This is exactly why I don’t like Hillary Clinton

malfoygowdyMatt Taibbi reflected on Thursday’s umpteenth Congressional hearings on Benghazi led by Republican Trey Gowdy where Hillary Clinton was grilled for about 10 hours, with the verdict being almost unanimous that the Republicans ended up looking really bad, and not just because Gowdy has the misfortune to be a dead ringer for the villainous Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.

Hillary’s detractors, and I’ve been one of them, have long complained that she is a politician without firm principles. She, her husband and the other Third Way types who’ve dominated the modern Democratic Party specialize in a kind of transactional politics, in which issues are endlessly parsed to maintain a balance between fundraising interests and populist concerns. It’s a strategy that wins elections, but doesn’t get the heart racing much.

But there is one overriding principle that does animate and define the Clinton campaign, and that’s keeping Republicans out of office. For years, this has been the Democratic Party’s stock answer for every sordid legislative compromise, every shameless capitulation to expediency, every insulting line of two-faced stump rhetoric offered to get over: We have to do this to beat the Republicans.

I never bought that argument, for a lot of reasons, but Trey Gowdy made it look pretty good Thursday. Those idiots represent everything that is wrong not just with the Republican Party, but with modern politics in general. It’s hard to imagine a political compromise that wouldn’t be justified if its true aim would be to keep people like those jackasses out of power.

Taibbi is exactly right.

And to back up Taibbi’s claim that for the Clinton’s anything is negotiable in the pursuit of power, Clinton later gave an interview to Rachel Maddow where she explained that Bill Clinton advocated for the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and the Defense of Marriage Act purely as a defensive move to prevent the Republicans from pursuing even more extreme actions.

“I think what [then-President Bill Clinton] believed — and there was certainly evidence to support it — is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that there had to be some way to stop that,” Clinton told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow regarding the law, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. “There wasn’t any rational argument. Because I was in on some of those discussions, on both ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and on DOMA, where both the president, his advisers and occasionally I would – you know, chime in and talk about, ‘you can’t be serious. You can’t be serious.’”

Because of that, the Democratic presidential candidate said, the law “was a line that was drawn” to prevent conservatives from pushing a Constitutional amendment through banning same-sex marriages.

“It was a defensive action?” Maddow asked.

“It was a defensive action,” Clinton replied. “The culture rapidly changed so that now what was totally anathema to political forces, they have ceded. They no longer are fighting, except on a local level and a rear-guard action. And with the U.S. Supreme Court decision, it’s settled.”

With the Clinton’s, one can never be sure about what they stand for except that they are faithful servants of the oligarchy and will do and say anything (except betray the interests of the oligarchy) in the pursuit of power. But they are very good at rationalizing their actions at the time and explaining them away later so that even they are doing the wrong thing, they can claim that they were doing it for the right reasons. This was the same thing with Bill Clinton’s welfare ‘reform’ which gutted programs that helped the poor and increased his appeal with right-wingers, and his calculated attack on the obscure Sister Souljah to show that he could be tough on minorities.

The only way to get them to even think about doing the right thing is if it is also the popular thing and will not harm their economic interests. While this may make them marginally better than the rigid and extreme right-wing ideologues who will do the wrong thing come hell or high water, that is a weak reed on which to pin one’s political hopes and hardly an attitude that stirs the blood.

I am trying to think of a single issue where either of them took an unpopular stand simply because they felt it was right. I cannot. Maybe readers can think of something.


  1. atheistblog says

    SuperPAC, unpopular, not right, still she have one, because her only goal is to get the thrown.
    OK, I recant, almost all the democratic sheep herds worship her even though she is a plutocrat.

  2. says

    Watching one plutocrat trying to make another plutocrat look bad is the new “bum fight”

    And it’s probably even moral, because the plutocrats want to do it.

    Gowdy and Clinton deserve eachother. L’enfer, c’est les autres.

  3. Johnny Vector says

    To be fair, I thought at the time, and still think that at the time, the DADT compromise was a reasonable move. A heteros-only marriage amendment was a possibility, and things would have been a lot worse for a lot more people for a lot longer if it had happened. In retrospect, I believe a decent bit of leadership on the issue would have cut that off, but it wasn’t obvious at the time.

    I still prefer Sanders, mainly because of Clinton’s ties to Wall Street. But remember even Obama didn’t actually come out in favor of SSM until the wind was blowing stiffly in that direction. We can hope for actual leadership, but politics is as they say the art of the possible. (Which is why Sanders is right when he says we need the people to bang on the doors of government demanding they do the right thing.)

  4. parasiteboy says

    For years, this has been the Democratic Party’s stock answer for every sordid legislative compromise, every shameless capitulation to expediency, every insulting line of two-faced stump rhetoric offered to get over: We have to do this to beat the Republicans.

    This is why I left the Democratic Party and have registered as Independent/unaffiliated (different states have different terms). The Republicans play to win whereas the Democrats play not to lose. I have long felt that the whole Democratic party does not put in the effort to argue for their beliefs in public and rather will put them out there see how they poll and decide from there. I’m not saying that I want them to be ideologically pure and not compromise when necessary, but they don’t really try and push there ideas.

  5. denisevincent says

    I disagree that the Clintons are only interested in power and became faithful servants of the oligarchs in pursuit of power. Taibbi spoke directly to that kind of argument against Clinton:

    “The overriding implication of the Benghazi hearing seemed to be that Hillary Clinton was so crass, unfeeling and politically self-involved as to not care if members of her State Department were massacred. Again, Hillary has a lot of flaws, but we’re supposed to believe that she doesn’t have a problem with dead Americans? Seriously?”

    To believe that the Clintons are only political servants to the oligarchs, you need to ignore 30 years of Culture Wars where Authoritarian bullies pursued a deliberate propaganda campaign (carefully laid out in documents such as the Powell Memo) to create a critical mass of citizens in favor of policies favorable to Authoritarian Oligarchs. You’d need to forget that the propagandists made “Liberal” and “social justice” terms of derision. You’d need to deny that it’s only in 2015 that a critical mass began to react in disgust to Authoritarian bullying tactics and that wasn’t until April 2015 (per Google Trends) that people began showing interest in personalities like Bernie Sanders, even though his message is unchanged for decades.

    It’s as if you guys have never had to survive an office bully by waiting it out (because there are no jobs in your field), hoping that other people would eventually notice that the bully is actually an incompetent psychopath. This post (and the comments to it) sound as if you guys finally see the bully, but are unable to admit that the bully’s scapegoat was treated poorly, not even when the scapegoat states that actions taken were purely defensive.

    For me the depressing part is that the rise of the Authoritarians is a predictable part of the cycle of history, as is the inevitable counter reaction. Historians Strauss and Howe labeled that part of the cycle “The Third Turning”. Historically, the most effective way to survive a Third Turning is through holding actions, waiting until critical mass is reached and social justice can be renewed. But the Clintons are just in for power, right? They’re just like Bill O’Reilly, collecting that sweet Wingnut Welfare by sucking up to oligarch sugar daddies. The Clintons must really suck at it though, since their net worth is much smaller than the other faithful servants of the oligarchs.

    Would you like to know what happens during The Fourth Turning, when the Authoritarians fall? Do you wonder how history treats the mobs who enjoyed scapegoating the bullies’ targets? Maybe you should enjoy your ideological purity and superiority while you can, because even Taibbi can see, “It’s hard to imagine a political compromise that wouldn’t be justified if its true aim would be to keep people like those jackasses out of power.”

    I couldn’t agree with Taibbi more.

  6. parasiteboy says

    Marcus Ranum@6
    “Playing to win vs. playing not to lose” was talked about all the time in sports when I as growing up and is still used today. If you are up nearing the end of a game, do you continue to be aggressive and “Play to win” or do you play it safe, hope to hold onto your lead and “play not to lose”.

  7. starskeptic says

    Marcus Ranum @6
    Or maybe someone’s been following the Democratic party for the last forty years.

  8. lorn says

    Yes, both sides wish to gain and hold onto power, but there are important differences:

    Also, studies done on focus/attitude as a modifier of sports performance within team sports shows that there may be some modest gains to be had shifting focus from not losing to winning. But there are much larger improvements seen when focus shifts from winning (a goal, only realized at he end of the game) to execution (process, which rewards the focus even as other aspects may come around more slowly). Also the shift from goal to process is far less brittle and subject to self sabotage because of early success or failure.

  9. A Masked Avenger says

    There are differences between the parties--but none that matter if you’re a brown skinned foreigner. Obama GREATLY INCREASED the drone war, and instituted the doctrine that the president doesn’t even need to know the name of the target to authorize a killing. Will Hillary continue the slaughter unabated? To ask the question is to answer it.

  10. mr.ed says

    The committee only made her look tougher and more presidential, and provided her with hours of clips to wade through to produce campaign videos..

  11. StevoR says

    I am trying to think of a single issue where either of them took an unpopular stand simply because they felt it was right. I cannot. Maybe readers can think of something.

    Hilary Clinton’s fights for health care reform at the end of Bill’s term?

    Her sticking by Bill when he was accused of all those sexual affairs?

    Her support for science in a society that’s arguably quite anti-science?

  12. says

    @12 StevoR

    I think I can agree with you on your first one, but I have issue with the second two.
    For the second, she obviously had a personal stake in the issue, which makes it a blend of a personal and political issue; I’m not sure that can be included.
    For the third, I would indeed argue about our society being anti-science. I don’t think we are. Yes, many people oppose the scientific consensus when it goes against their ideology and we often accuse such people of being anti-science. But I would argue that such a description is inaccurate. Some of them may indeed be anti-science, but there are certainly those who are more so placing ideology higher on their list of priorities. I think a good example of this are the liberals who agree with climate change science but then turn around and rail against GMO’s.

  13. StevoR says

    @ ^ Leo Buzalsky : Fair enough. I think there is certainly a virulent strain of anti-intellectualism and science bashing in US culture generally although I take your point with ideology over science on GMOs etc .. Thinking here of the realtive popularity of Creationists, the Global Warming Deniers etc ..and how popular they are and how poor the US education system seems to be here going on a lot of poll results.

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