Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Lady Vanishes... Into a Smokescreen of Lies

I forced myself to read an article in the current New Yorker on Hillary Clinton (The Lady Vanishes: Two biographies search for the real Hillary Clinton). In a sea of material about the presidential nominee-hopeful the New Yorker is a relatively credible source, and at least one of the two new books that the article describes (Karl Bernstein's A Woman in Charge) is also relatively credible.

Nonetheless, the article is a painful example of not seeing the big picture.

Nothing has emerged that is of any importance whatsoever. She lost some billing reports from her law firm that had been subpoenaed; then she found them and handed them over. She was involved in a real estate scheme that lost money. Her husband fooled around. Yawwwwwn. Just compare that to what Bush has done: overturning the Geneva Convention, altering the US Patriot act to enable himself to appoint partisan US attornies, conducting unwarranted domestic wire taps, outing a CIA agent to exact revenge against her husband, lying to the US people and the UN to get them to support an illegal war, waging an illegal war, overseeing billions of dollars handed out to friends in dodgy contracts, overseeing billions lost to fraud in Iraq, conducting extensive coverups, etc etc etc etc etc etc.

Among Democrats, some of the most pervasive criticism of Hillary is that she is too political; she has no values; she has changed her stripes for political gain; etc. This really seems to bother people. And yet what successful federal politician does not do that? McCain and Giuliani are out wooing the right without being called hypocrites. There is a constant dance amongst all contenders in both parties to address issues in a way that will not lose them votes. Hillary is in a tougher position, as a woman, to avoid negative labels, but I don't think her integrity is any the less.

Some of the criticism of Hillary is blatant sexism, such as the huge preoccupation with her use of her maiden name. For more on this, see my previous post Mother Jones Takes on Hillary.

Some of the criticism of Hillary is a rewriting of history. For example, the article cites the "health care debacle" as one of her most serious blunders. But at the time that her attempt to reform US health care failed, Hillary was widely credited with having done a brilliant job. Congress gave her a standing ovation. The consensus was that the country just wasn't ready for it yet, that noone could have overcome the political hurdles to achieving it, that she had paved the way for universal health care to be attempted again in the future.

A lot of the criticism is fueled by a brilliant conservative campaign to create an image of Hillary Clinton that is unappealing. Hillary, in the growing scenario, is a megalomaniacal ball-breaker whose ambition is so extreme as to be sociopathic.

This is of course just spin. Remember when Al Gore was running for president? He was painted as a delusional liar who claimed to have invented the internet, been the inspiration for Love Story, and a bunch of other absurd things. After he lost the election all that was completely debunked. None of it was true. The brilliance of the lies was that they were so absurd that Gore never knew how to respond to them. How could anyone believe such patent untruths? And yet everyone did - for just long enough for him to lose the presidency.

It reminds me of a (possibly apocryphal) story about Lyndon Johnson's early career. Johnson is supposed to have told his campaign manager to spread a rumor that his opponent had sex with barnyard animals. "But noone will believe that," his manager responded, to which Johnson replied, "No, but I want to hear the son of a bitch deny it!"

Hillary Clinton is not a megalomaniac, sociopathic ball-breaker. There is no evidence that she has done anything corrupt (and she, along with her husband, has been scrutinized down to her toe nails). The media and US public are once again being duped by a very effective Republican PR campaign.

These campaigns work in many ways. They allow Republicans to demonize the opposition. But even for Democrats who support Hillary, the campaign makes us less enthusiastic in our support. Insidiously, they sow doubt.

Bill Clinton managed to turn the attacks around, in part, by taking such a huge number of hits early in his campaign that people started to disbelieve the attacks. But then Bill Clinton was a dazzling candidate, intelligent and informed and well-spoken, and he blew the competition out of the water on his own merits. There aren't any current candidates, including Hillary, who rise above the pack that clearly. Also, Hillary has the huge disadvantage that her image is distorted by her gender, and it doesn't look like society is changing in that regard.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nader ponders run, calls Clinton 'coward'

BlueBerry Pick'n said...

'Hillary Clinton: Music Campaign video... & slurs Canadians

Nader ponders run, calls Clinton 'coward'



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