Yeah, some of her affiliations in the past, like Walmart, disturb me. I’ve had to give her the benefit of the doubt on her coziness with the kind of triangulation and DLC third way corporatist strategies that her husband represented to a tee in in the 90s, that were a poke in the eye to progressives. (Bill has said many of the things he did were mistakes, she agrees, and yet she equivocates on some like trying to justify DOMA with a revisionist history and was fashionably late to the issue). Come to think of it she’s been fashionably late to a few issues, like the TPP, the Keystone Pipeline…
Which brings me to her vote on Iraq, which just always seemed to be blatantly political. You either forgive her for it by justifying that many Dems went along to get along on that one, or you don’t. I really don’t. I find that kind of justification as cynical and manipulative as her late evolutions on gay marriage, trade, Keystone… It’s all disturbing.
Then there’s the money. All that money. The connections with deep pocketed corporations and Super Pacs through the Clinton Foundation and, yes, her massive mega-campaign, are, depending on how generous you want to be at the time, either an unnecessary throw back to those 90s ways or a necessary evil to counter the Republican money machine. I do not advocate unilateral disarming in the age of Citizen’s United, but do you really need Goldman Sachs’ money in this day of direct internet appeals to small donors?
Bernie Sanders says no to that money, and to Super Pacs and to personal attacks. No matter how much his advisors and talking heads like Chris Matthews may goad him to attack Hillary on the issues that the GOP would attack her on, Bernie refuses to go down that road, because that’s no way to win. So he won’t.
But maybe he should have on the issue of Wall Street money.
Which brings me to what disturbed me about some of Hillary’s answers on Saturday night.
They were rehearsed, they were glib, they were disingenuous, they were overtly political game playing and pandering. They made me cringe.
“I disagree with free college. I don’t think taxpayers should be paying for Trump’s kids to go to college.”
Really? Do you think that Trump’s kids went to state schools, public universities? No, they didn’t. It’s just such a facile attack line that you can hear one of her ace advisors coming up with it and her practicing it in debate prep. So your objection to free tuition, something most state schools had until the ’70s (my freshman year was the second year they charged tuition for the CUNY system, in the wake of NYC’s bankruptcy) is one of means testing? I don’t think that should be a big deal, should it? Pell Grants are means tested, federal student loans are means tested, I think a proposal to make tuition at state colleges free would probably be means tested as well. (Although in Germany they are not.) My follow up to that response would have been that if she feels so strongly about means testing in tuition, does she believe in means testing for Social Security? You want to play the facile, disingenuous question and answer game, everyone can play that.
But the exchange that really made me feel unexpectedly icky was her now famous invocation of 9/11:
CLINTON: Well John, wait a minute. Wait a minute, he has basically used his answer to impune my integrity. Let’s be frank here.
SANDERS: No, I have not. CLINTON: Oh, wait a minute, senator. You know, not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small. And I’m very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60 percent.
Yes, applause. A huge pander to her women supporters. I dare say Bernie has women supporters too. Maybe he didn’t have the numbers at hand, to counter, but it’s all petty. It’s a rehearsed escape line to use to get out of a jam because it’s going to get applause and loud cheers from her supporters in the room. It’s cheap.
And by the way, maybe Bernie’s better than me but when she said that he was impugning her integrity I would have responded that “taking the money did that.” But he didn’t, so Hillary continued:
CLINTON: So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.
And holy hell did a Democrat just pull a Giuliani? Going from the cheap applause of the lady pander to washing away her Wall Street money by dipping it in the 9/11 memorial fountains is a super deft move that made me cringe, no, more accurately I recoiled.
She is taking some heat on that because she deserves to. It was too clever, too rehearsed and too much pretzel logic to just land and walk away from.
Bottom line is that Hillary’s too slick responses made me think again about the things I’ve had to swallow and give her the benefit of the doubt on. It crystallized the idea that, like Obama, she’ll have to be dragged to the left. Bernie is already there.
Hillary will win the nomination and be the next president (knock wood), but I’m afraid that it’ll be a lot of the same movie we saw in the 90s and then the sequel from 2009 to now. A president playing it cute with big business, making incremental sops to her base that the other side will label socialism anyway, while little actually changes.
With the monumental challenges we face we still need an FDR, (we did in 2008, but got Truman instead), we wont get one with Hillary either. I’ve given her the benefit of the doubt that she learned from her husband’s mistakes and from Obama’s early missteps that had him playing nice with people who wanted to destroy him.
Don’t justify taking Wall Street money with 9/11. Say that you need as much money as you can to run for president today and you’re not brave enough to do it without the big boy’s checks. Or better yet, renounce it and say you’ve decided to give it to charity, but don’t claim 9/11 made it okay. The country threw up in its mouth on that one.
We haven’t even gotten to Iowa and my ability to hope for the best from our best hope is gone.