Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 05:47:29 PM EST
On Tuesday, the last major battle for the Democratic Party nomination for this year's US Presidential elections will be fought in New Jersey and California, so I'm rushing out this less well researched commentary on the race. These are diverse thoughts from the past few weeks which I now have time to put down in writing.
As somebody well to the left of Senator Bernie Sanders, obviously I rooted for him. However, my views of former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are ambivalent and nuanced in a way that's out of tune with the die-hard views on both sides.
Should Clinton clinch the nomination, the big Democrat concern is, how many of Sanders's voters will turn out to vote for her. In this context, I was flabbergasted to find that virtually all liberal TV shows trotted out the old DNC theory that third candidate Ralph Nader gave the presidency to George W Bush in 2000 and 2004; often with a condescending tone to 'educate' ignorant Millenial Sanders voters. This was as preposterous then as it is now:
- the Blame Nader theory took for granted that the 5% voting for Nader would all have voted for Al Gore resp. John Kerry if Nader withdrew,
- it's oh so convenient to put the blame at Nader's or his voters' feet rather than blame the Democratic campaign for not making a good case to them,
- it's a funny thing to be obsessed with 5% of the voters when another 40% didn't vote.
This time, the Bernie Or Bust segment of the voters may be larger than the Nader segment ever was, but nevertheless, making a positive case for Hillary with a little less condescension would be more convincing IMHO.
Then again, the vitriol thrown at Clinton is too much for me, especially when it borrows from the Republicans. (If John Kerry was Swiftboated in 2003-4 then Hillary was Swiftboated for 25 years continuously.) Benghazi? Bullshit. Emails? Bullshit. Whitewater? Bullshit. [Kudo points to anyone who gets the cultural reference, except for Drew who gets minus points he he doesn't get the reference! :-)] From what I read, even the donations from fossil fuel/Wall Street people is over-blown, Sanders himself got some donations like hers.
I also think that the view that she is simply a corporate shill is too simplistic. She supported legislation that hurt corporate interests and launched reforms within her own administration. I think she actually believes herself to be a progressive force, but her faults are loss of scale and elitism. I think she's the kind of triangulator who would put a solar cell on the White House and approve a new pipeline and would honestly believe to have achieved a good compromise. And she wants to be accepted as member in the club of the Serious People. IMHO the joint holidays of the Clintons with the Kissingers tell a lot about her personality and are of at least as much concern as her donations.
On foreign policy, I fully agree with criticisms of Clinton as a naive liberal interventionist. Not Benghazi, but the support for a Libya intervention without a serious plan for after the fall of the regime was her biggest crime. Also, while in her recent speech, Clinton (IMHO righly) suggested that world leaders like Putin would play Trump for a fool, her own foreign policy seems too predictable.
Overall, she doesn't seem to have visions. To be precise, it seems her big vision is to achieve the ultimate victory against the incredible 25-year onslaught of the Republican hate machine by becoming the first female President, and then that's it. (It's a weird thing BTW that Hillary remained the Republicans' favourite object of hate even while they changed a lot: it started with misogyny, the hate for a woman with own ambitions who kept her maiden name and wouldn't just be a decoration for her husband; but 25 years later, she dropped "Rodham" while the Republicans have stars like Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann.)
The siege mentality probably also explains Clinton's exceptionally bad public persona, which gave me the jitters for years and made me see her as a tragic figure. I'm fortunate to not have to put these feelings into words as Jon Stewart did so recently: