Friday, 15 March 2013

No Earthly Ideas.

As Obama is still settling into his second term, many have already turned to speculate at who will be running in 2016. Speculation over a GOP candidate range from Chris Christie to Paul Ryan and beyond, whereas prognostications regarding a Democratic candidate seem to be preoccupied with Hillary Clinton. In the background you should be able to sense the lowering of expectations, a foreclosure on the very possibility of a manifested opposition. The realm of the possible narrows further, the field down closes to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden for the pollsters. Of course, it remains to be seen who is even considering running. At this point all potential candidates will shirk from announcing such a bid for fear of putting a hat in the ring too early. That's just sensible conduct for any politico. So it should surprise no one that when Bill Clinton was asked whether or not Hillary would run he responded by saying he had "no earthly idea". With that non-answer Bill demonstrates the same glibness that would win over the audience at the Democratic National Convention.
By 2016 BO, as the reactionaries call him, will be even more withered and white-haired than today, a far cry from the inflated Kennedy-cum-Christ figure of 2008. That figure will be an even more distant memory in four years than it is today. Not a modicum of the Messiah left, instead a mauled continuity pervades. Given the level of hopeful projections onto Obama, disillusionment was inevitable. The lowering of expectations is not unusual to Democratic politics, very often it lays the way for the politics of reaction. The disappointments of Jimmy Carter led to the Reaganites gaining office through a mediocre mandate to roll back the intrusive government. Similarly the Clinton era left the Democrats without a legacy worth defending when the Bushites were ushered into office under disgraceful circumstances. It's strangely appropriate that we find Clinton being hailed as a future candidate at this point. It's as though the despair in the awake of Obama's second term are already foreseeable. And that's true because there's so much to cry about already.

In February Democratic pollsters found Hillary Clinton leads the top GOP 2016 contenders in red states such as Alaska, Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Georgia. Even though Clinton had only been replaced with Kerry for a week or two at this point and the prospects of her nomination still seem way-out to those concerned by dynastic formations in apparently democratic societies. It looks like Obama is the future and Romney is the past just going by the demographic change in birth-rates. So the white populism that Clinton reached for in '08 definitely won't cut it in '16. It's plausible that she could appeal to the Latina vote simply as she's a Democrat and on the moral issue of abortion. By contrast, it's difficult to spot a spokesperson of American conservatism capable of overcoming the GOP's contradictions. The Republicans will probably have to tone down the anti-immigrant rhetoric to gain a greater slice of the hispanic vote. Then in March Reason estimated there is around 22% of support for Clinton. It seems more likely than it did a couple of months ago.
What might we expect from a future Clinton White House? The eminent feminist Bonnie Greer deems the Obama administration a second Clinton administration. That's one answer to the question. So if Hillary Clinton wins office it will be the third Clinton White House. With all of this in mind, we can judge the woman by her record at the State Department, as well as the period in which she was First Lady. We can set our expectations pretty low if these joint-records are to be taken as a fair representation of Clinton. And we have no reason to think otherwise. So we may gauge a few things from the Clinton record at the White House, which contains a few serious hiccups:
  • On the campaign trail Bill Clinton was faced with mounting interest in his extramarital relationship with Gennifer Flowers. The candidate opted to see to it that a lobotomised black man was put to death.
  • The first Clinton administration armed the Turkish government as it waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds and leaving 50,000 people dead.
  • Having inherited the aftermath of the First Gulf War the Clinton White House imposed economic sanctions against Iraq and starved over 500,000 people to death.
  • President Clinton bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan under the pretence that it was a chemical weapons factory. In fact it's likely that the President knew full well and was looking for a neat distraction with Monica Lewinsky in the news reels.
  • During this period Hillary Clinton advocated military intervention in Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995) and Kosovo (1999). She is no dove in other words.

There is plenty more to go into, though we should probably scrutinise the Clinton record at the State Department. In office with former rival Obama the Clinton record does not fair much better. The Obama administration reacted with timidity to the Arab Awakening that threatened to unseat all kinds of bulwarks to democracy. Clinton was not a voice of dissent and described Mubarak as 'family' only to see Hosni given the boot by his generals. Clinton oversaw the NATO intervention in Libya, which rapidly escalated from a UN sanctioned no-fly zone to a full-blown and illegal bombing campaign on the side of the rebels. Though at least the campaign was on the side of a rebellion. You can't even say that about the swarms of drones Clinton sent over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Impressed yet? And this is meant to be the best of American liberalism, its finest choice for the State Department in 2008 and its President in 2016.
All the while the Clintons have been more than complicit, totally supportive actually, of the decline of the American welfare state. Then there's the stomping out of the social democratic wing of the Democrats. They pioneered the method of triangulation, which goes as follows: loot the supportable planks from the Republican platform, bag the corporate funding that follows it; "test the water" with polling, all while keep the liberal Left on board with the lesser evil logic. Obama and the Clintons represent the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Do we really need another right-wing in American politics? Aren't the Republicans right-wing enough for both parties? Expect nothing less from the people who thought that the problem in America, after 12 years of Republican government, is that the Democratic Party is too left-wing. Not only that but the American under-class have to be brought back in line, it's not warfare but welfare to be slashed and burned.

No comments: