The Time-to-Make-the-Doughnuts Candidate
"The fact that a lot of people dislike you is troubling," says the director of the Quinnipiac University poll, talking about Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbagger, Slept Her Way Into National Prominence, NY). She scores 47 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, leaving Barack Obama (21 percent) and John Edwards (12 percent) in the dust. This is supposed to make her inevitable. Why bother to hold primaries? But a funny thing happens when Democrats and Republicans talk about 2008: they find common ground.
"I can't stand Hillary," the Republican opens.
"She's disgusting," the Democrat agrees. At last, a Uniter.
Half the electorate hates her--and not just members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. She's a juggernaut, at least in a Howard Dean-in-November 2003 kind of way. Liberals will vote for her if she's the nominee. But it'll be a chore. She epitomizes joylessness. Win or lose, who cares?
She's the time-to-make-the-doughnuts candidate.
Every voter has his or her limit, a moment or an act or just a general sense about a politician that makes the idea of voting for them feel so unpleasant they'd rather cross party lines, or stay home on election day. For me, and for a lot of people, it was Hillary's vote to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guards a "foreign terrorist organization," unleashing new sanctions and U.S. military "instruments"--a step toward war--against Iran.
I forgive easily. I could have let Hillary off the hook for supporting NAFTA, screwing up healthcare in 1993 and voting for the proto-fascist USA-Patriot Act. I could have overlooked her Reaganesque cluelessness about the lives of ordinary people. (Reneging on her "baby bond" proposal that Americans receive $5,000 at age 18, she now wants to give everyone a 401(k) and have the government match it "up to $1,000." Thanks to this windfall, she says, "they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down payment on their first home." Lame idea, obviously. What I want to know is: Where can you buy a house or a college education for $1000? On the moon?)
I might have even have forgiven Hillary's vote to authorize Bush to start the unprovoked war against Iraq, though she never apologized for a cowardly (and miscalculated) act of triangulation that contributed to the deaths of more than a million Iraqis. As Tim Grieve wrote in Salon: "She has gone from 1) voting for the use-of-force resolution, to 2) questioning the intelligence that formed the basis of that vote, to 3) arguing that the Bush administration distorted the intelligence, to 4) saying she didn't regret giving Bush authority to use force but did regret the way he used that authority, to 5) saying the resolution never would have come to a vote if Congress knew then what it knows now, to 6) saying that Congress wouldn't have voted for the resolution if Congress knew then what it knows now, to 7) saying that she wouldn't have voted for the resolution if she knew then what she knows now."
Hillary's October 2003 speech to the Senate is a fair summary of her defense: "The idea of giving our president authority to act...against Saddam Hussein, was one I could support and I did so. In the last year, however, I have been first perplexed, then surprised, then amazed, and even outraged and always frustrated by the implementation of the authority given the president by this Congress." Good idea, fouled up by hyper-aggression and lousy implementation. Well, what did she expect? Bush was a warmonger, a liar who'd already attacked Afghanistan, where Osama wasn't, and sucked up to Pakistan, where he was, after 9/11. She gave him a blank check. She can't have been surprised when he cashed it.
As I said, I'm the forgiving type. I get it: Hillary can't apologize for her Iraq vote. It would make her look weak. As she said in September 2006 on ABC News, "I can only look at what I knew at the time because I don't think you get do-overs in life. I think you have to take responsibility. And hopefully, learn from it and go forward. I regret very much the way the president used the authority he was given because I think he misled the Congress, and he misled the country."
Except...except...she did get a do-over. The same president who misled her, Congress and the country, asked for her vote on yet another resolution based on phony intelligence that starts us down the path to war--this time against Iran. She had a chance to prove that she'd learned her lesson. She voted yes. Again.
President Hillary won't close Gitmo. She won't stop torturing. She won't stop listening to our phone calls. She won't stop the war in Iraq, much less in Afghanistan. Heck, she might even start a new one.
Fool you once, shame on Bush. Fool you twice, I stop thinking how cool it would be for the United States to finally elect a woman president.
© 2007 Ted Rall