Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Wrecker

By all accounts, Hillary Clinton will win big tonight in Kentucky and Barack Obama will win well enough in Oregon to assure him a majority of pledged delegates. By all accounts, the Clintons will then just keep on going – through the three remaining primaries (Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico) and maybe beyond – not for any principled political reason (unless accommodating second wave feminists counts as a principle), but for their own psychological reasons, reasons of no interest to anyone except perhaps themselves.

Richard Nixon’s historical criminality, like his own inner torment, had a certain Shakespearean quality. He was a great villain. Bill Clinton’s villainy – in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Somalia and elsewhere – was considerable but only a pale approximation of Nixon’s. He is a much less interesting figure too: not tragic, not sublimely evil – just base and petulant. His wife follows in the mold, maybe even ratcheting up her husband’s petulance and certainly his baseness. She’s more tiresome too. The world, the country, and especially the Democratic Party would be well done with both of them. Unfortunately, that won’t happen any time soon. Even as her campaign crashes, Hillary will still be the Senator from New York, and Bill will still be the money machine he’s turned into thanks to his political “friends.” Barack Obama, like other Clintonized Democrats, is hell bent on “appeasing” that dreadful family. No chance, therefore, that their party will turn on them, even to the extent that, to its everlasting shame, it has turned on Jimmy Carter for daring to state the obvious about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Liberal Democrats are a sorry lot. When Ralph Nader campaigned for progressive but not especially radical policies – for what was essentially an up-dated New Deal style program – they fell on him tooth and nail. They are still after him; trying now, as much as in 2000, to stifle his and other progressive voices. Their methods haven’t changed: they concoct legal obstacles to ballot access, then they see to it that the media ignores their candidacies. If that fails, as it did to some extent in 2000, they move into full-scale attack mode, hauling out their biggest liberal guns. With Obama, unlike Al Gore, fooling many of the people all of the time, they’ll probably not need to go that far this year. But even as they recognize how utterly hopeless and harmful the Clintons’ quest for personal power has become, they will continue to cut that family all the slack in the world. Hillary is a wrecker, something Nader never was. Nevertheless, should the Democrats somehow manage to lose this year, he, along with other genuine progressives, will be blamed for wrecking --and she wont. This column, by Eric Alterman, The Nation’s most Clintonian commentator illustrates the phenomenon perspicuously. It should be remembered that Alterman was among the most dedicated of the liberal Nader baiters.

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