Hillary Rodham Clinton's hat in the presidential-hopeful ring doesn't change this assessment, for two reasons. One, she can't win, and the Democrats are even bigger fools than I think they are if they nominate her. And two, she doesn't deserve to win, because she's not liberal: she's a hawk.
First: she can't win. Just as people around the world loved Bill Clinton, his international popularity far outstripping what he enjoyed in the US, here in Canada, people imagine that Hillary Clinton will sail into office. Most Canadians I speak with have no idea that a large percentage of the American public views Hillary Clinton as a filthy, slimy She-Devil. I can't remember a politician who is loathed as deeply as H. R. Clinton is. Liberals' and progressives' hatred of George W. Bush pales in comparison to conservative and reactionary hatred of Clinton. They're so much better at hate than we are.
This hatred, of course, isn't warranted. I only wish it were! If Clinton was even a fraction of the radical leftist the reactionary media makes her out to be, I'd be thrilled. Their hatred is misguided, and it's sexist. But it exists, and Clinton's campaign and the media distortions that are sure to accompany it will only fuel the fire. Nothing Clinton can say or do on the campaign trail will change that, because, after all, the right's hatred of Hillary Clinton is based on fantasy. The woman those people love to bash doesn't even exist.
Dyed-in-the-wool Democrats will vote for Clinton, but they'll vote for any donkey versus any elephant. So if we assume the Democrats must go after the swing voter, and the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton, we should all just save our time and money and put the Republican in office right now. (We can do that anyway, since 2008 will be as stolen as 2004 was, but that's another story...)
Second: she shouldn't win. I'm frankly amazed - and disgusted - by how many supposedly liberal Americans support Hillary Clinton. People, have you all forgotten?? She supported the war on Iraq! She supported the invasion, she supported the war, she supported the occupation. She changed her position only recently, when it was politically safe to do so.
How can anyone who opposes the US war on Iraq vote for someone who supported it?
Although Clinton has since backed away from her support of the war (and lies about her former support), now that it's politically expedient to do so, she continues to support the occupation - and says "no option can be taken off the table" when dealing with Iran.
If you haven't followed Clinton's backpedaling path when on Iraq, it's understandable, as she was purposely pretty quiet on this divisive issue. To get you up to speed, here are some primers: Code Pink has been bird-dogging Clinton on the war, and you can listen to the results here. From AntiWar.Com, here's a story called "Hillary May Be Presidential Material, After All - On Iraq and Israel, she's a perfect neocon" and another go from the bird-doggers.
Writer and blogger Bob Harris puts it as well as I've seen it anywhere:
...the Iraq war is one of the deadliest, stupidest, and most criminal foreign policy mistakes of our lifetimes. (Just making that list is a major accomplishment, btw, considering Guatemala, East Timor, Cambodia, etc.) And Hillary, despite her recent weaseling -- sorry, triangulation is the term of art -- vigorously supported Bush's Iraq adventure from the start.There are Democratic faithful who say that Clinton is only doing what any viable candidate for President has to do, because no one with too strong an anti-war stance could get elected. If that's what you're going to settle for, how can we hope to end the war? If that's what you're going to settle for, how can the Democratic party ever be anything but a slightly more moderate Republican party?
In the wake of 9-11, it wasn't just George W. Bush telling the world "every nation has to be either with us or against us." It was Hillary, as you can hear for yourself.
In October 2002, during the debate about giving Bush authorization to invade Iraq, it wasn't just Dick Cheney telling the world in that Saddam Hussein had links to Al-Qaeda. It was Hillary, from the floor of Congress.
And in February 2005, it wasn't just John McCain claiming that democracy was taking root in Iraq, and that the insurgency was in its last throes. It was Hillary, standing right at John McCain's side. . . .
If this were a just world, not one person who authorized Bush to invade Iraq would ever be re-elected to anything, and the prime engineers of this mess would be going to jail instead of Fox News desks. And if this were a just world, Hillary would be held in almost as much contempt by people opposed to this war as Bush, Cheney, and the rest of Team Chimpy.
Let me put it another way. If Hillary Clinton had the exact same record, had made the exact same statements, but had the letter (R) beside her name instead of a (D), would you vote for her? And would you vote for her because she's a woman?
I'd be willing to bet that we could find a Republican with the exact same voting record as Hillary Clinton. I admit I haven't done this - I have no intentions of spending my time combing through US Senate voting records - but anyone who wants to bet and do the work, you're on.
Another enlightening exercise is to compare US Senator Hillary Clinton to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You know, the Harper that some Canadians claim is a baby Bush? The Harper that some people fear will hand Canada over to the neocons, lock, stock and privatized health care? Many people on both sides of the 49th would be surprised to learn that Clinton and Harper have similar stances on most issues, and on some, Clinton is further to the right. You don't have to take my word for it, the great NDP Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist has done the homework.
Some progressive bloggers who I really like are supporting Clinton's candidacy. I've responded that we need progressive people first. If they can also be women, great, but peace and justice must take priority over any feminist or gender solidarity. But we need women, they say. And at what cost, I ask. Will US soldiers (and Iraqi civilians) be any less dead if a woman orders the killing than if a man does?
Others have suggested that if progressive people put Clinton in office, she will be obligated to listen to us. I ask: how's that been working out for you so far? Have the Democrats you've helped put in office felt obligated to listen to you recently? Ever? In your lifetime? If Clinton were elected, it would be the so-called centre - the conservative swing voters - she would owe, not us.
And is there any evidence that she'd feel obligated to the voters at all? Or just to the corporate money that financed her campaign? During the run-up to the war, Clinton's office was flooded with calls and faxes urging, begging and demanding that she vote no to authorizing Resident's war powers. It was estimated that callers against the war outnumbered those for the war by 3 to 1. She voted yes.
Still, Clinton continues to draw the rage of the neocons (even though she is often indistinguishable from them) and the gushing admiration of liberals. She continues on a hawkish path that she thinks will win her votes, while allowing the right's hatred of her to fool liberals into thinking she is one of them. Now that is the work of a brilliant politician.
I want to see a female US President so badly that I see stars. I salivate over it. I yearn for it down to my chewed-up fingernails.
But a woman in the White House is less important than the direction the US takes. A woman in the White House is less important than ending this terrible war, than freeing the prisoners at Guantanamo, than not launching a war against Iraq.
If the choice was between, say, Katherine Harris and Dennis Kucinich, who would you vote for?