When I came of age politically, in the late 90s and early 2000s, I had one political hero: Hillary Clinton. I read her books, VHS-ed every news report and appearance, and whenever I had a social studies project I managed to work my heroine in to it somehow. In my immature mind she was a strong, committed, warm and deeply attractive political character. Bill Clinton was a waffling, dishonest psychopath, but his better half was the real deal.
In 2002 I took a high school trip to Washington DC with Close Up. When the program organizers allowed us to roam Capitol Hill a buddy and I headed directly for Hillary Clinton's Senate office in Russell. It was National Tartan Day so there she was shaking hands and meeting with Scottish Americans. There was a crowd of maybe a two dozen people and I was desperate to meet her. A staffer from her office was annoyingly protective and he ordered me to stand behind a crack in the floor, lest I get too close to Clinton, an offense that would have had me escorted out of the building.
I spotted a television news crew and that's when the idea came to me. I began speaking loudly and dishonestly. "This is ridiculous! We're just high school students from NY and they won't allow us to meet our Senator." The tall Scottish newsman came over and asked to interview us. I proceeded to lie. "We're from Syracuse", I said, "And they won't even allow us to shake hands with Senator Clinton." When my interview concluded, over walked Clinton. "I hear you guys are from Syracuse, want to take a picture?" That picture still hangs on my mother's wall. But then I grew up and put away childish things.
This week Clinton kicked off her book tour/presidential campaign. I say campaign because only a dolt would think she's not running for president. Another clue? Her book—with which I have tortured myself—is drivel. Vapid and lame white noise, which she couldn't even write herself. Beyond that, as Clinton has reemerged, I have seen all the traits that would make (and did make) Clinton a poor candidate, and worse, an awful president.
"I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue [LGBQTI rights]", Clinton told Terry Gross. No one, no one, who supported one of the most anti-gay pieces of legislation in history, DOMA, can ever say she/he has a strong record on the issue of gay rights. When she ran for the Senate in 2000 Clinton said, unashamedly, that she too would have signed DOMA. And so when she says today that she has always thought marriage should be left up to the states (a deeply problematic position in itself), Clinton is lying. But that was vintage Clinton on NPR: weaselly and insulting.
We also learned this week that Chelsea Clinton, who lacks any real television talent, earned $600k a year at NBC for being named Clinton. NBC seems to have a sick and unethical fetish for the privileged children of former presidents. But why does the Clinton salary deserve attention? Well, it represents everything that Thomas Piketty and Liz Warren have talked about. "What if the conservatives and the big banks and the big-time CEOs got their way, and Washington kept helping the rich and powerful to get richer and more powerful?", Warren asked. And Piketty's book also focuses on how the wealthy elites amass, concentrate and pass their wealth and and privileges onto their children. But, to be fair, it is possible that fille Clinton was nearly broke after college and needed the NBC gig to pay off those student loans.
In Clinton's book she also said she was wrong for having voted for the Iraq War, which is something she refused to say in 2008. But don't be fooled. Clinton is a big supporter (some may call her a neo-con) of the imperial war machine. Further, her support of Obama's NSA policies (which are worse than Bush's) is unforgivable. But Clinton has been terribly wrong on a number of important national security issues, despite the idiotic media's attempt to label her lackluster State Department record as a positive. Clinton, like her husband, has also been paid handsomely for speeches. In fact Clinton has already given two speeches to Goldman Sachs, one of the true modern robber barons. No matter which toad the Republicans nominate in 2016, it is extremely unlikely that he will have the same sort of seedy connections to Wall Street that the Clintons possess.
America doesn't have to do this in 2016. The country need not put up with a candidate who seems to think the office is owed to her. America doesn't have to accept another politician, like Obama, who lies about his/her record on LGBQTI rights. Americans don't have to elect a candidate who lacks any big plan to deal with the ever increasing economic inequality, and who shows no interest in tackling the country's systemic racial injustices; and Americans don't have to vote for a candidate who has failed to offer any rational and large vision for why she should be president beyond her personal ambition.
If Clinton does become President we should all be prepared to bitch and moan about: how she sold us out to Wall Street, how she used military power one too many times, how she cut a deal with conservatives that will screw over the middle class and poor folk, how she's dishonest, how she triangulated us further into the New Gilded Age, et cetera, et cetera. Needless to say, we've seen this terrible movie before.
I, like many on these pages, would love to see a woman become president. But Clinton isn't the person to shatter the glass ceiling. So let's step back from this unseemly coronation; it is not one of those "Hard Choices".