Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Billary’s Dynastic Dilemma

“Sen. Clinton, if you are elected president, will you have the power to stop your husband from making public statements that could be harmful to your administration? Could you, for example, prevent him from deriding the arguments of a foreign leader or a prominent Senator as a ‘fairy tale?’”

If a journalist or an opponent asks this question the answer is certain to be something that cannot be parsed to yield a recognizable “Yes” or “No.” We’ve known since 1991 that the first principle of Clintonian metaphysics is the rejection of false dichotomies. It’s a sound principle, as far as it goes – they’re called false dichotomies for a reason. The problem is that in the parallel universe the Clintons inhabit, there are no true dichotomies. It is possible there for Bill to smoke marijuana without smoking marijuana, and Hillary to vote for a bankruptcy bill as a way to register her opposition to it. Poor John Kerry voted for things before he voted against them. The Clintons, however, break through the space-time continuum to be for and against things, to do and not do things, at the same time. No wonder the meaning of the word "is" goes up for grabs.

Hillary can hardly run on the promise that her husband will be the loose cannon of her administration, acting as minister without portfolio and political commentator at large. Ronald Reagan didn’t think the voters or the Constitution could allow former Pres. Ford to become “co-president” in 1980, and the idea doesn’t sound any more promising 28 years later. But if she insists that Bill Clinton will be subdued starting next January in a way he hasn’t been this January, she is either endorsing his over-the-top Obamaphobia, or making the weird claim that she’ll have more control over her presidency than over her presidential campaign.

Inevitably, Hillary wants to have it both ways, to distance herself from Bill’s attacks and avail herself of them. “I’m here, not my husband,” she said in Monday night’s debate. “This campaign is not about our spouses, it’s about us. . . . At the end of the day, voters are going to have to choose among us.” Yet her campaign advisors made clear to Patrick Healy of the New York Times that, “Mr. Clinton is deliberately trying to play bad cop against Mr. Obama,” leading Healy to observe that “the Clintons are all but openly running together as a power couple ready to take office in 2009.”

The tenor of the criticism of Bill Clinton’s role in his wife’s campaign since the Iowa caucuses could lead to the conclusion that the vast right-wing conspiracy has picked up some surprising new members. Joe Klein calls it “desperate,” “unprecedented,” and accuses Clinton of making “a spectacle of himself.” Clinton’s “transition from elder statesman, leader of his party and bipartisan ambassador to ward heeler and hatchet man has been seamless — and seamy,” according to Maureen Dowd. E.J. Dionne laments “Clinton’s Depressing Assault on Obama.” Michael Tomasky says that Clinton has “done himself a tremendous amount of damage” by campaigning “against a fellow Democrat no differently than if Obama had been Newt Gingrich.”

It’s clear that the Clinton campaign is willing to pay the price of diminishing Bill, as long as it diminishes Barack Obama even more. James Carville, of course, is happy to give the Times the pugnacious take-away snarl: “This is not Williams College students electing a commencement speaker. This is a huge deal. Does the president risk going overboard? Sure. But Obama runs a risk of being wussified.”

But the whole process has diminished Hillary Clinton, too – in ways that might not cost her the nomination or even the election, but which will put a Barry Bonds-sized asterisk beside her name in the history books. To the extent the 2008 Clinton campaign is about them it’s not about her. No detailed recitation of policy nuances can keep such a candidate from being reduced to Lurleen Wallace, a political spouse running as a stand-in for her term-limited husband. The New Republic’s Michael Crowley says that debunking Hillary’s claim that her Oval-Office-relevant credentials go all the way back to when she was a 25-year-old law student is beside the point. “Experience” is the Clinton campaign’s code word for having a former president right down the hall. The first female president will give us our first training-wheels presidency.

Discussions - 5 Comments

For years, the Democratic Party has prided itself as the "Party of Inclusion", in other words, the party that represented women and minorities. In recent decades, they have dominated the black vote as well as the Hispanic vote (with the notable exception of Cuban-Americans). In addition, the Democrats and their liberal supporters have demonized the Republican Party as the party of "the white boys", to borrow a phrase from Donna Brazile. True, Republicans have been slow to attract black voters with their conservative message as opposed to the liberal give-away programs of the Democrats. Their most recent president, Bill Clinton, has often been referred to as "America's first black president." However, with Barack Obama making a strong challenge to Hillary Clinton's expected coronation, the Democratic Party, led by the Clinton machine, is finding itself increasingly divided by race and gender-more reminiscent of the old "Dixiecrats".For years, the Democratic Party has prided itself as the "Party of Inclusion", in other words, the party that represented women and minorities. In recent decades, they have dominated the black vote as well as the Hispanic vote (with the notable exception of Cuban-Americans). In addition, the Democrats and their liberal supporters have demonized the Republican Party as the party of "the white boys", to borrow a phrase from Donna Brazile. True, Republicans have been slow to attract black voters with their conservative message as opposed to the liberal give-away programs of the Democrats. Their most recent president, Bill Clinton, has often been referred to as "America's first black president." However, with Barack Obama making a strong challenge to Hillary Clinton's expected coronation, the Democratic Party, led by the Clinton machine, is finding itself increasingly divided by race and gender-more reminiscent of the old "Dixiecrats"..

As things stand now, Obama is getting the black votes, as evidenced in Michigan and Nevada. Hillary is getting the white vote, especially white women. With South Carolina coming up (with half of the Democratic voters being black), the lines are apparently being drawn even more clearly. Mr Clinton has acknowledged that Obama will win the black vote in South Carolina (and thus probably win the state). Some of the Clintons biggest detractors, like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Morris, are pushing the theory that the Clintons are planning to use the loss of South Carolina to create a "white backlash" in Florida and the other major states..

Hillary has also raised some hackles with her comparison of the civil rights contributions of Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson. (That seems to me to be a case of hyper-sensitivity-ditto for Bill's "fairy tale" remark, which was taken out of context.) Bill, for his part, has made the usual fool out of himself with his angry attacks at reporters who ask inconvenient questions. In spite of the pleas of many in his party, Bill can't stop being on center stage..

One factor that I think has been largely overlooked is the Hispanic vote-particularly Mexican-Americans. Largely Democratic, like black voters, it seems the (Mexican-American) Hispanic vote is going to Hillary as evidenced by the 64% who voted for her in Nevada and the endorsement of the United Farm Workers. Why is that? Unfortunately, notwithstanding public statements made by black and Hispanic public figures, there is a degree of antipathy between the Mexican and black communities in places like Los Angeles and other large cities, where black and Hispanic gangbangers are killing each other on city streets. The same situation exists in California prisons. (I don't mean to suggest that gangbangers and prison inmates are representative of those communities, but this conflict can't be ignored.).

This is what happens when you put ethnic groups into categories or tribes, if you will. Now the Democrats are learning that race-based politics can boomerang. Now the Democrats are tearing themselves to pieces over race and gender. But who will call them racists?.

In addition, two significant events have occurred regarding Hillary in the last 48 hours. First, she won the endorsement of the New York Times, not surprising, but notable in the gushing tone of the editorial. (Of course, the New York Times is now only a shell of its former great self-now one of the most partisan newspapers in the country.).

Then there's this: Remember the South Carolina debate a few days ago when Hillary threw out the charge that Obama was doing business with "that slum lord contributor, Rezko"? (Tony Rezko, friend of Obama, Chicago developer and accused racketeer, who is under federal indictment on corruption charges). On today's Today Show, Hillary Clinton appeared with Matt Lauer who threw up an old photograph from the Clinton White House years showing Bill, Hillary and guess who? Tony Rezko Explanation? "We have had our picture taken with thousands of people- Can't be expected to know them all". (I'll say!).

I sure hope that the mainstream news media does their job and reports on Mr Rezko. The Chicago press has reported for some time on the relationship between Obama and Rezko. This week, the LA Times has followed suit. Many of the details are out there just waiting for nation-wide dissemination. Now, it is the job of the news media to investigate the relationship between the Clintons and Rezko. How did Rezko get his picture taken with the Clintons? What did he contribute to the Clintons and what did he receive from them? .

Maybe the New York Times will get to the bottom of it. (Don't hold your breath.).

gary fouse
fousesquawk

We already had the 'Co-Presidency'. Do we really want another round?

THE VOEGELI QUESTION is deliciously brilliant, but it is relevant and it is fair. Journalists, ask it! Indeed, let every conservative make it their duty, after every speech, every political analysis, every commentary lofty or bloggy, to add, Cato-like, ...and the journalists must ask the Voegeli question!

Bill revives the Federalist's criticism of a plural executive--Hamilton predicted exactly this situation. We should not have to suffer the consequences in practice; it is enough to have observed the dynamic duo bespatter the Democratic Party.

Exactly why the slogan . . . "Ladies, don't vote for Hillary. We've waited too long to get it wrong!" is so apt.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/11840