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From My Personal Archives: Let’s Be Real About Hillary Clinton

September 28, 2007

Originally posted on January 22nd, 2007 @ my Zaadz blog. Revised version September 27, 2007. . .

The Real Hillary Rodham ClintonDespite the fair amount of political content on this blog, I don’t particularly care to share any specific political opinions. There is one opinion of mine however, that I can’t slience. Earlier this year, when Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her intention to run for president, I was left sickened by the prospect, though I can say I was hardly surprised.

It should be fairly clear by now, that my leanings do bear left. I don’t buy into labels much, but one of the few that fits me is Progressive. Progressive doesn’t put me into a tidy box or a camp to be separated from the rest of my fellow Americans, left, right or center. Instead, it represents the nature of my beliefs. This idea should only be understood so that it is clear that I am not someone who is voicing a right-wing party line song and dance. But more and more good-hearted, well-intentioned “Liberals” and Progressives need to get over the idea that Bill and Hillary Clinton were the posterchildren for Progressive Policies in America.

I’m not going to get into a long debate or tirade, citing example after example of how Iraq was bombed daily for long stretches of time under Bill’s watch, the bombing of Kosovo, increased funding for prison construction, support of so-called “Free Trade Agreements”… All of it might get one to ask why both Jim Hightower and Michael Moore have at one time (before GWB) called Clinton “the best Republican President…”

But we’re not talking about Bill (though of course we’ll get him too), this is about Hillary.

Norman Solomon on June 12, 2006 asked the question well:

Why Pretend That Hillary Clinton is Progressive?
The potential candidate tries to have it both ways

“The scheduled speech by Sen. Hillary Clinton at the “Take Back America 2006” conference in Washington on June 13 is likely to intensify discussion about her relationship with the progressive grassroots of the Democratic Party.

Many weeks ago the conference sponsor, the Campaign for America’s Future, sent out an email telling prospective attendees: “As in years past, we expect America’s most prominent progressive leaders to attend and address the conference. Invited speakers include…” On the list was Hillary Clinton.

In response, I wrote to Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey and asked what Clinton’s name was doing on a list of “progressive leaders.” He responded by saying that “I don’t think of ALL of our speakers as ‘America’s most prominent progressive leaders.’ In fact, I have been quoted saying very critical things about Hillary – in the Washington Post and elsewhere. We do, however, want to ask possible presidential candidates to attempt publicly to justify their candidacy to the progressive activists.”

Hickey also commented that “some people do consider Hillary progressive.”

But the people who “do consider Hillary progressive” could mostly be divided into two categories—those who are Fox-News-attuned enough to believe any non-Republican is a far leftist, and those who are left-leaning but don’t realize how viciously opportunistic Sen. Clinton has been. Today, in keeping with her political character, she welcomes the fund-raising support of reactionary media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Unfortunately, the kind of confusion that sees Hillary Clinton as progressive is apt to get a boost from her appearance at a conference with avowedly progressive sponsorship – particularly because the person in the best position to dispel such confusion is not on the program. The “Take Back America” schedule set aside half an hour for a speech from Clinton but not a minute for any words from Jonathan Tasini, the longtime union activist who’s running – on an antiwar and all-around progressive platform – against Clinton in this year’s Democratic primary for senator from New York.

It’s sad to see that the progressive conference has excluded from the podium the vigorous primary challenger Tasini while featuring a speaker who has stood against the progressive agenda consistently for a decade on issues ranging from NAFTA to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Tasini points out that Hillary Clinton remains for the war in Iraq, for so-called “free trade” agreements and for the death penalty. She supported the notorious 2001 bankruptcy bill, “has never been for single-payer health insurance” and has worked hard to undermine a host of other progressive positions.

In the interests of truth-in-labeling, shouldn’t Hillary Clinton be described as anti-progressive?”

One of the things that I came to understand about Hillary that I found most alarming (but however considering her basic opportunistic nature it was unsurprising) was about her willingness to support the forced drugging of school children, a program supported by Big Pharma.

Consider first this excerpt posted from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons:

Hillary Clinton used parental concerns about Ritalin in her Senate campaign. Citing the threefold increase in the number of preschoolers on psychotropic drugs-11 in 1,000 are on Ritalin she proposed more clinical trials on toddlers. She also said that “we are not here to bash the use of these medications.” And she did not retract her commitment to ”identify and get help to children who need it, whether or not they want it or are willing to accept it.

Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore were said to have “taken the lead on forced psychotropics” at a June, 1999, White House Conference on Mental Health. Sally Zinman, director of the California Network of Mental Health Clients, called the highly publicized conference an “infomercial for drugs…[with] absolutely no mention of potential risks.”

The (Colorado Springs) Gazette on March 27, 2000 spells it out:

It’s not that Hillary Clinton was out of line when she raised concerns last week at the White House about the increasing use of psychotropic drugs like Ritalin and Prozac by children as young as 2. That concern is certainly warranted. It’s just that it’s a little surprising coming from the first lady.

It was only last June, after all, that she, along with Vice President Al Gore’s wife Tipper, hosted a highly publicized conference on mental health. That conference struck some like an infomercial for drugs. There was no mention of the potential risks.

At the June 1999 conference Hillary Clinton introduced Dr. Harold Koplewicz of New York University’s Child Studies Center and stood by beaming as he traced all mental and emotional problems to brain biochemistry.

Koplewicz derided explanations like “inadequate parenting and bad childhood traumas” as an “antiquated way of thinking” about depression and other childhood problems. He blamed school violence on untreated mental problems and suggested that, if anything, too few young children were being treated with psychiatric drugs.

Better living through chemistry, in other words?

Nobody at the conference was so impolite as to point out that three of the youths implicated in recent school shootings had been treated with psychiatric drugs.

Peter R. Breggin, M.D., a psychiatrist and author in Bethesda, MD, said in a recent media account he thinks Hillary Clinton’s remarkable turnaround was little more than “saving face, covering her tracks and engaging in political damage control.”

Breggin author of “Talking Back to Prozac,” “Talking Back to Ritalin,” and the just-released “Reclaiming Our Children,” is a longtime critic of the use of powerful psychotropic drugs on children.

He believes that a recent study and editorial in JAMA, the American Medical Association journal, showing that use of psychotropic drugs by children ages 2 to 4 had tripled, got the first lady’s attention.

Dr. Joseph T. Coyle of the Harvard Medical School wrote in JAMA:

“Given that there is no empirical evidence to support psychotropic drug treatment in very young children and that there are valid concerns that such treatment could have deleterious effects on the developing brain, the reasons for these troubling changes in practice need to be identified.”

One of the reasons, of course, is that the government and many school systems have been cheerleaders for using behavior-altering drugs on children.

Breggin argues, for example, that Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is far from a scientifically established biological disorder at all, but, as he put it, “a list of behaviors that teachers would like to expunge from their classrooms, like talking out of turn and not sitting still. These stimulant drugs crush the vitality and the spirit of young children and that is why they are popular. But we know enough from animal research and clinical studies to be confident that it is scientifically unsound to experiment with psychoactive agents on small children.”

He notes that Hillary Clinton did not criticize the widespread medicating of school-age children, but expressed concern only about medicating the very young. For whatever reason, she has identified and publicized a phenomenon that deserves attention and concern as the finer distinctions are made regarding in what circumstances and at what age these types of drugs might have some use. But she hasn’t come close to getting to the bottom of the matter, or even urging action that would begin the process.”

But let’s get down to the brass tacks about what this country needs right now, and why Hillary has chosen to run. Why now and not 2012 or 2016? Read between the lines and you’ll realize one of the key reasons that Hillary chose to run was because of the significant reaction that Barack Obama’s announcement to seek the White House received. By all accounts it was a shockingly positive reaction.

Fearing the sheer momentum of the possibility of Obama’s campaign, Hillary quickly rose up saying “I am in it, and I am in it to win.”

So here is my question to potential Hillary supporters and Democrats alike: If at this point in our country’s history we need someone with the potential to unite the country (like I believe Obama could) why would anyone support a candidate who is comfortable with splitting the Democratic vote? The voice of Howard Dean has never been voiced on this matter. Why has he never spoken of this?

I’d love to see the day when a woman is elected to “The Highest Office in The Land.” But I have said it before and I will say it again. Not this woman. Not Hillary Clinton.

But perhaps it was the Los Angeles Times on January 22, 2007 that summed it up best:

Anyone but a Bush or a Clinton
The U.S. needs a leader in 2008 who doesn’t inherit the office because of a last name.

“Having refused a third term as president, George Washington offered the nation a farewell address in 1796, urging Americans to cherish the Union and to avoid the “baneful effects” of political partisanship. Successors such as Thomas Jefferson warned against the formation of an “unnatural” aristocracy of men who inherited great fortunes and political office.

Both of these warnings have been overlooked in the debate over Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential run. But if she secures the Democratic nomination, wins and serves two terms, by 2017 the United States will have been governed by either a Bush or a Clinton for 28 years. That’s three decades governed not just by the same two families but much of the same supporting staff. As Dick Cheney is a name familiar to both Bush presidencies (as George H.W. Bush’s secretary of Defense and his son’s vice president), so too may a Hillary Clinton presidency resuscitate familiar names such as Harold Ickes, Paul Begala and James Carville.

And it might not end there. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, encouraged by Republican leaders and the current president (who said, “I would like to see Jeb run at some point), has not ruled out a White House bid or a vice presidential slot on the ticket in 2012 or 2016.

If Washington’s caustic, partisan atmosphere is to change, the era of Bushes and Clintons needs to end in 2008.

Three times in American history have close relatives of former presidents won the office. John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson in 1824 but won in the electoral college amid charges of a “corrupt bargain.” Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison, lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland in 1888 and also suffered as a “minority president” and mere figurehead. George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000.

Recent polls suggest that a significant body of Americans, perhaps 40%, will not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances — so it is unlikely that she could enter the Oval Office with a strong electoral mandate. The ironic upshot is that such a Hillary Clinton presidency — weakened by low approval and beset by partisan sniping — would mirror George W. Bush’s presidency.

That the Bush’s administration has been consumed by political partisanship comes as no surprise to students of history. From the time of John Quincy Adams — whose term in office marked the end of the Era of Good Feelings — the children, grandchildren and spouses of presidents engender exceptional hostility when they seek office themselves. For all their personal capacities, the latter Adams, Harrison and Bush — like Hillary Clinton — inherited their claims to the presidency. George W. Bush would not be president today were his name not George Bush, nor Hillary a senator from New York absent the Clinton name. This nation’s traditional commitment to meritocracy inclines many to reject these “unnatural” aristocrats, who never garner widespread popularity.

Minority and bare-majority presidents are weak leaders because nothing undergirds presidential power like an election mandate. The strongest post-World War II presidents — Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan — were also its most popular. (Eisenhower and Johnson won at least 55% of the vote; Reagan polled just over 50% in 1980 with independent John Anderson in the race, then 59% in 1984.) Presidencies enveloped by partisanship — Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — were made of men who won office on the barest of majorities or pluralities (Truman won 49.6% of the popular vote in 1948; Carter won 50.1% in 1976; Clinton won 43% and 50% in 1992 and 1996).

Pundits compare 2006 to the late Nixon years, with a country disillusioned by war and a deep distrust of its political leadership. In one of his last interviews, former President Ford lamented the “extreme partisanship that exists in the nation’s capital today,” suggesting that partisanship is even worse than in the post-Watergate era he inherited.

The nation needs today, as it got in Ford then, a president respected by both Republicans and Democrats who can restore trust in politics. It needs new faces and new ideas if it is to confront advancing crises of war, debt and entitlement reform. And it needs a president who can assume office in 2009 swimming in the political capital that only a mandate can bring. The nation needs a candidate who can win 55% or more.

And that will not happen with a Bush or Clinton on the ballot.”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2007 1:46 pm

    All new, participate in our conversation at LickMyClinton.com
    http://www.lickmyclinton.com/

  2. vwcat permalink
    September 28, 2007 11:51 pm

    Boston Globe today had an article about Bush, clinton, Bush, clinton. I also saw another article about the hostility growing over Hillary by democrats.
    There has not been much of a push back towards hillary. The press has for the most part been waiting to crown her queen for 2 years.
    It is noteworthy that the press also started pushing stories to doubt the capability of Obama about the time he just about overtook her in the polling.
    Her blurring of the lines and being able to push the experience theme and romanticizing the 90s has been helped plenty by a willing media.
    Bloggers for the most part have been asleep through this whole process. They have relinquished their growing influence while vainly searching for another Howard Dean. No one told them he is at the DNC these days. As a result they have been MIA as Clinton has walked away with many odious tricks and embarassments and have let the press get away with playing queenmaker. They have been a disappointment and have allowed their new found fame to either muzzle them or make them as lazy and as much part of the herd as the press they revile.
    When they awake from their sleep they will find they have allowed Clinton to be president and one of her first acts will be to crush the progressives, bloggers included. that is when they will bewail the cruelty of it all.

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