The Political Chameleons
February 21, 2016 § 2 Comments
The Failure of a Revolution
It appears to me that, once again, the Clintons have succeeded in re-writing their histories to fit current political fashion. Bernie Sanders’ defeats in Nevada and South Carolina probably ended his brave effort to convert the Democratic Party from an organization that tinkers with peripheral issues to one that forces a shift of power from corporate behemoths to citizens exercising political power.
If Hillary Clinton does not implode, we will have four more years without any significant effort to stop the rapidly developing transfer of wealth and income to a smaller and smaller group of multibillionaires. The dire warning by Thomas Picketty will be ignored and the middle class will virtually disappear.
This is only the latest example of the Clintons’ skill and ability to divert attention away from what they have done in the past while promising dramatic changes in the future. Here is a blow-by-blow description of this latest virtuoso Clinton performance.
During the overture, before the laser light of a political campaign was focused, Hillary made a series of speeches to groups of Wall Street bankers, hedge fund managers and other leaders of the money manipulation industry. She received over $600,000 for these speeches. Transcripts were made of each speech and, if she chose to do so, she could remove all suspicion about the promises made in those speeches by simply making those transcripts public.
Various members of the press have requested that she release those transcripts. She coyly responded that she would do so if “everyone else” released transcripts of their speeches – a demand so vague as to be meaningless. Her opponent, Bernie Sanders, promptly agreed to release transcripts of all speeches made by him to similar audiences, an easy promise because he has not made speeches to Wall Street denizens. When her first parry did not work, she has stonewalled. Interviews with various attendees who heard the speeches have described them as “sounding like reports of fund managers”. [This is not an exact quote, but it fairly describes the substance of those interviews.] For a very good description of her speeches from interviews with her listeners, see: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/clinton-speeches-218969
The Selective Revision of Hillary’s History
When she found herself confronted with an opponent with a spotlessly consistent record of opposition to racism, the Clinton team searched through Hillary’s past and produced several instances when she sided with civil rights advocates. Just out of college, she worked with disadvantaged black children in the South. After marrying Bill Clinton, she tried to establish a health care system. When that failed, she was able to salvage a very meaningful and valuable program of government health care aid for children. Having become a public figure as a result of Bill’s terms as governor of Arkansas and, later, as President of the United states, she and Bill were prominent in the Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King in the 60’s.
There are other chapters in her political past that do not fit her present narrative of a life-long advocate for civil rights. Bill Clinton’s two term presidency featured his embrace of the Democratic Leadership Council, a Southern based political effort explicitly designed to shift the Democratic Party away from a liberal political force to one based on a “centrist” strategy. That was accompanied by Bill’s speeches promising to “end welfare as we know it”. It also featured a strong “law and order” program that resulted in increased mandatory minimum sentences and a dramatic expansion of the number of young black men behind bars. During this effort, Hillary steadily supported Bill’s programs.
The details of this chapter of Hillary’s civil rights record has been recently published in The Nation. Here is a link: http://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-does-not-deserve-black-peoples-votes/
I realize this essay looks like sour grapes. I will certainly vote for Hillary Clinton next Fall. I, nevertheless, gag every time I hear her declaim herself as having “always” supported the rights of black citizens. I also believe the media should not let her get away with hiding the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches. We who will vote for her are entitled to know what she has promised to the most dangerous and destructive industry in America.