Officials at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation have contributed to Hillary Clinton's campaign, and Murdoch himself has held fund-raisers in her behalf. Lawyers at Kenneth Starr's law firm, Kirkland and Ellis, have donated more to Clinton than they have to all of the Republican candidates combined. In addition, Bloomberg.com reports that "Large US [law] firms ... are giving thousands more to Democratic hopefuls than Republicans. Top Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds are also giving more to Democrats." We can assume that most of these donations are going to the front-runners, Clinton and Obama. And finally, Hillary Clinton's appearance last week at the Yearly Kos, was cut short by her appearance at a fund-raiser at the estate of billionaire, Ron Perlman.
Hillary Clinton appears to be the favorite Democrat of Republican haves and have-mores.
Why is this so?
The oxymoronic "conventional wisdom" in the mainstream media would have us believe that these Republicans, assuming a near-inevitable Democratic victory in 2008, are backing the most likely, and, to them, the most tolerable, Democratic candidate.
I have a different take on it. The Republicans, far from conceding the next election, believe that they may have a plausible shot at winning. But to do so, the Democrats must nominate the weakest and most vulnerable candidate.
And Hillary is the one. How so?
There are many compelling reasons why the front-running Democratic hopeful is also the most vulnerable.
Most significantly, among the general voting population Hillary Clinton has the highest disapproval ratings of all the Democratic candidates - in fact, according to a June Mason-Dixon poll, she is the only candidate of either party of whom a majority (52%) have said that they would not consider voting. In addition, 42% reported an unfavorable opinion of Clinton, compared to 39% favorable; the only candidate with a net negative rating. These are devastating statistics which are unlikely to change significantly, since the public is by now well acquainted with Clinton. One would assume that such statistics would disqualify a candidate. However, the establishment Democrats who support Hillary are unperturbed.
Next, "the woman thing." Though the mainstream media has scrupulously avoided the topic, the fact that Clinton is the first woman in US history likely to be the presidential nominee of a major party must be a serious obstacle to her election. This is regrettable, and I sincerely wish that it were not so. But there it is, and the Democratic party will ignore this reality at its peril. And if Clinton selects Barak Hussein Obama as her running-mate, with the first black candidate on a national ticket the "blue" populist resurgence in the South will be stopped in its tracks and the Democrats will lose every electoral vote in the South. Jim Crow, while muted, still lives. Also regrettable, but true.
If Clinton were to be elected and serve two full terms, at the end of her administration in 2116, two families would then have occupied the White House for twenty-eight years. Many Americans are extremely put-off by the very idea of dynasties and royal families. I know that I am. Millions of voters, I suspect, would go to the polls in November, 2008 with this thought foremost on their minds: "this dynasty business must end, and end now."
Hillary Clinton is widely perceived to be a political "weathervane" who adapts her positions and talking points to shifts in public opinion. Most of the public has had quite enough of "focus-group politics," and yearns for a politician who acts and speaks clearly with conviction and on principle. In the eighties, voters would say of Ronald Reagan, "I may disagree with him, but I know where he stands." And then they would vote for him. Pop quiz: state in twenty-five words or less, the guiding principles of Clinton's politics. See what I mean? The failure of the Democratic Congress to exhibit courage and clarity of its convictions, and its unwillingness to act decisively has resulted in its dismal public approval ratings - lower, even than those of George Bush. The public will not look kindly upon similar behavior by the Democratic presidential candidate.
Clinton and her managers apparently believe that the winning votes are to be found in a presumed "center" between establishment (e.g., Congressional) Democrats and the Republicans. Thus they have swallowed the kool-aid served up by the GOP-lite Democratic Leadership Council and the beltway pundits. In fact, as poll after poll testifies, overwhelming public opinion concerning Iraq, the "war on terror," the rule of law, economic justice, health care, minimum wage, public education, government regulation of commerce, environmental protection, campaign finance reform, etc. is "outside" and to the left of both parties. The failure of the "official" Democrats to recognize the public mind, accounts in large part for the public contempt for the Democratic Congress.
While the mainstream media and the Republicans have been uncommonly gentle with Clinton - one might say suspiciously gentle - when the conventions are over and the campaign begins, the GOP and the media attacks will be brutal. And Clinton will be an especially vulnerable target. As we well know by now, GOP campaign themes have no necessary grounding in fact - witness Al Gore and "inventing the internet," and John Kerry's encounter with the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Hillary Clinton can be expected to be overwhelmed by a barrage of malicious rumors and innuendos
While Hillary Clinton is clearly not the people's choice (cf. The Mason-Dixon poll above), she is most assuredly the media's choice. Democratic candidates such as Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson, whose views on Iraq, economic justice, and health care most closely coincide with public opinion, are relegated to "the second tier" - not serious contenders. And who decides this allocation? Not the public - there have been no primaries yet. Of course, the media decides. Early poll numbers largely reflect "name recognition." And the media repeatedly prints and broadcasts the names that are "recognized."
It is clear today that Hillary Clinton has been pre-selected by the media as the Democratic nominee, with Barak Obama and John Edwards as the runners-up. As The Independent of the UK reports, "the nomination as matters stand is Ms Clinton's to lose." If, in fact, Clinton is the weakest and most vulnerable of the Democratic candidates, the mainstream media has once again served the GOP well.
As David Swanson correctly observes, "there is a pattern well established in this country of the corporate media working very hard to nominate Democrats destined to lose." We saw this "pattern" at work in 1972, when the most formidable Democratic candidate, Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, was sandbagged by a phony letter attacking Muskie and his wife. While the letter originated with GOP dirty-trickster, Donald Segretti, the media inflated Muskie's emotional response to it, fatally damaging Muskie's candidacy. The GOP and its media allies then worked behind the scenes to promote Senator George McGovern, a WW-II war hero who was defamed as a weak-willed "peacenik." In the 1972 election, Richard Nixon won forty-nine states.
Among official Democrats, and in the liberal and progressive blogs, there is widespread talk of when, not if, the Democrats regain the White House in 2008. They correctly perceive a nationwide disgust with the unconstrained greed and lawlessness of the Bush/Cheney administration, and of the six years of total compliance with this villainy by the Congressional Republicans. These cheerful Democrats are confident that the GOP record assures a substantial victory in the 2008 election.
They forget that despite recent revelations of GOP finagling, the Rovian machinery of election fraud and massive disenfranchisement remains essentially in place. The "black box" paperless touch screen voting machines, built and secretly programmed by Republican manufacturers, will once again count and compile more than a third of the votes of the 2008 election.
Nonetheless, as we discovered in 2006, overwhelming public support of the Democrats can overcome a Republican "fix." And this time, the public has been alerted to the GOP's electoral shenanigans. Accordingly, the Democrat's prospect for victory in 2008 should be excellent, unless the party once again finds a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It appears that they may have found that way in the "front-running" candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".
Copyright 2007 by Ernest Partridge