It's sad to see stuff like this
coming from Riverdaughter, a blogger I've always admired. In 2008, she pulled off the
damnedest trick in the recent history of grass-roots American politics. Picture it: A single mother who holds an important and demanding job starts a movement in her spare time that nearly derails the best-laid plans of all the DC insiders. That, friends, is a movie
. Seriously. If I still lived in L.A., I could pitch Riverdaughter: The Movie
Riverdaughter's quasi-worshipful attitude toward Hillary Clinton never really bothered me. In fact, I'm envious. In 1968, my idealistic elders felt similarly about RFK, and, though just a tyke, I caught some of their enthusiasm. Back then, people did not fear heroes -- people expected
Alas, the American political system has, over the course of more than four decades, given us no-one else to believe in -- at least, not to that
extent. Every cynic secretly longs to be a romantic. I do. I long to be an acolyte, an idolator, a fan. But over the course of the past four decades, who was there to be a fan of
"Cometh the moment, cometh the man," as the old saying has it -- but those old sayers lied. The man
did not arrive. Neither did the woman
At least not in this
country. Foreign lands have provided some genuine heroes. Petra Kelly, for one. Aung San Suu Kyi, for another. I love them. I'm in awe
of them -- perhaps because I've always been a sucker for the Joan of Arc story, and they lived the myth.
Maybe that's why I remain fixated on Maram Susli, a.k.a. Syrian Girl, a.k.a. The Closest Thing To St. Joan This Miserable Modern World Has To Offer. If you'd like to know more about her, this profile
of Susli lets her speak her mind, and every word lands like an uppercut.
(This blog has not used Syrian Girl's real name in previous posts due to a suspicion that those who first revealed it online worked for an unfriendly government. Not mentioning any names, but...you know Lebanon? Keep heading south.)
(File this revelation under "you read it here first": A Cannonfire reader who lives down under has passed along the informtion that Maram Susli already has a boyfriend. Stop dreaming your silly dreams, guys. And start paying attention to what this important woman is saying
We've rambled away from the topic, haven't we?
Let's get back on track: Throughout the past forty years, I've had no American heroes -- just "better thans." Vote for A because A is better than B. Yay
. And let's try not to think about the fact that A is the kind of politician one tolerates rather than adores. With the possible exception of 1988 (when I cast a vote for Jesse Jackson), that's been the story of every stupid election of my whole stupid life. Blehhhhh
In 2008, Hillary was better than
Obama. She did not thrill me. She thrilled Riverdaughter and a lot of other Confluence writers: Fine. But nobody
running for office in that year gave me that proverbial tingle-up-the-leg.
Neither has any other presidential aspirant in any other election year. Not since that hideous night in the Ambassador Hotel.
Here, in part (and do read the whole
), is Riverdaughter's argument for Hillary in 2016:
And there will be some Democrats who will never accept her even while they grudgingly admit there is no one else who has her cachet. They’re still convinced that she’s a corporatist and a neoliberal.
Can I just say right here that I will be very disappointed if bloggers and their audiences continue to use these words?
She then goes on to defend the concept of the corporation, which is not really germane to our present argument. Let's concede much of what she says...
It’s the same with the word “neoliberal”. What exactly does that mean or is it a catch all for anything you don’t like? In other words, stop using these labels and think through your issues with any candidate, not just Hillary.
Look, I don’t care if you personally like Hillary Clinton. All I’m interested in is if you can judge fairly. Right now, I can’t see how that is going to happen. Is she corrupt? If not, will she make a good president? Those are the only two questions I am asking right now.
I’m not expecting her to save the party’s bacon. It seems to me that the Obama administration and it’s supporters have asked the Clintons to do this one too many times over the past six years and then they turn around and continue to beat the s^&* out of both of them in the comments section of every blog continuing to divide us up into two camps. This is exactly what I would love to see if I were a selfish, narcissistic power addict. No one is getting along. The scapegoat always tries to do the right thing for the party and then gets trashed.
And so on. It's all very well written and it makes some good points. But...something is missing.
That something is called Hillary's record as Secretary of State
Riverdaughter doen 't seem to enjoy talking about that. I don't think she cares to argue about recent foreign policy. But we can't ignore that topic: Foreign policy has been the true horror of the Obama years, and Hillary helped to construct that policy.
The problem with Hillary isn't neoliberalism
, it's neoconservatism
(Let's not pretend that the term "neoconservative" is devoid of meaning. If you need a definition, here's a good start
. The Urban dictionary
entry is cute. But if you really
want to understand this ideology, watch Adam Curtis's still-significant documentary The Power of Nightmares
In 2008, I would have defended Hillary to the death against the oft-heard charge that she was a neocon in sheep's clothing. (There were, in fact, a few death threats at that time.) But since then, she has revealed either her true colors or her new
Persuasive insider accounts inform us that she has been the primary force pushing Obama toward neoconservatism.
One of those insider accounts, as noted in an earlier post, can be found in former CIA Director Leon Panetta's new book. Panetta, obviously not a big Obama fan, is very close to the Clintons, and he probably wrote this book to help Hillary attain the presidency. But for many readers, the volume will have the opposite of its intended effect.
Hillary's neoconservatism is not just a meme. It's not one of those ridiculous smears that used to appear all over Daily Kos and HuffPo. Writers across the political spectrum now feel comfortable applying that label to her.
Hillary Clinton has begun maneuvering for 2016 by running to Obama’s right. Most dramatically, she turned on the Syria policy that she articulated and implemented, declaring that Washington should have armed the opposition much earlier. We are to believe that if only the people who brought us the Libyan imbroglio had the chance in Syria they would have given the right weapons to the right insurgents at the right time. The result would have been a united, democratic Syria with Islamists staying home and accepting the new order. It sounds like a Hollywood fantasy.
She consistently promoted a militarist policy in the Balkans and Middle East. She advocated war against Serbia, backed the Iraq invasion (a vote she repudiated only under political pressure in the 2008 campaign), and took a hawkish position on virtually every issue within the Obama administration: more troops for Afghanistan, continued military presence in Iraq, little compromise with Iran, war in Libya. While she mocked the president’s mantra of “Don’t do stupid stuff,” she spent her career doing just that.
The Iraq vote bit is the only unfair item in this list. (Readers, puh-leeze
: can we avoid the exchange of predictabilities just this once?
) The rest is more or less spot on. In truth, we did
arm the Syrian opposition, if we stretch the definition of "we" to include our allies in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. The creation of an anti-Assad proxy army could not have happened without the help of Hillary Clinton.
And here's Bob Parry
Then, in his first months in office, as Obama grappled with what to do about the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates and Clinton teamed up with Gen. David Petraeus, a neocon favorite, to maneuver the President into another 30,000-troop “surge” – to wage a counterinsurgency war across large swaths of Afghanistan.
In Duty, Gates cites his collaboration with Clinton as crucial to his success in getting Obama to agree to the troop escalation and the expanded goal of counterinsurgency. Referring to Clinton, Gates wrote, “we would develop a very strong partnership, in part because it turned out we agreed on almost every important issue.”
The hawkish Gates-Clinton tandem helped counter the move dovish team including Vice President Joe Biden, several members of the National Security Council staff and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, who tried to steer President Obama away from this deeper involvement.
Gates wrote, “I was confident that Hillary and I would be able to work closely together. Indeed, before too long, commentators were observing that in an administration where all power and decision making were gravitating to the White House, Clinton and I represented the only independent ‘power center,’ not least because, for very different reasons, we were both seen as ‘un-fireable.’”
When General Stanley McChrystal proposed the expanded counterinsurgency war for Afghanistan, Gates wrote that he and “Hillary strongly supported McChrystal’s approach” along with UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Petraeus. On the other side were Biden, NSC aide Tom Donilon and intelligence adviser John Brennan, with Eikenberry supporting more troops but skeptical of the counterinsurgency plan because of weaknesses in the Afghan government, Gates wrote.
To top it off, Hillary Clinton has -- quite insanely -- likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler
Sorry, but a Secretary of State will inevitably compile a record, and that record matters
. It's very easy to make fun of Joe Biden, but he has been a voice for moderation throughout the past six years. Hillary? Just the opposite.
Yes, Hillary is female, and yes, it is about damned time for this country to elect a female president -- in fact, it was about damned time two hundred years ago. But is Hillary really the right person to rectify this historical injustice? As Glenn Greenwald said:
Opposition to her is going to be depicted as misogynistic, like opposition to Obama has been depicted as racist. It’s going to be this completely symbolic messaging that’s going to overshadow the fact that she’ll do nothing but continue everything in pursuit of her own power. They’ll probably have a gay person after Hillary who’s just going to do the same thing.
The only problem with this passage is the phrase "pursuit of her own power." Those words apply to all
politicians: It's an easy insult. What bothers me is not the pursuit of power but the pursuit of detestable foreign policies.
If you are now itching to call me
a sexist -- well, look at it this way: In this post, I have framed the very important issue of Syria as a kind of battle between Maram Susli and Hillary Clinton. Both are women. Both of them have been subjected to unfair, sexist attacks. But when the story of the Syrian civil war is told a hundred years from now, only one of those two women will be vindicated by history -- and that one won't be Hillary Clinton.