The Hillary Clinton candidacy cum phenomenon is both interesting and problematical. On the one hand, many Democrats (I mean that literally; many “people wedded or welded to the Democratic Party”) are excited to have as their next candidate someone more “ballsy” than they perceive Obama to be. Signs of that hunger are everywhere, but nowhere more prominently than here.
On the other hand, Clinton would represent a continuation of the Reign of the Neoliberals, but with a ballsier cover story than Mr. Hope & Change (see image below).
The Reign of the Neoliberals brought you:
▪ The CAFTA, NAFTA and KORUS “free trade” agreements
▪ Relaxed regulation of financial markets (Clinton’s Commodity Futures Modernization Act)
▪ Creation of media-corporate megalopolies overseen by telecom lobbyists in the FCC
▪ The likelihood of Keystone Sludgepipe approval
▪ Confirmation of bankers as above the law
▪ Confirmation of Money as a suitable requirement for major cabinet positions
▪ And post-Bush II, endless war and disposable brown civilians who chose not to be born in the Land of the Free
Would a “ballsy” Madame President do anything to change any of these problems, especially the latter, the disposable brown civilians?
Climate crisis awaits the next American president
And lurking in that list is the one item I consider a killer about to enter the house of its victims — climate crisis. As I’ve written many times, it could well be true that we have no more than 5–10 years before James Hansen’s 3°C “mass extinction” scenario is inevitable.
We have 0.8–1.0°C “on the ground” right now, actually in front of us, with a roughly equal amount “in the pipeline” — inevitable. When will 1.5°C be actually in front of us, with 3°C inevitable? If we keep on the course we’re on right now and do exactly what David Koch and his political and media enablers want us to do — exactly nothing — 1.5°C shows up in the early 2020s, or sooner, making 3°C at that point inevitable.
The president who campaigns in 2016 and rules between 2017—2020 will face not only the fact of that crisis, but the fact of people realizing the fact of that crisis. To be blunt, the next American president will face a population that finally “gets” that government will need to save them — and doesn’t have the resources or will to do it.
After all, if our Betters are willing to let your parents switch to Friskies when Spam becomes too expensive — just to finance further tax cuts in a non-crisis economy — whom won’t they abandon when there’s a real crisis? If the next president isn’t the next Franklin Roosevelt (a real one this time), people will “get” the class war in all its ugly glory, and all hell will start to break loose.
That’s what awaits the next American president. Which brings us back to Hillary.
A crossroads for Hillary
The crossroads for Hillary is now. Where does she stand, or even lean, on a host of issues? So far she’s not stepped up, not shown her hand.
An obvious example is Keystone. Under her watch at State, Keystone was slated for approval at Obama’s bidding. Only because of a massive and embarrassing public protest was the approval delayed — not stopped, mind you; just delayed. Was Hillary on board with Keystone approval at the time? Despite her silence the answer has to be Yes until proven otherwise.
There’s more. Since her resignation from State, there was a massive toxic spill of Keystone-like sludge in her home state of Arkansas — and not one word from Clinton. Why the silence? The FAA has, in the view of many, ceded control of the airspace over the spill to the perp, those lovable scamps at BP. Locals feel “locked down” in a BP-controlled world.
Is Clinton good with that? Again, she may think her silence buys her wiggle room; but in my mind, it buys only suspicion. Do you want another high-carbon president? Can we afford one? Can we afford not to know if we’re being offered another?
There’s a second present issue on which Clinton is noticeably silent, and I’m not the only one noticing. That issue is Obama’s cruel and relentless push for social insurance benefit cuts. Here’s Robert Kuttner, writing in The American Prospect, asking Hillary to show her hand, to take a position, at least on this (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
A Crossroads for Hillary
Will the former secretary of State oppose Obama’s back-door cut in Social Security?
Hillary Clinton is making all the early moves of someone preparing to run for president, though she has given herself plenty of time to rest, rejuvenate, and review a final decision. Now, however, President Obama’s ill-conceived plan to cut Social Security benefits via a “technical” change in the inflation index will force Clinton to make an awkward choice.
Most Democrats in both houses of Congress are not happy with this backdoor cut in Social Security. … Resolutely defending Social Security … has always been one of the Democrats’ great appeals. Obama gave that away.
At some point between now and 2016, Hillary Clinton would need to signal to a restive party rank and file that she will not just be an Obama third term or an Obama policy clone; that she will not be the fourth consecutive Democratic president since 1976 (Carter, Bill Clinton, Obama) to be disappointingly to the right of the party base on key pocketbook issues. …
May 2013 is far too early to break with Obama. She will need his blessing as part of her big-tent strategy. But given Obama’s blunder on Social Security, a selective break is exactly what Clinton needs to do. She has been silent on the issue so far, but she needs to say what she thinks.
As I noted above, it’s not just benefit cuts — a present issue, not a hypothetical — on which Hillary can’t be silent. Keystone is looming, and Keystone-like sludge is presently poisoning part of Arkansas, a state of which Bill Clinton was governor. When TPP, the next sovereignty-killing trade agreement comes up, as it will if Obama gets his wish, it too will be a present issue.
Will Hillary speak? Or will she seek the wiggle room of silence?
What about Elizabeth Warren as president?
And then there’s Warren. There’s a big push to elect the first woman president in 2016. Fine. What about a real progressive, Elizabeth Warren? People are noticing; so is Kuttner. From the same article:
Will Clinton be loyal to her president on a core (and bad) policy? Will she duck? Or will she say forthrightly, as Elizabeth Warren did, that cutting Social Security via a change in the inflation index—or any other way—is a terrible idea?
With Warren as a leader and possible candidate of the party’s progressives, Clinton will find herself repeatedly benchmarked by progressives against Warren, even if Warren makes gestures that she does not intend to run if Clinton is a candidate.
The possibility of a Warren candidacy — even if only a hoped-for one — is intriguing. Why? Because it will sort out those who want a woman to be president from those who want only a conservative woman to be president.
And as Kuttner points out, Warren will benchmark Clinton every step of the way, as she is doing even now. Warren is on the record; Clinton is ducking. Bill Clinton is not on the board of Pete Peterson’s Fix the Debt (yet), but he’s one degree of separation from Pete Peterson, who created that hateful group. And one can rightfully be suspicious of a candidate (Clinton in 2008) whose economic advisor was Robert Rubin.
Thank you, Ms. Warren. Game on, Ms. Clinton. Time to come out of the neoliberal closet and declare yourself. Because your silence shows you’re in one.
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