Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton handily won the Mar. 1 Super Tuesday contests and seems poised to win the Democratic Party nomination.
That anyone thinks she’s worthy of the presidency considering the shadiness and mendacity of the Clinton family still astonishes me.
Year after year, we’re told we must vote for the lesser evil. This year I’m told by Clinton surrogates that I must vote for her to stop a monster the creation of which they are at least in part to blame. “Lesser evilism” is a form of emotional blackmail that for nearly a decade has been a dry well for me – principle trumps (no pun intended) party every time for me.
That’s also perhaps the chief reason I’m also not a Democrat. I voted in the March 1st Democratic primary, which makes me one nominally speaking, but I hotly reject the designation in all other respects. I am instead a left-leaning independent who is by now a social democrat on economic issues and a cultural libertarian on everything else.
Because there are a plethora of reasons Clinton is ill-suited for the White House, there is one person in particular whom I desperately wish were still alive today to take a razor to the current Democratic frontrunner:
To help understand Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy in a historical context, I invoke the late Christopher Hitchens (1948-2011), who wrote a book originally published in 1999 titled No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton. The book in part outlines the politics of triangulation of the Clinton administration of the 90s and also foreshadows what a second administration under Hillary Clinton might look like:
Mr. [Dick] Morris’s most valued gift to the president was his invention— perhaps I should say “coinage”— of the lucrative business known as “triangulation.” And this same business has put a new spin on an old ball. The traditional handling of the relation between populism and elitism involves achieving a point of balance between those who support you, and those whom you support. Its classic pitfalls are the accusations that fall between flip and flop, or zig and zag. Its classic advantage is the straight plea for the benefit of the “lesser evil” calculus, which in most modern elections means a straight and preconditioned choice between one and another, or A and B, or Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The most apparently sophisticated and wised-up person, who is well accustomed to saying that “there’s nothing to choose between them,” can also be heard, under pressure, denouncing abstainers and waverers for doing the work of the extreme Right. In contrast, a potential Perot voter could be identified, in 1992, by his or her tendency to believe simultaneously that (a.) the two main parties were too much alike, resembling two cozily fused buttocks of the same giant derrière, and (b.) that the two matching hemispheres spent too much time in fratricidal strife. (Mr. Perot went his supporters one better, by demanding that the United States be run like a corporation— which it already is.) But thus is the corporatist attitude to politics inculcated, and thus failed a movement for a “Third Party” which, in its turn, had failed to recognize that there were not yet two. The same ethos can be imbibed from any edition of the New York Times, which invariably uses “partisan” as a pejorative and “bipartisan” as a compliment— and this, by the way, in its “objective” and “detached” news columns— but would indignantly repudiate the corollary: namely, that it views favorably the idea of a one-party system.
Hitchens gave a couple of examples of the kind of triangulation President Clinton engaged in during the 90s:
Let me give respective examples of the practice and theory of triangulation. The practice was captured vividly in a 1999 essay by Robert Reich, Clinton’s first-term secretary of labor and one of the small core of liberal policy makers to have been a “Friend of Bill,” or FOB, since the halcyon Rhodes Scholarship days of 1969. Mr. Reich here reminisces on the Cabinet discussions he attended in 1996, when the Clinton administration decided to remove many millions of mothers and children from the welfare rolls:
“When, during his 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton vowed to “end welfare as we know it” by moving people “from welfare to work,” he presumably did not have in mind the legislation that he signed into law in August 1996. The original idea had been to smooth the passage from welfare to work with guaranteed health care, child care, job training and a job paying enough to live on. The 1996 legislation contained none of these supports— no health care or child care for people coming off welfare, no job training, no assurance of a job paying a living wage, nor, for that matter, of a job at any wage. In effect, what was dubbed welfare “reform” merely ended the promise of help to the indigent and their children which Franklin D. Roosevelt had initiated more than sixty years before.”
That is indeed how many of us remember the betrayal of the poor that year. Now here’s Reich again, detailing the triangulation aspect of the decision:
“In short, being “tough” on welfare was more important than being correct about welfare. The pledge Clinton had made in 1992, to “end welfare as we know it,” and “move people from welfare to work,” had fudged the issue. Was this toughness or compassion? It depended on how the words were interpreted. Once elected, Clinton had two years in office with a Congress controlled by Democrats, but, revealingly, did not, during those years, forward to Congress a bill to move people from welfare to work with all the necessary supports, because he feared he could not justify a reform that would, in fact, cost more than the welfare system it was intended to replace.”
This might help to explain why Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s Labor Secretary, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders:
So, as Mr. Reich goes on to relate in excruciating detail, Mr. Clinton— who was at that stage twenty points ahead in the opinion polls— signed legislation that was more hasty, callous, short-term, and ill-considered than anything the Republicans could have hoped to carry on their own. He thus made sure that he had robbed them of an electoral issue, and gained new access to the very donors who customarily sent money to the other party. (Mr. Reich has good reason to remember this episode with pain. His own wife said to him, when he got home after the vote: “You know, your President is a real asshole.”)
Yet, perhaps because of old loyalties and his Harvard training in circumlocution, he lacks the brisk ability to synthesize that is possessed by his spouse and also by the conservative theorist David Frum. Writing in Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard of February 1999, Mr. Frum saw through Clintonism and its triangulations with an almost world-weary ease:
“Since 1994, Clinton has offered the Democratic party a devilish bargain: Accept and defend policies you hate (welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act), condone and excuse crimes (perjury, campaign finance abuses) and I’ll deliver you the executive branch of government… Again since 1994, Clinton has survived and even thrived by deftly balancing between right and left. He has assuaged the Left by continually proposing bold new programs— the expansion of Medicare to 55 year-olds, a national day-care program, the reversal of welfare reform, the hooking up to the Internet of every classroom, and now the socialization of the means of production via Social Security. And he has placated the Right by dropping every one of these programs as soon as he proposed it. Clinton makes speeches, Rubin and Greenspan make policy; the Left gets words, the Right gets deeds; and everybody is content.”
My own politics have become much more complicated in the past 18 months so I don’t particularly like knee-jerk criticisms of people who change their minds because they have a genuine change of heart or who have been presented with new information that forces them to confront previously held opinions, positions or beliefs. I believe it encourages a sort of bitter recalcitrance that is in part responsible for the poisonous, empty-headed partisanship and broken political system under which we suffer today.
Hillary Clinton however is so protean in her non-convictions that she has evidently decided to take on the mantle of triangulator-in-chief. Clinton is a human windsock who’s candidacy reflects that the Democratic Party establishment is morally, intellectually, and ideologically bankrupt. Like her husband, she’ll say anything to get elected, and steal policy positions from Republicans and Democrats alike to keep it that way. Clinton has already shown the willingness to adopt her husband’s past practices of triangulation when she steals rhetoric from Bernie Sanders’ campaign speeches.
She was the “sanctity of marriage” politician who opposed equal marriage rights until she realized in 2013 she needed the LGBT vote. She’s the ~$200,000-a-pop Goldman Sachs speaker who suddenly wants to “get tough on Wall Street”. She was for the Trans Pacific Partnership before she was against it. She and her surrogates evidently think people are genuinely stupid enough to believe she’ll do anything to benefit working class people.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy perfectly represents of a lazy, sclerotic, and exploitative Democratic Party establishment which should be lit on fire and razed to the ground.
Clinton’s slipperiness isn’t lost to critics on the left and right who made use of the #WhichHillary hashtag to point out that she’ll say more or less anything to get elected.
Which Hillary did people vote for on Super Tuesday? The answer to that question may very well be quite different by the general election: