Who is Hillary Clinton Trying to Kid?

Hillary Clinton’s prolonged death agony is getting harder and harder to watch. Who is she trying to kid? Her campaign is done; we’re just waiting for the official death certificate.

This re-post (below) of an article I did last year is dedicated to the people who keep writing me to say that I am a Hillary Clinton supporter because I dare to criticize her moral-ideological corporate-imperial twin Barack Obama. 

The accusation of pro-Hillary Clinton sentiments is absurd but results naturally from the narrow and binary either/or all-or-nothing black-and-white-winner-take-all —- and quite frankly, completely idiotic —- nature of U.S. political culture.

The title of this article – "Who Does Hillary Clinton Think She’s Kidding?" — seems especially apropos in the wake of recent news that she is lending her campaign $6.4 million. For the last two months, Hillary Inc. has been trying to pose as a working class populist. Along with her heavily corporate funding profile and centrist, business-friendly nature of her policy agenda, I find the fact the she is wealthy enough to lend her campaign $6.4 million slightly anomalous for her populist pretensions. The proletarians of West Virginia and Kentucky have good reasons to wonder just how exactly she can claim to know their pain when she’s from a class where she can pull out a gold-plated checkbook and dash off a cool six mill.

Something tells me the Big Money Obama Machine is going to get hit up to help pay her off. That will be a central part of the negotiations for Hillary to acknowledge the fact that she really did die in February and that the Orwellian Reverend Wright affair and the persistence of racial bloc voting will not raise her from the dead.

Looking at this article, again, I notice that it was also quite critical of Edwards – something that certain people who write me insist on forgetting.
Unlike many of a certain candidate’s supporters, I backed "my" presidential favorite without illusion and with a tactical sense that grassroots activists would have to push him like Hell to do decent progressive things if he ever got in the White House (made impossible from the beginning by big money and big media).

Who Does Hillary Clinton Think She’s Kidding?
by Paul Street February 14, 2007

The right-wing Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign staffers can complain all they want about centrist Barack Obama’s lack of federal, political and foreign policy experience.

There’s nothing praiseworthy about having served more undistinguished years than Obama (or anyone else) in the corrupt and corporate-ruled United States Senate. There’s nothing honorable in owing your political career largely to the fact that you are married to an ex-president. And there’s no escaping the dreadful nature of her continuing refusal to renounce and/or apologize for her 2002 vote to authorize Dick Cheney to invade Iraq.

Clinton clings to her standard talking point: she "wouldn’t have supported the use of force if she had had the intelligence information in 2002 that she had now" (Patrick Healey, "In New Hampshire, Clinton Refuses to Denounce her War Vote," New York Times, 11 February 2005, sec. 1, p.22).

This line has been evoking open popular criticism on the campaign trail – with good reason. I see only three possible explanations of her 2002 vote:

1. She was a geeked-up post-9/11 war hawk who (consistent with her especially strong support of Israel) was more than ready to join the bloody assault on the oil-rich Arab world.

2. She was a political coward who concluded that Cheney-Bush’s messianic-militarist war was an unstoppable fait accompli that she could oppose only at potentially serious cost to her long-time electoral viability.

3. She was unforgivably incompetent in her assessment of relevant information.

The fact that Cheney et al. were lying about the threat supposedly posed to the U.S. and the world by Saddam was well understood at home and abroad. You didn’t have to be some kind of clairvoyant, "expert," or insider to know better than to swallow the administration’s deceptions. The transparently false and imperially motivated nature of the administration’s case for war was obvious to most of the morally and politically cognizant planet. The cooked (not "bad") nature of the administration’s "intelligence" (fixed in advance by the policy, to paraphrase the Downing Street Memo) was obvious to numerous observers.

Saying she was fooled by Cheney-Bush’s "intelligence" is admitting that she (along with numerous other U.S. Senators, of course) was one or some mixture of three things, none good, in the fall of 2002: (1) a disingenuous war hawk; (2) a disingenuous political coward or; (3) shockingly stupid. My guess is that her decision was about a combination of (1) and (2), with (2) being the dominant factor.

Whatever, this is one area where the overnight Barockstar has got Hillary Clinton beat – cold.

Don’t get me wrong. Beneath all his false claims to being a grassroots "outsider" and "progressive," Obama is a conservative, privilege-worshipping man of Empire and Inequality, Inc. He’s an open supporter of neoliberal capitalism and U.S. global dominance (see Paul Street, "The Obama Illusion," Z Magazine, February 2007; Street, "Obama’s Audacious Deference to Power," Black Agenda Report, February 7, 2007, read at www.blackagendareport.com/ index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=61); Street, "Keynote Reflections," ZNet, July 29th, 2004, available online at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=41&I temID=5951), consistent with his passion to be president and his Ivy League education/indoctrination.

But even then state Senator Obama refused to be fooled in the fall of 2002. "With no access to intelligence reports," Obama "recognized that administration claims of Saddam’s ‘imminent threat to the United States’ were hype and foresaw that an American occupation of Iraq would be of ‘undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.’"

I am quoting liberal New York Times columnist Frank Rich (Rich, "Stop Him Before He Gets More Experience," New York Times, 11 February 2004, sec. 4, p. 12), who might want to consider that neither I nor untold millions of others needed "access" to "intelligence reports" to know that the White House was lying about Iraq.

To his credit, Edwards now renounces his 2002 vote without claiming that he was bamboozled by Bush or the CIA (see Jeffrey Goldberg, "The Starting Gate: Foreign Policy Divides the Democrats," The New Yorker, January 15 [2007], p. 28).

This hardly means that Edwards is less of a United States global-supremacist than Clinton and Obama (see revolting David Brooks’ interesting reflections on Edwards’ hawkish sentiments in a grotesque, power-worshipping column: "The Iraq Syndrome, R.I.P.," The New York Times, 1 February 2007, p. A23).

All of the Big Three Democratic presidential candidates, it is important to note, refuse to acknowledge the obvious petro-imperialist motivations behind Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.). For his part, Obama (who loves to take sly little shots at leftists) cynically dismisses the notion of such administration motivation as left-wing "cynicism" (see Christopher Hayes, "Only Words," The Nation, February 12, 2007).

All of the Big Three doctrinally repeat the childish fairy tale (see Paul Street, "Bedtime Stories for the Bewildered Herd: Iraq War Fairly Tales in the Age of Never Mind Media," Z Magazine [January 2007]: 33-37) which claims that the U.S. invaded Iraq out of a "well-intentioned" (Obama) desire to export something called "democracy." Never mind that the notion of the Iraqi people doing whatever they wish with their nation-state’s critical petroleum resources is completely unacceptable to U.S. foreign policy makers from either of the nation’s dominant two imperial business parties. The oil and related world-economic and strategic geopolitical stakes in Iraq and the region are simply too high for that.

All of the Big Three criticize the "war in [on, P.S.] Iraq" as a "strategic blunder." They will not acknowledge O.I.L.’s status as a monumental war crime of brazen imperial aggression, consistent with the American Empire Project’s longstanding reliance on unlawful and brute force. The fact that most U.S. citizens actually reject that project and the perverted priorities it imposes on U.S. policy and society (see Paul Street, "Happy Imperial New Year," The Empire and Inequality Report, no. 6, January 6, 2007, pp.1-4, read online at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle. cfm?ItemID=11789 and The Chicago Foreign Relations Council’s survey of American public opinion in the fall of 2004 [www.ccfr/globalviews2004/sub/usa. htm])is nearly irrelevant under the corporate-imperial rules of the narrow-spectrum U.S. electoral system (see Street, "What is a Democracy?" The Empire and Inequality Report, no. 9 [February 3, 2007), www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=72&Item ID=12033).

Insofar as they remain willing to participate in dominant voting rituals, many U.S. citizens who want to live beyond the narrow confines of Empire and Inequality will feel stuck trying to determine which viable presidential candidate will do the least murderous harm at home and abroad in 2008. Among the Big Three, Hillary - the one with the strongest organization and the biggest campaign finance war chest by far - is clearly the most reactionary. Obama, who had to be shamed off the regressive and corporatist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) by left black writers Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford in 2004, is the next worst. The least terrible appears to be the "populist" millionaire Edwards, who recently cited Martin Luther King's famous "Time to Break the Silence" speech (of April 4, 1967) in an address calling for the U.S to de-escalate the war on Iraq and to meaningfully attack the problem of poverty at home. "Let's stand up for the working people whose labor made this country great," said Edwards, adding that "it is time to be patriotic about something other than war."

"Forty years ago, speaking in protest against the war in Vietnam on the eve of escalation," Edwards noted, "the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King said there comes a time when silence is betrayal" (Edwards, "DNC Winter Meeting Remarks," February 2, 2007, read at http://johnedwards.com/news/speeches/dnc-winter-meeting/).

It is too much, under U.S. political rules, to expect Edwards to mention some other passages from the democratic-socialist King's speech:

"They [the Vietnamese] must see us as strange liberators…as we increased our troop commitment in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support…They watch us as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops…So far we may have killed a million of them…"

"I [can] never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettoes without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government."

"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death" (The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James M. Washington [San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991], pp.231-244].

But then it’s not mainly about voting (right, center or left-protest) in the masters’ corporate-crafted "quadrennial extravaganzas" (Noam Chomsky’s term). The deeper thing required is to create democratic social and political structures reflecting and advancing the egalitarian and anti-authoritarian peace and justice sentiments of an engaged, empowered, and participatory citizenry. That’s something the people can only do for and by themselves, beneath the chatter of corporate electioneering and with no help from ruling class politicians claiming to be men and women of the people.

Veteran radical historian, journalist, and activist Paul Street ([email protected]) is an anti-centrist political commentator located in Iowa City, IA, U.S. Street is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005), and Still Separate, Unequal: Race, Place, and Policy in Chicago (Chicago, 2005) and the semi-weekly "Empire and Inequality Report." Street’s next book is Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (New York, 2007).

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