"I think Clinton is reading the polls and running for president. She followed the country into the war and now she's sort of following the country out of the war but doesn't want to do it in any sort of way that opens her up to any line of criticism." .... Stephen M. Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
Many people thought a year ago when it became apparent Hillary was going to make a Presidential bid we might finally get a candidate willing to have an honest conversation with American voters. Someone determined to do things differently from what's become standard Washington protocol. If events of the past several weeks are indicative of her behavior though, the electorate will be disappointed in the months to come.
Recent public debate and convention appearances forecast to citizens what to expect from Clinton. Her responses left many of us with the impression they were pre-scripted for maximum impact and distribution by contemporary sound bite journalists concerned more with packaging the message than its substance. Clinton's telltale system of measured answers exposed her for the urbane politician she's become since beginning her quest for the Presidency. A woman maven adept at surrounding herself with the best spinmeisters money can buy to develop an Executive image complete with manufactured solutions for many of today's most urgent problems.
To readers of THE NATION magazine this came as no surprise. Journalist Ari Berman reported in a May 7 online column Clinton had turned strategy decisions of her campaign over to Mark Penn, a veteran pollster and coincidentally head of a international public relations firm doing business with numerous global corporations.
"Penn represents many of the interests whose influence candidate Clinton has vowed to curtail," Berman wrote. "Through his longtime association with the Democratic Leadership Council, Penn has been pushing pro-corporate centrism for years. Many of the same companies that underwrite the DLC such as Eli Lilly, AT&T, Texaco and Microsoft also happen to be clients of Penn's. Can she convincingly claim to fight for the average American with Penn guiding strategy in her corner?"
Although absent from the DLC's "National Converation" in Nashville the last weekend in July, much of the organization's influence can be seen in Clinton's public declarations undoubtedly at Penn's behest whose objective is keeping her political prototype from straying to "too far left."
Despite Penn's behind the scenes coaching, respected internet political columnist Robert Bosarge believes the business policies advocated by the "Democrats for the Leisure Class" (DLC) has diminished in scope.
"The progressive base of the party is driving the debate," Bosarge entails. "The "center" of American politics isn't on the right; the center is increasingly progressive in its views. The majority of Americans now oppose the Iraq War, oppose corporate trade policies, want big reforms in health care, energy policy and are looking for a new deal in the economy."
Bosarge deduces Americans are increasingly turning away from plans developed by corporate money and their lobbyists. His impression is voters expect "bold changes" from their next set of leaders. While undaunted by critical analysis from pundits such as Bosarge, Clinton has seemingly moved even further right in her campaign scheme adapting tactics used previously by Bush observes Politico editor Elizabeth Wilner.
"Clinton advisers privately acknowledge the Clinton-Bush comparisons and don’t particularly mind them," Wilner commented on August 10. "The similarities are a growing list of specific tactics and more broadly, a zeal for political combat that has marked the presidential campaigns of both politicians."
Wilner cites a number of parallels between the two politicians, the foremost being a dedicated advisory team proficient at exploiting an opponent's political miscues. She likens Clinton's recent disagreements with Barack Obama over foreign policy to Bush's efforts at portraying John Kerry as inexact in his public assertions, hence implying he's unqualified to lead the country.
Beyond this mirror image, the electorate must weigh an even greater adverse manifestation which Clinton ostensibly shares with the President. Both have demonstrated competency for employing figurative speech as a polarizing weapon to raise campaign funds with. Just as Bush told audiences he would restore our nation's dignity if America elected him, Clinton maintains she will solve the nation's domestic problems and reinvent the Iraq game plan.
Although her mastery of nonliteral rhetoric has succeeded in elevating Clinton to the top of political contributors lists, it's raised doubts amongst working class voters who question her allegiance to their problems. Many of them aren't willing to settle for undefined resolutions which asks them to trust her judgment.
Bruce Bartlett of the Los Angeles Times noted last week that Hillary's economic policies resemble those of her husband ... "fiscally conservative, free-trade-oriented, pragmatic" ... and speculates they're designed to appease the conventional bourgeois crowd of both political organizations. Bartlett's reflection unwittingly confirms the reservations wage earners already have of Clinton because it stereotypes her as someone obligated to the sort of special interests Americans have told their elected representatives and corporate media they no longer want determining our country's destiny.
Notwithstanding Clinton's capacity to contrive solutions to a variety of domestic and foreign problems, enfranchised citizens remain disillusioned because of the contradictory nature of her positions. An appearance at a labor rally in Houston recently illustrates the type of feigned philosophy her campaign has embraced when addressing audiences. At the event, Clinton acknowledged the role of unions and emphasized corporate profits hoarded during the Bush administration were accumulated by exploiting them. What Clinton neglected to mention was she favors leaving intact many of the international trade agreements with minor revisions that have depressed their pay.
As with the labor vacillation when people begin to examine Clinton's posturing on health care, Iraq, energy and America's standing in the world they recognize the models she's proposing aren't significantly different from the corporate solutions America is operating under now. Each one is market based with minimal restraint designed to maximize profit at the expense of the people she wants to elect her. In areas which she might have some appeal to voters such as school and ethics reform Clinton relies too heavily on proposals she's introduced as a Senator without conveying how she might get them enacted as President without a Democratic congressional majority.
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