The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

A Clintonian Coronation?

Hilary Clinton Secretary of State Portrait

Hilary Clinton Secretary of State Portrait

So, Hilary has made it official. Last time she was the front-runner and lost, but this time there are no particularly strong presumptive nominees: no Obama, nobody even as strong as Edwards was.

Clinton’s negatives are terrible and she has a lot of baggage. The right will hammer her on Bengazi, but more serious to left-wingers is Iraq and the larger picture of foreign policy when she was Secretary of State. Libya’s a complete mess, the Arab Spring failed and gave way to more repressive states, ISIS rose (albeit its spectacular breakout was after her resignation), and so on.

Back in 2008, I read the three major campaigns’ policy documents and releases carefully–it was my job. Edwards was the most left-wing candidate, the other two weren’t even close. Not a lot separated Clinton and Obama on substantive issues, but, generally speaking, she was slightly to his left on domestic bread and butter issues and slightly to his right on foreign affairs. It is instructive that her post was at State.

When Lincoln Chafee declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination last week, he was very explicit about Iraq; Chafee was the only Republican to vote against the war. Say what one will, that took integrity and guts. Clinton likes to say she makes “hard choices,” but it’s not clear to me what those choices are. Her “hard choices” are generally of the “make your bones” variety: Do what the elites want and shove it down the throats of ordinary people.

The main exceptions would be in terms of women’s rights, in which she genuinely believes and for which she has fought.

Can Clinton beat the Republican candidate–most likely Jeb Bush? Well, her negatives are high and she’s trying to extend a Democratic presidency which has been pretty awful on the economy (many people will try to pretend otherwise, they are either stupid, in the top 5% or so who have done well, or on the payroll). On the other hand, identification with the Democratic party is significantly higher (almost 10%) than with the Republican party. That’s a significant advantage.

This far out, I don’t know. There are weaknesses in a Clinton candidacy. This is not 2008, where the election was the Democratic nominee’s to lose. The real election in 2008 was the Democratic primary, everyone knew it, and that’s why the fight was so vicious.

Personally, of the people who have put themselves forward so far I like Chafee the best. He seems to have some actual integrity and is at least saying most of the right things. He doesn’t appear to have much of a chance; like every other Democratic nominee so far he’s about waiting for Clinton to stumble.

I think coronating Clinton is most likely a mistake, though, and not just because I don’t like her politics. She needs to be tested properly in competitive primaries. The Clinton of the late 2008 campaign was a fierce campaigner, but she’s bungled a great deal before and since then.

May the best candidate for America, and the world, win.

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  1. guest

    Chaffee is running for the Democratic nomination? First I’ve heard of it. What a nonevent.
    Wake me up when Sanders decides to run.
    I’ve been ready for a female president for 52 years, but why does it have to be this one? I can’t believe there is no better alternative, of any gender, in serious contention, what with all the ways this country is going to hell in a hand basket, politics is still a depressingly endless clown car of more-of-the-same soulless losers.

  2. Trixie

    I think Clinton ekes out a win in 2016. And if she does, it will be for the same reason Obama won re-election in 2012: Scared Shitless of the Other Guy.

  3. JustPlainDave

    In the event, she was actually to the left of the White House on much of foreign affairs. Read Vali Nasr’s Dispensible Nation for the back story on a lot of this. Much very, very dumb thumb sucking stuff out of the White House.

  4. Monster from the Id

    Any POTUS who refused to murder as many brown people as necessary to entrench and expand the dominion of Capital would court the fate of JFK.

    My country is gone. What stands in its place is an anime-style giant robotic warsuit, painted to resemble Uncle Sam, piloted by Capital.

  5. Tom

    Why are we pretending elections matter anymore? When we have a two party system and first past the post, with an electoral college, and big business blatantly buying candidates, can really say America is a democracy?

    I don’t know about you, but except for local elections, I’m not bothering with this sham. Post fall they’ll be torn apart by the mob and I too busy as an EMT patching people up and taking them to hospitals after the revolution.

    We’ll break apart like Syria, its guaranteed.

  6. Monster from the Id

    I fear Tom is correct, but he left out the computerized, unverifiable, easily hacked electronic vote-counting machines. 🙁

  7. ibaien

    as a rhode islander, i will cheerfully admit that linc is a good guy, genuine to the point of guilelessness, and utterly and wholly unsuited to the national political stage. if we had let the south go during the war, i fully believe he and his would have represented the decent right-wing of our country’s politics.

  8. Monster from the Id

    I suspect you’re correct, Ibaien, but that was never going to happen.

    My region’s corrupt, vicious, parasitic misruling class owed great big horse-choking wads of money to your corrupt, vicious, parasitic misruling class.

    My region’s aristocracy wanted to break away from the USA so they could repudiate those debts, and they did not care how many of their peasants had to die to make that happen. Of course, they couldn’t recruit the peasants on those terms, so they invented all that crap about “state’s rights” and “white supremacy” to brainwash the peasants into joining up. Enough peasants eventually saw through the lies that the aristocrats had to resort to conscription.

    Your region’s aristocracy wanted to force my region’s aristocracy to stay in the USA and pay those debts, and they did not care how many of their peasants had to die to make that happen. Of course, they couldn’t recruit the peasants on those terms, so they pretended they actually gave a flying duck about the brutal injustices of slavery and about the abstract entity called “the Union”, to brainwash their peasants into joining up. Enough peasants eventually saw through the lies that those aristocrats also had to resort to conscription.

    The Northern aristocrats proved how little they actually cared about the former slaves with the Compromise of 1877, which abandoned the freedmen to their Jim Crow fate.

  9. LB

    I’m rooting for Hilary because she’ll accelerate the demise and destruction of a political and economic system of governance that is long past its sell by date. She’ll ‘prick’ the boil that needs to burst.

  10. kj1313

    @LB Wouldn’t a Republican Candidate be better for that? Yes they are both Corporatist parties but I do think the Repubs will try to implement everything in one go.

  11. @JustPlainDave. “To the left of the White House on froeign policy” was she? I’ll bet Nicaragua doesn’t think so.

  12. JustPlainDave

    I know it’s a dreadfully passé activity to suggest in this incurious, pick a truth, age Bill, but you could read the book and find out.

  13. @Monster from the Id
    In “The People’s History of the Civil War” by David Williams, it is painfully clear that most “peasants” i.e. regular folks did not want to fight the rich’s war. “Cold Mountain” portrays this. Women in the North and South sent plain clothes to their drafted husbands so that they could go AWOL and come home to save the farms from the dastardly men who weren’t fighting but instead were stealing anything they could. (JP Morgan was busy selling misfiring rifles to the Union and the word “shoddy” came from a type of cotton that was made into uniforms that disintegrated in the rain.)

    It seems to me that wars are about stealing stuff rather than trading for it. And lending money with interest seems to me to be another way of stealing stuff. And sometimes debts are settled very harshly in what Naomi Klein called “The Shock Doctrine”. That’s what we did to Russia in the 1990s. Tried to squeeze the life out of her. Millions died. I’m afraid that the next leader of the US Empire will try a military approach rather than economic shock. Didn’t Albright say something about “What’s the good of a military if you can’t use it?” It doesn’t help that we watch “Game of Thrones” and root for the Mother of Dragons. We are a blood thirsty bunch.

    I have no answers,by the way, other than to hide under a blanket and blog on my I Pad.

  14. Tom

    Well when the masses say to the Government leave or die, then we know Civil War is here.

    Frankly non-violence is not an answer, only violence or the real threat of it forces change. However, if the opposition doesn’t have an alternative in place ready to Govern, the ruthless fanatics take over as their holy books already have a workable governing system written into it though most don’t realize it.

    So the key to a successful revolution must have access to military force and a non-corrupt leader with a workable governing system ready to go like the US rebels who spent substantial time compromising till they decided they had a Government ready to declare independence.

  15. Tom

    Russia has lifted its own sanctions against Iran.

    This has negated NATO sanctions. So expect Iran to say fuck you to the US.

    Putin knows if he doesn’t want IS or NATO on his doorstep, Iran has to be a bulwark.

  16. Hairhead

    Ian, agreement on most things, just one little item. You don’t “coronate” someone, you “crown” them. I.e. “Prince Albert was crowned king on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.”

    Oh, and Putin’s lifting of Russia’s sanctions on Iran is a clear “shot across the bow” to America and American-led interests. This is not going to be good.

  17. different clue

    Violent insurrection may emerge here out of despair. But I suspect that the government being insurrected against would use Assad methods to contain the insurrection, and the most survival-worth insurrectionists would use cannibal jihadi headchopper livereater methods in return. It would become a sort of Afghanistan countryside with lots of Fallujavilles.

  18. Spinoza

    Lord, where I come from the name Clinton is a four letter word. Admittedly I come from the South but I suspect this holds true in more than a few rural districts.

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