FEBRUARY 12, 2016
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
by ANDREW LEVINE
To the dismay of Democratic Party apparatchiks, the plutocrats behind them, and corporate media, New Hampshire Democrats struck a mighty blow at Hillary Clinton and at Clintonism (Democratic Party-style neoliberalism and liberal imperialism) last Tuesday. Bernie Sanders beat her by twenty-two percentage points in the New Hampshire primary.
Hillary is down, but far from out.
One factor to watch is that with Donald Trump’s way to the GOP nomination now seemingly secure, the corporate money that would normally go to the Republican candidate could find a way into her already well-stuffed coffers. Trump and Ted Cruz are non-starters, and the other Republican candidates are sure losers too. Hillary may therefore be the best (least bad) option for Republican donors.
Marco Rubio tanked. I knew this would happen, but I am surprised at how quickly his bubble burst. Now it is John Kasich’s turn to carry the ball for the GOP establishment. How long will that last? Maybe for the duration; he is certainly reactionary enough. But he is a loser, like all the others – in his case because, through no fault of his own, the poor man was born without a personality.
Republican donors are not exactly brain surgeons, as people used to say before Ben Carson shot that old saw to hell, and they have a knack for flushing their money down the toilet. Think of all the Geld Sheldon Adelson squandered on Newt Gingrich. But Kasich is no prize. The “billionaire class” understands this well. Therefore, don’t count on many donors throwing their money away on him.
It is more likely that Hillary will benefit from their largesse.
However, thanks to countless small donations, the Sanders campaign has more than enough money to carry on. But if a lot of Republican donors decide to save their own hides by letting Hillary service them, this could change.
Whether it does or not, Bernie will still have the Democratic Party against him.
With the South Carolina primary looming, the Party’s movers and shakers have now gotten the Congressional Black Caucus PAC to rally African Americans to the Clintonite cause. We’ll soon know how much juice that wing of the Party establishment still has.
What is already clear is that this is just the beginning. Establishment Democrats have lots of artillery in reserve; and, to hold fast to their Clintonite course, they won’t be shy about using all they’ve got.
Sanders knows it too. He famously said, even as the dust in New Hampshire was still settling, to expect “them” to throw the kitchen sink at him. He didn’t quite say that, by “them,” he meant the Democratic Party establishment – Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others of their ilk. If that is not what he had in mind, it ought to have been.
If Mike Bloomberg enters the race as an independent, the Republican wing of the donor class will have someone to fund who is more to their liking than Hillary; they will have one of their own. I hope he does run – not just because it will keep some money out of Hillary’s hands, but also because it will be yet another nail in the coffin of the GOP.
Republican voters, two-thirds of them anyway, wouldn’t give Bloomberg the time of day because, by their lights, he is even worse than Clinton on matters they care about –gun control, abortion rights, global warming, gay rights, restrictions on self-destructive and anti-social behavior, and so on. Worst of all, as Ted Cruz said of Trump, Bloomberg embodies “New York values.”
Most people who live in the Northeast don’t quite grasp how, to many Americans living in other parts of the country, “New York” means “Jew”; I know I didn’t until I spent time in Wisconsin. Evangelicals and other right-wingers love Zionism as much as the ethnic cleansers in the Occupied West Bank do, but they don’t much care for Jews or New York values.
In any case, Bloomberg is basically a manager, a technocrat, whom no one could actually enthuse over, even if he is the Republican establishment’s last best hope. Republican “moderates,’ the few who are left, could support him, but no one else would. If it comes to that, though, a Bloomberg campaign could still do the GOP in.
Thanks to Trump, the Republican Party’s cultural contradictions have already brought the Party to its breaking point; the addition of Bloomberg to the mix could deliver its coup de grace.
None of this matters for the outcome of the election; the Republicans have already lost that. But it does matter for the War on Clintonism, because, for that project to advance, it is crucial now that Hillary lose decisively.
This is why what the country needs now is two, three many New Hampshire primaries.
Sanders is still all about civility – demonstrating yet again how private virtues can be political vices. But militant anti-Clintonites, in or out of the Sanders campaign, can be less kind and gentle.
If Bernie wants to broaden his base, bringing African Americans and Latinos into the fold, through the force of ideas and arguments alone, more power to him. But there is no reason why anti-Clintonite militants need to pull their punches on his account.
Socking it to Hillary is harder than might appear because , like the Donald (though less skillfully), she goes whichever way the wind is blowing. This is, and always has been, the Clinton style.
Hillary is therefore now trying hard to squeeze into Bernie’s space. Her concession speech in New Hampshire sounded almost as if Sanders had written it. But this is a losing strategy. She can fool some of the people all of the time, but she cannot run away from her record.
And so, the first order of business now, for all good women and men, should be to bring that record to light, and to rub Hillary’s nose in it.
There are transcripts of the talks for which she received hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop – six hundred thousand, reportedly, from Goldman Sachs alone. Now is the time to insist that those transcripts be made public. Based on what is already known about them, it is a good bet that Hillary’s newly concocted “populist” persona would have a hard time surviving that blast of light.
There is also the Clinton record in the nineties – on black male incarceration, on “ending welfare as we know it,” and so on. And there is the utter servility of the Clinton administration to Wall Street for all the years of husband Bill’s presidency.
Strictly speaking, most of this is on Bill’s shoulders, not Hillary’s.
But her role in the years when her husband was putting into practice what Ronald Reagan could only dream of, the behind the scenes work she seems to have done, was the only basis there was for justifying parachuting the First Lady into New York State to run for the Senate in 2000. Her duties as an official wife were hardly basis enough; and the few non-wifely projects she attempted early on in her husband’s first term — health care reform, for example – ended disastrously.
So it was as an unelected co-President that the “experience” of which she and her apologists boast came to be acquired. She cannot have it both ways. She may not have been the more culpable of the two Clintons twenty-five year ago, but, if she wants to add her First Lady days to her résumé, she owns what her husband did.
There is another consideration too that bears deeply on the most asinine of all the pro-Hillary arguments now being bandied about: the idea that she is an ace “pragmatist,” a genius at getting things done.
She did get things done – not so much as First Lady or in the Senate, where her accomplishments were few and far between, but as Secretary of State. However, nearly all of her vaunted accomplishments, there and elsewhere, were deleterious.
The truth is out there; it has been from Day One. But judging from what voters say, it still hasn’t registered. Hillary can thank corporate media for that.
The focus of most media outlets in the United States that reach a mass audience has always been local, not global. This is one reason why Americans know little and care less about the world. It isn’t all the fault of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Most Americans know little about Canada too, and less still about Mexico.
In election years, the problem is worse than usual because the horse race sucks up all the air in the room.
Meanwhile, there is a world out there. Don’t expect the cable news networks to tell Americans much about it, however. Those who are curious have to scour the Internet, read foreign newspapers, or watch French, German or Russian news channels (on cable or satellite) to know what is going on.
The other day, tired of looking at talking heads going on about Marco Rubio’s debate performance, I tuned into France-24 to learn that important political news actually was unfolding — in Haiti and along Turkey’s southern border.
Hillary’s – and Barack Obama’s – footprints are all over these and other tragedies in process, so it would not be out of line, even for election obsessed media in the United States, to pay heed. But, of course, they don’t.
They don’t even report on the horse race well. With the New Hampshire vote looming, France-24 sent someone to cover a Trump rally. She got it about right. She told viewers to imagine a used car salesman leading a meeting of the National Front. Rachel Maddow couldn’t have said it better – though she would have taken ten times as long to make the point and viewers would have had to endure a dozen commercials waiting for her to get around to it.
Therefore, forget about “liberal media”; they are useless.
But Wikileaks isn’t useless.
There are so many awful things that the Obama administration has done that its persecution of whistleblowers and others who embarrass the President and the Clinton State Department pale in importance.
But for spreading the word about Hillary’s cluelessness and incompetence, the world cannot be reminded often enough about what Obama and Clinton et. al. have done to, among others, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and, of course, Julian Assange.
Assange, who has never been charged with any crime, was accused in Sweden, on dubious grounds, of refusing to use a condom during sexual intercourse. Even if true, this would not be an actionable offense in the United States or the United Kingdom or in most other countries.
But the Swedes provided a good enough pretext for the United States to get Sweden to demand Assange’s extradition from the UK, where he was living at the time the accusations were made, so that he could be questioned in Sweden, and then be forwarded on to the Land of the Free, where he would likely be tried for espionage on charges that could carry the death penalty.
Because tiny Ecuador had the courage to come to his rescue, Assange was given asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which he has been unable to leave, except on pain of arrest, since August 2012.
A week ago, the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that his detention is arbitrary, according to the prevailing legal standard; and that he should be free to leave the embassy, with “his physical integrity and freedom of movement respected.” They also concluded that he had “an enforceable right to compensation.”
However, in defiance of international law, both Britain and Sweden, under pressure from the United States, have so far refused to abide by the Working Group’s decision. The main culprit behind this outrage is, of course, President Obama, but this insult to the rule of law has Hillary Clinton’s imprint all over it.
How wonderful – and deliciously ironic — it would therefore be if State Department memos already released by Wikileaks, and others still in its possession, were mined for evidence of Clinton’s ineptitude.
Her embarrassment would not erase the harm she has done to Assange and to countless others around the world, but it just might put the issue of her vaunted competence in a different light in the minds of American voters. What a boon this could be to the United States and to the world!
There is probably no one on earth whose purported ability to get things done, as opposed to blundering along incompetently, could more easily be exposed.
Haiti would be a place to look; Turkey too. But there is not anywhere in the world where her untimely and clueless interventions have not done more harm than good. There is no more egregious misconception in American politics today than the myth of Hillary Clinton’s “pragmatism” and diplomatic savvy.
The time is past due that this nonsense be exposed and defeated; so that an informed electorate can see to it that Hillary Clinton is soundly defeated in the primary contests to come; and that Clintonism is dealt a mighty blow.
ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
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