to politely question the Good Judgment and Honesty of Saint ObamaTM. But remember, according to the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Rulebook [editors Barack Obama, Robert Gibbs, Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, Robert Reich, et al.] unlike the Desperate and Flailing TriangulationsTM of Eeevil Witch Clinton this is all about the Politics of Hope.TM
Sen. Clinton also got flak when Iraq war propagandist Michael O'Hanlon was revealed to be her supporter*. Need I mention Sen. Obama's effusive praise and strong support for his mentor Joe Lieberman (I-Lieberman-for-Bush) against anti-Iraq-war progressive Democrat Ned Lamont (pre-primary)? (Did I mention Sen. Obama has been dead set Against the Iraq WarTM on Principle?TM) His actions in support of Lieberman might be another reason why James Dean, Gov. Howard Dean's brother seems to consider Barack Obama a member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. Lieberman, no friend of Howard Dean's back in 2003/04, has been one of the biggest enablers of the Republican party on Iraq and one of the biggest enablers of George Bush and Dick Cheney through the last 7 nightmarish years. Yesterday, Taylor Marsh found Tim Tagaris' old post on Daily Kos talking about Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton (Tagaris helped run Lamont's campaign). You can click and read more here, but I will cite just two short portions:
Quite possibly the biggest disappointment ... period.
You can click here to find out why. I assure you it is all about the Politics of Hope.TM In contrast, even though Bill Clinton hurt Lamont's chances, Tagaris said:
...Whatever the reasons, Hillary as an individual was a net positive to our effort.
2. The Politics of ChangeTM
We all know that Sen. Clinton's courting of Republicans, by definition, represents Blasphemous DLC Triangulation.TM In contrast, there's Sen. Obama's thoroughly uplifting Politics of ChangeTM: his constant courting of Republicans, not to mention his
Liebermanesque inclination to portray progressives as extremists or as just plain stupid, and his repeated use of false Republican talking points against Democrats. This is probably the #1 most important reason why James Dean, Gov. Howard Dean's brother seems to consider Barack Obama a member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. For example, Sen. Obama specifically picked his fabulous friend Tom Coburn:
``There are some very capable Republicans who I have a great deal of respect for,'' Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``The opportunities are there to create a more effective relationship between parties.''
...``I would also seek out people like Tom Coburn, who is probably the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate. He has become a friend of mine.''
That would be this guy who, unlike the Bush administration, believes $13M is too much of a price to pay to reopen cold-cases and investigate unpunished killers from the civil rights era (all I can say, Oprah Winfrey and Rep. Barbara Lee, is: good timing!):
One U.S. senator is holding up legislation that would create a cold-cases unit to track down unpunished killers from the civil rights era.
"The idea that one senator can hold up important legislation like this is outrageous," said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery. "It is incredible to me that our government can be held up at the whim of one man."
Despite support from the Bush administration, the Justice Department, the House, which passed Bill 422-2, and most senators - including Mississippi's Thad Cochran and Trent Lott - U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, put a hold on the legislation, effectively killing it on the Senate side.
He said he objects to the legislation because of its price tag of $13.5 million a year, believing only $1.6 million is needed.
Over the weekend, I wrote a lot more about the Politics of ChangeTM including Sen. Obama's seeking out other "fine" specimens like Donnie McClurkin to help him win votes in South Carolina. Why did I do this? Because Sen. Clinton is an Unprincipled TriangulatorTM who would say or do just about anything to get elected!
3. The Politics of OptimismTM
Talking of Oprah Winfrey, let's move on to the Politics of Optimism.TM This past weekend, it was nice to see yet another celebrity endorse and campaign for a Democrat. All I can say is good for Sen. Obama. That said, here's the same Oprah, who when it came time to question the same traditional media that Sen. Obama is courting today - the media that has been largely silent on voter suppression of minorities and that acted as George Bush's propaganda arm during many of the last 7 years - was quick to chide and hush an African-American woman in the audience who politely questioned whether the media's propaganda in favor of the Iraq war could be trusted (via Taylor Marsh):
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. So, we conclude with...
4. The Politics of Hope, Optimism and ChangeTM
Sen. Obama's reach-out to and mimicry of the frauds who did the most damage to Al Gore and propped up George Bush - not Fox News, but traditional media talkingheads like Tim Russert and Chris Matthews (leading, for example, to Matthews' open advocacy for Obama), falls very much under the category of the Politics of Hope, Optimism and Change.TM It is a broader reflection of what appears to guide Sen. Obama when it comes to winning elections and it is most certainly a change from the Clinton years. Maybe the junior Senator from Illinois can tell his friends over cocktails not to cheerlead another war the next time around. That is, assuming they stay friendly once the nasty general election assaults start from the Republicans, whose faxes and emails are often reprinted by these same people.
5. Some "Final" Observations on The Politics of Hope, Optimism and ChangeTM
Before I offer my observations on Sen. Obama's strategy, I want to quote two of the fairest, smartest and most respected progressive bloggers out there and use their comments to make my observations.
Digby has a post on Sen. Obama where she says (emphasis mine):
Running to the right on health care and social security combined with the anti-gay gospel singer, taking Robert Novak smears at face value, repeating Jeff Gerth lies and now going after Paul Krugman, leads me to the niggling awareness that this is a conscious, if subtle, strategy. Any one of those things could be an accident, and perhaps some of them are. But taken as a whole, conscious or not, liberal fighters in the partisan wars are being sistah soljahed. Unlike the big issue of Iraq where being on the right side is being on the left side, these little digs and policy positioning are all sweet spots for the Village --- and sore spots for the base.
Perhaps that's the smart move. It has long been known by just about everyone who matters that the rank and file activists of the Democratic party are a huge liability. And anyway, where are we going to go? Mike Huckabee? Ron Paul? We have no choice. So, no harm no foul. Running to the right of even Hillary Clinton on health care and social security and using GOP talking points and symbolism is probably all upside. It may be the best way to insure a win in the fall. But I can't say that it looks like either a transformative inspirational politics or a willingness to fight the conservatives and win on the merits.
I still don't know who I'm voting for. I've criticized all of them and I have defended all of them against the media's predictable demeaning coverage. But in the end, when I choose who to vote for, I'm going to take into account which candidates see the political culture and the quality of the opposition for what it is and what it isn't. Obama is a tremendously exciting and talented politician and I would vote for him against any Republican out there without blinking an eye. But as a certified DFH, I really wish he weren't running this way. Paul Krugman most certainly is not the enemy and neither am I.
I'd add a couple [m]ore incidents to the list, such as Obama calling Daily Kos boring, the Joe Anthony MySpace incident, triangulation on religion, Iraq and Iraq, and an, um, frosty relationship with the blogosphere, This sort of thing has happened often enough that it certainly seems like a pattern. Personally, I don't think it is a strategy, but rather simply who Obama is and what his campaign is. This was always how Obama acted, even before his campaign for President began, and even before he entered the Senate. As Steve Benson has pointed out, this is actually what Obama's famous 2004 convention speech was like. Obama hasn't changed, his public record was just comparatively thin before the campaign began allowing people to interpret him in manifold ways.
Of course, as Digby also notes, there is something to be said for all this. Subtle digs at the DFHs do help candidates in the eyes of the media clan within the Village, and Obama is easily the favorite candidate of that clan. At the same time, it hasn't really hurt him all that badly among the DFHs, who remain the cornerstone of his supporters at both the (record breaking) activist and rank and file supporter level. Whatever Obama is doing, it seems to be working, at least right now. Perhaps, for others, the very good things about Obama are outshining the negatives I see. His background before politics, his opposition to the war, the promise of cultural change he appears to embody, his excellent energy, media, and election reform policy proposals--indeed, there are quite a few things to like about Obama.
However, it is clear that all of the good things about Obama come in a package that views contemporary American politics from a fundamental different perspective than does the new wave of progressive activism that has risen in the last decade. It isn't just about his apparent opinion of the DFHs, either. If Obama really believes that he is somehow post-ideology, post-partisan, and capable of bringing contemporary Republicans to actually engage in real compromises over legislation in good faith, then I can't help but think that, despite his background, he is oddly naïve. Rather than believing that the contemporary manifestation of the Republican Party can be brought to the negotiation table in good faith, I think the best way to negotiate with them is to reduce them to below pre-1994 levels in Congress and without the aid of the Bush Dogs, which means 42 or fewer US Senators and 175 or fewer members of the US House. There are lots of other things that need to be done to clean up the Democratic Party, improve progressive infrastructure, and set positive, progressive feedback loops in motion, but a series of crushing election results is my main, short-term strategy for dealing with Republicans. Render Republicans so small as to make them temporarily inert, leave the rest of the arguments as internal Democratic and progressive affairs, and get a lot of good done really fast.
The village keeps telling us that DFHs are bad for Democrats. I don't believe them. The Village keeps telling us that Republicans are willing to truly compromise in good faith. I don't believe that either. I think the non-policy differences I have with Obama are pretty well expressed in our divergence on those two cultural concepts. It is a sort of Soljah cultural gap. Not only do I think Edwards is closer to me on those two points, but I'm also certain that Clinton is closer, too. Just as they do for Digby, these concepts make a difference to me when it comes to figuring out who I will vote for in the presidential primary (and I will vote). It is certainly odd that, among the "top three" Democrats, the candidate with whom I share the most educational (I've spent time in academia, too), occupational (I've been a teacher and organizer, too), age (Obama is only 13 years older than me) and place of residence (my neighborhood is much like the one Obama worked in) similarities is also the candidate among the top three with whom I diverge the most on our cultural approaches to contemporary politics. I wouldn't have expected that, but here we are, none the less.
My thoughts, in no specific order:
- Sen. Obama's "above the fray" outlook - wherein he feels necessary to show he is not ideological and thoroughly 'post-partisan' by trashing the progressive left in many different ways - is no different than the approach used by Joe Lieberman, his mentor. Granted, Sen. Obama's voting record is very similar to Sen. Clinton's and definitely to the left of Sen. Lieberman, but the fact remains that he has been getting a pass on his behaviors for a long time even though Sen. Clinton has been trashed as a Calculating TriangulatorTM for far less. If Sen. Clinton had been acting out the way Sen. Obama has, I have good reason to think that her actions would have been perceived by many in the progressive blogosphere (not necessarily Chris or Digby) as reflecting not just a "cultural gap" from a well-meaning progressive, but rather yet another reflection of the Destructively Strategic and Calculated Clintonian Triangulation.TM The calls that she is a sell-out to the progressive movement would ring far and wide (of course, she didn't do some of these things, and she's still considered a sell-out in some parts).
- Chris is fascinated that Sen. Obama has great popularity with parts of the netroots and activist base, despite his actions. Indeed, Democracy for America laughably labeling Barack Obama a member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, is a good example of this. In my view, the main reason for this dynamic is that he has been portrayed mostly as a SaintTM not just by the establishment media figures whom he has successfully courted (just like Bill Bradley was and did; after all, Sen. Obama has been copying Bradley's campaign in so many ways that I find it amusing when I hear people talk about Obama's Unique Courage and CharacterTM). He has often been portrayed in the same way by most of the progressive blogosphere. In fact, when I started writing about this campaign I repeatedly mentioned Sen. Obama's progressive voting record (that was comparable to Sen. Clinton's) and I also mentioned how he is inspiring in his attempts to bridge the partisan gap and would be a great President. Yet, unlike
virtually the restsome of the blogosphere, my antenna went up as soon as I saw his campaign launch and sustain false character attacks against Sen. Clinton because he continued to lag in the polls, adopting the deplorable tactics that Bradley and the establishment media adopted against Gore. I saw hardly anyoneonly a few people take him to task for these behaviors, which raised major red flags and obvious questions about who he really is as a person and what values he really subscribes to. If many blog readers and the netroots remain ignorant of such basic facts, just as consumers of the mainstream media remained unaware of many truths for a long time, is it any surprise that they still support Sen. Obama despite all that we know?
- What is fascinating about Sen. Obama is that in his Sister Souljah approach, he has exploited an environment conducive to Democrats, that was created largely because of the aggressiveness of the progressive left and the progressive blogosphere over the past several years - an aggressiveness especially against the in-the-tank traditional media that he has specifically courted. If the progressive blogs and netroots did not exist and had not been as aggressive as they were in challenging the conventional wisdom spewed by Republicans and their propagandists in the media, it would have been virtually impossible for Sen. Obama to say that he would meet unconditionally with the leaders of Iran, North Korea and so on upon assuming office and think that he has even a 1% chance of winning the general election. In fact, it would have been much more difficult for him (and the other candidates) to veer left on other matters too. As it turns out, the real Sen. Obama is actually to the right of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Edwards in some areas - at least in his rhetoric - and he hopes this will win him points in the media and with Independent/Republican voters and balance his left-leaning rhetoric on the war (which is the most important issue in the minds of many Democrats voting in the primary).
I have seen enough of Sen. Obama's supposed "post-partisan" non-ideology in action to know that, while he will certainly be better than any Republican as President, he is definitely not my #1 choice in the Democratic primary. I have deep concerns about what an Obama administration would be like - one that will likely be interested in compromise as an end in itself, while repeatedly ditching the progressive netroots as he has been inclined to do already (even before winning), when his soaring rhetoric meets the reality of the not-so-soaring ideology of Congress and the Republican Noise Machine. It is probably the expectation of this dynamic, along with Sen. Obama's willingness to repeatedly throw progressives under the bus, that has Obama supporters like Andrew Sullivan - who once infamously tarred swaths of the left in this country as a fifth column - energized and welcoming of his candidacy.
P.S. *I have not yet found any confirmed report that Michael O'Hanlon is an advisor to Sen. Clinton.