There is a level of comedic irony in the fact that as Washington, D.C. was being hammered by a blizzard, Hillary Clinton suddenly found herself trailing Bernie Sanders in the polls of both of the first two Democratic primary states. As discussed in part 1, Hillary has made a political career out of playing the part of ‘weatherman’ and revealing which way the wind blows. And things are certainly getting stormy for the Clinton campaign.
Unfortunately there appear to be more clouds on the horizon. A cynical and discontented electorate is only becoming increasingly familiar with Hillary’s lack of sincerity and conviction on the issues. Below we once again dive into the meteorological snafu that is Hillary Clinton.
We may as well start in the theater of the absurd.
For most of Hillary’s career her ever-changing accent has been a source of something between modest amusement and temperate scorn. During Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign she was introduced to the nation on a broad stage during her “I’m not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette” oration on 60 minutes. Her thick southern drawl was folksy and endearing, though it may have seemed curious for someone from Illinois. As First Lady she dropped the drawl and began speaking like a midwesterner from Chicago (which she is). When she ran for Senate in 2000 as a representative of New York she delicately adopted certain linguistic mannerisms of a New Yorker (talk became ‘tawwk’). As she became more comfortable with her position in Washington she spoke neither as a southerner or a New Yorker, and she even managed to soften her midwestern edges until she sounded like a stereotypically bland establishment politician. After settling on this accent the only time she would deviate from it would be when she was running for President.
Whether in 2007/08 or during the current 2015/16 campaign Hillary tends to use different accents depending on whom she is addressing. When she stumps in the midwest she sharpens her r’s and hardens her vowels until she sounds like the Illinois native she used to be. When speaking in the south the drawl returns in an almost comical and sometimes borderline racist way. And of course when participating in nationally televised debates and interviews she sticks to the establishment accent she has learned through years in Washington.
Compared to much of her administrative and ideological turnabout Hillary’s ever changing accent belongs more to the realm of humor than serious controversy. But it does display a fundamental insight into her nature. Hillary will be whoever she thinks she needs to be on any given day, no matter how inconsistent or condescending.
1994– As First Lady, she supports Bill Clinton’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act saying;
“We need more and tougher prison sentences”
“We need more prisons”
2007/08– While running for President she repeatedly attacks Barack Obama as “soft on crime” for his position on abolishing mandatory minimum sentences
2015: January-October– Accepts campaign contributions from private prison industry lobbyists
2015– Supports reform of the criminal justice system, reform of mandatory minimum sentencing, and a reduction in private prisons in order to end the “era of mass incarceration”
The (Bill) Clinton administration’s 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was one of the primary pieces of legislation that led to the catastrophe which is the American criminal justice system today. Many are aware that the United States now incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, a hideously disproportionate amount of whom are African-American, and that this is due in large part to mandatory minimum sentences and private prison lobbying.
When Hillary Clinton says “I will never stop working on issues of equality and opportunity, race and justice. I’ve done it my entire adult life.” it is really a simple matter of semantics. Yes, she has ‘worked on these issues’ her entire life, but unfortunately she was working strenuously against the positions she has now advocated for the past few months.
Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CFTA)
2008– While running for President she opposes the agreement saying, “As I have said for months, I opposed the deal, I have spoken out against the deal, I will vote against the deal, and I will do everything in my power to urge congress to reject” the deal.
2009-2012– The Clinton Foundation receives upwards of $130 million from Pacific Rubiales, a Canadian-Colombian oil company, and their founder Frank Giustra
2010– As Secretary of State, advocates that the CFTA is “strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States”
2013– Frank Giustra is named to the Clinton Foundation Board of Directors
While not as high-profile as NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Hillary’s maneuvering on the CFTA strongly illuminates two issues.
First, while she loves to tout her experience, especially with foreign policy, there is a question as to how much this experience really means when it is in the practice of inconsistency. How can labor unions entrust their support to Hillary when she has repeatedly amended her stance on issues so vitally important to them? Major international trade deals cost millions of dollars just to draw up and it stands to reason that countries would be extremely wary of investing the time, capital, and effort with a President Hillary Clinton when she has shown her propensity to bestow and revoke her support liberally.
Secondly, in this as in other issues there is at least a subconscious interpretation that Hillary’s position can be altered for monetary gain. Whether true or not this is extremely damaging to the public perception of the political process.
Women’s Rights as a Cornerstone of Foreign Policy
2001-2015– The Clinton Foundation receives tens of millions of dollars in ‘donations’ from Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia (estimated $25 million), Qatar ($5 million), and the United Arab Emirates ($5 million)
2009-2013– As Secretary of State for the Obama administration Hillary oversees $165 billion in weapons sales to 20 countries who had donated to the Clinton Foundation, a 143% increase from the (W.) Bush administration. This included a $29 billion deal with Saudi Arabia which the Assistant Secretary of State said was a “top priority for Clinton personally”
2015– States that as President she would make the promotion of women’s rights around the globe a cornerstone of her foreign policy
Aside from being another situation where there exists an understandable perception that Clinton Foundation donations impacted Hillary’s position, this exemplifies a dilemma with continuity. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are some of the worst violators of women’s rights in the world. Whether coerced by donations or not, the sale of billions of dollars of weapons to these countries serves to strengthen the regimes which perpetrate the oppression. As a woman, Hillary likes to see herself as the default choice for female voters, and grandiose statements such as that she would ‘make promoting global women’s rights a pillar of foreign policy’ are only supposed to solidify this position. However it is undeniable that in reality Hillary’s actions have been in direct contradiction to the promotion of women’s rights around the world.
2000– While campaigning for the Senate is for tougher federal gun regulations
2007/08– While campaigning for President is against federal gun regulations stating “Having any kind of blanket rules doesn’t make sense. I don’t want the federal government preempting states and cities like New York that have very specific problems”
2015/16– While campaigning for President a second time is for federal gun regulations
When Hillary says “We’ve got to do something about gun violence in America. For too long we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation” it is hard to disagree. And making things like comprehensive background check legislation and a ban on assault weapons components of your presidential platform is something the majority of Americans now support. However, the problem is with expediency. Hillary’s positions on gun control have changed throughout her career based on who she was trying to solicit votes from. This is an issue because in any fight for increased gun control the opponent will be the NRA, as uncompromising and unflinching an organization as there is. Hillary has already show that gun control is not a fundamental piece of her personal ideology. Faced with a divisive and vicious political struggle for gun control it is not hard to imagine Hillary once again changing her view for political expediency.
Rapid Fire Round
Torture– In 2006 she affirmed the use of torture in exceptional circumstances stating, “In the event we were ever confronted with having to interrogate a detainee with knowledge of an imminent threat to millions of Americans, then the decision to depart from standard international practices must be made by the President”. By the 2007/08 presidential campaign she was saying torture “cannot be American policy, period.”.
Disagreement among Democrats on Health Care– During the 2007/08 Democratic primary she chastised Barack Obama for attacking her health care plan saying “Since when do Democrats attack one another on health care?” and, famously, “Shame on you”. In the 2015/16 Democratic primary, she has attacked opponent Bernie Sanders’ health care plan.
Racial Justice– As mentioned, Hillary is fond of saying that she has worked on issues of equality and race for her “entire adult life”. She is likely forgetting her voracious support of her husband’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which had devastating effects on the African-American community, or, more comically, her time in the 1960’s as a “Goldwater Girl” working for Senator Barry Goldwater, who opposed the Civil Rights Act.
Experience and the Establishment– For the first year of her 2015/16 presidential campaign Hillary contrasted herself with opponent Bernie Sanders by painting herself as more experienced, more of a pragmatist, and more capable of operating within the establishment. After a groundswell of anti-establishment grassroots support for Sanders pushed him past her in the polls, Hillary changed her approach stating, “he’s been in office a lot longer than I have” and suggesting this made him the establishment candidate. Considering his history as the only independent member of Congress, and then the Senate, and his self-definition as a democratic socialist, the assertion of Sanders as the establishment candidate seemed ludicrous even for Hillary.
The Bottom Line
The political process in the United States is changing. The days of half-truths, manipulative language, and uncontested conversions of expediency are under attack by the proliferation of alternative media, and social media. There is no denying that the political career of Hillary Clinton has had an inherent value to women everywhere. As an outspoken First Lady, prominent Senator, Secretary of State, and presidential front-runner she has elevated the conversation of women in leadership roles. But Hillary Clinton is now a relic of a period many ‘regular’ Americans are trying so hard to break free from. She built a political career flip-flopping on everything from policy, to self-definition, to how she spoke. She has received enormous sums of money, through campaign donations, speaking fees, and donations to the Clinton Foundation, from oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, private prisons, financial institutions, and brutally oppressive regimes.
These are characteristics of a type of politician which cannot be permitted to exist any longer. There must be a focus on constancy and conviction, on integrity and accountability — not to large financial donors but to the people themselves.