Hillary, You’re Not Listening


“Part of my job is being a good listener,” Hillary Clinton wrote, in the first line of her letter received today. As a New Yorker, I’m represented by Hillary in the U.S. Senate. Along with her two-page fundraising letter, I received a four-page “2005 Critical National Issues Survey.”

 

But something was missing — something Hillary obviously doesn’t want to hear about: IRAQ. Nowhere in the letter or the questionnaire was that four-letter word.

 

Hillary’s first question asked me to rank nine issues in their “order of importance.” Iraq wasn’t on the list. Nor was there a place I could add an issue she’d somehow forgotten about.

 

The problem is she hadn’t forgotten the war. She simply doesn’t want to hear about one of the biggest issues dividing our country, draining the federal budget, destabilizing the Middle East, undermining international law and institutions, and spreading fear and hatred of our country.

 

When national polls show that 54% or more of Americans want our troops withdrawn promptly from Iraq, and 60% believe it was a mistake to have sent troops in the first place, imagine how huge the majorities are for those propositions in Hillary’s home state of New York.

 

Hillary’s letter said that she enclosed the questionnaire to help gauge concern about “the extreme Bush agenda.” But on the central foreign policy initiative of Bush’s agenda, she has been complicit. When she voted to authorize the Iraq war, and today when she echoes White House talking points in criticizing advocates of withdrawal.

 

Hillary’s letter closes by appealing to Americans who believe “no one’s listening to me.” I’m not one of those Americans: Progressive members of Congress have been listening to their constituents, and speaking out loudly and bravely to end the destabilizing US occupation of Iraq. Now even a hawk like John Murtha is listening. It’s Hillary who isn’t listening.

 

What I want this Christmas season is an antiwar Democrat to step forward to challenge Hillary Clinton in New York’s upcoming primary for senate. And I want a powerful antiwar Democrat to oppose her for the presidential nomination in 2008.

 

Pollster John Zogby believes that a credible progressive Democrat will challenge Hillary for the presidency in 2008: “There will be an antiwar candidate,” predicts Zogby. “That’s what the base demands.”

 

Hillary’s letter ended with a P.S.: “Please return your completed survey with a generous contribution within 10 days.”

 

I immediately returned the survey…with the word “IRAQ” scrawled across it in marker. But there was no “generous contribution.” I’m keeping my checkbook open for candidates ready to challenge Bush’s extreme agenda, at home and in Iraq — and to challenge Hillary as well.

 

[Jeff Cohen (www.jeffcohen.org) is a media critic and author.]

 

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