Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hillary Envy?

I can't take much more of David Brooks. (Say the word, and I'll gladly stop posting him.)

Look, I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton. But Brooks, in his latest op ed (below), makes a blatant partisan attack on Hillary Clinton--accusing her of being blatantly partisan.

Hypocrisy is not an admirable trait for a journalist, Brooksie. We've had enough hypocrisy from BushCo to last us well into the next millenium. The same things of which you accuse Hillary (though loaded with inaccuracies, irrelevancies, and spin) can be said of every single politician in America. So cut the bull.

Money in politics has no place. Get the money out of politics and the Dubai port fiasco would never have occurred, much less been a controversy.

It takes gall to attack Hillary for her husband's acceptance of a donation from the UAE for his presidential library. Guess what, Brooksie? They also gave George Bush $1,000,000 for his presidential library!

Now, here comes the hard part: who do you think is more ethical? (a) Someone who takes money and then reciprocates with a lucrative run-our-ports deal? Or, (b) Someone who takes a stand based on beliefs----instead of money? (i.e. the Dubai deal will make a lot of rich people richer while it makes all of us a lot less secure) BZZZZZZZ! Times up. Wrong again, Brooksie!

I find it completely puzzling that you still think foreign control of our ports is a good idea. No one, by the way--except maybe you and your spin-meister cohorts--is against the deal for xenophobic reasons. No one would object if Dubai were to build an office building in Detroit or invest in lawn mowers or take over Burger King--because those enterprises have nothing to do with our national security. Forgive us for being a bit more selective about who owns and controls the infrastructure crucial to our national security. A little common sense, and a little less insincere histrionics on your part would be appreciated.

One more thing, Brooksie. Your current opine reaks (shameless in the first few paragraphs) of Hillary-envy and resentment. I'd watch that if I were you.

Hillary and the Ports
By David Brooks
The New York Times
A couple of years ago I watched Hillary Clinton enter a Munich hotel with a delegation of fellow senators. Clinton came in first. There were about 50 paparazzi by the doors. Cameras flashed, people screamed. There was general pandemonium as she walked through the lobby, like Elizabeth Taylor in her prime descending upon Cannes. The hotel manager escorted her into a waiting elevator and whisked her to her suite.

Then the other senators came in the doors. The camera crews started packing up. The crowd dispersed. No hotel manager awaited them. They pushed the button for the elevator and milled about until it came.

United States senators are not entirely lacking in vanity. So I thought there might be a tinge of resentment at Clinton's diva treatment. But not at all. Other senators like traveling with her. She's down to earth and fun to be around, they say. At work, she's serious, diligent and respectful.

So when I've been asked if I think Hillary Clinton can win a general election campaign, I've always answered yes. I figure if she can win over Republican senators (and Bush staffers), she can probably win over 30,000 more voters in Ohio.

She's also got a key voting bloc disposed in her favor. Ten percent of the electorate are what Pew Research Center pollsters call pro-government conservatives: mostly white, working-class women who attend church weekly but support government welfare programs. Only 12 percent of these voters supported John Kerry in 2004, but 51 percent say they have a positive view of Clinton. These voters alone could put her over the top.

But campaigns reveal character, and force us to adjust our views. The Dubai ports deal — a politically unpopular measure that almost all experts agree was justified on the merits — was a test of character. John McCain and Chuck Hagel passed. Clinton, though, joined the ranks of the nakedly ambitious demagogues.

Clinton didn't seem to mind when officials of the United Arab Emirates kicked in up to a million dollars into her husband's presidential library. She didn't seem alarmed when Dubai poured at least $450,000 into her family bank accounts through her husband's speaking business. She didn't object when the Clinton administration approved a deal for a Chinese government firm to run the Port of Long Beach. But when the Dubai ports deal set off Know-Nothing mobs, she made sure she had the biggest pitchfork.

"The White House is trying to hand over U.S. ports," Clinton charged.

"We cannot afford to surrender our port operations to foreign governments," she roared.

"We cannot cede sovereignty over critical infrastructure like our ports," she insisted.

All of these statements were deliberately misleading, since there was never any question of ceding sovereignty or security. They played to the rawest form of xenophobia.

The consequences for the war on terror will be significant. As David Ignatius wrote in The Washington Post, the government of Dubai has done what we've asked all Arab governments to do. It has challenged Al Qaeda; supported U.S. forces; modernized the educational system to combat extremism. It even gave $100 million in hurricane relief. We've proved that we may be inept in combating our foes, but we're ruthlessly efficient in betraying our friends.

But my subject is Clinton's political prospects. This episode — which combines buckraking with pandering — brings back the Clinton years at their worst: the me-me-me selfishness, the occasional presumption that humanity exists to serve Team Clinton.

It also shows Clinton doesn't understand her political weaknesses. First, nobody, not even among her friends, is totally sure she actually believes in anything, or whether she just coldly calculates political advantage. This episode reinforces that sense.

Second, Clinton is the only presidential candidate who does not offer a break from the current polarization and bitter partisanship. A McCain or Mark Warner presidency would shuffle the political deck. But if Clinton is elected, American politics over the next years will be as brutal and stagnant as now. The 1960's Bush-Clinton psychodrama would go on and on.

A lot of the bitterness would not be Clinton's fault. But over the past weeks, she has shown that far from behaving in an unorthodox manner, or flummoxing hatred, she is happy to be a crude partisan, and egg on prejudice and paranoia.

In the short run, Clinton did the popular thing. But over the long run, people vote on character. After a rehabilitating few years, Hillary Clinton just reminded us of her ugly side.

No comments: