Monday, June 9, 2008

Pandering to the Panderer

n recent elections, the continuator of the principles that animated that brief moment within the New Deal that reflected the best one can hope for from the Democratic Party, a real effort to supply capitalism with a human face, has been Ralph Nader. I believe that his campaign this year is ill-advised and foolhardy, not just for the usual reasons -- the grip of the party duopoly, the pro-regime bias of the corporate media – but also, mainly, because of the passions Barack Obama stirs up among those who might otherwise rally behind a genuinely progressive candidate. But, wisely or not, he is running for principled reasons, not out of a sense that high office is his due. Nader also has a lifetime of positive achievements behind him. He has been perhaps America’s greatest “public citizen.” But mention his name to liberal Democrats and watch them turn red with anger. They still delude themselves into thinking that he, not Al Gore, threw the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is a genuine wrecker. Her politics, not surprisingly, are Clintonite – in other words, imperialist and anti-New Deal. Her achievements, such as they are, include permanently marginalizing the very idea of single-payer, not for profit health insurance, fumbling the 1993 Clinton health initiative so badly that universal coverage has been off the agenda for nearly a generation and, since carpet bagging her way into the Senate, supporting every military measure she can find – including, most recently, voting to authorize Cheney and Bush to do what they will to Iran. Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyle are her co-thinkers; not FDR. Throughout her days in public view, she, like her husband, has never had time for principles. Indeed, the Clintons have given opportunism a bad name. They pander shamelessly and relentlessly – wherever there are votes to be won or contributions to collect. But now that even she concedes that she lost the nomination to Barack Obama, these liberal Democrats who excoriate Ralph Nader cannot pander enough to her. A truly nauseating spectacle!

The denouement of the primary season demonstrated plainly that if Barack Obama knows anything, it is how to play out the clock. Lets hope he doesn’t forget. Within a few weeks, the calls for putting Hillary on the ticket should subside. Were Obama to accede to them, he’d demonstrate incontrovertibly, even before he’s officially nominated, that he’s not worth supporting. He’d also have to spend the rest of his days looking over his shoulder. He should keep in mind the one indisputable thing his erstwhile “humanitarian intervention” advisor Samantha Power told him – that the Clintons are “monsters” who will do anything to win.

The other suggestions for placating Hillary are even more ridiculous. Supreme Court Justice? It has been proven lately, beyond a reasonable doubt, that second and third rate minds can win Senate confirmation. But still? Hillary does have a Yale degree -- along with countless others, including Bill Clinton -- and she worked for Arkansas’ white shoe law firm. The feminist hero got that job the way she got all her others – because she was a wife. What law firm wouldn’t want a partner married to the Governor? Meanwhile, by all accounts, she did little for the Rose Law Firm except, of course, by attracting clients in need of political juice.
Maybe, instead, Obama should force the Democrats to make her Senate Majority Leader. Some pundits have said as much. But Obama would have to be as dumb as the Bush boy to push for that. It would make a mockery of the Senate’s traditions and rules. Were he to try, even the cowardly party leadership would revolt; as well it should.

What then? Maybe, Obama will just tell her to let nature take its course: to stay in the Senate and become the next Ted Kennedy. Believe it or not, there are pundits who think she can. But no matter what they tell her, and no matter how full of herself she is, Hillary is bound to see through that one. She knows Ted Kennedy, and therefore she knows she’s no Ted Kennedy. Of course, she might not know that she knows. I truly hope so: nothing would be so salutary as a good, hard fall for the House of Clinton. But, in her heart, the former Goldwater Girl knows it’s not to be. That’s why I would bet that she will just stew in place as her term winds down. Then she’ll join her husband, if that’s what he still is by then, making money the new-fashioned way – by being sleazy.

The conventional wisdom now has it that there are plenty of diehard Hillary supporters out there; enough to derail Obama’s chances of victory if Hillary won’t bring them into line. There’s little survey data supporting this conjecture, and not even much anecdotal evidence. There are just sound bites from disgruntled ladies of a certain age. But however many of them there are, they have five months to see the error – or rather the stupidity – of their ways. Let Obama pander to them, if he or his advisors think he must. But pander to the Queen of pandering? Basta!

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