Hard To Respect Senator Clinton Now
Every day that passes increases the difficulty of maintaining any respect for Senator Hillary Clinton. Why would one of the very most influential public figures in our nation-five years ago-squander her good name with so many dishonest and despicable actions, day after day, month after month? It must be as confusing to others as it has been to me.
Arguably, after Bill Clinton assumed his presidential duties, Hillary was among the most admired and respected people in public life. She was assigned a major project (health care reform) in the first Clinton term, she was considered a co-equal partner to President Clinton ("Elect Bill, Get a "two-fer" with Hillary), she made a triumphant trip to an international women's conference in China-the complete list would extend through many more comparable honors.
Then Hillary ran for the U.S. Senate and won by a narrow margin. Soon thereafter, she voted with Bush, Cheney, et al., to allow the invasion of Iraq, even as weapons inspectors continued an incomplete but fruitless search under U.N. auspices. Unlike many of us who read international news sources, Hillary was easily fooled by Bush, but so were many of her peers in the Senate and the House.
Respect for Senator Clinton dwindled further when it took her 3 ½ years to puzzle out what many knew even before the invasion of Iraq-that the premise for Bush's invasion was flagrantly fraudulent. OK, she finally allowed, "If I had known then what I know now" she wouldn't have voted to give Bush permission for the invasion.
Well, maybe it took 3 ½ years, but she did finally get it. Oops! Now that she "gets it", what did she do to correct her (and others') serious error? Nada. Nothing. In fact, she compounded her initial error of judgment by supporting the Kyl-Lieberman resolution, by voting for every Iraq invasion appropriation, and by voting for the Patriot Act and for its renewal. (Despite her putative legal training at Yale, she still doesn't "get" that many elements of the Patriot Act are simply unconstitutional and in violation of international law). My respect for Clinton took a severe beating during this period.
Then came her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, where she has earned the supporter of many voters nationally. She has ridden high on a wave of adulation and a sense of bringing an end to the sorry era of male-dominated presidential politics. Many of us rejoiced that maybe this would be the end of male chauvinism in politics. Many of us hoped to see every Republican white male troglodyte buried under a massive pile of pro-Hillary votes and election results.
Then came the realities of the primary elections. During the early campaigns there were relatively few ethically questionable activities, as Richardson, Biden, Dodd, Obama, Rep. Kucinich and others unfurled their campaigns and sailed into the race. At this point, I had no quibble with Hillary's campaign; I could only disagree with her objectionable votes on the Patriot Act, the Protect America Act, the banking industry's bankruptcy bill, etc., etc., etc.
As Senator Obama emerged from the pack and took an early lead-in delegates, in popular votes, in states won, and (in my mind) superior judgment--to wit., his early opposition to the Iraq invasion--Senator Clinton began her disappointing descent into mud-slinging politics.
If asked whether her thinly-veiled racial comments or her blatant endorsement of McCain over Obama were worse, I would have to choose the former, of course. And to allow Bill Clinton to denigrate Barack Obama on behalf of Hillary's campaign in the manner that he alluded to Jesse Jackson's prior campaign success in South Carolina compounded the sin. Similarly, Geraldine Ferraro's pathetic comment, and Clinton's failure to acknowledge the clear racism that it reflects, confirmed that Bill's apparently venal sin was really another undeniable cardinal sin of the Clinton campaign.
By mid-May, 2008, Hillary's lack of political integrity has become all too clearly apparent. Like a street-fighter who is down, she is now using all the dirty, underhanded tricks she knows to re-gain her once dominant position. With every passing day she excretes more vile half-truths and innuendoes, twisting Obama's positions and distorting her own mis-steps, all the while rendering her declining balance of respect lower and lower.
Each of these lies and distortions, a sampling of which are listed below, has chipped away at her credibility and diluted her integrity beyond redemption:
(1) She has lied about the comparative "popular vote" totals, (disingenuously ignoring caucus states where she tended to lose);
(2) She has publicly claimed a win in Texas (where she emerged with fewer delegates than Senator Obama);
(3) She has urged Michigan's cause without conditions (where all the ethical candidates withdrew their names, leaving only Hillary and "uncommitted' as ballot choices);
(4) She has supported violation of the very Democratic Party rules she helped form by calling for Florida's delegate to be seated in toto;