Friday, July 18, 2008

Remember the Reasons, Part 2

To repeat a point I’ve made many times before – here, for example – in the contest for the Democratic nomination, there were few discernible policy differences between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. To the extent that there were some – whether or not to mandate universal health care coverage is the most conspicuous example -- Clinton’s position was probably better. The reason to prefer Obama therefore had nothing to with “the issues.” Rather, the reasons were twofold: to hand the Clintons a measure of retributive justice for their actionable offenses (murderous sanctions, wanton bombing campaigns, illegal wars, encouragement of ethnic cleansing) and to keep the old Clinton hands, the more noxious ones anyway, from coming back into power.

There was never much justice in the offing. The Democrats won’t even impeach George Bush or Dick Cheney, let alone bring them to justice for their crimes against the Constitution or for their war crimes, crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity. What chance, then, that they’d submit their own ideological leader to the rule of law? But there was at least the prospect of popular repudiation and public humiliation. That hasn’t happened either. Instead, Obama can’t pander enough to the Clinton family and their benighted enthusiasts. His media allies have followed suit – putting hopes of repudiation to rest.

The second reason has all but faded too. In order to diffuse the Republicans’ claim that he hasn’t talked enough to world leaders and American generals, Obama is about to set off today on a European junket with trips to Israel and Jordan and, most likely, also to Iraq and Afghanistan. In anticipation, today’s (July 18) New York Times reports on Obama’s foreign policy advisors. Perhaps there are backbenchers in the group who aren’t tried and true Clintonites -- The Times is characteristically uninformative on this question -- but the higher echelons positively wreak of Clintonism. With these folks running the empire, we can probably look forward to fewer preemptive wars we cannot win. But expect plenty of similarly motivated “humanitarian interventions.”

There is still a difference, however. Hillary’s likely choice for Secretary of State, the villainous Richard Holbrooke, is not in the inner sanctum – yet. [For this, apparently, we have Anthony Lake’s animosities, not Obama’s principles, to thank.] That’s about all that’s left of the reasons for siding with Obama in last spring’s sound and fury.

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